Today is the auspicious occasion of Gita Jayanti, the day Lord Krsna spoke the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, the day of Moksada Ekadasi. To begin, we shall read from Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter Nine, “The Most Confidential Knowledge,” two verses that can provide us with guidance for our lives:
api cet su-duracaro
bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah
api—even; cet—if; su-duracarah—one committing the most abominable actions; bhajate—is engaged in devotional service; mam—unto Me; ananya-bhak—without deviation; sadhuh—a saint; eva—certainly; sah—he; mantavyah—is to be considered; samyak—completely; vyavasitah—situated in determination; hi—certainly; sah—he.
Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
The word su-duracarah used in this verse is very significant, and we should understand it properly. When a living entity is conditioned, he has two kinds of activities: one is conditional, and the other is constitutional. As for protecting the body or abiding by the rules of society and state, certainly there are different activities, even for the devotees, in connection with the conditional life, and such activities are called conditional. Besides these, the living entity who is fully conscious of his spiritual nature and is engaged in Krsna consciousness, or the devotional service of the Lord, has activities which are called transcendental. Such activities are performed in his constitutional position, and they are technically called devotional service.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
Following Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Prabhupada is explaining that because devotees are living in the material world, they also have activities that they must perform in relation to material existence, in relation to society, state, and so on. Such activities cannot be avoided, because we are in the material world. We have to live in society. We have to live in a country. In the grhastha-asrama, one has to earn a living and pay taxes. We have to do so many things, and those activities are performed in the material world. When we go to the spiritual world, we won’t have to go to the office, pay taxes, or perform social functions, but for now we must.
There are, of course, constitutional activities that one performs both here and in the spiritual world. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam. We hear about Krsna. We chant about Krsna. We remember Krsna. And when we go to the spiritual world, we will engage in these same activities.
Now, in the conditioned state, sometimes devotional service and the conditional service in relation to the body will parallel one another. But then again, sometimes these activities become opposed to one another. As far as possible, a devotee is very cautious so that he does not do anything that could disrupt his wholesome condition.
To give an example, a person may be engaged in some work, some business, and to do his business he has to associate with nondevotees. In sastra, associating with nondevotees is discouraged and associating intimately with them is forbidden. But because the person has to earn his livelihood, he has to mix with all sorts of people, and their association is contaminating. This is an example of when conditional activities run opposite to one’s constitution.
If one is fortunate, one’s work can be done in the association of devotees. Srila Prabhupada encouraged the devotees to have businesses that would engage other devotees, so they wouldn’t have to associate extensively with nondevotees. And even better is to live in a self-sufficient community of devotees. Then you don’t have to go to the office or the shop at all. You don’t have to interact so much with the material world. You grow food, keep cows and get milk, and depend on nature and the cows. You don’t have to be involved with materialistic civilization.
So, sometimes the conditional activities run parallel to devotional service and sometimes they run opposite, and a devotee is very careful not to do anything that will disrupt his wholesome condition. He is aware that to some extent he has to interact with materialistic people in the course of his work, but he is careful not to interact with them beyond a certain point, because if he does, their association will affect his Krsna consciousness and disrupt his wholesome condition. Continue reading »