Understanding Karma yoga and Karma bandhana

There is no harm in becoming a family man, or an altruist, a socialist, a communist, a nationalist or a humanitarian, provided that one executes his activities in relation with ishavasya, the God-centered conception. Indeed, a humble God-centered life is more valuable than a colossal hoax of a life dedicated to godless altruism or socialism.

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Sri Isopanishad | page-a-day series | 9

Continued from previous page… When he realizes the authority of the Personality of Godhead—Vasudeva, or Krishna—it is to be understood that he has attained the stage of positive knowledge. In this purified stage the modes of nature—namely goodness, passion and ignorance—cannot act, and he is able to work on the basis of naishkarmya. Such work (karma) does not bind one to the cycle of birth and death.

Factually, no one has to do anything more than render devotional service to the Lord. However, in the lower stages of life one cannot immediately adopt the activities of devotional service, nor can one completely stop fruitive work. A conditioned soul is accustomed to working for sense gratification—for his own selfish interest, immediate or extended. An ordinary man works for his own sense enjoyment, and when this principle of sense enjoyment is extended to include his society, nation or humanity in general, it assumes various attractive names such as altruism, socialism, communism, nationalism and humanitarianism. These “isms” are certainly very attractive forms of karma-bandhana (karmic bondage), but the Vedic instruction of Sri Isopanishad is that if one actually wants to live for any of the above “isms,” he should make them God-centered. There is no harm in becoming a family man, or an altruist, a socialist, a communist, a nationalist or a humanitarian, provided that one executes his activities in relation with ishavasya, the God-centered conception.

In the Bhagavad-gita (2.40) Lord Krishna states that God-centered activities are so valuable that just a few of them can save a person from the greatest danger. The greatest danger of life is the danger of gliding down again into the evolutionary cycle of birth and death among the 8,400,000 species. If somehow or other a man misses the spiritual opportunity afforded by his human form of life and falls down again into the evolutionary cycle, he must be considered most unfortunate. Due to his defective senses, a foolish man cannot see that this is happening. Consequently, Sri Isopanishad advises us to exert our energy in the spirit of ishavasya. Being so engaged, we may wish to live for many, many years; otherwise a long life in itself has no value. A tree lives for hundreds and hundreds of years, but there is no point in living a long time like trees, or breathing like bellows, or begetting children like hogs and dogs, or eating like camels. A humble God-centered life is more valuable than a colossal hoax of a life dedicated to godless altruism or socialism.

When altruistic activities are executed in the spirit of Sri Isopanishad, they become a form of karma yoga. Such activities are recommended in the Bhagavad-gita (18.5-9), for they guarantee their executor protection from the danger of sliding down into the evolutionary process of birth and death. Even though such God-centered activities may be half-finished, they are still good for the executor because they will guarantee him a human form in his next birth. In this way one can have another chance to improve his position on the path of liberation.

How one can execute God-centered activities is elaborately explained in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, by Srila Rupa Gosvami. We have rendered this book into English as The Nectar of Devotion. We recommend this valuable book to all who are interested in performing their activities in the spirit of Sri Isopanishad.

 

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Source: Sri Isopanishad. Translation and purports by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Copyright BBT International http://www.vedabase.com/en/iso