The difference between civilisation based on karma and bhakti.

By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj

The plane of action and reaction, the plane of exploitation, is a suicidal civilisation. The whole civilisation is rotten to its core. In the civilisation of exploitation, people exploit nature for the apparent good of human society, but by doing so they incur a debt from nature which must be paid back to the farthing with interest. Yet they do not believe this—they do not believe they will have to clear their debt to nature. Still, it is there, as is the calculation of their debt, like calculations recorded in a computer. So, this civilisation is no civilisation; it is anti-civilisation. The whole thing is rotten. It is a camouflage-like deception, a treachery to the soul’s world, to the living world. The whole civilisation is a suicidal treachery.

“Plain living, high thinking.” “Make the best of a bad bargain.” These should be our policies. Somehow, we have come here. Now we are to use our time and energy in such a way that with the least amount of exploitation we can get out of this world. The real solution for our life has been given in Bhagavad-gita:

yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.9)

[The Lord says:] “Karma, spending your energy here, will surely bind you within this material environment. Yajnarthat: only if you act in the spirit of yajna, sacrifice, will you be relieved of the reactions to your actions.  What sort of sacrifice? Not sacrifice for the sake of yourself, or your country, or your society. Nothing less than sacrifice for the sake of the Infinite, that is, Myself, Visnu.”

Yajna vai Visnu. Hari, the Supreme Lord, is Yajnesvar, the rightful enjoyer of all sacrifices, the absolute owner of everything. You must have a proper connection with Him. Not an imaginary connection, but a real connection you must have with Him, and then the reactions to whatever you do will not bind whatsoever.

hatvapi sa iman lokan na hanti na nibadhyate
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 18.17)

There is even a plane in which, if we stand there, we can destroy many planets, many universes even, but remain unaffected. Na hanti na nibadhyate: a pure agent of the Absolute neither kills nor has to suffer any reaction for their actions. If someone who has exhaustively eliminated all selfish thinking walks, where do they get their inspiration? Where does their inspiration come from? The Centre, the Absolute. The Centre inspires them to act, and then they act. So, no matter what a cent per cent agent of the Absolute centre does, they do not have to undergo any reaction to their actions, whatever their nature may be.

yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya mukta-sangah samachara
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.9)

[The Lord says:] “Do, and do it for Me.

karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadachana
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.47)

“You are created only to work; you are not created to enjoy the fruits of work. Your constitutional position is that you are to work. You are a potency. Your duty is to exercise your power. But the results of your work are Mine.

aham hi sarva-yajnanam bhokta cha prabhur eva cha
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 9.24)

“So don’t look at the results of your activities. Simply do everything that is imposed on you; do your duty. Go on acting with a sense of duty. A doer should never sit idle. Idleness is your greatest enemy.

ma te sango ’stv akarmani
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 2.47)

“I am afraid that you may have some apathy to activity. If so, then you are doomed—you are gone to the world of annihilation, renunciation, inconclusiveness, and destruction. Ma te sango: you should work for Me. That is your position and Mine. Don’t be afraid of that. Why should you be? I am your friend; I am your guardian; I am your well-wisher. Everything is in My control. I am the enjoyer of everything, but you are My own, you are My friend. So, you must not be apprehensive about your future in any way. It won’t be hampered. Rather, it will be improved when it is in My hand. So have no apprehension. Go on, and work on My behalf. If you live that way, if you observe that policy, you will be best benefitted.

“In other words, you should intelligently use Me for your good. That is the best type of intelligence.”

sri krsnakarsini cha sa
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 1.17)

krtva harim prema-bhajam
(Sri Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu: Purva-vibhaga, 1.41)

This is the extraordinary power of devotion: devotion can convert the Autocrat, the Supreme Lord, into the loving friend of anyone who takes to the path of devotion. Devotion has such wonderful power: it can make Hari, the Absolute Good, loving and affectionate towards you. It can force the Lord to favour you, to befriend you, to act in your favour. This is the capacity of devotion, svarup-sakti prema. The highest stage of devotion, prema, is so powerful. Such extraordinary power is in Her hand that She can force the Autocrat to work on the behalf of His beloved servants.

Krtva Harim prema-bhajam: this is the natural fortune we have. If you march on in pursuit of mastership over the world, then the demon of the reactions to your actions will come, break your neck, and drink your blood, but bhakti, she can put the Infinite at your hand, she can bring Him within your fist.



Spoken on 12 August 1981.

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj is the foremost modern exponent of the conception of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the school of Srila Rupa Goswami. Subtle and profound yet vivid and practical, his representation of both the broadest and deepest spiritual truths has and continues to fortify and nurture the faith of spiritual aspirants the world over. For more information on Srila Sridhar Maharaj, please visit his biography page.

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