Chapter 5: Karma-yoga-Action in Kåñëa Consciousness
sannyasah karma-yogas ca
tayos tu karma-sannyasat
çré bhagavän uväca—the Personality of Godhead said; sannyäsaù—renunciation of work; karma-yogaù—work in devotion; ca—also; niùçreyasa-karau—all leading to the path of liberation; ubhau—both; tayoù—of the two; tu—but; karma-sannyäsät—in comparison to the renunciation of fruitive work; karma-yogaù—work in devotion; viçiñyate—is better.
The Blessed Lord said: The renunciation of work and work in devotion are both good for liberation. But, of the two, work in devotional service is better than renunciation of works.
Fruitive activities (seeking sense gratification) are cause for material bondage. As long as one is engaged in activities aimed at improving the standard of bodily comfort, one is sure to transmigrate to different types of bodies, thereby continuing material bondage perpetually. Çrémad-Bhägavatam confirms this as follows:
nünaà pramattaù kurute vikarma yad indriya-prétaya äpåëoti
na sädhu manye yata ätmano 'yam asann api kleçada äsa dehaù
paräbhavas tävad abodha-jäto yävanna jijïäsata ätma-tattvam
yävat kriyäs tävad idaà mano vai karmätmakaà yena çaréra-bandhaù
evaà manaù karma-vaçaà prayuìkte avidyayätmany upadhéyamäne
prétir na yävan mayi väsudeve na mucyate deha-yogena tävat
"People are mad after sense gratification, and they do not know that this present body, which is full of miseries, is a result of one's fruitive activities in the past. Although this body is temporary, it is always giving one trouble in many ways. Therefore, to act for sense gratification is not good. One is considered to be a failure in life as long as he makes no inquiry about the nature of work for fruitive results, for as long as one is engrossed in the consciousness of sense gratification, one has to transmigrate from one body to another. Although the mind may be engrossed in fruitive activities and influenced by ignorance, one must develop a love for devotional service to Väsudeva. Only then can one have the opportunity to get out of the bondage of material existence." (Bhäg. 5.5.4
Therefore, jïäna (or knowledge that one is not this material body but spirit soul) is not sufficient for liberation. One has to act in the status of spirit soul, otherwise there is no escape from material bondage. Action in Kåñëa consciousness is not, however, action on the fruitive platform. Activities performed in full knowledge strengthen one's advancement in real knowledge. Without Kåñëa consciousness, mere renunciation of fruitive activities does not actually purify the heart of a conditioned soul. As long as the heart is not purified, one has to work on the fruitive platform. But action in Kåñëa consciousness automatically helps one escape the result of fruitive action so that one need not descend to the material platform. Therefore, action in Kåñëa consciousness is always superior to renunciation, which always entails a risk of falling. Renunciation without Kåñëa consciousness is incomplete, as is confirmed by Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé in his Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu.
präpaïcikatayä buddhyä hari-sambandhi-vastunaù
mumukñubhiù parityägo vairägyaà phalgu kathyate.
"Renunciation by persons eager to achieve liberation of things which are related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, though they are material, is called incomplete renunciation." Renunciation is compete when it is in the knowledge that everything in existence belongs to the Lord and that no one should claim proprietorship over anything. One should understand that, factually, nothing belongs to anyone. Then where is the question of renunciation? One who knows that everything is Kåñëa's property is always situated in renunciation. Since everything belongs to Kåñëa, everything should be employed in the service of Kåñëa. This perfect form of action in Kåñëa consciousness is far better than any amount of artificial renunciation by a sannyäsé of the Mäyävädé school.