Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And
whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
People in general always require a leader who can teach the public
by practical behavior. A leader cannot teach the public to stop
smoking if he himself smokes. Lord Caitanya said that a teacher
should behave properly before he begins teaching. One who teaches
in that way is called acarya, or the ideal teacher. Therefore, a teacher
must follow the principles of sasira (scripture) to teach the common
man. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of
revealed scriptures. The revealed scriptures, like Manu-samhila and
similar others, are considered the standard books to be followed by
Thus the leader's teaching should be based on the
principles of such standard sastras. One who desires to improve
himself must follow the standard rules as they are practiced by the
great teachers. The Snmad-Bhagavatam also affirms that one
should follow in the footsteps of great devotees, and that is the way
of progress on the path of spiritual realization. The king or the
executive head of a state, the father and the school teacher are all
considered to be natural leaders of the innocent people in general.
All such natural leaders have a great responsibility to their depen-
dents; therefore they must be conversant with standard books of
moral and spiritual codes.
- na me parthasti kartavyam
- trisu lokesu kincana
- nanavaptam avaptavyam
- varta eva ca karmani.
0 son of Prtha, there is no work prescribed for Me within all the three planetary systems. Nor am I in want of anything, nor have I a need to obtain anything-and yet I am engaged in prescribed duties.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is described in the Vedic
literatures as follows:
"The Supreme Lord is the controller of all other controllers, and He
is the greatest of all the diverse planetary leaders. Everyone is under
His control. All entities are delegated with particular power only by
the Supreme Lord; they are not supreme themselves. He is also
worshipable by all demigods and is the supreme director of all
directors. Therefore, He is transcendental to all kinds of material
leaders and controllers and is worshipable by all. There is no one
greater than Him, and He is the supreme cause of all causes.
"He does not possess bodily form like that of an ordinary living
entity. There is no difference between His body and His soul. He is
absolute. All His senses are transcendental. Any one of His senses
can perform the action of any other sense. Therefore, no one is
greater than Him or equal to Him. His potencies are multifarious,
and thus His deeds are automatically performed as a natural
sequence." (Svetasvalara Upanisad 6.7-8)
Since everything is in full opulence in the Personality of Godhead
and is existing in full truth, there is no duty for the Supreme
Personality of Godhead to perform. One who must receive the
results of work has some designated duty, but one who has nothing
to achieve within the three planetary systems certainly has no duty.
And yet Lord Krishna is engaged on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra as
the leader of the ksatriyas because the ksatriyas are duty-bound to
give protection to the distressed. Although He is above all the regulations of the revealed scriptures. He does not do anything that
violates the revealed scriptures.
- yadi hy aham na varteyam
- jatu karmany atandritah
- mama vartmanuvartante
- manusyah partha sarvasah.
For if I ever failed to engage in carefully performing prescribed
duties, 0 Partha, certainly all men would follow My path.
In order to keep the balance of social tranquility for progress in
spiritual life, there are traditional family usages meant for every
civilized man. Although such rules and regulations are for the
conditioned souls and not Lord Krishna, because He descended to
establish the principles of religion He followed the prescribed rules.
Otherwise, common men would follow in His footsteps, because He
is the greatest authority. From the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is under-
stood that Lord Krishna was performing all the religious duties at
home and out of home, as required of a householder.
- utsideyur ime loka na
- kuryam karma ced aham
- sankarasya ca karta
- syam upahanyam imah prajah.
If I did not perform prescribed duties, all these worlds would be put
to ruination. I would be the cause of creating unwanted population,
and I would thereby destroy the peace of all living beings.
Varna-sankara is unwanted population which disturbs the peaceof
the general society. In order to check this social disturbance, there
are prescribed rules and regulations by which the population can
automatically become peaceful and organized for spiritual progress
in life. When Lord Krishna descends, naturally He deals with such
rules and regulations in order to maintain the prestige and necessity
of such important performances. The Lord is the father of all living
entities, and if the living entities are misguided, indirectly the
responsibility goes to the Lord. Therefore, whenever there is general
disregard of regulative principles, the Lord Himself descends and
corrects the society.
We should, however, note carefully that
although we have to follow in the footsteps of the Lord, we still have
to remember that we cannot imitate Him. Following and imitating
are not on the same level. We cannot imitate the Lord by lifting
Govardhana Hill, as the Lord did in His childhood. It is impossible
for any human being. We have to follow His instructions, but we
may not imitate Him at any time. The Srimad-Bhdgavatam
"One should simply follow the instructions of the Lord and His
empowered servants. Their instructions are all good for us, and any
intelligent person will perform them as instructed. However, one
should guard against trying to imitate their actions. One should not
try to drink the ocean of poison in imitation of Lord Shiva."
We should always consider the position of the isvaras, or those
who can actually control the movements of the sun and moon, as
superior. Without such power, one cannot imitate the isvaras, who
are super powerful. Lord Siva drank poison to the extent of swallowing an ocean, but if any common man tries to drink even a fragment
of such poison, he will be killed. There are many pseudo devotees of
Lord Siva who want to indulge in smoking ganja (marijuana) and
similar intoxicating drugs, forgetting that by so imitating the acts of
Lord Siva they are calling death very near.
Similarly, there are some
pseudo devotees of Lord Krishna who prefer to imitate the Lord in His
rasa-lila, or dance of love, forgetting their inability to lift Govardhana Hill. It is best, therefore, that one not try to imitate the power-
fool, but simply follow their instructions; nor should one try to
occupy their posts without qualification. There are so many
"incarnations" of God without the power of the Supreme Godhead.
- saktah karmany avidvamso
- yatha kurvanti bharata
- kuryad vidvams tathasaktas
- cikirsur loka-sangraham.
As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, the learned may similarly act, but without attachment, for the sake of
leading people on the right path.
A person in Krishna consciousness and a person not in Krishna con-
sciousness are differentiated by different desires. A Krishna conscious
person does not do anything which is not conducive to development
of Krishna consciousness. He may even act exactly like the ignorant
person, who is too much attached to material activities, but one is
engaged in such activities for the satisfaction of his sense gratifica-
tion, whereas the other is engaged for the satisfaction of Krishna.
Therefore, the Krishna conscious person is required to show the
people how to act and how to engage the results of action for the
purpose of Krishna consciousness.
- na buddhi-bhedam janayed
- ajnanam karma-sanginam
- josayet sarva-karmani
- vidvan yuktah samacaran.
So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the
fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not
induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of
devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities [for the
gradual development of Krishna consciousness.
Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah. That is the end of all Vedic
rituals. All rituals, all performances of sacrifices, and everything that
is put into the Vedas, including all direction for material activities, are meant for understanding Krishna, who is the ultimate goal of life.
But because the conditioned souls do not know anything beyond
sense gratification, they study the Vedas to that end. But through
fruitive activities and sense gratification regulated by the Vedic
rituals one is gradually elevated to Krishna consciousness. Therefore a
realized soul in Krishna consciousness should not disturb others in
their activities or understanding, but he should act by showing how
the results of all work can be dedicated to the service of Krishna. The
learned Krishna conscious person may act in such a way that the
ignorant person working for sense gratification may learn how to act
and how to behave.
Although the ignorant man is not to be disturbed in his activities, a slightly developed Krishna conscious person
may directly be engaged in the service of the Lord without waiting
for other Vedic formulas. For this fortunate man there is no need to
follow the Vedic rituals, because by direct Krishna consciousness one
can have all the results one would otherwise derive from following
one's prescribed duties
- prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih
- karmani sarvasah ahankara-
- vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate.
The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself
the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three
modes of material nature.
Two persons, one in Krishna consciousness and the other in material
consciousness, working on the same level, may appear to be working
on the same platform, but there is a wide gulf of difference in their
respective positions. The person in material consciousness is convinced by false ego that he is the doer of everything. He does not know that the mechanism of the body is produced by material
nature, which works under the supervision of the Supreme Lord.
The materialistic person has no knowledge that ultimately he is
under the control of Krishna.
The person in false ego takes all credit
for doing everything independently, and that is the symptom of his
nescience. He does not know that this gross and subtle body is the
creation of material nature, under the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as such his bodily and mental activities should
be engaged in the service of Krishna, in Krishna consciousness. The
ignorant man forgets that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is
known as Hrsikesa, or the master of the senses of the material body,
for due to his long misuse of the senses in sense gratification, he is
factually bewildered by the false ego, which makes him forget his
eternal relationship with Krishna.
- tattva-vit tu maha-baho
- guna gunesu vartanta
- iti matva na sajjate.
One who is in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, 0 mighty-armed,
does not engage himself in the senses and sense gratification, knowing well the differences between work in devotion and work for
The knower of the Absolute Truth is convinced of his awkward
position in material association. He knows that he is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, and that his position
should not be in the material creation. He knows his real identity as
part and parcel of the Supreme, who is eternal bliss and knowledge,
and he realizes that somehow or other he is entrapped in the material
conception of life. In his pure state of existence he is meant to
dovetail his activities in devotional service to the Supreme Person-
ality of Godhead, Krishna.
He therefore engages himself in the activi-
ties of Krishna consciousness and becomes naturally unattached to the
activities of the material senses, which are all circumstantial and
temporary. He knows that his material condition of life is under the
supreme control of the Lord; consequently he is not disturbed by all
kinds of material reactions, which he considers to be the mercy of the
Lord. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, one who knows the Abso-
lute Truth in three different features-namely Brahman, Param-
atma, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead-is called tattva-vit,
for he knows also his own factual position in relationship with the
- prakrter guna-sammudhah
- sajjante guna-karmasu
- tan akrtsna-vido mandan
- krtsna-vin na vicalayet.
Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully
engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But
the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior
due to the performers' lack of knowledge.
Persons who are unknowledgeable falsely identify with gross ma-
terial consciousness and are full of material designations. This body
is a gift of the material nature, and one who is too much attached to
the bodily consciousness is called manda, or a lazy person without
understanding of spirit soul. Ignorant men think of the body as the
self; they accept bodily connections with others as kinsmanship,
the land in which the body is obtained is their object of worship, and
they consider the formalities of religious rituals to be ends in them-
selves. Social work, nationalism and altruism are some of the activi-
ties for such materially designated persons. Under the spell of such
designations, they are always busy in the material field; for them
spiritual realization is a myth, and so they are not interested. Those
who are enlightened in spiritual life, however, should not try to
agitate such materially engrossed persons. Better to prosecute one's
own spiritual activities silently. Such bewildered persons may be
engaged in such primary moral principles of life as nonviolence and
similar materially benevolent work.
Men who are ignorant cannot appreciate activities in Krishna con-
sciousness, and therefore Lord Krishna advises us not to disturb them
and simply waste valuable time. But the devotees of the Lord are
more kind than the Lord because they understand the purpose of the
Lord. Consequently they undertake all kinds of risks, even to the
point of approaching ignorant men to try to engage them in the acts
of Krishna consciousness, which are absolutely necessary for the
- mayi sarvani karmani
- sannyasyadhyatma-cetasa nirasir
- nirmamo bhutva yudhyasva vigata-jvarah.
Therefore, 0 Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full
knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to
proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight.
This verse clearly indicates the purpose of the Bhagavad-gita. The
Lord instructs that one has to become fully Krishna conscious to
discharge duties, as if in military discipline. Such an injunction may
make things a little difficult; nevertheless duties must be carried out,
with dependence on Krishna, because that is the constitutional posi-
tion of the living entity. The living entity cannot be happy indepen-
dent of the cooperation of the Supreme Lord, because the eternal
constitutional position of the living entity is to become subordinate
to the desires of the Lord.
Arjuna was therefore ordered by Sri
Krishna to fight as if the Lord were his military commander. One has
to sacrifice everything for the good will of the Supreme Lord, and at
the same time discharge prescribed duties without claiming proprie-
torship. Arjuna did not have to consider the order of the Lord; he
had only to execute His order. The Supreme Lord is the soul of all
souls; therefore, one who depends solely and wholly on the Supreme
Soul without personal consideration, or in other words, one who is
fully Krishna conscious, is called adhyatma-cetas. Nirasih means that
one has to act on the order of the master but should not expect
The cashier may count millions of dollars for his
employer, but he does not claim a cent for himself. Similarly, one has
to realize that nothing in the world belongs to any individual person,
but that everything belongs to the Supreme Lord. That is the real
purport of mayi, or "unto Me." And when one acts in such Krishna
consciousness, certainly he does not claim proprietorship over any-
thing. This consciousness is called nirmama, or "nothing is mine."
And if there is any reluctance to execute such a stern order, which is
without consideration of so-called kinsmen in the bodily relation-
ship, that reluctance should be thrown off; in this way one may
become vigata-jvara, or without feverish mentality or lethargy.
Everyone, according to his quality and position, has a particular type of work to discharge, and all such duties may be discharged in Krishna consciousness, as described above. That will lead one to the path of liberation.