Prescribed Duties

21st Nov 2009
Kalacakra Krsna das

Dear Vaishnavas,
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

It is a natural tendency of living entities to like happiness and dislike sufferings. Especially among human beings, since the tendency to lead a sophisticated life is more, we always try to counteract the sufferings by various means. In spite of all our attempts to counteract, the nature of this material world is duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam - full of miseries and temporary. Our attempts to counteract sufferings bring in more and more sufferings as Prahlad Maharaj says duḥkhauṣadhaṁ tad api duḥkham atad-dhiyāhaṁ - the solution to the problems are more miserable than the actual problems. As a result, we feel defeated and frustrated as promptly diagnosed by King Rshabadev in SB 5.5.5:

parābhavas tāvad abodha-jāto
yāvan na jijñāsata ātma-tattvam
yāvat kriyās tāvad idaṁ mano vai
karmātmakaṁ yena śarīra-bandhaḥ

As long as one does not inquire about the spiritual values of life, one is defeated and subjected to miseries arising from ignorance. Be it sinful or pious, karma has its resultant actions. If a person is engaged in any kind of karma, his mind is called karmatmaka, colored with fruitive activity. As long as the mind is impure, consciousness is unclear, and as long as one is absorbed in fruitive activity, he has to accept a material body.

There are two ways of getting frustrated in this material world - one is when our material attempts to enjoy, aggrandize wealth, fame etc fail, we become frustrated. This may be due to our lack of skill, lack of proper endeavor, may be due to our past karma, bad time or whatever but if we are not able to achieve our material goals that we had set for ourselves, we become frustrated. The second way is one may become frustrated even after achieving everything in this material world, the reason being doing all our activities keeping everything else in the center except Krishna. We can see so many examples of billionaires, world renowned personalities becoming internally frustrated and sometimes even commit suicide.

As pointed out by Rshabhadeva, the main reason for all our frustrations is that we have not endeavored to understand about the spiritual values of life. Spiritual values of life mean that we should perform our duties honestly. When we get frustrated, we may resort to different means of counteracting the feelings of distress and a very rare person may take to Krishna consciousness by either the mercy of Vaishnavas or by his own past ajñāta-sukṛti. Here again, if we had taken to Krishna consciousness after endeavoring honestly in doing our prescribed duties and in the event had gotten frustrated, then we may not see too many hurdles in the process of Krishna consciousness, because our attempt to live in this world was through hard work and honesty. In fact spiritual life needs more hard work and honesty than material life and the sincerity and honesty one has shown in his education, work, maintaining family etc will feed into our attempts in Krishna consciousness too.

On the other hand, if we had come into Krishna consciousness due to half-baked frustration i.e., we had not worked honestly and in the process did not achieve any success in our material life - we did not do our studies, work or our other prescribed duties properly, then Krishna consciousness will seem like a consoling process like the 'sour grapes' example. We will be convinced that, "Anyway my defeat in this material world is of no meaning because everything in this world is temporary and miserable. So let me take to Krishna consciousness." But this frustration is not complete. Because we did not work honestly in our material life, we will not work honestly in the spiritual life too. Our motive for taking to devotional service is not to serve Krishna honestly but to escape the feeling of discontent that arise due to our lack of success/endeavor in material life. Even though for both kinds of frustrations, Krishna consciousness is the only solution, we should be conscious of the pitfalls due to our inner motives also.

This is the reason our Guru Maharaj always insists that we do our prescribed duties sincerely and honestly. The word "prescribe" is interesting to note - it is pre-scribed, i.e., "already written" for us. Whatever varna or ashrama we may belong to, whether we are a student, a householder, administrator, a businessman or anything else, we do not need to reinvent what our duty is. It is all clearly laid out in the shastras, explained by all the acaryas and personally spoken by Krishna too, that whatever position we may be in, we just do our duty and offer the results to Him. Our Guru Maharaj always makes this punching statement, "Honest endeavors always gives a peaceful life and sound health."

Let us try to do our duties honestly and offer the results to Krishna. Just like when we do arati, cooking or making garlands etc for the deities, we are careful that we offer the best quality items to the Lord and not cheap/spoiled items. In the same way the results of our work also, will be good quality if they are honestly and immaculately performed. By offering the results of such work, Guru and Krishna will be pleased and that is the best result we can achieve for obtaining this human form of life.

I offer my humble prayers to our dear Guru Maharaj for showing us this transcendental and practical way of devotional service and also inspiring and enthusing us at every step of our life.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das.