Bhagavad Gita: Chapter: 7 Knowledge of the Absolute: Text: 28
yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
Translation: Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.
Those eligible for elevation to the transcendental position are mentioned in this verse. For those who are sinful, atheistic, foolish and deceitful, it is very difficult to transcend the duality of desire and hate. Only those who have passed their lives in practicing the regulative principles of religion, who have acted piously, and who have conquered sinful reactions can accept devotional service and gradually rise to the pure knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Our body is only a vehicle to be worked by the spirit soul, which is always active and cannot stop even for a moment. The spirit soul has to be engaged in the pious deeds of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, otherwise it will be engaged in occupations dictated by the illusory energy and get entangled in the material existence. In contact with material energy, the spirit soul acquires material modes, and to purify the soul from such affinities it is necessary to engage in the prescribed duties enjoined in the śāstras.
What are the pious people called?
Pious activity is called as Sukriti so the pious people are called as Su-kritnah
Su-kṛtinaḥ, or those who obey the rules and regulations of scriptures, the moral and social laws, and are, more or less, devoted to the Supreme Lord. These persons come to the Supreme Lord for devotional service under different conditions. In (BG 7.16)
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁjanāḥ su-kṛtino ’rjunaārto jijñāsur arthārthījñānī ca bharatarṣabha
Lord Krsna says, “Four kinds of pious men begin to render service unto Me. The distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive and he who is in search of knowledge of the Absolute. These are not pure devotees, because they still have some aspiration to fulfill in exchange for devotional service. Srila Rupa Gosvami defines pure devotion in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu(1.1.11)
anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁjñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtamānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
Translation: “One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.”
Sinful people are those who are foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion and who are atheistic do not surrender to Krsna. Atheist means who does not believe in the existence of God. There are 4 regulated principles that Srila Prabhupad had given us to avoid sinful reactions. There are the four regulative principles are:
No Gambling, No illicit sex, No intoxication, and No meat eating.
These sinful activities are the epitome of breaking four legs of dharma which stands on Satyam or (Truthfulness), Daya or (Mercy), Suci or (Cleanliness), and Tapa or (Austerity). These sinful activities should be immediately given up as they make the human life meaningless.
1)Mercy or compassion: Animal killing and meat eating is very sinful. Meat means you eat me I shall eat you. Being sinful one cannot make spiritual progress. One should not kill animals and have compassion.
2)Truthfulness: wherever there is gambling involved the principle of truthfulness is lost. Because one cheats and tells lies. Untruthful things are happening during gambling. Now-a-days they have made many glittering casinos but Vedic scriptures say this is a very sinful activity.
3)Cleanliness: One who violates cleanliness has illicit relationships. Between the man and woman there has to be only legal relationship. No other illicit relationship should be involved as it will cause disturbance in the society and will break its structure. This is also sinful.
4)Austerity or Tapasya: Human beings should lead an austere life to control the mind and the senses for spiritual elevation. Drinking intoxicants like liquor, wine etc. is also very sinful as they make you dull.
These four pillars of religion were remarkable features in the Satya yuga. In that age, every human being was practically a qualified brāhmaṇa and paramahaṁsa of the highest order. Such strong men of character were competent enough to get away from the clutches of māyā. But gradually, as these basic principles reduced by the growth of these four sinful principles, the path of transcendental bliss went far away from human society. With the progression of the Age of Kali, people are becoming very intoxicated and lusty and not following these four regulative principles.
If one actually wants to be liberated, he must get rid of the sinful activities by associating with devotees to make gradual progress in purifying his heart but one who associates with materialistic people is on the path leading to the darkest region of existence. A devotee is always free from all bad association as it contaminates a person. Even half a moment’s association with pure devotees is like priceless treasure because only a rare person who has adopted unalloyed devotional service to Krsna can uproot the weeds of sinful actions with no possibility that they will revive.
The pure devotees constantly remember the Lord and discuss His glories, qualities and pastimes. In this way, by their devotion to the principles of bhakti-yoga, the devotees please the Personality of Godhead, who takes away everything inauspicious from them. They traverse this earth just to recover the conditioned souls from their delusion. For example, Prahalad Maharaja was granted mercy by Narada Muni, a pure devotee of the Lord and bona-fide spiritual master who had instructed him in Bhagavata dharma when he was in the womb of his mother which created devotional impressions arising bhakti in him. Prahlāda Mahārāja, who engaged in the devotional service of the Lord through the instructions of Narada Muni was thus freed from the clutches of māyā, and relieved of all ignorance and material desires. It is our duty to take shelter of a bona-fide spiritual master in the disciplic succession. In (BG 4.34)
tad viddhi praṇipātenaparipraśnena sevayāupadekṣyanti te jñānaṁjñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ
Translation: One should try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.
The faulty associations bind one to this material world. Taking shelter of spiritual master and getting initiated and following his instructions will make one free from all material desires. In (BG 15.5)
nirmāna-mohā jita-saṅga-doṣāadhyātma-nityā vinivṛtta-kāmāḥdvandvair vimuktāḥ sukha-duḥkha-saṁjñairgacchanty amūḍhāḥ padam avyayaṁ tat
Translation: Those who are free from false prestige, illusion and false association, who understand the eternal, who are done with material lust, who are freed from the dualities of happiness and distress, know how to surrender unto the Supreme Person
By the cultivation of real knowledge one knows that he is not lord of material nature; the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the Lord. When one becomes free from delusion caused by pride, and false association, he can begin the process of surrender. For one who is always expecting some honor in this material world, it is not possible to surrender to the Supreme Person. At this stage, one has to cultivate spiritual knowledge of what is actually his own and what is actually not his own. It is very difficult to transcend the duality of desire and hate, fame and infamy, happiness and distress. There are two duties to perform; constitutional and conditional. One should try to understand that I have my duty to God and also, I have my duty to family, society, and this world and thus act without giving way to dualities.He is neither happy nor distressed over material gain and loss. He is transcendental in the face of all kinds of auspicious, and inauspicious activities. Bhakti, devotional service to Lord Krishna, is the most powerful, pure, and exalted of all activities; it is the dynamic, variegated activity of the soul. Elevation to this stage is possible in Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the association of pure devotees, for under their guidance one can be delivered from delusion and hence tolerate all the dualities of material existence. Srila Jiva Gosvami says, tolerance means being undisturbed, even when there is a cause for disturbance. When one has an understanding of things as they are; thus, freed from delusion caused by pride, he starts attaining knowledge; develops firm faith and determination in the Lotus feet of Lord.
A story on determination
A sparrow laid her eggs on the shore of the ocean, but the big ocean carried away the eggs on its waves. The sparrow became very upset and asked the ocean to return her eggs. The ocean did not even consider her appeal. So, the sparrow decided to dry up the ocean. She began to pick out the water in her small beak, and everyone laughed at her for her impossible determination. The news of her activity spread, and Garuḍa, the gigantic bird carrier of Lord Viṣṇu, heard it. He became compassionate toward his small sister bird, and so he came to see the sparrow. Garuḍa was very pleased by the determination of the small sparrow, and he promised to help. Thus, Garuḍa at once asked the ocean to return her eggs or he himself will take up the work of the sparrow. The ocean was frightened at this, and returned the eggs. Thus, the sparrow became happy by the grace of Garuḍa.
Similarly, the practice of bhakti-yoga in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, may appear to be a very difficult job. But the process of Bhakti is the Supreme intelligence of the intelligent. If anyone follows its principles with great determination, he will succeed under the guidance of a bona-fide spiritual master and the Lord will surely help, for God helps those who help themselves. At the present moment in material existence the senses are always impure, being engaged in sense gratification. Srila Prabhupada said there are three categories of people: Karmi, jnani, and yogi. They try to fulfill their desires by performing various activities, but are never satisfied. Karmis or the non-devotees struggle to enjoy their senses and they repeatedly get slapped and whipped and they suffer in the cycle of Bhoga-Roga-Yoga. Under the control of their material senses they cannot control their tongue and eat unhealthy food thus getting some disease like extra fat or high cholesterol. Then they go to the gymn to perform yoga. When they are better then again start eating and get another roga or disease. The jñānīs or the impersonalists cannot be desire-less because their intelligence is unsound. They want to merge into the Brahman effulgence, but even though they may be raised to that platform, but due to inactivity they cannot be satisfied there. They return to the world to engage in politics or philanthropy or to open schools and hospitals. Thus they again cultivate desires. They cannot be niṣkāma, or desireless. The yogīs desire yogic perfections in order to exhibit some magical feats and gain popularity. They misuse their mystic power and control their senses from all other engagements by meditating upon the Supreme Lord in their heart. Their concentration is mechanical. It is not possible for them also to control their senses. The conclusion is that only the devotees, who are simply satisfied in serving the Lord, can actually have no desires because their senses are busy all the time serving the Master of the senses ”Hrshikesha hrishikena sevanam bhaktir ucyate.” The devotees have an absolutely positive spiritual engagement with the senses. For example, Maharaja Ambarisa as the emperor, was immensely opulent, he was an exalted devotee who performed devotional service with great opulence, and therefore, despite his wealth, he had no attachment to his wife, children or kingdom. He constantly engaged his senses in the service of the Lord. He always engaged his mind in meditating upon the lotus feet of Krsna, his tongue in describing the glories of the Lord and tasting the prasada, his hands in cleansing the temple, and his ears in hearing the glories of the Lord. He engaged his eyes in seeing the Deities of Radha-Krsna, his legs in visiting Kṛṣṇa’s temples in Mathura and Vrndavana, he engaged his sense of touch in touching the bodies of the Lord’s devotees, he engaged his sense of smell in smelling the fragrance of tulasī offered at the Lotus feet of the Lord, his head in bowing down before the Lord, and all his desires in serving the Lord, twenty-four hours a day. Indeed, Maharaj Ambarisa never desired anything for his own sense gratification but engaged all his senses in performing devotional service. (The love of God is now in a dormant state in everyone’s heart which is contaminated by material association. It has to be purified of the material association, and that dormant, natural love for Kṛṣṇa has to be revived. If one actually executes devotional service, then “anartha-nivṛttiḥ syāt,” then all sinful habits will disappear. A kṛṣṇa-bhakta knows that his friend and protector in all respects is Kṛṣṇa, who is able to do anything for His devotee. Lord Kṛṣṇa says in (BG 9.31)
kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmāśaśvac-chāntiṁ nigacchatikaunteya pratijānīhina me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
“He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” Since Kṛṣṇa gives this assurance, the devotee lives in Kṛṣṇa and has no desire for personal benefit. He is (niskama) desire-less and completely protected by the Supreme. By following the four regulative principles of religion: no illicit sex, no gambling, no meat-eating, and no intoxication, the senses start to get purified and controlled. The Lord Himself also warns that material energy is too powerful to overcome, but one who completely surrenders unto the Lord can easily overcome it. In (SB 1.2.11) it says,
vadanti tat tattva-vidastattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayambrahmeti paramātmetibhagavān iti śabdyate
Translation: The Absolute Truth is realized in three phases. Such aspects of the Absolute Truth are expressed as Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān. They are qualitatively one and the same.
The object of destination of Mayavadis who are a-bhuddhya with no intelligence is Kṛṣṇa as Brahman; the impersonal jyoti. They deny the transcendental form of the Lord and want to merge into the existence of the Lord. This is spiritual suicide since they deny the individual existence whereas Bhakti yoga offers immortality to the individual conditioned soul. The yogī’s destination of Paramātmā is also Kṛṣṇa with material potencies. Kṛṣṇa is both brahmajyoti and localized Paramātmā, but in brahmajyoti or Paramātmā there is no Kṛṣṇa or sweet relations with Kṛṣṇa. He is realized as Bhagavān by the devotees. In other words, Bhagavān, or the Personality of Godhead, is the last word of the Absolute Truth. Paramātmā is the partial representation, and impersonal Brahman is the glowing effulgence of the Personality of Godhead.
Srila Prabhupada said to purify one’s existence one must
1) Become disciple of a bona fide spiritual master, follow his instructions.
2)Recite Bhagavad-gītā, and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; hear them from the mouth of pure devotees.
3)Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa maha mantra at least 16 rounds daily. This practice can help anyone rise to the level of love of God, and then he is sure of his spiritual progress.
On this verse, Srila Visvanath Cakravarti Thakura has very nicely commented that “those who have punya-karma, who have destroyed sins partially develop a predominance of sattva-guna and diminished tamo-guna. The result of this is a decrease in illusion. Consequently, they become less attached. Then they have a chance association with Lord’s devotees and become completely free of sin by the practice of His worship. Being freed completely of illusion (dvandva-moha-nirmukta) they become steady (drdha-vratah) in worshipping the Lord. Thus, one should not consider that punya-karma is the cause of any type of bhakti rather association with the devotees is the cause.