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Practicing the Right Duty

By: for ISKCON News on Sept. 25, 2015
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Myriad duties

The life of a modern man is stuck in a web of duties towards the  family, society, occupation and religion. His entire life revolves around shouldering these responsibilities and he hardly finds time to reflect inside his own heart and listen to the need of his soul. The insatiable desire to chase money, fulfil the needs of family, lead a luxurious life style, collect unnecessary wealth, seek multiple partners, grab fame, keeps him away from attaining inner tranquillity and hence mostly we find people are disgruntled with their lives although they have materially achieved feats they wanted to. It is seen that the best of achievers in the world who have performed their duties outstandingly, suffer from the fear of death, old age and disease.

Evolution of duties

From a very tender age as the human being begins the errand of life, he is  tutored to struggle for existence, which he accepts as his duties. As Srila Prabhupada has said, in a state of complete nescience, the human being wastes his entire span of life in opposing the impediments offered by maya, the external energy of the Lord.  This very intense desire to fight the odds and win over it, at each and every step of life does not allow him to search for real happiness. During diligently rendering the duties, at times when he is able to defeat the hindrances and accumulates material objects of pleasure, he gets accolades from other conditions souls, which leads to the arousal of a strong feeling of proprietorship. He starts to believe that he is the cause of all causes and everything belongs to him. However, most of times all his plans to succeed  meet devastation and he remains in melancholy. The illusioned  person always tries to protect his friends, wealth, body and avariciously base their undertakings on perishable conception of ‘my’ and ‘mine’ and remain permanently in anxiety (SB: 3.9.6).

It is very unfortunate that human beings do not realise that they are different from animals and squander the gift of human life in merely sleeping, mating, eating and protecting. In a quest to amass money he forgets that he will not be able to take the money with him after his soul leaves the body, however the soul will have to carry the burden of reactions which it has earned in gathering the money into many many lives.

As Lord Kapila has rightly pointed out, by mastering the worldly duties, the conditioned soul himself jumps into a dark vicious circle of repeated births and deaths and transmigrates into different species (SB:3.27.3). As long as one is affected by the modes of nature, especially “rajas”(passion) and “tamas”(ignorance), he will be very greedy and lusty and will therefore engage in very hard tasks, labouring all day and night. Such false egoism carries one from one species to another perpetually, and there is no rest in any species of life.  

Perform the right duty & be happy

Srila Prabhupda has suggested that human beings must refrain from behaving like an ass who  works very hard and yet is chastised by its owner.  Now the question arises what is the right duty that will be able to quench the thirst of the agitated soul, which has been yearning to attain peace since very long? For the conditioned souls, it is suggested in the Vedas, the best duty is to ensure “Haritosanam” (to satisfy Lord Hari) and that is considered as the most effective “yajna”(sacrifice) in the age of Kali-yuga.

Through Arjuna, Lord Krsna has advised the people of the material world  the art of performing duties. Any duty performed with perfection  in “sambandha” (relation)  to give pleasure to the Lord will bear no reaction the Lord announces that the most Supreme duty is the work done without attachment to the fruits of activities (BG: 3.19). This way of executing the prescribed duties is practical in approach and simple to deliver. Sukdeva Gosvami stressed that hard endeavour to accumulate wealth fetches nothing rather one should live a simple life barely to meet the necessities of life (SB: 2.2.3). The objective of discharging one’s duties should not be to satisfy one’s own senses rather the gains should be utilised to make the Lord happy.

It is advised by the Kumaras to Maharaja Prthu that one should surrender unto the lotus Feet of Supreme Personality of Godhead- Sri Krsna and try to gather spiritual wealth by which one can break the shackles of  maya and enter the Kingdom of Lord which is most beautiful.  It becomes very easy for a  Krishna-conscious person to act as per the rules laid down in the  holy scriptures as he wishes only Krsna to benefit from any duty he performs. He never hankers for personal gains and understands that material wealth is  non-permanent and hence remains in absolute tranquillity eternally.

[ dharma ] [ duty ]