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vedoktam eva kurvano
nihsango ’rpitam isvare
naiskarmyam labhate siddhim
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
By executing without attachment the regulated activities prescribed in the Vedas, offering the results of such work to the Supreme Lord, one attains the perfection of freedom from the bondage of material work. The material fruitive results offered in the revealed scriptures are not the actual goal of Vedic knowledge, but are meant for stimulating the interest of the performer.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Human life is an opportunity offered by the laws of nature to the conditioned soul so that he may understand his eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Unfortunately, even in the human form of life most living entities remain addicted to improving the standard of animal activities, namely eating, sleeping, defending and mating. Almost no one is interested in the actual success of life, Krsna consciousness.
nrnam santi sahasrasah
“Those persons who are materially engrossed, being blind to the knowledge of ultimate truth, have many subject matters for hearing in human society, O Emperor.” (Bhag. 2.1.2)
It is stated, parama-karuniko vedah “Vedic knowledge is supremely merciful” because it engages the animalistic human beings in a gradual process of purification that culminates in full consciousness of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is confirmed by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gita (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah). The majority of human beings are not able to suddenly give up material sense gratification, even though they understand from Vedic literature that such sense gratification causes a pernicious future effect. We have practical experience in the Western countries that when the government informed the citizens that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, most people were unable to give up their smoking habit. Therefore, the Vedic literature prescribes a gradual process of purification in which the conditioned soul learns to offer the results of his material activities to the Supreme Lord, thus spiritualizing those activities. Material sense gratification is based on two organs, namely the tongue for tasting and the genitals for sex life. By offering palatable food to the Deity of Krsna and then enjoying the remnants as krsna-prasadam and by accepting the rules and regulations for Vedic householder life and begetting of Krsna conscious children, one can gradually bring the full range of material activities to the platform of pure devotional service. By offering the fruits of one’s ordinary activities to the Supreme Lord, one gradually understands that the Lord Himself, and not material sense gratification, is the actual goal of life. Lord Krsna warns in Bhagavad-gita that if people are prematurely encouraged to give up householder life or the sumptuous remnants of the Lord’s prasadam, such artificial renunciation will have the opposite effect.
There is a class of duplicitous men who misunderstand the transcendental purpose of the Vedas and falsely claim that material fruitive results such as promotion to heaven, which is offered in the agnistoma sacrifice, constitute the ultimate goal of the Vedas. Such foolish men have been described by Lord Krsna:
yam imam puspitam vacam
nanyad astiti vadinah
“Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.” (Bg. 2.42-43) To refute such a foolish understanding of the Vedic purpose, this verse uses the word nihsangah, which means “without attachment to material results.” The actual purpose of the Vedas is arpitam isvare, to offer everything to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The result is siddhim, or the perfection of life, Krsna consciousness.
The words rocanartha phala-srutih clearly indicate that the fruitive results promised in the Vedic literature are meant to stimulate a materialistic person to have faith in the Vedic injunctions. The example is given that a child may be offered candy-covered medicine. The child becomes enthusiastic to take the medicine because of the candy coating, whereas a mature person will be enthusiastic to take the medicine itself, knowing that such medicine is meant for his real self-interest. The mature platform of Vedic understanding is mentioned in the Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad (4.4.22): tam etam vedanuvacanena brahmana vividisanti brahmacaryena tapasa sraddhaya yajñenanasakena ca. “By the teaching of the Vedas and by celibacy, penances, faith and controlled eating, great brahmanas come to know the Supreme.” The Supreme is Krsna, as stated in Bhagavad-gita. Although the prescribed rituals of the Vedas may sometimes resemble material fruitive work, the activity is spiritualized because the result is offered to the Supreme. Candy-covered medicine and ordinary candy may appear or taste the same. But the candy-covered medicine has a therapeutic effect not found in ordinary candy. Similarly, the words naiskarmyam labhate siddhim in this verse indicate that a faithful follower of the Vedic injunctions will gradually be promoted to the highest perfection of life, pure love of Godhead, as stated by Caitanya Mahaprabhu (prema pum-artho mahan).