nivrttam karma seveta
pravrttam mat-paras tyajet
One who has fixed Me within his mind as the goal of life should give up activities based on sense gratification and should instead execute work governed by the regulative principles for advancement. When, however, one is fully engaged in searching out the ultimate truth of the soul, one should not accept the scriptural injunctions governing fruitive activities.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that the words jijñasayam sampravrttah refer to one who is yoga-arudha, or advanced in the yoga process. In Bhagavad-gita (6.3-4) it is stated:
aruruksor muner yogam
karma karanam ucyate
samah karanam ucyate
yada hi nendriyarthesu
na karmasv anusajjate
“For one who is a neophyte in the eightfold yoga system, work is said to be the means; and for one who has already attained to yoga, cessation of all material activities is said to be the means. A person is said to have attained to yoga when, having renounced all material desires, he neither acts for sense gratification nor engages in fruitive activities.” The example may be given that an ordinary man will try to enjoy the company of women for material sense pleasure. This is called pravrtta-karma, or the path of sense gratification. A religious person will also enjoy the company of a woman, but under the regulative principles of the varnasrama system. However, one who is fully absorbed in spiritual advancement will ultimately give up all sense gratification derived from sexual association, either regulated or illicit. Similarly, in the stage of pravrtta-karma, or ordinary sense gratification, one will eat whatever pleases his tongue. On the other hand, a materialistic devotee will sometimes cook sumptuous preparations and offer them to the Deity, not in order to satisfy the Lord but rather with the intention of satisfying his own tongue and belly. However, one who is sampravrtta, or fully engaged in spiritual consciousness, is never interested in simply gratifying his tongue. He avoids ordinary foods prepared by materialistic persons, and just for the purpose of keeping his body fit for serving Krsna he eats moderate quantities of food that has first been offered to the Deity for the Deity’s pleasure.
The process of spiritual realization gradually brings a conditioned soul from the lowest point of materialistic consciousness to total absorption in loving service to the Personality of Godhead. In the beginning one is taught to dovetail one’s enjoying propensities by first offering to the Lord the fruit of one’s work. In the advanced stage, however, the impulse to execute fruitive activities (karma-codanam) is absent, and one simply engages in the loving service of the Lord without any selfish motive. For example, a renounced sannyasi preaching Krsna consciousness, or even a renounced householder preaching Krsna consciousness, is not required to execute all of the injunctions governing sense gratification in family life. Ultimately, every human being should take to the transcendental duties of Krsna consciousness. Rather than working to fulfill one’s own desires and then offering the results to Krsna, one should fully engage in pleasing the Lord directly according to His own intimate desires.
According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, any attempt to enjoy the material world, either religiously or irreligiously, ultimately will be full of contradictions. One should come to the the platform of desirelessness, pure love of Godhead, and thus solve all of the problems of life.