yaḥ karma-phalaṁ karmāṇi sanyasyati tato nirdvandvo bhavati
yaḥ — who; karma-phalam — the fruit of material work; karmāṇi — his material activities; sanyasati — resigns; tataḥ — thus; nirdvandvaḥ — un-affected by dualities; bhavati — becomes.
[Who can cross beyond illusion?] That person who renounces material duties and their profits, thus transcending duality.
A devotee has faith that Lord Kṛṣṇa will supply his needs. But this does not mean that he becomes lazy or inactive. He works for Kṛṣṇa. By dedicating all acts to the Lord, the devotee becomes free from karmic reactions. As long as one continues to work under the influence of the modes of nature, one must experience duality—good and bad, hot and cold, rich and poor, pleasure and pain, and so on. As Lord Kṛṣṇa states in Bhagavad-gītā (7.27),
icchā-dveṣa-samutthena dvandva-mohena bhārata
sarva-bhūtāni sammohaṁ sarge yānti parantapa
“O scion of Bhārata, O conqueror of foes, all living entities are born into delusion, bewildered by dualities arisen from desire and hate.” And in his purport, Prabhupāda explains,
Deluded persons, symptomatically, dwell in dualities of dishonor and honor, misery and happiness, woman and man, good and bad, pleasure and pain, etc., thinking, “This is my wife; this is my house; I am the master of this house; I am the husband of this wife.” These are the dualities of delusion. Those who are so deluded by dualities are completely foolish and therefore cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The delusion of duality stems from identifying the self with the body. When a person understands that he is not the body but an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, the delusion of duality ceases for him. A devotee can break the bonds of duality even while living in the material world. When a devotee feels bodily heat or cold, pleasure or pain, he sees it in terms of the body, and he continues to perform his service without distraction. Early in the Bhagavad-gītā, Lord Kṛṣṇa advises Arjuna to remain equipoised in both happiness and distress. Later, Kṛṣṇa expresses His pleasure with the devotee who transcends duality: “One who neither rejoices nor grieves, who neither laments nor desires, and who renounces both auspicious and inauspicious things—such a devotee is very dear to Me” (Bg. 12.17).
It should be obvious by now that bhakti is not merely pious thoughts of “love” but rather fearless action. Nārada asks nothing less of the bhakta than complete surrender and complete dedication unto the will of Bhagavān. But if at any point one feels himself unable to reach the ideals taught by Nārada, he is not condemned. Lord Kṛṣṇa also says that if we cannot achieve the topmost surrender, then we should do what we can and try to progress gradually (see Bhagavad-gītā 12.8-12). But we should be humble about our inability to fully surrender to Lord Kṛṣṇa. We should not attempt to change the uncompromising teachings in order to justify our weakness. Nārada and the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas are asking us to change our lives in order to become bhaktas, because that alone will make us eternally happy. The difficulties we feel in making these changes are due to our material attachments.
Lord Kṛṣṇa gives a stern order in Bhagavad-gītā (3.30):
mayi sarvāṇi karmāṇi sannyasyādhyātma-cetasā
nirāśīr nirmamo bhūtvā yudhyasva vigata-jvaraḥ
“O Arjuna, surrendering all your works unto Me, with full knowledge of Me, without desires for profit, with no claims to proprietorship, and free from lethargy, fight.” And Śrīla Prabhupāda was also stern, cautioning his followers, “An easy-going life and Kṛṣṇa consciousness go ill together.” Māyā dictates to us to take it easy and stay in the material world, but her suggestions are only a deception. She will tell us not to perform austerities in devotional service, but if we fall under her influence, we will be forced to labor and suffer in lower species of life, birth after birth. Nārada is asking us to undergo a little trouble now in order to cross over the ocean of māyā and be free of all suffering forever.
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