tatrāpi karmaṇāḿ kartur

asvātantryaḿ ca lakṣyate

bhoktuś ca duḥkha-sukhayoḥ

ko nv artho vivaśaḿ bhajet

(SB 11.10.17)


Although the performer of fruitive activities desires perpetual happiness, it is clearly observed that materialistic workers are often unhappy and only occasionally satisfied, thus proving that they are not independent or in control of their destiny. When a person is always under the superior control of another, how can he expect any valuable results from his own fruitive actions?


Although materialistic persons reject Kṛṣṇa consciousness and instead pursue temporary sense gratification, even that sense gratification is often beyond their reach. If a person could really control his destiny, why would he create problems for himself? No intelligent person would impose death, old age or disease upon himself or his loved ones. One should recognize that these unwanted miseries are forced upon one by a higher power. Since we are all obviously under superior control, the atheistic philosophy advising one to simply perform fruitive activities and create a happy life is most imperfect.

Due to the influence of time, happiness and misery are created. When a woman becomes pregnant, her husband, relatives and friends eagerly await the birth of the child. As time passes and the child is born, everyone feels great happiness. But as the child grows into old age and eventually dies, that same passage of time is a cause of suffering. Ignorant persons vainly seek help from scientists who work feverishly and fruitlessly in their laboratories to stop death. In modern times, inventions have been created to eliminate the inconveniences of life, but the maintenance and production of such conveniences has proven to be unbearably inconvenient for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. Only the most foolish person will propose that there is no superior controller and that one can achieve favorable results by expert performance of material activities. Ultimately all material activities are useless because they end in annihilation. If one is driving a car but has only limited control, the situation is most dangerous and must lead inevitably to disaster. Similarly, although we are trying to direct the material body to happiness, we are not in full control of the bodily demands, and therefore there will inevitably be disaster. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (9.3),

aśraddadhānāḥ puruṣā

dharmasyāsya parantapa

aprāpya māḿ nivartante


“Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of foes, but return to birth and death in this material world.” If one is not a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the eventual result of his activities is simply mṛtyu-saḿsāra — repeated birth and death.

This chapter is entitled  as The nature of fruitive activities. It is herein explained by the Lord, how illusion of material life is that we are the controllers of our destiny. In the process of fruitive activities, people are thinking that they are the cause of the results of their actions. Krishna says in the Gita that this is Ahankaar, this is false ego. The foolish living being  thinks  himself to be the cause of the results of his actions. But actually they are carried out by the nature. They are carried out by the higher powers and the evidence of this is very clearly explained in the purport  that  in everyone’s performance of actions in this world they are seeking pleasure, they are seeking health, they are seeking long lives. But yet  Mrtyu samasara  comes upon everyone- the repetition of birth and death and the frustration. So ultimately there is higher power we are all under the control of.

Story of Cyavana muni

In Srimad Bhagavatam in ninth canto, there is a  story of Cyavana  muni. He was very powerful yogi. Millions of time more powerful than any materialist today in his ability to fulfill his material desires. He had attained very great mystic powers.  And of course when one becomes very powerful spiritually or materially, the tendency is to become very proud and in pride the greatest  danger  is that  we can offend saintly persons. So Chyavana  muni , as it is described,  somehow offended the great devotee Garuda. By doing this, although he was very respected for his very high position, if Krishna does not protect us  then nobody however great we are , however advanced spiritually we are, we cannot control our  senses  even from the grossest activities. It is not possible. The greatest  illusion even in spiritual life is to think that  by spiritual advancement we can protect ourselves from falling into clutches of Maya, but the fact is

rāga-dveṣa-vimuktais tu

viṣayān indriyaiś caran

ātma-vaśyair vidheyātmā

prasādam adhigacchati

(BG 2.64)

It is only by the mercy of  Krishna that we can maintain any spiritual position at all. It is only by the mercy of Krishna that we can control our senses, even from the slightest temptation of illusory  energy . It is not by our own power. Of course we must follow the rules and regulations of Krishna Consciousness in spiritual life according to our capacity and when Krishna  sees that  we are sincere and we are humbly attempting and trying,  He will give us the power to control our senses and overcome the temptations of illusion. But  without Krishna’s help, we cannot do anything.

So Chayavan muni, although was very advanced in the yogic process, because of this pride he offended a great devotee and  therefore Krishna simply withdrew His mercy and if Krishna  can withdraw His mercy from a great spiritualist like this then what to speak of the gross materialist who is trying to look for pleasures in this world. Such a powerful yogi he was.  He was in the Yamuna under the water for thousands of years performing meditations. Who of us could do that? Such power of control that he even had the power to control his breath. He did not even have to breathe air for thousands of years. This is the  power  he had  to control his senses.

While he was living under the water one day, he saw a male and female fish enjoying the pleasures of sex together. Now what is our position in comparison to his as far as the ability to control our senses.  And when we see birds or insects or fish having sexual pleasure together,  does it disturb our minds? We just go on walking, doesn’t mean anything to us, but illusory energy of the Lord is so powerful, that if one is not protected by the lord then even something so insignificant as that, can completely infatuate one’s attention .  So Chayavan muni was thinking when he saw all this that  “Oh! the pleasures of sex are so wonderful .Look at how these fish are enjoying.” He thought I must have this facility. He came out of the water, simply hunting for a consort to enjoy material pleasures with   and he came across some beautiful damsels  who were  princesses.  He approached their father who said,” You are an old man and my daughters  are not attracted to you.  Besides being very old  and having long-matted grey hair, and because he was under water for so long, his skin was all wrinkled from too much exposure to water.  They were not at all attracted. After all young ladies do not wish to have a husband who is an old sadhu . They like someone who is very strong, handsome  and wealthy. So by his mystic power he transformed his form into the most young beautiful, handsome prince . Who of us could do that?  Then when he came, all the princesses wanted him. So he expanded himself to satisfy each and every one of them. In this way he married, he enjoyed like anything.  He was given tremendous  wealth , tremendous powers. By his mysticism, he was able to create beautiful kingdoms, wonderful wonderful facilities to enjoy. He had literally at his control everything he wanted by his mystic powers  and by the  inheritance of what he had been given by his father -in- law.  With these beautiful princesses, to the extent that anyone could imagine, he was enjoying material life.  But after a short time of doing like this, he realized that no matter in how many forms I expand myself, no matter how much wealth I create by my mystic powers, no matter how beautiful these young girls are, he  is frustrated and they were frustrated. He could understand what a great mistake he had made and he realized that this is because I had offended this great devotee of the Lord that I lost all my intelligence completely. Ultimately he and his wives all   renounced everything and accepted the renounced order. So what is there to be learnt from this story. First of all whoever we are,  however great we are, unless we are humbly taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord it is not possible for us ultimately  to control our senses because we are all under His power. He can take away our intelligence. He can cover us by Maya. He can cover us by yoga maya.  He can do anything He wants. We are eternally His servitors.

Story of Vishvamitra muni

We read a similar story in the life of  Vishvamitra muni.  He was such a great powerful  yogi  that he was able to sit in meditation in the winter in the peaks of the Himalayas with breaking ice and keeping his body up to his neck in the ice for 6 months at a time.  Sometimes we are afraid of a cold bath which lasts about  15 or 20 seconds . He spent  6 months in ice without being disturbed, such was his power. But by the power of the illusory energy, just the tinkling of the ankle bells of  Menaka  was able to bewilder his mind and  cast him deeply into the abyss of the material sense enjoyment. But it is described that  Srila Haridas Thakur, even the personification of Maya with all of her potencies  came before him to try to dissuade him from his wows. Because with great humility he was taking shelter of Krishna through His name, ultimately Maya became his disciple. Ultimately she surrendered to him.  So the conclusion is that the  devotee of the Lord  understands that  it is only by the power of God, it is only by the power of Krishna  that we can do anything. It is only by power of Krishna that we can be protected and therefore, the devotee with all  humility is always seeking shelter of the lord. Therefore such a devotee is never vanquished by the material energy. But those foolish materialistic people and even those less intelligent  spiritualists who are dependent on their own  powers, on their own abilities, on their own opulence, they are birth after birth after birth frustrated , frustrated by the inflictions of the modes of material nature.

Depending on Krishna

The greatest, most powerful materialistic heroes in the world throughout  history- where are they now? They have all succumbed to death. They have all succumbed to old age. They have all been defeated. Material nature defeats every one and   this is the essential principle in the 11th chapter of the  Gita, where Krishna manifests His universal form to show that I am devouring everyone, I am consuming everyone. In my form of time, everyone is completely under my control and nobody can escape it even for a second and the greatest illusion it is to think that we have escaped it. The difference between the sura  or  the asura, the demoniac and the devotee is simply that.  And therefore I will act independent of Krishna’s will.  In the universal form of God  He showed that  He is devouring every living being from the greatest most powerful heroes to the insignificant insects in His form of time. Devotee accepts it. Devotee admits it ,“Yes , KRISHNA You are in control. You have created, You are maintaining and you will annihilate. I surrender to you”.  Srila Prabhupada used the example that a cat keeps a rat in her mouth holding with her teeth and the when rat  looks  when she looks upon that cat  in great fear and horror, the rat is seeing this cat as death personified. The same cat when she is holding her kittens with the same mouth, the kitten sees the cat  as the most protective loving mother. What is the difference? This is difference of perception. Because  the rat is trying to act independent of the will of the cat.  What is that saying, when cat is away the rats will play? Because the rat has a separate interest  trying to enjoy separate therefore sees that cat as death personified  and ultilmately is killed by the cat. But the kitten , because the kitten has learned to take shelter, to surrender to the cat, the  same cat appears to the kitten as the most loved, blessed, protected mother. So similarly this  human society is called rat race. What does rat race mean? That means when the cat is away  the  mice and rats  will play. We are thinking there is no God. We are thinking that God is not in control therefore either  the God  doesn’t exist or He is somewhere else and therefore we are all doing our own thing. We are all trying to make our arrangements, our own grand plans for material enjoyment, for progress and civilization. Therefore when death comes, we view death as the most cruel, terrible cheater  taking everything away.  Krishna says,’ I am death personified. For a devotee’ , but  because a devotee is conscious that I can do nothing without Krishna , Krishna is everything,  I can only be His servant. Let me just serve His will and whatever the result is. We are not attached to the results of our activities. We understand that the  results are in the control of Krishna This is the teaching of  karmay evādhikāras te  mā phaleu kadācana(BG 2.47). A devotee simply does his service for the pleasure of the Lord and is not at all attached to the fruits of his actions because he knows ultimately Krishna is in control.  Whether  I am a success or a failure, it is not in my hands. It is in God’s hand. I simple have to try my best. Such a devotee who is always absorbed in loving , humility in devotional service, such a devotee understands that death is but my Lord so kindly taking me back to His eternal abode. Devotee is not afraid of death.  Devotee sees  Krishna in life and sees Krishna in death because the devotee is taking shelter of Krishna.

bhajahū re mana śrī-nanda-nandana
abhaya-caraṇāravinda re

My dear mind, please take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. Surrender to Him. Be His servant. Only in this way you will be free from fear, anxiety, frustration and suffering. But any other arrangement we try to make be it on any various spiritual or material path, ultimately we will end in frustration and anxiety unless we learn to take shelter in all humility of the service of the Lord. Whoever we are, whether we are bramhacharis, grahasthas, vanprasthas,or sanyasis we must know that we do not have the power to control the mind, our senses even for  a moment  without the help of God, without the grace of God. Krishna’s illusory energy is so powerful. Even lord Shiva, the greatest of all vaishnavas and expansion of Lord Himself was completely mad after Mohini murti. Chasing after a young woman, even so intoxicated by this that Mohini Murti ran by his own disciples great sanyasis who were saying Om Namah Shivaya and performing great tapasya, giving up all forms of sensual experiences and here the lord  they were worshipping comes by them  running  after a young woman, what is this? Lord Shiva what are you doing? We have given up all these things for you and you are doing. They could not understand. Ultimately lord Shiva became so completely intoxicated by the beauty of Mohini murti and  finally in the end when he came back to his senses he was not even ashamed. He was proud. He was proud that my Lord is so great, that if He wants to take away my intelligence and make me into a complete sense enjoyer that is His glory. He was not  ashamed thinking, oh I have lost my reputation. He was thinking no no  if My lord wants to do like this, this is His power. I am completely subordinate to Him.  So what to speak of us, our position. If Krishna wants to protect us nothing came disturb us and if Krishna wants to disturb us nothing can protect us.  So therefore we simply have to try to please Krishna. Devotee has no other ambition. He doesn’t  want to be  great spiritualist. He doesn’t want to be powerful.  He doesn’t want to attain mystic power. He doesn’t want to  perform tremendous tapasya.  He simply wants to please Krishna . If Krishna is pleased with our humble service nothing can harm us. If Krishna is not pleased then it is just the matter of time till through His illusiory energy  we must succumb. So therefore this is the difference between the material consciousness and spiritual consciousness. One surrenders understanding our complete dependence on the Lord.

Real meaning of Independence

Recently we were at the rainbow gathering and the 4th of July came and we were discussing this idea that throughout America this is a very  holy day. It is the day of independence. I think the 4th of July was the day when first the American politicians wrote the declaration of independence.  They wanted to declare their independence from the British. Then there was a great war, the revolutionary war and ultimately the American colonies were victorious and they gained independence. Every year on 4th of July there is this great celebration, ‘Independence Day’. They are blowing off  the  fireworks, and all sorts of speeches and celebration. But what type of independence. First of all we came here and we took away the independence of American Indians.  What is this? First, some Europeans came and then they fought war with the American Indians to take away their independence. Then the British came and took away our independence . Then we fought against them and took our independence.  But the fact is that of all those people who signed the declaration of independence, is anyone of them here today to tell us about their independence. They have all succumbed to the repetition of birth and death . They have all attained what every materialist must attain – old age, disease and death. Therefore what sort of independence. Real independence comes when we declare from the core of our hearts that we are utterly and completely dependent on Krishna, dependent on God. The greatest illusion, an obstacle for real happiness and joy in this entire existence is that we are independent. Therefore every day devotees celebrate beginning at 3 or 4 in the morning, we are to celebrate that we are 100% , 24 hours a day, dependent on the mercy of  Krishna. And in that dependence we recognize that dependence and glorify who we are depending on in everything we do and everything we say and potentially in everything we think.

Krishna is everything. We are His insignificant parts. He is  nityo nityānā cetanaś cetanānām eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13) . That one Supreme Creator and controller of all that exists is completely masterminding this entire creation and all living beings are utterly dependent on His control. That is bhakti, to recognize that and to surrender.  Bhagavad Gita  gives this message.  Arjuna wanted to act independently and what was the result. With all of his good qualities he was utterly frustrated but then he simply admitted that Krishna, You are my Lord, You are my Master, You are the creator, You are the maintainer, You are the destroyer, I surrender to You. What is Your will? Let me please You. Let me serve You. In that we are independent of  all the material miseries. In total dependence on Krishna, on total dependence on the words of Guru we are completely independent of the illusions and frustration of this world. To the extent we are not surrendered, to that extent we must suffer the illusions of this world. So therefore a devotee sees only in these terms.  He does not see that  all I need is this and this and only if this happens and only if that happens then everything will be alright. The devotee understands that to the degree I am suffering  it means to that degree I am not surrendering  my will.

Sarva dharma parityajam mam ekam sarva vraja. Krishna says abandon all other occupations , all other dharmas, all other religions, just surrender with utter dependence on me. I will protect you from all sinful reaction, do not fear.

Thank you very much!

Hare Krishna!

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.