“pravåttaà ca nivåttaà ca

dvi-vidhaà karma vaidikam

ävartate pravåttena

nivåttenäçnute ‘måtam”



pravåttam—inclination for material enjoyment; ca—and; nivåttam—cessation of material enjoyment; ca—and; dvi-vidham—these two varieties; karma—of activities; vaidikam—recommended in the Vedas; ävartate—one travels up and down through the cycle of saàsära; pravåttena—by an inclination for enjoying material activities; nivåttena—but by ceasing such activities; açnute—one enjoys; amåtam—eternal life.



According to the Vedas, there are two kinds of activities-pravåtti and nivåtti. Pravåtti activities involve raising oneself from a lower to a higher condition of materialistic life, whereas nivåtti means the cessation of material desire. Through pravåtti activities one suffers from material entanglement, but by nivåtti activities one is purified and becomes fit to enjoy eternal, blissful life.



As confirmed in Bhagavad-gétä (16.7), pravåttià ca nivåttià ca janä na vidur äsuräù: the asuras, nondevotees, cannot distinguish between pravåtti and nivåtti. Whatever they like they do. Such persons think themselves independent of the strong material nature, and therefore they are irresponsible and do not care to act piously. Indeed, they do not distinguish between pious and impious activity. Bhakti, of course, does not depend on pious or impious activity. As stated in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.2.6):

“sa vai puàsäm paro dharmo

yato bhaktir adhokñaje

ahaituky apratihatä

yayätmä suprasédati”

“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.” Nonetheless, those who act piously have a better chance to become devotees. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gétä (7.16), catur-vidhä bhajante mäà janäù sukåtino ‘rjuna: “O Arjuna, four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me.” One who takes to devotional service, even with some material motive, is considered pious, and because he has come to Krsna, he will gradually come to the stage of Bhakti. Then, like Dhruva Mahäräja, he will refuse to accept any material benediction from the Lord (svämin kåtärtho ‘smi varaà na yäce [Cc. Madhya 22.42]). Therefore, even if one is materially inclined, one may take to the shelter of the lotus feet of Krsna and Balaräma, or Gaura and Nitäi, so that he will very soon be purified of all material desires (kñipraà bhavati dharmätmä çaçvac chäntià nigacchati). As soon as one is freed from inclinations towards pious and impious activities, he becomes a perfect candidate for returning home, back to Godhead.


Start Lecture by His Holiness Radhanath Swami Maharaja.

“trai-guëya-viñayä vedä

nistrai-guëyo bhavärjuna

nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho

niryoga-kñema ätmavän”

Bhagavad-Gita 2.45



The Vedas mainly deal with the Pravriti marga. They deal with elevating the spirit soul through the three modes of material nature. When we speak of the four gold’s that are approached by those who follow the Vedas. Mainly it is Artha, Kama, Dhama, and Mokshya. Economic development, sense gratification, religiosity (which means piety), and liberation. All the three economic development, sense gratification, and religiosity are categorized as in the Pravriti marga. That means one approaches god, when performs one’s religious activity with the hope of advancement in materialistic life. Most everyone in this age of Kali Yuga is following religious principles according to this motivating force. The supreme personality of godhead, He is so merciful that even those who are contaminated by the disease of envy of Him and those who are trying to be the enjoyers of His property. In the form of Srila Vedavyasa, He has gone through such extensive efforts to reach out those people. Even promising them that you can be enjoyer, you can enjoy my property and call it yours. You just perform this ritual. You just follow these regulative principles. You simple worship this devata. Because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so merciful that He is trying to somehow or other reclaim even almost lonely materialistic above persons, by giving them the opportunity to begin the process of religion. This is the nature o the lord and this is the nature of His devotees.


Just see how the lord is so merciful. Those who deny him, those who kick Him in the face by rejecting Him, those who are you – exploiting His own property by their own free will, they have chosen to accept this position in life. He comes again, again, and again to reclaim such souls. Even after He comes those who are still inclined to Lord in getting over His nature, still he goes through so many endeavors promising that anything to get them somehow or other make a little spiritual advancement. Therefore Krishna tells Arjuna that forget these Kaitava dharma vedic sections. The sections of the Vedas that they are cheating religion and take to the process of Nivriti marga. Those who aspire for liberation they are on the path of Nivriti marga. Even in the impersonal philosophers, who are performing tapasya for the shake of mukti, they are not interested in material activities. Therefore they are considered to be transcendentalist. Those who are aspiring for material enjoyment they cannot be declare to be transcendentalist. They are essentially materialist, who are giving some facility on some sanction of the vedic literatures to gradually advanced. But the impersonal philosophers who are truly striving for mukti, they are transcendentalist, because mukti is transcendental platform of consciousness. But as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained “prema…..mahan”. A devotee even kicks out the conception of mukti. “dharmao ……” that the Srimad Bhagavatam rejects Pravriti marg and even the commonly understood conception of Nivriti marga.



The Srimad Bhagavatam rejects economic development, sense gratification, religiosity, and even liberation. It deals only with the highest the purest and that is pure devotional service. Pure devotional service is the only means of attracting Krishna. Pure devotional service is the natural condition of the spirit soul. Therefore a devotee is never bewildered by the apparent contradiction of the scriptures. You see who is applying or following the scripture’s Pravrit marg, they see so many contradictions. They see so many inconsistencies. Because factually from the material point of view there are so many inconsistencies. There are so many contradictions. As long as you are trying to perceive things through the superficial mind and senses, you have to see so many contradictions. There has to be sectarianism. There has to be phonetic systems.



But Bhagavad philosophy, when one truly understands the Bhagavad Phiolosophy and those who are teaching Bhagavad Philosophy then all the contradictions disappear utterly. Because one understands exactly what the lord is doing and why. Who is reaching out toward He has to reach those people. A mahatma means, one who has a broad mind and duratma means who has crippled mind, who has a diseased mind. This is duratam crippled mind. When there is appears to be in inconsistency, our small mind becomes bewildered. His false ego becomes very triggered by inconsistencies and he has to defend. That’s why we find in religions of today. There are so many religious wars. It is not because there is a conflict between the scriptures. It is not because there is a conflict between the saints. It is because the followers are duratma. They are crippled minded. They do not understand the purpose of the acaryas and they do not understand the purpose of the lord. How He speak some line?

Just like for a devotee, he understands why Buddha came? Lord Buddha came and He rejects the Vedas. Now for most Hindus that means Buddha was a demon. He rejects the Vedas. How can you reject the Vedas? The word of the God. But for those who understand the purpose of the lord through the acaryas and through the sashtras. They understand that Buddha is Krishna. He is an Avatar. He is the eighth Avatar of Vishnu according to the Dasavatar strotah. And His purpose was to stop the foolish cruel killing of animals on the basis of Vedic knowledge. So He teaches people and worshiping Vishnu because He got that into worshiping Him. Although He never talked about whether He was God or not God. Then came Sankaracarya it appears to be tremendous contradiction. Sankaracaya is teaching something the mayavadi philosophy. Therefore it is very easy to condemn Him and condemn all of his followers. But those who are followers of the bhakti marga, who have mahatma, who have broad minds, they understand what the purpose is? Yes, he did contradict. But actually he did not contradict anything. Nothing contradicted. Because according to time and circumstances he was bringing peoples, he was bringing the mass of societies back into the Vedic literatures and this is what is required.

I remember one time Srila Prabhupada, this was in Pennsylvania. He was invited by the devotees and He was not staying in the temple. But he was staying in a very nice house in a suburb. They had a nice house for him in the suburb, where he could seat into his writing and they would have a nice car and drive him to the temple to keep class in the morning and evening. So during this time the devotees were doing much scholarly preaching. They were cultivating many big-big well known prestigious professors for religion. There was an Indian gentleman who happens to be one of the most distinguished professors in Hinduism in all over America. So he came with several of his followers, who are practically like his disciples to meet with Prabhupada. He came with his devotees. This one devotee, he was cultivating him and he brought him. And they sat in Prabhupada’s room. This man was considered most learned and all the different schools of philosophies of India. He said to Srila Prabhupada, Swamiji I have studied Vedanta for the last 40 years, I have gotten my PHD. in the various (six) schools of thought according to the great sages of India and my question is this. Why throughout the ages, amongst the acaryas, is there so many contradictions. And Srila Prabhupada was grave and he was so serious that the devotees became fearful. He looked at this man, into the eyes and he said “Amongst the acaryas there are no contradictions”. He said it in such a force that this man was speechless. He could not ask another question, for several minutes there was silence. The students were looking at him like say something. Do not you understand, you just being defeated? You are our guru. Are you going to defend yourself? Then feeling frighten like a little lamb in front the lion that he tried to defend himself. He tried to protect His prestige by explaining this acarya has said and this acarya said this. He went on for five minutes and explained all these things. Srila Prabhupada looked at him more serious than the time before and he said, “Amongst acaryas there are no contradictions”.

You see as long as you are in the platform of pravrit marg there is endless contradiction. When we understand the purpose, how Krishna is so kind, He is coming to elevate grosses materialist and what does he have to do to elevate the grosses materialist. According to time, place and circumstance He has to offer them the religiosity, economic development and sense gratification. And gradually He gives them a desire for liberation. But how many we are seeking liberation? Here in Bombay if you go to all the temples, how many are even thinking liberation? Practically everyone is simply approaching God for improvement of their material life. But those who are in the path of Bhakti, they are most fortunate. In Srimad Bhagavatam,

“akämaù sarva-kämo vä

mokña-käma udära-dhéù

tévreëa bhakti-yogena

yajeta puruñaà param”

Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.10

Whether you are inclined toward Pravrit marg or Nivriti marg. Whether you want all material desires to be fulfilled. Whether you desire liberation or whether you have no material desires, which means you desire pure devotional service, approach Krishna. Because by approaching Krishna, gradually you become purified. “om pavitro…..” whether one is purified or unpurified, one who approaches the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose eyes have the beauty of the lotus petal. He becomes purified from within and without. One who trying to figure out things with his own total brain, the more he thinks, he knows things, the more he is in reality bewildered. This is the beginning of Bhagavad-Gita. The more Arjuna thought he knew things, the more he was bewildered. As long as he is based on his own mental conceptions, as long as he is based on his own mental perceptions. Until he humbled himself and said I do not know anything, I have nothing to say about anything. I have come to hear. Then he so bewildered but a least then he was putting himself in a position, where he could become liberated from his bewilderment because he was putting himself at the feet of Krishna. He was putting himself at the feet of His guru.



So try to understand the more with our total brains, we try to understand things, the more we become bewildered. And the more we progress we make toward understand things the more we truth, we becoming more and more entangled in illusion. That is why the process of gyan is not at all to a devotee. “tad viddhi praëipätena paripraçnena sevayä” One devotee simply enquires submissively. He uses his good brain to understand the Vedic literatures according to the explanations of the Acaryas. According to the explanation of those persons who are on the path of nivriti marg. They will never be bewildered. They will never be confused. They will see through all the apparent contradictions. Sometimes it is said, “vaisnavera….” That no one can understand the mind of a great vaishnava. And every great vaisnava is misunderstood. Srila Prabhupada was so misunderstood.

Therefore they have come to teach devotees how to be mahatmas not duratmas. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement is to raise us above the pettiness of just quarreling or fighting over the details. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s philosophy is to teach us how dive deeply into the essence of knowledge.

“bahünäà janmanäm ante

jïänavän mäà prapadyate

väsudevaù sarvam iti

sa mahätmä su-durlabhaù”

Bhagavad-Gita 7.19



Krishna has said after many births and deaths of following this pravriti marg, when one finally comes to the point of knowledge, when they finally understand what they have to try to gradually tell them by so many subtle hints, through so many religions for so many births, then they just surrender to Me. They know Me the cause of all causes and all it is. To abandoned all varieties of religion, to abandoned all the sanctions that god has given for our sense gratification through the do such religions scriptures. To just throw them out, even know they are given by the god, try to understand, does not sound like contradiction. First of all it is said “dharmaà tu säkñäd bhagavat-praëétaà” that religion is spoken by god. Religion can only be given by God. So God gives religion and God is saying abandoned religion. Does it sound like contradiction? It just like, if I go through so many efforts to give you something and I tell you throw it out. You think this man is crazy. Vedavyas, when he was sitting in his hermitage on the bank of river Sarasvati in Badrika Ashram, he went through great-great efforts to take the one Veda and divided into four. To write hundred and eight Upanisadas. To write 18 Puranas. To write the entire Mahabharat, which is over 100,000 Slokas the biggest book ever made by man not by man, there will be a biggest book ever seen by man. That was made by god. That same Vedavyas who works so hard to give a so many religious scriptures that same Vedavyas, in his original form of Krishna, He is saying abandoned them all. Does it sound like contradiction? What do you think? God creates religion, God comes and teach His religion and then He says,

“sarva-dharmän parityajya

mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja

ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyo

mokñayiñyämi mä çucaù”

Bhagavad-Gita 18.66

Abandoned all varieties of religion and just surrendered to me. For a materialistic person, for one on the path of Pravrit marga, he either closed his eyes and his ears and say there is no contradiction. I do not believe it. But if open his eyes and ears will see, this is a totally contradiction. But for one who understand, there is no contradiction. So many commentators on Bhagavad-Gita, how they comment on this verse. It is so full of speculation, because they trying to somehow or other this is the conclusion of Bhagavad-Gita. Everyone knows it. What does it mean? They have to speculate in so many ways through so many philosophical hiding of their own inadequacy to really comprehend. The one who is on the path of Nivriti marg understands perfectly.

That Krishna so kind, he is giving Kaitava dharma, he is giving cheating religion to practically the entire population of Kali Yuga. Just to gradually get them attached to following some principles. If you want a good wife, if you want a good husband, if you want wealth, if you want fame, if you want to successful business, you worship this demigod. You perform their puja. You eat this type of Prasad. Gradually you become attached to the following the Vedas. And through the process of gradually following the Vedas, you become purified by little, by little, then you come to the stage, where Krishna says forget all the other and just surrendered to me. That is Nivriti marga, that is bhakti. So if we understand the purpose of the lord and we understand the purpose of the great devotees, the great acaryas then we can really-really dive into the sweetness of the essence of spiritual life. Otherwise we simply touched around by our own mental conceptions, always hankering on lamenting over the things of the world. Therefore a devotee knows that “mahäjano yena gataù sa panthäù” that by following the footsteps of the great souls then we can be truly fortunate in this world.

Thank you very much.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

You May Also Like to Read

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.