By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
We are bound up in this material existence due to our karma. According to my past karma, I have got this body, and again, as we are acting in this body, I am preparing for my next body. Karmanā daiva-netrena [SB 3.31.1]. We have got varieties of bodies. Not that because we are all human beings, (we will have identical bodies). We have got common factors—two hands, two legs, one head—but each body is different from the other body. You won’t find one pair of body exactly of the same nature. That is not possible. (Why?) Because everyone’s karma is different!
According to our karma, we get different types of body. So we have to stop this karma. We have to stop this karma. How you can stop this karma? Yajnārthat karmano ’nyatra karma-bandhanah. If we simply act for Krishna, then we get rid of the resultant action of karma. Yajnārthe karma. “Whatever you do, you do for Krishna.” Yajna means Vishnu. Krishna is the origin of visnu-tattva. So whatever you are ordered to do for Krishna, you are not bound up by the karma. Otherwise, good or bad, you are bound up by the resultant action of karma.
So when one is actually in the liberated stage… Liberated stage means to remain fixed up in devotional service, bhagavad-bhakti-yogatah [SB1.2.20]… Otherwise it is not possible. You can stand liberated on the platform of devotional service. As soon as you deviate from devotional service, immediately the māyā is standing – she’ll capture you. You can see practically. There is sunshine, and just next to the sunshine, there is darkness or shadow. So, little deviation from the sunshine there is shadow and little deviation from the shadow, you go to the sunshine. Both things are side by side, māyā and Krishna. Māyā means absence of Krishna. Shadow means absence of light, sunshine. So if you always keep in Krishna consciousness, there is no shadow of māyā.
yāhān krishna tāhān nāhi māyāra adhikāra [CC Madhya 22.31]
Krishna is just like sunshine and māyā is just like darkness. So wherever there is sunshine, there cannot be any possibility of darkness. So you keep always yourself in Krishna consciousness. Then there is no possibility of māyā. And māyā means to be engaged in fruitive activities (karma).
So long we are in māyā, we have to engage ourselves in fruitive activities, karma. Therefore here it is said, ksīyante cāsya karmāni. One who is liberated, being engaged in devotional service, his karma, or fruitive activities, stop immediately. In the Brahma-samhitā it is said,
Yas tu indra. Indra means the King of heaven. And there is another indra, indra-gopa – it is a very small insect. That is called indra-gopa. So it is said, “Beginning from that Indra, the King of heaven, down to this indra, the small insect, everyone is enjoying or suffering according to the karma.” You can become the King of heaven, provided you have got a mass of pious activities. You are promoted. Just like if you have got sufficient education, you can become high-court judge. It is not very difficult. Similarly, this Indra, Candra, Brahmā, big, big demigods, they have got all these posts on account of their great pious activities, punya-karma. Similarly, the hogs and dogs and other animals, they are due to the pāpa-karma, impious activities. So both of them are resultant action of our karma.
So everyone is suffering or enjoying the resultant action of his karma. Yas tv indra-gopam athavendram aho sva-karma-bandhānurūpa: “Bandhana”. As he’s bound up by the resultant action of karma… Bandhānurūpa-phala-bhājanam ātanoti… They are getting different results of their karma. It is very easy to understand.
But for the devotees it is said, karmāni nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhājām [Bs. 5.54], those who have taken to Krishna consciousness in devotional service, their karma is cut off. There is no resultant action. Just like chick peas, if you sow them in the ground, they will fructify into a plant. But the same chick pea, if it is fried and you sow in the ground, it will not fructify. So our karma should be fried up by devotional service. Then it will not produce any result. And Krishna also says in the Bhagavad-gītā, aham tvām sarva-pāpebhyo moksayisyāmi [Bg. 18.66]. So there is no resultant action of a devotee’s activity. Therefore here it is said, ksīyante ca asya karmāni. Unless you have completely finished your resultant action of karma, you cannot be promoted to the spiritual world. You have to accept a type of material body so long karma will go on. Therefore in another place, in the Bhāgavata, it is said that people are engaged as karmīs, and Rsabhadeva says na sādhu manye. (If) one is engaged in karma, it is not very good.
So for a devotee, there is no more karma, or there is no more material body. Krishna also confirms in the Bhagavad-gītā, tyaktvā deham punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9]. After giving up this body, a devotee, he does not get any more birth in this material body. In his spiritual body, he comes back home, back to Godhead. So the same thing is expressed here: ksīyante ca asya karmāni drsta ātmani īśvare. He sees, ātmani drsta, he realized his relationship with God, īśvare. He realized that “I am eternal servant of God, eternal servant of Krishna.” Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya-krishna-dāsa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109]. He realizes it. And because he realizes it, he engages himself in that way. That is the perfection of life.
[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.21 in Vrindavana, India on November 1, 1972]