The Supreme Occupation

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For some reason I woke up this morning thinking about this very important verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam;

sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
ahaituky apratihatā
yayātmā suprasīdati

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 to completely satisfy the self.

I was trying to recall the two occupational paths; the path of sense enjoyment, and the path of renunciation, and the sanskrit words for them. I remembered that the verse and purport was in the first canto, chapter two, so I looked it up and there was the two words my mind was searching for;

“The Vedas prescribe two different types of occupation for the human being. One is called the pravṛtti-mārga, or the path of sense enjoyment, and the other is called the nivṛtti-mārga, or the path of renunciation.”

Both good words for your vaisnava vocabulary. But anyway, as I was searching this verse, I realized just how important this particular verse was. Srila Prabhupada lectured on this verse 13 times. And in one Lecture given by His Divine Grace in Montreal, August 3rd, 1968, Srila Prabhupada begins by saying…

“The real aim of life is how to get satisfaction, full, complete satisfaction. And that satisfaction, complete satisfaction, can be achieved only by prosecution of devotional service. There is no other method. If you want to be happy, free from all cares and anxieties, then you have to engage yourself in devotional servece of the Lord. That will make you free from all material miseries. We are all seeking after that position, how to become completely happy. Our whole struggle for existence…Anyone, in any place, any country, they are all struggling how to become happy. This happiness of the mind, atma, is only possible when we are engaged in Krsna consciousness. That is the only remedy. There is no other alternative.” (Srimad Bhagavatam Lecture Aug. 3, 1968)

I guess this was what I needed to hear this morning before leaving for work.

Full text and purport

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto One, Chapter Two, Text 6

sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhokṣaje
ahaituky apratihatā
yayātmā suprasīdati

saḥ—that; vai—certainly; puṁsām—for mankind; paraḥ—sublime; dharmaḥ—occupation; yataḥ—by which; bhaktiḥ—devotional service; adhokṣaje—unto the Transcendence; ahaitukī—causeless; apratihatā—unbroken; yayā—by which; ātmā—the self; suprasīdati—completely satisfied.

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 to completely satisfy the self.

PURPORT

In this statement, Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī answers the first question of the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya. The sages asked him to summarize the whole range of revealed scriptures and present the most essential part so that fallen people or the people in general might easily take it up. The Vedas prescribe two different types of occupation for the human being. One is called the pravṛtti-mārga, or the path of sense enjoyment, and the other is called the nivṛtti-mārga, or the path of renunciation. The path of enjoyment is inferior, and the path of sacrifice for the supreme cause is superior. The material existence of the living being is a diseased condition of actual life. Actual life is spiritual existence, or brahma-bhūta [SB 4.30.20] existence, where life is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. Material existence is temporary, illusory and full of miseries. There is no happiness at all. There is just the futile attempt to get rid of the miseries, and temporary cessation of misery is falsely called happiness. Therefore, the path of progressive material enjoyment, which is temporary, miserable and illusory, is inferior. But devotional service to the Supreme Lord, which leads one to eternal, blissful and all-cognizant life, is called the superior quality of occupation. This is sometimes polluted when mixed with the inferior quality. For example, adoption of devotional service for material gain is certainly an obstruction to the progressive path of renunciation. Renunciation or abnegation for ultimate good is certainly a better occupation than enjoyment in the diseased condition of life. Such enjoyment only aggravates the symptoms of disease and increases its duration. Therefore devotional service to the Lord must be pure in quality, i.e., without the least desire for material enjoyment. One should, therefore, accept the superior quality of occupation in the form of the devotional service of the Lord without any tinge of unnecessary desire, fruitive action and philosophical speculation. This alone can lead one to perpetual solace in His service.

We have purposely denoted dharma as occupation because the root meaning of the word dharma is “that which sustains one’s existence.” A living being’s sustenance of existence is to coordinate his activities with his eternal relation with the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the central pivot of living beings, and He is the all-attractive living entity or eternal form amongst all other living beings or eternal forms. Each and every living being has his eternal form in the spiritual existence, and Kṛṣṇa is the eternal attraction for all of them. Kṛṣṇa is the complete whole, and everything else is His part and parcel. The relation is one of the servant and the served. It is transcendental and is completely distinct from our experience in material existence. This relation of servant and the served is the most congenial form of intimacy. One can realize it as devotional service progresses. Everyone should engage himself in that transcendental loving service of the Lord, even in the present conditional state of material existence. That will gradually give one the clue to actual life and please him to complete satisfaction.

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