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karmādhyakṣaṁ ca manvāna
ātmānaṁ prakṛteḥ param
The life and dedication of Mahārāja Pṛthu in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead serve as a good example of karma-yoga. The term karma-yoga is often used in Bhagavad-gītā, and herein Mahārāja Pṛthu is giving a practical example of what karma-yoga actually is. The first requirement for the proper execution of karma-yoga is given herein. Phalaṁ brahmaṇi sannyasya (or vinyasya): one must give the fruits of his activities to the Supreme Brahman, Parabrahman, Kṛṣṇa. By doing so, one actually situates himself in the renounced order of life, sannyāsa. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (18.2), giving up the fruits of one’s activities to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called sannyāsa:
kāmyānāṁ karmaṇāṁ nyāsaṁ
sannyāsaṁ kavayo viduḥ
prāhus tyāgaṁ vicakṣaṇāḥ
“To give up the results of all activities is called renunciation [tyāga] by the wise. And that state is called the renounced order of life [sannyāsa] by great learned men.” Although he was living as a householder, Pṛthu Mahārāja was actually in the renounced order of life, sannyāsa. This will be clearer in the following verses.
The word nirviṣaṅgaḥ, “uncontaminated,” is very significant because Mahārāja Pṛthu was not attached to the results of his activities. In this material world a person is always thinking of the proprietorship of everything he accumulates or works for. When the fruits of one’s activities are rendered to the service of the Lord, one is actually practicing karma-yoga. Anyone can practice karma-yoga, but it is especially easy for the householder, who can install the Deity of the Lord in the home and worship Him according to the methods of bhakti-yoga. This method includes nine items: hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping the Deity, praying, carrying out orders, serving Kṛṣṇa as friend and sacrificing everything for Him:
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
These methods of karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga are being broadcast all over the world by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Anyone can learn these methods simply by following the examples of the members of the Society.
In one’s home or in a temple, the Deity is considered the proprietor of everything, and everyone is considered the Deity’s eternal servant. The Lord is transcendental, for He is not part of this material creation. The words prakṛteḥ param are used in this verse because everything within this material world is created by the external, material energy of the Lord, but the Lord Himself is not a creation of this material energy. The Lord is the supreme superintendent of all material creations, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (9.10):
“This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, producing all the moving and unmoving beings, and by its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.”
All material changes and material progress taking place by the wonderful interaction of matter are under the superintendence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa. Events in the material world are not taking place blindly. If one always remains a servant of Kṛṣṇa and engages everything in His service, one is accepted as jīvan-mukta, a liberated soul, even during his lifetime within the material world. Generally liberation takes place after one gives up this body, but one who lives according to the example of Pṛthu Mahārāja is liberated even in this lifetime. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness the results of one’s activities depend on the will of the Supreme Person. Indeed, in all cases the result is not dependent on one’s own personal dexterity but is completely dependent on the will of the Supreme. This is the real significance of phalaṁ brahmaṇi sannyasya. A soul dedicated to the service of the Lord should never think of himself as the personal proprietor or the superintendent. A dedicated devotee should prosecute his work according to the rules and regulations described in devotional service. The results of his activities are completely dependent on the supreme will of the Lord.