How does attachment to result make us the cause of action, as the Gita 2.47 purport states?

by Chaitanya CharanMay 15, 2014

Transcription by- Keshav Gopal Das & Ambuj Gupta

Question: In the Bhagavad Gita 2.47 purport Prabhupada says that one who is attached to the result of work is also the cause of action? What does the statement mean and how does it apply to us in our practice of bhakti?

Answer: Many times when English words are used, words have certain connotations in their original language which are not always accurately reflected by any equivalent words in another language. The basic principle of bondage is not action but attachment. What causes bondage is not specific activity we do but the mentality with which we do that activity. Therefore, if we are attached to something in this world and we work-work-work with the desire to get that particular activity then throughout we are desiring that and thinking about that and our consciousness become more and more drawn towards that. That’s what we mean by attachment. When it is at the mental level that itself is to some extent mentally entangling but when we start doing an activity to do that then it becomes further entangling.

So the whole principle of Gita is that, it is not that action that causes bondage, it is the motivation underlying the action that causes bondage. For example, if a soldier fights a war and wins the war so that one can have one’s own glory. Then because one is desiring something in this world, one acting to fulfill that desire, basically one is strengthening that desire and doing further karma to stay on in this world. But on the hand if one fights for the sake of dharma, one fights for the service of Krishna to establish dharma then one’s focus is not just on getting that particular thing done, one’s focus is on serving Krishna on establishing dharma which is the higher purpose. Although one will definitely have to think of the activity and one may also have to make plans to get the result of that activity but one’s purpose is not that. One’s purpose is Krishna and because the purpose is Krishna one will move forward and go closer and closer to Krishna by the practice of doing that activity with the mood of detachment.

The whole thrust of 2.47 of Bhagavad Gita

karmaṇy evādhikāras te


karmaphala-hetur bhūr

te sańgo ‘stv akarmaṇi


It is that one should do one’s duty but one should not be attached to the fruits of work. But then Krishna is very clearly telling Arjuna that fight and you will attain Me. So it’s not the one can be forgetful of the result or can be neglectful of the result. It is that one should not be obsessed with just the result and forget the broader scheme of things that I don’t belong to this world and this result is not my ultimate goal. My goal is ultimately develop a relationship with Krishna and return back to Him. So for our bhakti if we are say doing for example, book distribution, and then we decide to target, ok I will distribute this many books, then will that cause bondage to us. No, because we are doing it under the instruction of Krishna and His devotees with the desire to please Krishna and the whole activity is Krishna centered. So with the whole activity our attraction to Krishna will increase but if we overall live too much in the mode of passion and we make this primarily a competitive activity rather than devotional activity then my goal is not to please Krishna, not to please Srila Prabhupada, my goal is simply to show everyone that I am better than all of you then complications will come because of that.

The essences is that we focus on trying to develop a relationship with Krishna through our sadhana and then beyond that whatever sewa we do, that sewa helps us to go closer to Krishna through whatever activities we are doing. It’s not that we don’t completely think about the result but we don’t let the thoughts of the result consume our consciousness. Our consciousness is focussed on Krishna and the results are one way we can serve Krishna. We also know that if Krishna would not have wanted, the results may not have come but still the intention to serve Krishna will be accepted by him and we will go more closer to Him. That’s why a devotee’s reaction when one’s plan is not fulfilled or one doesn’t get the expected results, that is important, in the sense that one should continue one’s bhakti even when those results don’t come and that’s what we see in Srila Prabhupada. We read in Lilamrata, where Srila Prabhupada is dreaming, oh there will be temples and there will be devotees filling the temples and those temples are spread all over the world. Is that not attachment? He is thinking of the results but then it’s all for Krishna.

The important thing is even if no results were coming, in fact repeated failure-failure-failure-failure was coming in getting something done, Prabhupada was fixed to his service to Krishna. As a part of our service we want to offer results to Krishna but our service is not conditional to the results. That is the basic point of the Gita that don’t make our activity in the world conditional to the world, let it be focused on unconditional relationship with Krishna then we will stay free from the conditioning of this world and we will eventually become liberated and come back to Krishna. Thank you

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Chaitanya Charan

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