yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra
loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ
tad-arthaṁ karma kaunteya
Work done as a sacriﬁce for Viṣṇu has to be performed; otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kuntī, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage. Bhagavad Gita, verse 3.9
“Work is not worship. Work in a way that it becomes worship.” In this verse, Krishna advises us to offer our work to Vishnu or Krishna. What is work? What does it mean to offer our work to God? Whatever we do according to our natural varna becomes work. For a consciousness situated in Krishna all activities become an offering to God. Why does work cause bondage if we don’t offer it to Vishnu, but dedicate it only for a worldly cause such as constructing hospitals? Even philanthropic activities can bind the philanthropists if they don’t perform them with the understanding that Krishna has mercifully made them the instruments to distribute His mercy. So, if the consciousness is centered on “I”, bondage ensues.
Two main aspects of making an offering are: What we’re offering and how we’re offering it. Krishna explains in chapter 17 that everything, every thought, and every act fall into one of the three modes: sattvik (goodness), rajasik (passion), tamasic (ignorance). Krishna accepts only sattvik offerings that we make to Him with a genuine feeling of love (bhakty-upahṛtam, 9.26). We need to be in (at least) sattvik consciousness 24×7 to be able to offer everything to Krishna. Can we remain in a higher state of consciousness each moment? Srila Prabhupada says chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra all the time: while bathing, traveling, cooking, and so on. This chanting purifies our consciousness and awakens the dormant compassion we’ve been in the dire need of. Chanting the Holy names of the God is the highest offering or sacrifice in Kali Yuga.
Srila Prabhupada has given a daily regime following which we are able to effortlessly and joyfully offer everything to Krishna:
- Start your day at 4.30am with Mangala Aarti.
- Chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra on beads from 5.15am to 7.15am.
- Do darshana aarti and hear Srimad Bhagavatam in the association of devotees till 9 am.
- Take Krishna prasadam, food offered to Krishna.
The activities from 1 to 4 create Vrindavana in our hearts. And the divine energy of Vrindavana prepares us to fight the battle of Kurukshetra throughout the day.
5. Go to the battleground of Kurukshetra, that is, begin your worldly duties. While the duties may be of the world, our consciousness remains situated in Krishna. The morning program does just that—prepares our consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada says for a devotee everything is Krishna prasadam. An accident is as much a mercy of Krishna as winning an award. Krishna says, “yoga-ksemam vahamy aham” “I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” So, for a living being that is trying to situate her or his consciousness in Krishna is protected by the Lord. He takes personal interest in such a soul.
6. Transcendental activities such as chanting the Holy names and hearing and reading the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are of prime importance. These activities not only purify our breath, mind, sight, hearing, intellect and above consciousness, they also infuse divine love into us.
7. Eat Krishna prasadam only. Srila Prabhupada used to say not everyone can understand philosophy, but we all can digest Krishna prasadam. So those who can’t receive Krishna’s mercy through intellect won’t be able to reject it when the mercy comes via prasadam.
Although Arjuna’s initial refusal to fight the war of Mahabharata seems like a pro-peace decision, it would have bound Arjuna in the cycle of karmic reactions for many reasons, top most being not obeying the will of the Lord. Adharma would have prevailed with a much higher intensity than we can imagine. Arjuna sacrificed his will and offered his life to serve Krishna. He fought the battle, and his duty of a warrior liberated him.