SB 1.2 - The goal of one's works
If one thinks that providing security and comfort for the family should be one’s main objective, Sūta says it is not so. He says all occupational engagements are meant for ultimate liberation and so should never be performed for material gain. Dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa (impersonal liberation) are called pavarga. Āpavarga means nullifying the pavarga to get ultimate liberation in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. According to sages, one engaged in ultimate occupational service should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratification. Some consider all occupational engagements including those of religion are meant for material gain. Even in Vedas, material allurements are offered for various religious performances. Most people are attracted by such allurements. By such material gain, one can fulfill his desires, which in turn satisfy sense gratification. But here Sūta Gosvāmī says one should not engage in any occupation for material gain only. But instead one should desire only a healthy life, or self-preservation, since a human being is meant for inquiry into the Absolute Truth. Nothing else should be the goal of one’s works.
The result of performance of dharma is artha, acquisition of material results. The result of material acquisition is desire, kāma. The result of kāma is pleasure of the senses. When the senses are pleased, for further gain of pleasure, one executes the sequence starting with dharma again. This is true for the karmīs. Material results are not suitable for the person dedicated to higher goals. Dharma refers to control of the mind and senses for the jñānīs, to yama, niyama etc for the yogī, and to hearing, chanting and other devotional acts for the devotee. Though material results appear by these processes, they are not suitable as the goal. The goal is liberation for the jñānī and yogī, and prema-bhakti for the devotee. For the avid practitioner of apavarga-dharma, the practice itself has its own results. In certain actions the jñānīs use material assets which are favorable for controlling their senses, the yogīs use material assets favorable for yama and niyama, and the devotees use material assets for service to the Lord and His devotees.
For one who desires apavarga, sense pleasure is not the goal of life. The pleasure of the senses from enjoyment for the jñānīs and yogīs consisting of the secondary results that appear along with the desired results is designated as results of action. Since jñāna and yoga are transformations of niṣkāma-karma, they perceive whatever happiness and distress they experience as results of karma. For the devotees, however, the pleasure of the senses from sense objects which accompany bhakti is not a transformation of karma. They perceive happiness to be the result of bhakti only. They regard suffering as the mercy of the Lord. In SB 10.88.8 Kṛṣṇa says that He takes away the wealth of one who He favors. So the suffering of a devotee should be regarded as direct action of the Lord or a result of devotional offenses.
In the modern civilization, in all spheres of life, the ultimate end is sense gratification. In politics, social service, altruism, philanthropy, and even in salvation, the very same sense gratification is predominant. The voters adore the leaders only when they promise sense gratification. As soon as the voters are dissatisfied in their sense enjoyment, they dethrone the leaders. The leaders must always disappoint the voters by not satisfying their senses. The same is applicable in all other fields. The salvationists desire to merge into the Absolute Truth and commit spiritual suicide for sense gratification. But the Bhāgavatam says that one should not live for sense gratification. There are regulated directions for sense gratification. For example, marriage is necessary for progeny, but it is not meant for sense enjoyment. In the absence of voluntary restraint, there is propaganda for family planning, but foolish men do not know that family planning is automatically executed as soon as there is search after the Absolute Truth. Serious seekers are overwhelmed with researching the Truth that they have no time for sense gratification.