SB 1.2 - The perfection of one's dharma

The highest perfection one can achieve by discharging one’s duties in varṇāśrama is to please the Personality of Godhead, Hari. The four castes of human society are the intelligent caste, the martial caste, the productive caste and the laborer caste. These are classified in terms of one’s work and qualification and not by birth. There are also four orders of life, namely the student life, the householder’s life, the retired and the devotional life. In order for society to grow in a healthy state, there must be such divisions of life. And in each and every division of life, the aim must be to please the Supreme Lord. The varṇāśrama institution is constructed to enable one to realize the Absolute Truth. When this aim is missed, the institution collapses and is used by selfish men to dominate over the weaker section. In Kali yuga this has already happened but the real purpose of varṇāśrama is for smooth social intercourse and high thinking self realization.

The duties of varṇāśrama are wasted endeavor, and even jñāna and yoga, devoid of bhakti are wasted endeavor. There is no worry in giving up jñāna and yoga, nor is there any calamity of great sin in omission of action or giving up the nitya-karmas. Though jñāna and yoga have some attraction they depend on bhakti for getting their results. But bhakti gives results without the assistance of jñāna and yoga at all. Therefore if one pleases the Lord by bhakti only, that is the perfection of dharma. The person who does not get perfection by performing all the rules and regulations of karma attains perfection directly thru bhakti even though he does not perform the karmas. The Lord confirms that everything that can be achieved by karma, tapa, jñāna, yoga etc can be easily achieved by His devotee thru bhakti yoga (SB 11.20.32-33). Thus the idea that the devotee incurs sin by not performing karmas is discarded.

If one performs dharma which is perfected by bhakti, he will attain the results of dharma even if he performed dharma with material desires. But if one performs dharma without material desires, one will not attain material results. Since all dharmas are perfected by bhakti, the necessity of the devotees performing dharma is rejected. As pouring water on the root of a tree energizes all parts of the tree, worshiping the Supreme Lord thru devotional service automatically satisfies the demigods.

Kṛṣṇa says as long as one is not satiated by karma and not awakened his taste for bhakti, one has to act according to the Vedic injunctions (SB 11.20.9). In SB 11.11.32, He says having taken complete shelter at His lotus feet, however, a saintly person ultimately renounces such ordinary religious duties and worships Him alone. When the Lord is satisfied with one’s worship, the goal of performing one’s duties including worship of devatās is achieved. When the pure devotees perform a few karmas out of obligation because of pressure from family traditions, this is actually not performance of karmas, and does not give karmic results, because they do not have faith in the worship of the demigods. In BG 17.28, the Lord says that whatever is offered in fire, whatever is given in charity, whatever is undertaken as austerity, but which is done without faith, is called asat since it bears no result now or in the next life.