It is concluded, therefore, that even a little energy expended in the service of the Lord gives one immense transcendental profit. This is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā: sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt. Devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so sublime that even a little service rendered to Kṛṣṇa, knowingly or unknowingly, gives one the greatest transcendental benefit. The system of worshiping Kṛṣṇa by offering flowers from a tree is also beneficial for the living entity who is confined to the bodily existence of that tree. When flowers and fruits are offered to Kṛṣṇa, the tree that bore them also receives much benefit, indirectly. The arcana process, or worshiping procedure, is therefore beneficial for everyone.
Collaborate with us to invoke and fully manifest Śrīla Prabhupāda's presence
Knowingly or unknowingly
- 1 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 2 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 3 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 4 Lectures
- 5 Conversations and Morning Walks
SB Canto 2
Even if a person is fully addicted to all sorts of sinful acts, if he happens to be engaged in the loving transcendental service of the Lord under proper guidance, he is to be considered the most perfect holy man without a doubt. And thus any person, whatsoever and whosoever he or she may be—even the fallen woman, the less intelligent laborer, the dull mercantile man, or even a man lower than all these—can attain the highest perfection of life by going back home, back to Godhead, provided he or she takes shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord in all earnestness. This sincere earnestness is the only qualification that can lead one to the highest perfectional stage of life, and unless and until such real earnestness is aroused, there is a difference between cleanliness or uncleanliness, learning or nonlearning, in the material estimation. Fire is always fire, and thus if someone touches the fire, knowingly or unknowingly, the fire will act in its own way without discrimination. The principle is: harir harati pāpāni duṣṭa-cittair api smṛtaḥ. The all-powerful Lord can purify the devotee of all sinful reactions, just as the sun can sterilize all sorts of infections by its powerful rays.
SB Canto 3
So much glorification of a woman by her husband indicates that he is henpecked or is talking lightly in joke. Kaśyapa meant that householders living with wives enjoy the heavenly blessings of sense enjoyment and at the same time have no fear of going down to hell. The man in the renounced order of life has no wife and may be driven by sex desire to seek another woman or another's wife and thus go to hell. In other words, the so-called man of the renounced order, who has left his house and wife, goes to hell if he again desires sexual pleasure, knowingly or unknowingly. In that way the householders are on the side of safety. Therefore husbands as a class cannot repay their debt to women either in this life or in the next. Even if they engage themselves in repaying the women throughout their whole lives, it is still not possible. Not all husbands are as able to appreciate the good qualities of their wives, but even though one is able to appreciate these qualities, it is still not possible to repay the debt to the wife. Such extraordinary praises by a husband for his wife are certainly in the mode of joking.
The association of a saintly person in any way bears the same result. For example, Lord Kṛṣṇa met many kinds of living entities, and some treated Him as an enemy, and some treated Him as an agent for sense gratification. It is generally said that the gopīs were attached to Kṛṣṇa for sense attractions, and yet they became first-class devotees of the Lord. Kaṁsa, Śiśupāla, Dantavakra and other demons, however, were related to Kṛṣṇa as enemies. But whether they associated with Kṛṣṇa as enemies or for sense gratification, out of fear or as pure devotees, they all got liberation. That is the result of association with the Lord. Even if one does not understand who He is, the results have the same efficacy. Association with a great saintly person also results in liberation, just as whether one goes toward fire knowingly or unknowingly, the fire will make one warm. Devahūti expressed her gratefulness, for although she wanted to associate with Kardama Muni only for sense gratification, because he was spiritually great she was sure to be liberated by his benediction.
SB Canto 4
Generally, if anyone has material desires to be fulfilled, he can ask Viṣṇu instead of going to the demigods. Those who worship demigods are not very intelligent. Besides that, the demigods say, "We are Your eternal servants." So those who are servants, or devotees of the Lord, are not very much concerned with fruitive activities, the performance of the prescribed yajñas, or mental speculation. They simply serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead sincerely, with love and faith, performing everything with that loving service, and the Lord gives such devotees direct protection. In Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa says, "Simply surrender unto Me, and I will give you protection from all the reactions of sinful activities." This material world is so created that one has to act sinfully, knowingly or unknowingly, and unless his life is dedicated to Viṣṇu, he has to suffer all the reactions of sinful activities. But one who surrenders and dedicates his life for the service of the Lord has direct protection from the Lord. He has no fear of suffering from sinful activities, nor does he desire, willingly or unwillingly, to do anything which is sinful.
SB Canto 6
As a fire burns dry grass to ashes, so the holy name of the Lord, whether chanted knowingly or unknowingly, burns to ashes, without fail, all the reactions of one's sinful activities.
If a person unaware of the effective potency of a certain medicine takes that medicine or is forced to take it, it will act even without his knowledge because its potency does not depend on the patient's understanding. Similarly, even though one does not know the value of chanting the holy name of the Lord, if one chants knowingly or unknowingly, the chanting will be very effective.
In the Western countries, where the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is spreading, learned scholars and other thoughtful men are realizing its effectiveness. For example, Dr. J. Stillson Judah, a learned scholar, has been very much attracted to this movement because he has actually seen that it is turning hippies addicted to drugs into pure Vaiṣṇavas who voluntarily become servants of Kṛṣṇa and humanity. Even a few years ago, such hippies did not know the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, but now they are chanting it and becoming pure Vaiṣṇavas. Thus they are becoming free from all sinful activities, such as illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling. This is practical proof of the effectiveness of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, which is supported in this verse. One may or may not know the value of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, but if one somehow or other chants it, he will immediately be purified, just as one who takes a potent medicine will feel its effects, regardless of whether he takes it knowingly or unknowingly.
SB Canto 8
Here is an example of giving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead even without knowledge. Such service is called ajñāta-sukṛti. King Satyavrata wanted to show his own mercy, not knowing that the fish was Lord Viṣṇu. By such unknowing devotional service, one is favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Service rendered to the Supreme Lord, knowingly or unknowingly, never goes in vain.
SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13
These verses explain how devotional service rendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whether directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly, becomes successful. Pūtanā was neither a devotee nor a nondevotee; she was actually a demoniac witch instructed by Kaṁsa to kill Kṛṣṇa. Nonetheless, in the beginning she assumed the form of a very beautiful woman and approached Kṛṣṇa exactly like an affectionate mother, so that mother Yaśodā and Rohiṇī did not doubt her sincerity. The Lord took all this into consideration, and thus she was automatically promoted to a position like that of mother Yaśodā. As explained by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, there are various roles one may play in such a position. Pūtanā was immediately promoted to Vaikuṇṭhaloka, which is also sometimes described as Svarga. The Svarga mentioned in this verse is not the material heavenly planet, but the transcendental world. In Vaikuṇṭhaloka, Pūtanā attained the position of a nurse (dhātry-ucitām), as described by Uddhava. Pūtanā was elevated to the position of a nurse and maidservant in Goloka Vṛndāvana to assist mother Yaśodā.
In this verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.6.47), vāta-vāsanāḥ refers to mendicants who do not care about anything material, including clothing, but who depend wholly on nature. Such sages do not cover their bodies even in severe winter or scorching sunshine. They take great pains not to avoid any kind of bodily suffering, and they live by begging from door to door. They never discharge their semen, either knowingly or unknowingly. By such celibacy they are able to raise the semen to the brain. Thus they become most intelligent and develop very sharp memories. Their minds are never disturbed or diverted from contemplation on the Absolute Truth, nor are they ever contaminated by desire for material enjoyment. By practicing austerities under strict discipline, such mendicants attain a neutral state transcendental to the modes of nature and merge into the impersonal Brahman.
"Knowingly or unknowingly I have accepted this renounced order. Still, I shall never be indifferent to you."
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
In one palace he found Kṛṣṇa offering oblations to the sacrificial fire and performing the ritualistic ceremonies of the Vedas as enjoined for householders. In another palace he found Kṛṣṇa performing the pañca-yajña sacrifice, which is compulsory for a householder. This yajña is also known as pañca-sūnā. Knowingly or unknowingly, everyone, especially the householder, commits five kinds of sinful activities. When we receive water from a water pitcher, we kill many germs that are in it. Similarly, when we use a grinding machine or eat food, we kill many germs. When sweeping a floor or igniting a fire we kill many germs, and when we walk on the street we kill many ants and other insects. Consciously or unconsciously, in all our different activities, we are killing. Therefore, it is incumbent upon every householder to perform the pañca-sūnā sacrifice to rid himself of the reactions to such sinful activities.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
Then it is said here, kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣam. Kilbiṣam means resultant action of sinful life. Kilbiṣam. So if we don't desire more than our necessary, then we are not implicated, involved in sinful activity, kurvan api, even though he is engaged in working. While you are working, knowingly or unknowingly, you have to commit something which is not pious, even sinful, but if you simply desire for living properly, then kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣam. Our life should be without any sinful reaction. Otherwise we will have to suffer. But they do not believe, although they are seeing so many abominable lives. Wherefrom they are coming, 8,400,000 species of life? There are so many lives living very abominable condition. Of course, the animal or the living creature does not know, but we human being, we should know why this abominable life. It is māyā's illusion.
Our suffering is due to sinful activities. And sinful activities are due to our ignorance. Ignorance. Sinful activities are done by persons who do not know what is what. Just like a child. A child does not know what is the result of catching fire. Because he is ignorant. But as soon as the child catches fire, his hand becomes burned immediately. The fire does not allow any concession for the child. It will act as fire. Similarly, we do not know how this material world is going on, what are the laws, who is the controller, how it is being controlled. Due to our ignorance, we act in some way, but nature is so stringent that it will never excuse you, either you do it knowingly or unknowingly. Just the same example: the child does not know that the fire will burn, but if the child catches the fire, the fire will not excuse because it is child. Therefore ignorance is the cause of suffering.
"One who is engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then all his reactions of past sinful activities—gradually they become vanquished." There are different stages. Just like I have infected some (break) say, for cholera today. Immediately cholera does not take place. After two or three days the cholera appears. It takes some time. Just like if you sow a seed of a tree, immediately it does not become a tree and gives its fruits, delivers its fruit. It takes some time. Therefore, imperceptibly, or knowingly or unknowingly, we are doing so many sinful activities. So they are in the seedling stage, then growing stage. Then, when we suffer, that is called prārabdha. Prārabdha means, "Now receive the result." So in this way we are creating, we are sowing, some seeds. That will take its reaction, either in this body or another body. It takes time to fructify. So... But if we act in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then it is just like fried seed. Fried seed, if you sow in a land, it will not fructify, fried seed.
In this world, in this material world, I mean to say, knowingly or unknowingly, we are all always committing sinful acts. So we have to get out of this reaction. And how to get out of it? That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gītā. Yajñārthāt karmaṇo 'nyatra loko 'yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ (BG 3.9). If you do, act only for Kṛṣṇa... Yajña means Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa. If you only act for Kṛṣṇa, then you are freed from the reaction of anything.
Every one of us, life after life, we are committing simple sinful activities, knowingly or unknowingly. Knowingly, I may kill one animal. That is sinful certainly. Even we do it unknowingly, that is also sinful. Just like while we are walking on the street, we are killing so many ants, unknowingly. So in our ordinary dealings, while cooking, while taking water, while using pestle and mortar for smashing spices, we are killing so many animals. So unless we remain Kṛṣṇa conscious, we are liable to be punished for all these unknowingly committing sinful activities. Knowingly, of course, you'll be... That's a fact. Unknowingly. Knowingly or unknowingly. Just like fire. A child unknowingly touches the fire. Does it mean that the fire will excuse the child? No. The nature's law is so strict, so stringent, that there is no question of excuse. In the ordinary law also, ignorance is no excuse for legal obligation. If you go to the court, and if you say, "My lord, I did not know that the result of this action is this, criminal," that is not pleading that you'll be excused. So therefore Kṛṣṇa consciousness must be there. If we actually want to be free from the reaction of sinful life, that we are doing, knowingly or unknowingly, then Kṛṣṇa consciousness must be there. Kṛṣṇa says, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi (BG 18.66). Therefore it is recommended, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ (CC Adi 17.31). Always we have to be engaged in chanting: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma..., so that Kṛṣṇa will save us. Knowingly we cannot commit any sinful activities. That is one thing. Unknowingly also we cannot do it. Then we'll be liable.
Pūtanā came to kill Kṛṣṇa, smearing poison over her breast. And Kṛṣṇa sucked the milk and her life also. But Kṛṣṇa took her as (His) her mother. This is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa did not take the black side. The intention was to kill Kṛṣṇa, Pūtanā came. But who can kill Kṛṣṇa? That is not possible. But Kṛṣṇa thought Himself as obligation, that "I have sucked her breast. So she is My mother. She must be given the position of mother." So Pūtanā, after being killed, she was given the same opportunity as Mother Yaśodā. This is Kṛṣṇa. Bhāva-grāhī-janārdanaḥ. Any way you serve Kṛṣṇa, it will be accepted. Not any way. I mean to say, we should serve Kṛṣṇa according to regulative principle. Still, some way or other, unknowing or knowingly, if you render some service, that is called ajñāta-sukṛti.
The contamination of material world is called seed. That is seed. Just like you infect some disease, germ, you become diseased. I have got some infection, so I am diseased. You may know it or not know it, that doesn't matter. If you infect, knowingly or unknowingly, you will be diseased.
We are under the grip of laws of nature. You cannot violate. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27). If you have touched fire, it doesn't matter whether you are elderly person or a child, innocent or knowingly or unknowingly, the fire must burn. There is no excuse. Similarly, we are contaminating different types of modes of nature. There are three modes of material nature—sattva-guṇa, raja-guṇa and tamo-guṇa. Now mix it up, three into three equal to nine, nine into nine it becomes eighty-one. Again eighty-one... It increases. Those who are expert in mixing color, they know how to make different colors by mixing the original three colors: blue, yellow and red. Similarly, we are in this material world under the clutches of the modes of material nature, and according to different circumstances we are mixing with different modes of nature. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya sad-asad-yoni-yoniṣu (BG 13.22). Because we are mixing with different types of material nature, next life we are preparing. Tatha dehāntara praptir. We have to accept another body. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya. This is our position. Don't be very happy that "Today I am such and such big person. It will continue." No, sir, it will not continue. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13). You have to change your body.
We can promote ourself in the heavenly planets and we can degrade ourself to the hellish planets also—both ways. Because as soon as we are engaged in karma, unknowingly or knowingly we commit some sinful activities. This is the position. Just like even if I do not like to kill any animal, still, while walking we are killing many animals, many ants on the street, unwillingly. So that is also taken into account. You cannot kill even an ant. So the karma, karma-kāṇḍa, is not very safe. Even if we want to act very piously, the danger is not over. There were many instances.
So ignorance is no excuse. In the law court if you say, "Sir, it was not known to me," so that does not mean that you will be excused. Similarly, knowingly or unknowingly, if you do something, sinful act, then you are immediately criminal. You'll be punishable. It doesn't matter whether you know or not know. Just like fire. This child, if he touches the fire, the fire will not excuse. There is no consideration, "Sir, here is a little child. He does not know this fire is burning." But as soon as he touches, it will burn. This is nature's law. You infect some disease knowingly or unknowingly, it doesn't matter, but the disease will be manifest. Suppose you have infected smallpox infection, contamination. Then it will be manifest.
So here the example is that Ajāmila, although he had forgotten Nārāyaṇa, but on account of his chanting the holy name of Nārāyaṇa, although he meant his son, it was effective. We have to understand like this. Somehow or other, if you chant the holy name of the Lord, knowingly or unknowingly, it will have its effect. Just like you touch fire knowingly or unknowingly, it will burn; similarly, if you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra knowingly or unknowingly, it will be effective on your life. Therefore we see it practically that in the Western countries, although they did not know who is Nārāyaṇa or Kṛṣṇa... It is dictionary, the English dictionary, there is statement, "Kṛṣṇa is the name of Hindu god." So, but nobody is consulting dictionary for chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. But the śāstra says that somehow or other, if you chant the holy name of God, then you gradually become purified. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaṁ śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaṁ vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam (CC Antya 20.12). So this history of Ajamila's life is described in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam to show the importance of chanting the holy name of God. That is the purpose.
Sinful activity means do irresponsibly anything we like, and we become entrapped in sinful activities. But as we have got experience in our ordinary life that ignorance is no excuse... Suppose a child touches fire. The fire will not excuse because it is a child. No. Either you are a child or grown-up man, when you touch the fire it will act. There is no excuse. Similarly, knowingly or unknowingly, if we do something wrong, we have to be punished. This is the law of nature. There was an instance, one muni, he was brought to Yamarāja's court and he was..., judgment was given that this man should be punished by śūla. Śūla means one iron rod pushed through the rectum and it will pierce through the head. But the man was condemned to death, and this is the punishment. So the, he was a sage, muni. So he asked the Yamarāja that "Throughout my whole life, I never did any wrong. Why you are punishing me in this way?" So Yamarāja replied that "You have forgotten. In your childhood you pierced one ant with a needle. You have forgotten. Therefore you are being punished." So of course, he became..., Yamarāja became Vidura because the sage also punished him, that "For my childhood criminality you are punishing me in this way. So I also punish you, that you have no sense, you have to take birth in a śūdra family." Anyway, either in childhood, or knowingly or unknowingly, if we do something wrong... There are many other instances. Just like some contaminous disease: either a child or a grown-up man, if he infects himself with that contaminous disease, some way or other, the disease will manifest and he has to suffer.
In Kali-yuga it is very, very difficult to control the mind, to practice meditation. So there is no use of practicing the so-called meditation. Meditation was possible in the Satya-yuga. Kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇum (SB 12.3.52). That is also Viṣṇu, dhyāyataḥ. To meditate upon Lord Viṣṇu. That was possible in the Satya-yuga. It is not possible in the Kali-yuga, kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt. Kali-yuga, this is, even the child, (indistinct). Beginning from the child, a small child, one year old, they are taking part. Practically you can see. They are taking flower, offering. It is imitation, but the effect is there, the same. Either you imitate or you do real, effective. Just like if you touch fire, either knowingly or unknowingly, it will act. It will act. Similarly, sv-alpam apy dharmasya, either this child, the children, they imitate the elderly person offering flower, taking prasādam, offering obeisances, they're as good as their father and mother. This is devotional service.
Nectar of Devotion Lectures
Generally we commit sinful activities knowingly; if not knowingly, unknowingly. Just like we are walking on the street, we are killing so many ants, unknowingly. So that is also sinful activities. You do not know, you do not want to kill the ants, but still, unknowingly, you are killing. When you take water from the jug, there are so many animals encircling the water jug, and when you take water some of them die. When we make paste on the pestle and mortar, spices, so many small insects die. That is going on. So knowingly or unknowingly, we are committing sinful activities. So how to save? That is replied in the Bhagavad-gītā: yajñarthe karma anyatra loko 'yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ (BG 3.9). If you do not act, or if you do not engage yourself in Kṛṣṇa consciousness business, then you are becoming implicated with so many sinful activities. That is sure. Therefore one has to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness without fail.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures
One who's accepted Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, as everything, that kind of mahātmā is very, very rare to be found. It is not very ordinary thing. So anyone who's accepted Kṛṣṇa as everything, he is the greatest mahātmā. Most fortunate. And we can practically see in these modern countries, everyone four or five years or at most ten years, who never heard what is Kṛṣṇa. Now thousand, they are devotees of Kṛṣṇa, because they have accepted Kṛṣṇa. Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā (BG 7.19). You accept blindly or knowingly, the result will be the same. If you touch fire knowingly or unknowingly, it will burn. This is the position. If you accept Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ (BG 10.8), the origin of everything, then the action will be there. Sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ. You'll become the greatest mahātmā.
Lord Caitanya's opinion is that because all these Vedic injunctions, sacrifices, they are not possible to be performed in this age... They are very difficult. There is no expert leader to perform all these ceremonies and rituals. Therefore, take to this Hare Kṛṣṇa. Take to this. There is no need of rituals. There is no need of expenses. Simply God has given you tongue, and God has given you ear. Just go on chanting: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, and it will fulfill your spiritual advancement. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa said, jñātvā ajñātvā ca karmāṇi jano 'yam anutiṣṭhanti: "Generally, mass of people, they are ignorant. They perform some religious rituals knowingly or unknowingly as a matter of superstition or custom." So, viduṣa karma-siddhiḥ syāt. But one who is intelligent, he should know that "By this sacrifice, I must get the result."
There are men who are very expert, but some of them employing their expertness in sinful activities, and some of them employing there expertness in pious activities. That is the difference. You can apply your brain in two way—this way or that. But those who are applying their brains for pious activities, they can be devotees. And those who are applying their brains for impious activities they cannot—that is not possible. So, this Deity worship is open for everyone so that, knowingly or unknowingly, anyone who's coming here, he's becoming pious.
So although you will find some of the students joining us, they are not very great philosopher or great scientist or great educationist, but they have accepted the reality, Kṛṣṇa. Therefore they are the highest yogis. They are highest yogi. Just like if somebody is offering one million dollars, one may understand it or may not understand it, what is the value of one million dollars. But if one has got that one million of dollars, then he is rich man undoubtedly. Similarly, the boys and the disciples and the followers of this movement, who are accepting Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord, oh, they have already got that millions of dollars. They are richest. They may not understand it, that what is the value of Kṛṣṇa, but because... Just like fire. If you touch knowingly or unknowingly, it is fire and it will burn your body. Similarly, if Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then one who has taken Him, then he will derive the highest benefit undoubtedly.
So our proposition is not that vegetarian-nonvegetarian. Vegetarian or nonvegetarian, it is not very important thing. Vegetable has got also life. It does not mean that one man is eating meat; therefore he is killing. But even vegetarians, they are also killing. But our process is... We... Killing is not very important or nonimportant for us. If Kṛṣṇa says, "Kill," we can kill. If Kṛṣṇa says, "Don't kill," we don't kill. Because we are simply order-carrier. Just like Arjuna. Arjuna was posing himself by his family relationship that he's very perfect, nonviolent gentleman. But Kṛṣṇa induced him to fight, to kill the other party. So for us, killing or nonkilling is not very important thing because everyone is killing, knowingly or unknowingly. So our point is we take foodstuff offered to Kṛṣṇa, and whatever Kṛṣṇa eats, that is our foodstuff. We distribute that thing.
How the material nature is controlling? She has got machine, three modes of material nature. So kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya sad-asad-janma-yoniṣu (BG 13.22). They are contacting either of these three modes of material nature and thus being infected. We know that if we infect some disease knowingly or unknowingly-generally we infect unknowingly-later on that disease becomes developed. This is law of nature. Not that you do not know when you infected that particular disease... That is no excuse. You have infected yourself with this kind of disease; you must suffer. This is knowledge. Similarly, there are three kinds of infection, modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. So ignorance is no excuse. If in the law court you say, "My lord, I did not know that by stealing one is punished," that, the magistrate or the judge, will not excuse you. The law, even this material law, is so strict, and you can imagine how much strict are stringent laws of the nature. So this is the material life, that knowingly or unknowingly we are infecting a particular type of modes of material nature, and our next body is being created.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1968 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Machine was not made for chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, but we are utilizing it so that the machine-maker may be benefited. Because we employ everyone's energy to Kṛṣṇa. So by his energy he has manufactured this machine, so we are employing in Kṛṣṇa's service so that he may be benefited, purified. We are showing him the mercy. Just like one flower picked up from a plant offered to Kṛṣṇa is offering benefit to that plant. Because his energy is in the service of Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, the person who has manufactured this machine, when it is employed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness business, he's benefited. Indirectly, we are giving him opportunity, although he does not know it. But his energy is being utilized for Kṛṣṇa. We offer prasādam, the same principle. A man does not know about Kṛṣṇa. But he wants to eat. By eating, he'll be gradually Kṛṣṇa conscious. So you have... Our business is to give opportunity to all forgotten souls to be engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, today or tomorrow. The boys and girls who have come to this society, they have accumulated in that way, knowingly or unknowingly, some Kṛṣṇa conscious qualification, and therefore they have taken this opportunity.
1972 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Just like gopīs. They did not know Kṛṣṇa, whether He is God or some... Simply loved Kṛṣṇa: "Kṛṣṇa is very beautiful." That's all. So their perfection is the highest. They did not try to understand what Kṛṣṇa, what is Vedānta, what is Bhagavad-gītā. At that time Bhagavad-gītā was not spoken even. Kṛṣṇa was at that time a boy. But they loved Kṛṣṇa with their heart and soul. Kṛṣṇa was their everything. And therefore their position is the topmost. So somehow or other, we have to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. Then our life is successful. Otherwise not. So we do it knowingly or unknowingly; the effect is the same. Fire you touch knowingly or unknowingly; it will act. It is not that if a child touches fire without knowing, knowledge, it is not that fire will not burn. And similarly... That is stated in the Bhāgavata. Kāmāt krodhād bhayāt. Some way or other, come to Kṛṣṇa. Just like gopīs came to Kṛṣṇa-kāmāt. Kṛṣṇa was very beautiful, so they wanted to associate with Kṛṣṇa.
1976 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Mercy means.... Suppose you are a devotee. Unknowingly or by some bad habit you have done something wrong. That is excused. But if you intentionally do, that "I am devotee; Kṛṣṇa will excuse me," then you are rascal.
Gopāla Kṛṣṇa: That's the greatest offense.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Cheating. Cheating Kṛṣṇa. Cheating Kṛṣṇa is no business. That is to be punished. You cannot cheat Kṛṣṇa. But if by accident, knowingly or unknowingly you have done something which is not good, that is excused. Sva-pāda-mūlaṁ bhajataḥ priyasya. If you are actually, because you have given so much service to Kṛṣṇa, you have become very dear to Him, so unknowingly you have done, committed sin—excused. Bhajataḥ priyasya. This word is used. You must have to become very dear to Him. Then if you accidentally commit some sin, that is excused.