In the Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is clearly stated by Ṛṣabhadeva to his sons: "Persons engaged in fruitive activities are repeatedly accepting birth and death, and until they develop a loving feeling for Vāsudeva, there will be no question of getting out from these stringent laws of material nature." As such, any person who is very seriously engaged in his occupational duties in the varṇas and āśramas, and who does not develop love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, is to be understood as simply spoiling his human form of life.
This is confirmed also in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 11th Chapter, 32nd verse, in which the Lord says to Uddhava, "My dear Uddhava, any person who takes shelter of Me in complete surrender and follows My instructions, giving up all occupational duties, is to be considered the first-class man." In this statement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is understood that people who are generally attracted to philanthropic, ethical, moral, altruistic, political and social welfare activities may be considered nice men only in the calculation of the material world. From Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other authentic Vedic scriptures we learn further that if a person simply acts in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and discharges devotional service, he is considered to be far, far better situated than all of those persons engaged in philanthropic, ethical, moral, altruistic and social welfare activities.
The same thing is still more emphatically confirmed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Canto, 5th Chapter, 37th verse, in which Karabhājana Muni addresses Mahārāj Nimi as follows: "My dear King, if somebody gives up his occupational duties as they are prescribed for the different varṇas and āśramas, but takes complete shelter, surrendering himself unto the lotus feet of the Lord, such a person is no more a debtor, nor has he any obligation to perform the different kinds of activities we render to the great sages, ancestors, living entities and family and society members. Neither has he any need to bother executing the five kinds of yajñās (sacrifices) for becoming free from sinful contamination. Simply by discharging devotional service he is freed from all kinds of obligations." The purport is that as soon as a man takes his birth, he is immediately indebted to so many sources. He is indebted to the great sages because he profits by reading their authoritative scriptures and books. For example, we take advantage of the books written by Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva has left for us all the Vedas. Before Vyāsadeva's writing, the Vedic literature was simply heard, and the disciples would learn the mantras quickly by hearing and not by reading. Later on, Vyāsadeva thought it wise to write down the Vedas because in this age people are short-memoried and unable to remember all the instructions given by the spiritual master. Therefore, he left all the Vedic knowledge in book form, such as the Purāṇas, Vedānta, Mahābhārata and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
There are many other sages, like Śaṅkarācārya, Gautama Muni, Nārada Muni, etc., to whom we are indebted because we take advantage of their knowledge. Similarly, we are obliged to our forefathers because we take our birth in a particular family, where we take all advantages and inherit property. Therefore, we are indebted to the forefathers and have to offer them piṇḍa (prasādam) after they are dead. Similarly, to the people in general we are also indebted, as well as to our relatives, friends and even animals such as cows and dogs who render us so much service.
In this way, we are indebted to the demigods, to the forefathers, to the sages, to the animals and to society in general. It is our duty to repay them all by proper discharge of service. But by the one stroke of devotional service, if someone gives up all obligations and simply surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is no longer a debtor, nor obliged to any other source of benefit.