“Dear Lord,” the personified Vedas continued, “if saintly persons do not take care to eradicate completely the roots of sinful desires, they cannot experience the Supersoul, although He is sitting side by side with the individual soul. Samādhi, or meditation, means that one has to find the Supersoul within himself. One who is not free from sinful reactions cannot see the Supersoul. If a person has a jeweled locket in his necklace but forgets the jewel, it is almost as though he does not possess it. Similarly, if an individual soul meditates but does not actually perceive the presence of the Supersoul within himself, his meditation is useless.” Persons who have taken to the path of self-realization must therefore be very careful to avoid contamination by the influence of māyā. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that a devotee should be completely free from all sorts of material desires. A devotee should not be affected by the results of karma and jñāna. One has to simply understand Kṛṣṇa and carry out His desires. That is the pure devotional stage. The personified Vedas continued: “Mystic yogīs who still have contaminated desires for sense gratification are never successful in their attempt, nor can they realize the Supersoul within the individual self. As such, the so-called yogīs and jñānīs who are simply wasting their time in different types of sense gratification, either by mental speculation or by exhibition of limited mystic powers, will never be liberated from conditioned life and will continue to go through repeated births and deaths. For such persons, both this life and the next life are sources of tribulation. Such sinful persons are already suffering tribulation in this life, and because they are not perfect in self-realization they will be plagued with further tribulation in the next life. Despite all endeavors to attain perfection, such yogīs, contaminated by desires for sense gratification, will continue to suffer in this life and the next.”
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura remarks in this connection that if sannyāsīs (persons in the renounced order of life, who have left their homes for self-realization) do not engage themselves in the devotional service of the Lord but become attracted by philanthropic work, such as opening educational institutions, hospitals or even monasteries, churches or temples of demigods, they find only trouble from such engagements, not only in this life but in the next. Sannyāsīs who do not take advantage of this life to realize Kṛṣṇa simply waste their time and energy in activities outside the jurisdiction of the renounced order. A devotee’s attempt to engage his energies in such activities as constructing a Viṣṇu temple, however, is never wasted. Such engagements are called kṛṣṇārthe akhila-ceṣṭā, variegated activities performed to please Kṛṣṇa. A philanthropist’s opening a school building and a devotee’s constructing a temple are not on the same level. Although a philanthropist’s opening an educational institution may be pious activity, it comes under the laws of karma, whereas constructing a temple for Viṣṇu is devotional service.
Devotional service is never within the jurisdiction of the law of karma. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate: (BG 14.26) “Devotees of the Personality of Godhead transcend all the reactions of the three modes of material nature and are situated on the transcendental platform of Brahman realization.” The devotees are liberated in both this life and the next. Any work done in this material world for Yajña (Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa) is considered to be liberated work, but without connection with Acyuta, the infallible Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no possibility of stopping the resultant actions of the law of karma. The life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the life of liberation. The conclusion is that a devotee, by the grace of the Lord, is liberated in both this life and the next, whereas karmīs, jñānīs and yogīs are never liberated, either in this life or in the next.
The personified Vedas continued: “Dear Lord, anyone who by Your grace has understood the glories of Your lotus feet is callous to material happiness and distress.” The material pangs are inevitable as long as we exist within the material world, but a devotee does not divert his attention to such actions and reactions, which are the results of pious and impious activities. Nor is a devotee very much disturbed or pleased by praise or condemnation from people in general. A devotee is sometimes greatly praised because of his transcendental activities, and sometimes he is criticized, even though there is no reason for adverse criticism. The pure devotee, however, is always callous to praise or condemnation by ordinary people. Actually, the devotee’s activities are on the transcendental plane. He is not interested in the praise or condemnation of people engaged in material activities. If the devotee can thus maintain his transcendental position, his liberation in this life and the next is guaranteed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.