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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

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"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"

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Nectar of Devotion

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.

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.

In the Bhagavad-gītā also the Lord says: "Give up all your occupations and just become surrendered unto Me. I give you assurance that I shall give you protection from all sinful reactions." One may think that because he is surrendering unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he will not be able to perform all of his other obligations. But the Lord says repeatedly, "Don't hesitate. Don't consider that because you are giving up all other engagements there will be some flaw in your life. Don't think like that. I will give you all protection." That is the assurance of Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā.

There is additional evidence in the Agastya-saṁhitā: "As the regulative principles of scripture are not required by a liberated person, similarly a person who is engaged duly in the service of Lord Rāmacandra is also not required to discharge the ritualistic principles which are indicated in the Vedic supplimentaries." In other words, the devotees of Lord Rāmacandra, or Kṛṣṇa, are already liberated persons and are not required to follow all the regulative principles mentioned in the ritualistic portions of the Vedic literature.

Similarly, in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 5th Chapter, Karabhājana Muni addresses King Nimi and says, "My dear King, a person who has given up the worship of the demigods and has completely concentrated his energy in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead has become very, very dear to the Lord. As such, if by chance or mistake he does something which is forbidden, there is no need for him to perform any purificatory ceremonies. Because the Lord is situated within his heart, He takes compassion for the devotee's accidental mistake and corrects him from within." It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā in many places that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, takes a special interest in His devotees and declares emphatically that nothing can cause His devotees to fall down. He is always protecting them.