(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada and devotees)
Prabhupāda: To improve our condition there are different processes. One is called karma. Just like generally people are trying to elevate his position, economic condition, working day and night very hard. Similarly, we can also work very hard for our future happiness. 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 are many instances. There was one king. He was very charitable and he was giving cows, many cows to the brāhmaṇas, and... You will find this story in the Kṛṣṇa book. So there was some mistake. One brāhmaṇa was taking another brāhmaṇa's cows, and both of them fought and they persisted. The owner wanted, "I want this cow returned back." And the king offered that "Instead of this cow you take ten cows from me. You settle up." No, he would not do that. In this way there was some misunderstanding, and the brāhmaṇa cursed him, as a result of which he had to become an... What is called?
Prabhupāda: Lizard. Just see this karma-kāṇḍa. He had to become a lizard, that Kṛṣṇa delivered him. So this is karma-kāṇḍa. If there is little discrepancy, then there is great risk. Then jñāna-kāṇḍa. Jñāna-kāṇḍa means to understand things very properly. So jñāna-kāṇḍa is simply speculation, because there is no knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So that is also risky. So only bhakti-mārga is not risky. Bhakti-mārga means devotion, the path of devotional service. Because this material life means contamination of the three modes of material nature. Either you are on the goodness or in the passion or in ignorance, there is chance of falling down from one platform to another, so long you are on the material platform. But if you remain on the spiritual platform... Just like we are trying to keep you on the spiritual platform. That is bhakti-yoga—always engaged in devotional service. Then you are above all these material qualities. That is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā:
māṁ ca vyabhicāriṇi
bhakti-yogena yaḥ sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
Anyone who is fully, constantly, twenty-four hours engaged, avyabhicāriṇi... Avyabhicāriṇi, without any stoppage. Therefore I want that in our temple there should be program that we are always engaged in devotional service, twenty-four hours. But because we have got this material body we require a little rest, the minimum rest, as minimum as possible. Because the sleeping means waste of time. We are supposed to be engaged twenty-four hours in the service of the Lord, but as it is not possible, we have to sleep, take little rest, so that should be the minimum. Because the whole period sleeping means waste. So all these Gosvāmīs, they used to sleep not more than two hours. That was also not possible in some day; they were so busy in writing books and other...
So this should be minimized, and we should be engaged twenty-four hours. If we remain engaged in that way... We have got so many engagement. We are daily singing—I do not know whether you understand the meaning—śrī-vigrahārādhana-nitya-nānā-śṛṅgāra-tan-mandira mārjanādau, yuktasya bhaktāṁś ca niyuñjato 'pi vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam. We have got śrī-vigraha. The śrī-vigraha-sevā—all rising early in the morning, arrange for maṅgala āratrik, then dressing, then offering food, then āratrik, so many hours. The whole day can be used in that way. Then reading books, class, taking care of the temple. Tan-mandira-mārjanādau. Don't think that if one is engaged in the Deity worship and if one is engaged in the gardening work there is distinction. No. The one who is working as a gardener, he is as good as the one who is dressing the Deity, because it is absolute plane. There is no difference between... Just like in the material world, if one is working as manager and the other is working as menial servant there is difference of pay or difference of service. No. In the spiritual world there is no such thing. In the spiritual world even a small ant who is serving Kṛṣṇa by chance... Suppose if there is an ant and the flower is thrown into the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and the ant kisses the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, he is as good as the pūjārī. This is spiritual world.
So we should give everyone chance how to serve Kṛṣṇa. Then he will remain on the upper platform. Samatītya. Atītya mean transcending. Etan guṇān. Etan guṇān means because the material world is complicated with the modes of material nature, so this is called guṇa. So anyone who is engaged constantly in devotional service, sa guṇān samatītyaitān (BG 14.26), he immediately transcends the influence of the material qualities. Sa guṇān samatītya etān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate.
So these things will be discussed, that "Such person is not meant for going to the hell." No. They are not meant. It is stated that such devotees, they will not in dream also see what is hellish condition of life, they are so, mean, guaranteed. So this hellish condition of life is meant for the persons who are rotting in these material modes of nature, and if you remain above the influence of material nature, always being engaged in devotional service... We have got varieties of service, and we have got such program. So if, some way or other, if we remain engaged always in devotional service, then there is no question of downfall or going to the hellish condition of life.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Honolulu, June 8, 1975)