dharmam udvahatāṁ dhuram
Ordinary religious principles, prescribing innumerable rules, regulations and prohibitions, are undoubtedly a great burden for those bereft of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.1.11) it is stated, bhūrīṇi bhūri-karmāṇi śrotavyāni vibhāgaśaḥ: there are countless religious scriptures in the world prescribing countless religious duties. The authorized scriptures are those spoken by the Lord Himself or His representatives, as stated in this verse. In the last chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (18.66) Lord Kṛṣṇa states, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: one should give up the troublesome burden of mundane piety and directly take to the loving service of the Lord, in which everything is simplified. Lord Kṛṣṇa also states in Bhagavad-gītā (9.2), su-sukhaṁ kartum avyayam: the bhakti-yoga process, which depends completely upon the mercy of the Lord, is very joyful and easily performed. Similarly, Locana dāsa Ṭhākura sings,
parama karuṇa, pahuṅ dui jana,
saba avatāra-, sāra-śiromaṇi,
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself, appeared five hundred years ago to distribute the sublime method of chanting the holy names of the Lord. In this way, rather than bearing the burden of artificial austerity, one can directly take to the Lord’s service, cleansing one’s heart and immediately experiencing transcendental bliss. Those who have taken to Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s movement follow four basic principles: no illicit sex, no eating of meat, fish or eggs, no intoxication and no gambling. They rise early in the morning, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and spend the day happily engaged in the Lord’s service. Those who follow the ritualistic karma-kāṇḍa section of the Vedas, however, are burdened with innumerable regulations, rituals and ceremonies, which must be personally performed by the worshipers or performed on their behalf by qualified brāhmaṇas. At any moment there is danger of discrepancy resulting in the total loss of their accumulated piety. Similarly, those on the philosophical path must painstakingly define, refine and adjust philosophical categories, a process that generally ends in confusion and hopelessness. The practitioners of mystic yoga undergo grueling penances, subjecting themselves to severe heat and cold, near starvation and so on. All such materialistic persons have personal desires to fulfill, whereas the devotees of the Lord, who desire the Lord’s pleasure, simply depend upon the Lord’s mercy and go back home, back to Godhead. In the previous verse the Lord mentioned that in the material world there are endless distinctions and value judgements to be made in the course of one’s life. A devotee, however, sees Kṛṣṇa within everything and everything within Kṛṣṇa, remaining humble, simple and blissful in the Lord’s service. He does not perform elaborate religious ceremonies, nor does he become antisocial or immoral. The devotee simply chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa and easily achieves the highest perfection of life. Ordinary persons endeavor for bodily maintenance, but a devotee is automatically maintained by the Lord’s mercy. A devotee’s ordinary dealings and religious activities are also all dedicated to the Personality of Godhead; thus there is nothing but Kṛṣṇa in a devotee’s life. Kṛṣṇa gives all protection and maintenance, and the devotee gives everything to Kṛṣṇa. This natural liberated situation is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is the ultimate absolute good, as explained by the Lord throughout this canto.