Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 4 - Chapter 1 - Verse 5


राजोवाचन जानामि महाभाग परं कर्मापविद्धधी: ।ब्रूहि मे विमलं ज्ञानं येन मुच्येय कर्मभि: ॥ ५ ॥


rājovācana jānāmi mahā-bhāgaparaṁ karmāpaviddha-dhīḥbrūhi me vimalaṁ jñānaṁyena mucyeya karmabhiḥ


The King replied: O great soul, Nārada, my intelligence is entangled in fruitive activities; therefore I do not know the ultimate goal of life. Kindly instruct me in pure knowledge so that I can get out of the entanglement of fruitive activities.


Śrī Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has sung: As long as a person is entangled in fruitive activities, he is bound to accept one body after another. This is called karma-bandha-phāṅsa, entanglement in fruitive activities. It does not matter whether one is engaged in pious or impious activities, for both are causes for further entanglement in material bodies. By pious activities one can take birth in a rich family and get a good education and a beautiful body, but this does not mean that the distresses of life are ultimately eliminated. In the Western countries it is not unusual for one to take birth in a rich aristocratic family, nor is it unusual for one to have a good education and a very beautiful body, but this does not mean that Westerners are free from the distresses of life. Although at the present moment the younger generation in Western countries has sufficient education, beauty and wealth, and although there is enough food, clothing, and facilities for sense gratification, they are in distress. Indeed, they are so distressed that they become hippies, and the laws of nature force them to accept a wretched life. Thus they go about unclean and without shelter or food, and they are forced to sleep in the street. It can be concluded that one cannot become happy by simply performing pious activities. It is not a fact that those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth are free from the material miseries of birth, old age, disease and death. The conclusion is that one cannot be happy by simply executing pious or impious activities. Such activities simply cause entanglement and transmigration from one body to another. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura calls this karma-bandha-phāṅsa. King Prācīnabarhiṣat admitted this fact and frankly asked Nārada Muni how he could get out of this karma-bandha-phāṅsa, entanglement in fruitive activities. This is actually the stage of knowledge indicated in the first verse of Vedānta-sūtra: athāto brahma-jijñāsā. When one actually reaches the platform of frustration in an attempt to discharge karma-bandha-phāṅsa, he inquires about the real value of life, which is called brahma-jijñāsā. In order to inquire about the ultimate goal of life, the Vedas (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 11.2.12) enjoin, tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet: “In order to understand the transcendental science, one must approach a bona fide spiritual master.” King Prācīnabarhiṣat found the best spiritual master, Nārada Muni, and he therefore asked him about that knowledge by which one can get out of the entanglement of karma-bandha-phāṅsa, fruitive activities. This is the actual business of human life. Jīvasya tattva-jijñāsā nārtho yaś ceha karmabhiḥ. As stated in the Second Chapter of the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.10), a human being’s only business is inquiring from a bona fide spiritual master about extrication from the entanglement of karma-bandha-phāṅsa.