“One should construct parks, recreational places, orchards, vegetable gardens, and so on. These serve to attract people to the temples of Kṛṣṇa, where they may directly engage in chanting the holy name of the Lord. Such construction projects may be understood as pūrtam, or public welfare activities. Although Lord Kṛṣṇa mentions that association with His pure devotees is far more powerful than processes such as yoga, philosophical speculation, sacrifices and public welfare activities, these secondary activities also please Lord Kṛṣṇa, but to a lesser extent. Specifically, they please the Lord when performed by devotees rather than by ordinary materialistic persons. Therefore the comparative term yathā (“according to proportion”) is used. In other words, such practices as sacrifice, austerity and philosophical study may help one become fit for rendering devotional service, and when such activities are performed by devotees aspiring for spiritual advancement, they become somewhat pleasing to the Lord.

One may study the example of vratāni, or vows. The injunction that one should fast on Ekādaśī is a permanent vow for all Vaiṣṇavas, and one should not conclude from these verses that one may neglect the Ekādaśī vow. The superiority of sat-saṅga, or association with pure devotees, in awarding the fruit of love of Godhead does not mean that one should give up other processes or that these secondary processes are not permanent factors in bhakti-yoga. There are many Vedic injunctions instructing one to execute the agnihotra sacrifice, and the modern-day followers of Caitanya Mahāprabhu also occasionally execute fire sacrifices. Such sacrifice is recommended by the Lord Himself in the previous chapter, and therefore it should not be given up by the devotees of the Lord. By performing Vedic ritualistic and purificatory processes, one is gradually elevated to the platform of devotional service, whereupon one is able to directly worship the Absolute Truth.”

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, Eleventh Canto, Chapter 12 – Text 01 & 02.

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