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CC Madhya 20.6


eka bandī chāḍe yadi nija-dharma dekhiyā
saṁsāra ha-ite tāre mukta karena gosāñā


eka bandī — one imprisoned person; chāḍe — one releases; yadi — if; nija-dharma — one’s own religion; dekhiyā — consulting; saṁsāra ha-ite — from material bondage; tāre — him; mukta karena — releases; gosāñā — the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


“If one releases a conditioned soul or imprisoned person according to religious principles, he himself is also released from material bondage by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”


It appears from this statement that Sanātana Gosvāmī, who was formerly a minister of the Nawab, was trying to cheat the Muslim superintendent. A jail superintendent had only an ordinary education, or practically no education, and he was certainly not supposed to be very advanced in spiritual knowledge. But just to satisfy him, Sanātana Gosvāmī praised him as a very learned scholar of the scriptures. The jailkeeper could not deny that he was a learned scholar, because when one is elevated to an exalted position, one thinks oneself fit for that position. Sanātana Gosvāmī was correctly explaining the effects of spiritual activity, and the jailkeeper connected his statement with his release from jail.

There are innumerable conditioned souls rotting in the material world, imprisoned by māyā under the spell of sense gratification. The living entity is so entranced by the spell of māyā that in conditioned life even a pig feels satisfied. There are two kinds of covering powers exhibited by māyā. One is called prakṣepātmikā, and the other is called āvaraṇātmikā. When one is determined to get out of material bondage, the prakṣepātmikā-śakti, the spell of diversion, impels one to remain in conditioned life fully satisfied by sense gratification. Due to the other power (āvaraṇātmikā), a conditioned soul feels satisfied even if he is rotting in the body of a pig or a worm in stool. To release a conditioned soul from material bondage is very difficult because the spell of māyā is so strong. Even when the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself descends to deliver conditioned souls, asking them to surrender unto Him, the conditioned souls do not agree to the Lord’s proposal. Therefore Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī said, “Somehow or other, if one helps another gain release from the bondage of māyā, he is certainly recognized immediately by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” As Lord Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.69):

na ca tasmān manuṣyeṣukaścin me priya-kṛttamaḥ
bhavitā na ca me tasmād
anyaḥ priyataro bhuvi

The greatest service one can render to the Lord is to try to infuse devotional service into the heart of the conditioned soul so that the conditioned soul may be released from conditioned life. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has said that a Vaiṣṇava is recognized by his preaching work — that is, by convincing the conditioned soul about his eternal position, which is explained here as nija-dharma. It is the living entity’s eternal position to serve the Lord; therefore to help one get release from material bondage is to awaken one to the dormant understanding that he is the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. Jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’. This will be further explained by the Lord Himself to Sanātana Gosvāmī.