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ŚB 12.12.53


न शोभते ज्ञानमलं निरञ्जनम् ।
कुत: पुन: शश्वदभद्रमीश्वरे
न ह्यर्पितं कर्म यदप्यनुत्तमम् ॥ ५३ ॥


naiṣkarmyam apy acyuta-bhāva-varjitaṁ
na śobhate jñānam alaṁ nirañjanam
kutaḥ punaḥ śaśvad abhadram īśvare
na hy arpitaṁ karma yad apy anuttamam


naiṣkarmyam — self-realization, being freed from the reactions of fruitive work; api — although; acyuta — of the infallible Lord; bhāva — conception; varjitam — devoid of; na — does not; śobhate — look well; jñānam — transcendental knowledge; alam — actually; nirañjanam — free from designations; kutaḥ — where is; punaḥ — again; śaśvat — always; abhadram — uncongenial; īśvare — unto the Lord; na — not; hi — indeed; arpitam — offered; karma — fruitive work; yat — which is; api — even; anuttamam — unsurpassed.


Knowledge of self-realization, even though free from all material affinity, does not look well if devoid of a conception of the Infallible [God]. What, then, is the use of even the most properly performed fruitive activities, which are naturally painful from the very beginning and transient by nature, if they are not utilized for the devotional service of the Lord?


This and the previous two verses are found in a slightly different form in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.10-12). The translations are based on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s.