What is the difference between occupational duty and prescribed duty?

What is the duty of a human being? What is prescribed? What about our ability? How to ensure that we can do what’s most important, what’s most urgent, and what’s most urgent and important? How to prioritize?

Bhakta Sunil, 06th January 2016

Hare Krishna every one,

Please accept my humble respects
All Glories to Vaishnavas

Please enlighten about occupational duty and prescribed duty , are both same or different?

Thanks in anticipation,
sunil

Prasadj dube, 08th January 2016

Hare Krishna!

Occupational duty means to attend the works of his livelihood. Prescribed duty means doing the eternal service to the Supreme Lord by devotedly chanting his name hare krishna hare krishna .

Prasadj dube

Shyamapriya devi dasi, 08th January 2016

Hare Krishna,

Thank you for this question!

The English dictionary says ‘occupation’ means job or profession and the word ‘prescribed’ means advisable or authorized.

And as per vedic understanding-

Occupational duties or Varnasrama-dharma are duties related to the four divisions of material— (namely brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra) and and spiritual life (brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa).[SB 4.20.9] and

Prescribed duties or Sva-dharma mean duties enjoined according to one’s psychophysical condition, under the influence of three modes of material nature. [Bg 3.35]

Srila Prabhupada, explains more on prescribed duties as follows in the purport of Bg 3.35 :

“One should therefore discharge his prescribed duties in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness rather than those prescribed for others. Materially, prescribed duties are duties enjoined according to one’s psychophysical condition, under the spell of the modes of material nature. Spiritual duties are as ordered by the spiritual master for the transcendental service of Kṛṣṇa. But whether material or spiritual, one should stick to his prescribed duties even up to death, rather than imitate another’s prescribed duties. Duties on the spiritual platform and duties on the material platform may be different, but the principle of following the authorized direction is always good for the performer. When one is under the spell of the modes of material nature, one should follow the prescribed rules for his particular situation and should not imitate others. For example, a brāhmaṇa, who is in the mode of goodness, is nonviolent, whereas a kṣatriya, who is in the mode of passion, is allowed to be violent. As such, for a kṣatriya it is better to be vanquished following the rules of violence than to imitate a brāhmaṇa who follows the principles of nonviolence. Everyone has to cleanse his heart by a gradual process, not abruptly. However, when one transcends the modes of material nature and is fully situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can perform anything and everything under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. In that complete stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the kṣatriya may act as a brāhmaṇa, or a brāhmaṇa may act as a kṣatriya. In the transcendental stage, the distinctions of the material world do not apply. For example, Viśvāmitra was originally a kṣatriya, but later on he acted as a brāhmaṇa, whereas Paraśurāma was a brāhmaṇa but later on he acted as a kṣatriya. Being transcendentally situated, they could do so; but as long as one is on the material platform, he must perform his duties according to the modes of material nature. At the same time, he must have a full sense of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” [ Purport Bg 3.35]

From the above reading we understand that, since every living entity (in human form) has acquired a particular nature (under the influence of three modes of nature -goodness, passion and ignorance), the vedic injunction accordingly prescribes one of his duty (through the institution of varna and asrama) by which one can gradually elevate oneself to the stage of transcendence, where one is free from the influence of these three modes.

Now, coming back to your question- both occupational and prescribed duties in vedic sense mean one and the same. i.e the vedic authorities prescribe a living entitiey to take up a certain profession or occupation (as a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra) based on one’s pscho-physical condition (a consequence of three modes of nature). Along with this, it also reminds us to perform such duties not with the motive of material gain but to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead ultimately, then only can one be happy and content.

In conclusion, whatever our occupational or prescribed duties may be, the essence remains the same Jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya dasa. The real occupation duty or Santana-dharma of a spirit soul or a living entity as prescribed by the authorized sources/scriptures like Bhagavad-gita is ultimately to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna by eternally serving Him with love.

I would appreciate if others can fill in the lacunae in the above explanation.

Sincerely,
Shyamapriya devi dasi

Guru Vandana devi dasi, 09th January 2016

Hare Krishna!

Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6, Suta Goswami says, “The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.”

Here Srila Prabhupada purposefully translates the word ‘dharma’ as occupation and not as religion. He says the word religion is misunderstood. It is taken as faith which can change but dharma or occupation is which cannot change.

When one is on bodily platform he manufactures some occupation to earn his livelihood according to his body, mind and circumstances. As a medical doctor one may have a livelihood by medical practice, as a civil servant one may serve his country etc.. But these occupations are temporary. It is finished as soon as the body is finished.

The question asked here is to describe about occupational duty. We must now inquire and understand what is our real occupational duty?

In verse 1.2.6 it is mentioned as ‘paro dharma’. Para means transcendental . Suta Goswami explains ‘bhaktih adhoksaje’. Our real dharma is -loving devotional service.

Krishna came to teach us this real occupational duty. The merciful Lord says to just give up all bodily occupation, mental occupation, intellectual occupation and surrender unto Him. It doesn’t mean these occupational duties as an engineer, lawyer, doctor, householder, etc .are not of real consideration and to be given up thinking that devotional service is executed under whatever circumstances we may whimsically decide. Arjuna performed his occupational duty not as a material obligation but as a devotional service.

Prescribed duty- Just like animals if we are simply interested only in eating, sleeping, mating and defending then there are no prescribed duties. But who wants to rise above animal life for him prescribed duties are there. According to the modes of nature Krishna has given prescribed duties in verses BG 18.42, 18.43,18.44

Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work.

Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the ksatriyas.

Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaisyas, and for the sudras there is labor and service to others.

When I asked Srila Gurudeva what my prescribed duty is , His Grace replied, “Your prescribed duties are what I give you.”

Are both same or different?

One’s occupational duties are prescribed in scriptures and by Guru and Vaishnavas. So for those who are interested in real occupation both occupational duties and prescribed duties are one and the same.

your servant
Guru Vandana devi dasi

Premananda das, 12th January 2016

Thank you for the wonderful question by Bhakta Sunil and beautiful answers by Mother Guruvandana and Mother ShyamaPriya.

your servant
Premananda Das

Premananda das, 13th January 2016

Hare Krishna

My apologies for the major and very careless typo error .I had written But Krishna was married to Draupati and Subhadara.
I was referring to Arjuna.
This is certainly my fault and only due to kindness and due diligence of Mahabhagavata prabhu I am glad to be corrected.Hare Krishna

Occupational duty is the external activities people are engaged for example a traveling monk,student ,businessman,housewife etc.
Prescibed duty means to make the purpose behind these responsibilities one with the purpose of loving God (Krishna).
This becomes natural when we are in association with saintly people who are already doing that.
It means to give up separate motives.
Lord Krishna told Arjuna .”You should surrender unto me .”But Arjuna was a married man.He was married to Draupadi and Subhadra and he had eight children and even grand children.He was a warrior.After hearing Bhagavat-Gita he did not become a sannyasi, a person in the renounced order.
He performed his duty of fighting because he was a military man and he continued to maintain his family.But he did all these in the spirit of service rather than spirit of greed and exploitation .He did it as an expression of love for God.
In this way he rightly oriented his occupation and domestic situation.He did not renounce it but renounced greed,envy pride and lust .
With a pure state of consciousness and a desire to serve he aspired for the ideal love of God through the situation he was in.
In conclusion as Srimati Gurumata and Srila Gurudeva always instructs that all actives should be dovetailed in Krishna consciousness.Krishna is the Centre of all our activities.Krishna is the Supreme enjoyer and we are His servants who are enjoyed by Him.Jivera swarupa Hoya Nitya Krishna Das. Our constitutional position is that we are all servants of Krishna.In this situation only we will be happy.

your servant
Premananda Das

Dra Varni, 15th January 2016

Hare Krsna, Thanks you for all the wonderful insight. For a contribution I would say to remember “you are not this body”

drv

Bhakta Sunil, 17th February 2016

A delayed but hearty Thank you very much! to prasadj dube Prabhu , Shyamapriya devi mataji , Guru Vandana Devi Mataji , Premananda Prabhu , Dra Varni ji and every one who contributed to enlighten on this nectar which at my stage , i could not dive deeply into , and relish as much as it actually is

All Glories to your replies!

your insignificant servant,
Bhakta Sunil

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Author: Mahabhagavat Das SDA

I am a formally initiated disciple of His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari. My spiritual master was initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1971. He is the author of the famous Ultimate Self Realization Course. Check it out at www.joincourse.com.

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