Chapter 3: Karma-yoga
karmanaiva hi samsiddhim
sampasyan kartum arhasi
Even kings like Janaka and others attained the perfectional stage by performance of prescribed duties. Therefore, just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work.
Kings like Janaka and others were all self-realized souls; consequently they had no obligation to perform the prescribed duties in the Vedas. Nonetheless they performed all prescribed activities just to set examples for the people in general. Janaka was the father of Sita, and father-in-law of Lord Sri Rama. Being a great devotee of the Lord, he was transcendentally situated, but because he was the King of Mithila (a subdivision of Behar province in India), he had to teach his subjects how to fight righteously in battle. He and his subjects fought to teach people in general that violence is also necessary in a situation where good arguments fail. Before the Battle of Kuruksetra, every effort was made to avoid the war, even by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but the other party was determined to fight. So for such a right cause, there is a necessity for fighting. Although one who is situated in Krsna consciousness may not have any interest in the world, he still works to teach the public how to live and how to act. Experienced persons in Krsna consciousness can act in such a way that others will follow, and this is explained in the following verse.
yad yad acarati sresthas
tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute
lokas tad anuvartate
Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.
People in general always require a leader who can teach the public by practical behavior. A leader cannot teach the public to stop smoking if he himself smokes. Lord Caitanya said that a teacher should behave properly even before he begins teaching. One who teaches in that way is called acarya, or the ideal teacher. Therefore, a teacher must follow the principles of sastra (scripture) to reach the common man. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of revealed scriptures. The revealed scriptures, like Manu-samhita and similar others, are considered the standard books to be followed by human society. Thus the leader’s teaching should be based on the principles of the standard rules as they are practiced by the great teachers. The Srimad-Bhagavatam also affirms that one should follow in the footsteps of great devotees, and that is the way of progress on the path of spiritual realization. The king or the executive head of a state, the father and the school teacher are all considered to be natural leaders of the innocent people in general. All such natural leaders have a great responsibility to their dependants; therefore they must be conversant with standard books of moral and spiritual codes.