tasmat karmasu barhismann
martha-drstim krthah srotra-
tasmat—therefore; karmasu—in fruitive activities; barhisman—O King Pracinabarhisat; ajnanat—out of ignorance; artha-kasisu—in the glittering fruitive result; ma—never; artha-drstim—considering to be the aim of life; krthah—do; srotra-sparsisu—pleasing to the ear; asprsta—without touching; vastusu—real interest.
My dear King Barhisman, you should never out of ignorance take to the Vedic rituals or to fruitive activity, which may be pleasing to hear about or which may appear to be the goal of self-interest. You should never take these to be the ultimate goal of life.
“Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power, and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say that there is nothing more than this.”
Generally people are very much attracted to the fruitive activities sanctioned in the Vedic rituals. One may be very much attracted to becoming elevated to heavenly planets by performing great sacrifices, like those of King Barhisman. Sri Narada Muni wanted to stop King Barhisman from engaging in such fruitive activities. Therefore he is now directly telling him, “Don’t be interested in such temporary benefits.” In modern civilization people are very much interested in exploiting the resources of material nature through the methods of science. Indeed, this is considered advancement. This is not actually advancement, however, but is simply pleasing to hear. Although we are advancing according to such concocted methods, we are forgetting our real purpose. Bhaktivinoda Thakura therefore says, jada-vidya yata mayara vaibhava tomara bhajane badha: “Materialistic studies are the glare of maya only, for they are an obstacle to spiritual progress.”
The temporary comforts of life experienced either on this planet or on other planets are all to be taken as illusory because they do not touch the real purpose of life. The real purpose of life is to go back home, back to Godhead. Ignorant of the real purpose of life, people take to either gross materialistic activities or ritualistic activities. King Barhisman is herein requested not to be attached to such activities. In the Vedas it is stated that the performance of sacrifice is the actual purpose of life. A section of the Indian population known as the Arya-samajists lay too much stress on the sacrificial portion of the Vedas. This verse indicates, however, that such sacrifices are to be taken as illusory. Actually the aim of human life should be God realization, or Krsna consciousness. The Vedic performances are, of course, very glittering and pleasing to hear about, but they do not serve the real purpose of life.
Link to this page: https://prabhupadabooks.com/sb/4/29/47