“There are many karmis [materialistic people] in the dress of devotees, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead can detect their purpose.”
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This is from the Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.9.28
[This chapter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam is entitled, ” The Lord Incarnates as Mohini-Murti.” This chapter describes how the demons, being enchanted by the beauty of the Mohini form, agreed to hand over the container of nectar to Mohinidevi, who tactfully delivered it to the demigods.]
The place, the time, the cause, the purpose, the activity and the ambition were all the same for both the demigods and the demons, but the demigods achieved one result and the demons another. Because the demigods are always under the shelter of the dust of the Lord’s lotus feet, they could very easily drink the nectar and get its result. The demons, however, not having sought shelter at the lotus feet of the Lord, were unable to achieve the result they desired.
In Bhagavad-gita (4.11) it is said, ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham: the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the supreme judge who rewards or punishes different persons according to their surrender unto His lotus feet.
Therefore it can actually be seen that although karmis [materialists] and bhaktas [devotees of the Supreme Person] may work in the same place, at the same time, with the same energy and with the same ambition, they achieve different results.
The karmis transmigrate through different bodies in the cycle of birth and death, sometimes going upward and sometimes downward, thus suffering the results of their actions in the karma-cakra, the cycle of birth and death.
The devotees, however, because of fully surrendering at the lotus feet of the Lord, are never baffled in their attempts. Although externally they work almost like the karmis, the devotees go back home, back to Godhead, and achieve success in every effort.
The demons or atheists have faith in their own endeavors, but although they work very hard day and night, they cannot get any more than their destiny. The devotees, however, can surpass the reactions of karma and achieve wonderful results, even without effort.
It is also said, phalena pariciyate: one’s success or defeat in any activity is understood by its result. There are many karmis in the dress of devotees, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead can detect their purpose. The karmis want to use the property of the Lord for their selfish sense gratification, but a devotee endeavors to use the Lord’s property for God’s service. Therefore a devotee is always distinct from the karmis, although the karmis may dress like devotees.
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