Question: Do We Have Material Duties?
I am confused by the apparent contradiction between these two quotes from the Bhagavad-gita As It Is:
"We have to practice remembering the Lord always, twenty-four hours a day, by chanting His names and molding our life's activities in such a way that we can remember Him always. How is this possible? The acaryas give the following example. If a married woman is attached to another man, or if a man has an attachment for a woman other than his wife, then the attachment is to be considered very strong. One with such an attachment is always thinking of the loved one. The wife who is thinking of her lover is always thinking of meeting him, even while she is carrying out her household chores. In fact, she carries out her household work even more carefully so her husband will not suspect her attachment. Similarly, we should always remember the supreme lover, Sri Krishna, and at the same time perform our material duties very nicely."
--from Bhagavad-gita Introduction
"Anyone who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, the giver of liberation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the demigods, sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers." Such obligations are automatically fulfilled by performance of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
--from Bhagavad-gita Chapter One
In the first quote it is stated that we should perform our duties more nicely and remember Lord Krishna. And in the second quote it is stated that one does not owe any duties and material obligations to anyone, that all duties are fulfilled by one's performance of devotional service to the Supreme Personality. I am confused by the apparent contradiction, and I therefore request you to please give some clarification.
Answer: All Duties Should Be Merged into Our One Duty
If we perform our material duties nicely so that others are not disturbed with us, we will have better facility to peacefully absorb our minds in Krishna consciousness. The material duties are not performed for their own sake. Rather they are performed in such a way to facilitate our Krishna consciousness.
For example, if someone neglects his duties at his job, he will lose his job and become disturbed how to pay for his living expenses. But if he expertly executes his duties at work, he will keep a steady flow of income and can focus his mind peacefully on developing his Krishna consciousness.
In short, there is only one duty, to surrender to Krishna. All other so-called duties are merged into this one duty.