The first step in human civilization consists of occupational engagements performed according to the scriptural injunctions. The higher intelligence of a human being should be trained to understand basic dharma. In human society there are various religious conceptions characterized as Hindu, Christian, Hebrew, Mohammedan, Buddhist and so on, for without religion, human society is no better than animal society.
As stated above (dharmasya hy āpavargyasya nārtho 'rthāyopakalpate (SB 1.2.9), religion is meant for attaining emancipation, not for getting bread. Sometimes human society manufactures a system of so-called religion aimed at material advancement, but that is far from the purpose of true dharma. Religion entails understanding the laws of God because the proper execution of these laws ultimately leads one out of material entanglement. That is the true purpose of religion. Unfortunately people accept religion for material prosperity because of atyāhāra, or an excessive desire for such prosperity. True religion, however, instructs people to be satisfied with the bare necessities of life while cultivating Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Even though we require economic development, true religion allows it only for supplying the bare necessities of material existence. Jīvasya tattva jijñāsā: the real purpose of life is to inquire about the Absolute Truth. If our endeavor (prayāsa) is not to inquire about the Absolute Truth, we will simply increase our endeavor to satisfy our artificial needs. A spiritual aspirant should avoid mundane endeavor.
Another impediment is prajalpa, unnecessary talking. When we mix with a few friends, we immediately begin unnecessary talking, sounding just like croaking toads. If we must talk, we should talk about the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Those outside of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are interested in reading heaps of newspapers, magazines and novels, solving crossword puzzles and doing many other nonsensical things. In this fashion people simply waste their valuable time and energy. In the Western countries old men, retired from active life, play cards, fish, watch television and debate about useless socio-political schemes. All these and other frivolous activities are included in the prajalpa category. Intelligent persons interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should never take part in such activities.
Jana-saṅga refers to associating with persons not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One should strictly avoid such association. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura has therefore advised us to live only in the association of Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees (bhakta-sane vāsa). One should always engage in the service of the Lord in the association of the Lord's devotees. Association with those engaged in a similar line of business is very conducive to advancement in that business. Consequently materialistic persons form various associations and clubs to enhance their endeavors. For example, in the business world we find such institutions as the stock exchange and chamber of commerce. Similarly, we have established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to give people an opportunity to associate with those who have not forgotten Kṛṣṇa. This spiritual association offered by our ISKCON movement is increasing day by day. Many people from different parts of the world are joining this Society to awaken their dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura writes in his Anuvṛtti commentary that too much endeavor to acquire knowledge on the part of mental speculators or dry philosophers falls within the category of atyāhāra (collecting more than needed). According to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the endeavor of philosophical speculators to write volumes of books on dry philosophy devoid of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is entirely futile. The work of karmīs who write volumes of books on economic development also falls within the category of atyāhāra. Similarly, those who have no desire for Kṛṣṇa consciousness and who are simply interested in possessing more and more material things—either in the shape of scientific knowledge or monetary gain—are all included under the control of atyāhāra.