Canto 6: " Prescribed Duties for Mankind"
Table of Contents
The History of the Life of Ajamila
Throughout Srimad-Bhagavatam there are descriptions of ten subject matters, including creation, subsequent creation and the planetary systems. Sukadeva Gosvami, the speaker of Srimad-Bhagavatam, has already described creation, subsequent creation and the planetary systems in the Third, Fourth and Fifth Cantos. Now, in this Sixth Canto, which consists of nineteen chapters, he will describe posana, or protection by the Lord.
The first chapter relates the history of Ajamila, who was considered a greatly sinful man, but was liberated when four order carriers of Visnu came to rescue him from the hands of the order carriers of Yamaraja. A full description of how he was liberated, having been relieved of the reactions of his sinful life, is given in this chapter. Sinful activities are painful both in this life and in the next. We should know for certain that the cause of all painful life is sinful action. On the path of fruitive work one certainly commits sinful activities, and therefore according to the considerations of karma-kanda, different types of atonement are recommended. Such methods of atonement, however, do not free one from ignorance, which is the root of sinful life. Consequently one is prone to commit sinful activities even after atonement, which is therefore very inadequate for purification. On the path of speculative knowledge one becomes free from sinful life by understanding things as they are. Therefore the acquirement of speculative knowledge is also considered a method of atonement. While performing fruitive activities one can become free from the actions of sinful life through austerity, penance, celibacy, control of the mind and senses, truthfulness and the practice of mystic yoga. By awakening knowledge one may also neutralize sinful reactions. Neither of these methods, however, can free one from the tendency to commit sinful activities.
By bhakti-yoga one can completely avoid the tendency for sinful life; other methods are not very feasible. Therefore the Vedic literature concludes that devotional service is more important than the methods of karma-kanda and jnana-kanda. Only the path of devotional service is auspicious for everyone. Fruitive activities and speculative knowledge cannot independently liberate anyone, but devotional service, independent of karma and jnana, is so potent that one who has fixed his mind at the lotus feet of Krsna is guaranteed not to meet the Yamadutas, the order carriers of Yamaraja, even in dreams.
To prove the strength of devotional service, Sukadeva Gosvami described the history of Ajamila. Ajamila was a resident of Kanyakubja (the modern Kanauj). He was trained by his parents to become a perfect brahmana by studying the Vedas and following the regulative principles, but because of his past, this youthful brahmana was somehow attracted by a prostitute, and because of her association he became most fallen and abandoned all regulative principles. Ajamila begot in the womb of the prostitute ten sons, the last of whom was called Narayana. At the time of Ajamila's death, when the order carriers of Yamaraja came to take him, he loudly called the name Narayana in fear because he was attached to his youngest son. Thus he remembered the original Narayana, Lord Visnu. Although he did not chant the holy name of Narayana completely offenselessly, it acted nevertheless. As soon as he chanted the holy name of Narayana, the order carriers of Lord Visnu immediately appeared on the scene. A discussion ensued between the order carriers of Lord Visnu and those of Yamaraja, and by hearing that discussion Ajamila was liberated. He could then understand the bad effect of fruitive activities and could also understand how exalted is the process of devotional service.
adau bhagavata yatha
brahmana yad asamsrtih
sri-pariksit uvaca--Maharaja Pariksit said; nivrtti-margah--the path of liberation; kathitah--described; adau--in the beginning; bhagavata--by Your Holiness; yatha--duly; krama--gradually; yoga-upalabdhena--obtained by the yoga process; brahmana--along with Lord Brahma (after reaching Brahmaloka); yat--by which way; asamsrtih--cessation of the repetition of birth and death.
Maharaja Pariksit said: O my lord, O Sukadeva Gosvami, you have already described [in the Second Canto] the path of liberation [nivrtti-marga]. By following that path, one is certainly elevated gradually to the highest planetary system, Brahmaloka, from which one is promoted to the spiritual world along with Lord Brahma. Thus one's repetition of birth and death in the material world ceases.
Since Maharaja Pariksit was a Vaisnava, when he heard the description, at the end of the Fifth Canto, of the different hellish conditions of life, he was very much concerned with how to liberate the conditioned souls from the clutches of maya and take them back home, back to Godhead. Therefore he reminded his spiritual master, Sukadeva Gosvami, about the nivrtti-marga, or path of liberation, which he had described in the Second Canto. Maharaja Pariksit, who at the time of death was fortunate to have met Sukadeva Gosvami, inquired from Sukadeva Gosvami about the path of liberation at that crucial time. Sukadeva Gosvami very much appreciated his question and congratulated him by saying:
variyan esa te prasnah
krto loka-hitam nrpa
srotavyadisu yah parah
"My dear King, your question is glorious because it is very beneficial for all kinds of people. The answer to this question is the prime subject matter for hearing, and it is approved by all transcendentalists." (Bhag. 2.1.1)
Pariksit Maharaja was astonished that the living entities in the conditional stage do not accept the path of liberation, devotional service, instead of suffering in so many hellish conditions. This is the symptom of a Vaisnava. Vancha-kalpa-tarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca: a Vaisnava is an ocean of mercy. Para-duhkha-duhkhi: he is unhappy because of the unhappiness of others. Therefore Pariksit Maharaja, being compassionate toward the conditioned souls suffering in hellish life, suggested that Sukadeva Gosvami continue describing the path of liberation, which he had explained in the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam. The word asamsrti is very important in this connection. Samsrti refers to continuing on the path of birth and death. Asamsrti, on the contrary, refers to nivrtti-marga, or the path of liberation, by which one's birth and death cease and one gradually progresses to Brahmaloka, unless one is a pure devotee who does not care about going to the higher planetary systems, in which case one immediately returns home, back to Godhead, by executing devotional service (tyaktva deham punar janma naiti). Pariksit Maharaja, therefore, was very eager to hear from Sukadeva Gosvami about the path of liberation for the conditioned soul.
According to the opinion of the acaryas, the word krama-yogopalabdhena indicates that by first performing karma-yoga and then jnana-yoga and finally coming to the platform of bhakti-yoga, one can be liberated. Bhakti-yoga, however, is so powerful that it does not depend on karma-yoga or jnana-yoga. Bhakti-yoga itself is so powerful that even an impious man with no assets in karma-yoga or an illiterate with no assets in jnana-yoga can undoubtedly be elevated to the spiritual world if he simply adheres to bhakti-yoga. Mam evaisyasy asamsayah. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (8.7) that by the process of bhakti-yoga one undoubtedly goes back to Godhead, back home to the spiritual world. Yogis, however, instead of going directly to the spiritual world, sometimes want to see other planetary systems, and therefore they ascend to the planetary system where Lord Brahma lives, as indicated here by the word brahmana. At the time of dissolution, Lord Brahma, along with all the inhabitants of Brahmaloka, goes directly to the spiritual world. This is confirmed in the Vedas as follows:
brahmana saha te sarve
pravisanti param padam
"Because of their exalted position, those who are on Brahmaloka at the time of dissolution go directly back home, back to Godhead, along with Lord Brahma."
yo 'sav alina-prakrter
guna-sargah punah punah
pravrtti--by inclination; laksanah--symptomized; ca--also; eva--indeed; trai-gunya--the three modes of nature; visayah--possessing as objectives; mune--O great sage; yah--which; asau--that; alina-prakrteh--of one who is not freed from the clutches of maya; guna-sargah--in which there is a creation of material bodies; punah punah--again and again.
O great sage Sukadeva Gosvami, unless the living entity is freed from the infection of the material modes of nature, he receives different types of bodies in which to enjoy or suffer, and according to the body, he is understood to have various inclinations. By following these inclinations he traverses the path called pravrtti-marga, by which one may be elevated to the heavenly planets, as you have already described [in the Third Canto].
As Lord Krsna explains in Bhagavad-gita (9.25):
yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino 'pi mam
"Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors; and those who worship Me will live with Me." Because of the influence of the various modes of nature, the living entities have various tendencies or propensities, and therefore they are qualified to achieve various destinations. As long as one is materially attached, he wants to be elevated to the heavenly planets because of his attraction to the material world. The Supreme Personality of Godhead declares, however, "Those who worship Me come to Me." If one has no information about the Supreme Lord and His abode, one tries to be elevated only to a higher material position, but when one concludes that in this material world there is nothing but repeated birth and death, he tries to return home, back to Godhead. If one attains that destination, he need never return to this material world (yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama). As Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says in Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 19.151):
brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
"According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service." All living entities are rotating throughout the universe, going sometimes up to the higher planetary systems and sometimes down to the lower planets. This is the material disease, which is known as pravrtti-marga. When one becomes intelligent he takes to nivrtti-marga, the path of liberation, and thus instead of rotating within this material world, he returns home, back to Godhead. This is necessary.
manvantaras ca vyakhyata
adyah svayambhuvo yatah
adharma-laksanah--symptomized by impious activities; nana--various; narakah--hells; ca--also; anuvarnitah--have been described; manu-antarah--the change of Manus [in one day of Brahma there are fourteen Manus]; ca--also; vyakhyatah--has been described; adyah--the original; svayambhuvah--directly the son of Lord Brahma; yatah--wherein.
You have also described [at the end of the Fifth Canto] the varieties of hellish life that result from impious activities, and you have described [in the Fourth Canto] the first manvantara, which was presided over by Svayambhuva Manu, the son of Lord Brahma.
vamsas tac-caritani ca
jyotisam vivaranam ca
yathedam asrjad vibhuh
priyavrata--of Priyavrata; uttanapadoh--and of Uttanapada; vamsah--the dynasty; tat-caritani--their characteristics; ca--also; dvipa--different planets; varsa--lands; samudra--oceans and seas; adri--mountains; nadi--rivers; udyana--gardens; vanaspatin--and trees; dhara-mandala--of the planet earth; samsthanam--situation; bhaga--according to divisions; laksana--different symptoms; manatah--and measurements; jyotisam--of the sun and other luminaries; vivaranam--of the lower planetary systems; ca--and; yatha--as; idam--this; asrjat--created; vibhuh--the Supreme personality of Godhead.
My dear lord, you have described the dynasties and characteristics of King Priyavrata and King Uttanapada. The Supreme Personality of Godhead created this material world with various universes, planetary systems, planets and stars, with varied lands, seas, oceans, mountains, rivers, gardens and trees, all with different characteristics. These are divided among this planet earth, the luminaries in the sky and the lower planetary systems. You have very clearly described these planets and the living entities who live on them.
Here the words yathedam asrjad vibhuh clearly indicate that the Supreme, the great, almighty Personality of Godhead, created this entire material world with its different varieties of planets, stars and so forth. Atheists try to conceal the hand of God, which is present in every creation, but they cannot explain how all these creations could come into existence without a competent intelligence and almighty power behind them. Simply to imagine or speculate is a waste of time. In Bhagavad-gita (10.8), the Lord says, aham sarvasya prabhavo: "I am the origin of everything." Mattah sarvam pravartate: "whatever exists in the creation emanates from Me." Iti matva bhajante mam budha bhava-samanvitah: "When one fully understands that I create everything by My omnipotence, one becomes firmly situated in devotional service and fully surrenders at My lotus feet." Unfortunately, the unintelligent cannot immediately understand Krsna's supremacy. Nonetheless, if they associate with devotees and read authorized books, they may gradually come to the proper understanding, although this may take many, many births. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.19):
bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatma sudurlabhah
"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." Vasudeva, Krsna, is the creator of everything, and His energy is displayed in various ways. As explained in Bhagavad-gita (7.4-5), a combination of the material energy (bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh) and the spiritual energy, the living entity, exists in every creation. Therefore the same principle, the combination of the supreme spirit and the material elements, is the cause of the cosmic manifestation.
yathaiva narakan narah
tan me vyakhyatum arhasi
adhuna--right now; iha--in this material world; maha-bhaga--O greatly opulent and fortunate Sukadeva Gosvami; yatha--so that; eva--indeed; narakan--all the hellish conditions into which the impious are put; narah--human beings; nana--varieties of; ugra--terrible; yatanan--conditions of suffering; na iyat--may not undergo; tat--that; me--to me; vyakhyatum arhasi--please describe.
O greatly fortunate and opulent Sukadeva Gosvami, now kindly tell me how human beings may be saved from having to enter hellish conditions in which they suffer terrible pains.
In the Twenty-sixth Chapter of the Fifth Canto, Sukadeva Gosvami has explained that people who commit sinful acts are forced to enter hellish planets and suffer. Now Maharaja Pariksit, being a devotee, is concerned with how this can be stopped. A Vaisnava is para-duhkha-duhkhi; in other words, he has no personal troubles, but he is very unhappy to see others in trouble. Prahlada Maharaja said, "My Lord, I have no personal problems, for I have learned how to glorify Your transcendental qualities and thus enter a trance of ecstasy. I do have a problem, however, for I am simply thinking of these rascals and fools who are busy with maya-sukha, temporary happiness, without knowledge of devotional service unto You." This is the problem faced by a Vaisnava. Because a Vaisnava fully takes shelter of the Supreme personality of Godhead, he personally has no problems, but because he is compassionate toward the fallen, conditioned souls, he is always thinking of plans to save them from their hellish life in this body and the next. Pariksit Maharaja, therefore, anxiously wanted to know from Sukadeva Gosvami how humanity can be saved from gliding down to hell. Sukadeva Gosvami had already explained how people enter hellish life, and he could also explain how they could be saved from it. Intelligent men must take advantage of these instructions. Unfortunately, however, the entire world is lacking Krsna consciousness, and therefore people are suffering from the grossest ignorance and do not even believe in a life after this one. To convince them of their next life is very difficult because they have become almost mad in their pursuit of material enjoyment. Nevertheless, our duty, the duty of all sane men, is to save them. Maharaja Pariksit is the representative of one who can save them.
na ced ihaivapacitim yathamhasah
krtasya kuryan mana-ukta-panibhih
dhruvam sa vai pretya narakan upaiti
ye kirtita me bhavatas tigma-yatanah
sri-sukah uvaca--Srila Sukadeva Gosvami said; na--not; cet--if; iha--within this life; eva--certainly; apacitim--counteraction, atonement; yatha--duly; amhasah krtasya--when one has performed sinful activities; kuryat--performs; manah--with the mind; ukta--words; panibhih--and with the senses; dhruvam--undoubtedly; sah--that person; vai--indeed; pretya--after death; narakan--different varieties of hellish conditions; upaiti--attains; ye--which; kirtitah--were already described; me--by me; bhavatah--unto you; tigma-yatanah--in which there is very terrible suffering.
Sukadeva Gosvami replied: My dear King, if before one's next death whatever impious acts one has performed in this life with his mind, words and body are not counteracted through proper atonement according to the description of the Manu-samhita and other dharma-sastras, one will certainly enter the hellish planets after death and undergo terrible suffering, as I have previously described to you.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura mentions that although Maharaja Pariksit was a pure devotee, Sukadeva Gosvami did not immediately speak to him about the strength of devotional service. As stated in Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
sa gunan samatityaitan
Devotional service is so strong that if one fully surrenders to Krsna and takes fully to His devotional service, the reactions of his sinful life immediately stop.
Elsewhere in the Gita (18.66), Lord Krsna urges that one give up all other duties and surrender to Him, and He promises, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami: "I shall free you from all sinful reactions and give you liberation." Therefore in response to the inquiries of Pariksit Maharaja, Sukadeva Gosvami, his guru, could have immediately explained the principle of bhakti, but to test Pariksit Maharaja's intelligence, he first prescribed atonement according to karma-kanda, the path of fruitive activities. For karma-kanda there are eighty authorized scriptures, such as Manu-samhita, which are known as dharma-sastras. In these scriptures one is advised to counteract his sinful acts by performing other types of fruitive action. This was the path first recommended by Sukadeva Gosvami to Maharaja Pariksit, and actually it is a fact that one who does not take to devotional service must follow the decision of these scriptures by performing pious acts to counteract his impious acts. This is known as atonement.
tasmat puraivasv iha papa-niskrtau
yateta mrtyor avipadyatatmana
dosasya drstva guru-laghavam yatha
bhisak cikitseta rujam nidanavit
tasmat--therefore; pura--before; eva--indeed; asu--very quickly; iha--in this life; papa-niskrtau--to become free from the reaction of sinful activities; yateta--one should endeavor; mrtyoh--death; avipadyata--not troubled by disease and old age; atmana--with a body; dosasya--of the sinful activities; drstva--estimating; guru-laghavam--the heaviness or lightness; yatha--just like; bhisak--a physician; cikitseta--would treat; rujam--of disease; nidana-vit--one who is expert in diagnosis.
Therefore, before one's next death comes, as long as one's body is strong enough, one should quickly adopt the process of atonement according to sastra; otherwise one's time will be lost, and the reactions of his sins will increase. As an expert physician diagnoses and treats a disease according to its gravity, one should undergo atonement according to the severity of one's sins.
The dharma-sastras like the Manu-samhita prescribe that a man who has committed murder should be hanged and his own life sacrificed in atonement. Previously this system was followed all over the world, but since people are becoming atheists, they are stopping capital punishment. This is not wise. Herein it is said that a physician who knows how to diagnose a disease prescribes medicine accordingly. If the disease is very serious, the medicine must be strong. The weight of a murderer's sin is very great, and therefore according to Manu-samhita a murderer must be killed. By killing a murderer the government shows mercy to him because if a murderer is not killed in this life, he will be killed and forced to suffer many times in future lives. Since people do not know about the next life and the intricate workings of nature, they manufacture their own laws, but they should properly consult the established injunctions of the sastras and act accordingly. In India even today the Hindu community often takes advice from expert scholars regarding how to counteract sinful activities. In Christianity also there is a process of confession and atonement. Therefore atonement is required, and atonement must be undergone according to the gravity of one's sinful acts.
drsta-srutabhyam yat papam
janann apy atmano 'hitam
karoti bhuyo vivasah
prayascittam atho katham
sri-raja uvaca--Pariksit Maharaja replied; drsta--by seeing; srutabhyam--also by hearing (from the scriptures or lawbooks); yat--since; papam--sinful, criminal action; janan--knowing; api--although; atmanah--of his self; ahitam--injurious; karoti--he acts; bhuyah--again and again; vivasah--unable to control himself; prayascittam--atonement; atho--therefore; katham--what is the value of.
Maharaja Pariksit said: One may know that sinful activity is injurious for him because he actually sees that a criminal is punished by the government and rebuked by people in general and because he hears from scriptures and learned scholars that one is thrown into hellish conditions in the next life for committing sinful acts. Nevertheless, in spite of such knowledge, one is forced to commit sins again and again, even after performing acts of atonement. Therefore, what is the value of such atonement?
In some religious sects a sinful man goes to a priest to confess his sinful acts and pay a fine, but then he again commits the same sins and returns to confess them again. This is the practice of a professional sinner. Pariksit Maharaja's observations indicate that even five thousand years ago it was the practice of criminals to atone for their crimes but then commit the same crimes again, as if forced to do so. Therefore, owing to his practical experience, Pariksit Maharaja saw that the process of repeatedly sinning and atoning is pointless. Regardless of how many times he is punished, one who is attached to sense enjoyment will commit sinful acts again and again until he is trained to refrain from enjoying his senses. The word vivasa is used herein, indicating that even one who does not want to commit sinful acts will be forced to do so by habit. Pariksit Maharaja therefore considered the process of atonement to have little value for saving one from sinful acts. In the following verse he further explains his rejection of this process.
kvacin nivartate 'bhadrat
kvacic carati tat punah
prayascittam atho 'partham
kvacit--sometimes; nivartate--ceases; abhadrat--from sinful activity; kvacit--sometimes; carati--commits; tat--that (sinful activity); punah--again; prayascittam--the process of atonement; atho--therefore; apartham--useless; manye--I consider; kunjara-saucavat--exactly like the bathing of an elephant.
Sometimes one who is very alert so as not to commit sinful acts is victimized by sinful life again. I therefore consider this process of repeated sinning and atoning to be useless. It is like the bathing of an elephant, for an elephant cleanses itself by taking a full bath, but then throws dust over its head and body as soon as it returns to the land.
When Pariksit Maharaja inquired how a human being could free himself from sinful activities so as not to be forced to go to hellish planetary systems after death, Sukadeva Gosvami answered that the process of counteracting sinful life is atonement. In this way Sukadeva Gosvami tested the intelligence of Maharaja Pariksit, who passed the examination by refusing to accept this process as genuine. Now Pariksit Maharaja is expecting another answer from his spiritual master, Sukadeva Gosvami.
na hy atyantika isyate
sri-badarayanih uvaca--Sukadeva Gosvami, the son of Vyasadeva, replied; karmana--by fruitive activities; karma-nirharah--counteraction of fruitive activities; na--not; hi--indeed; atyantikah--final; isyate--becomes possible; avidvat-adhikaritvat--from being without knowledge; prayascittam--real atonement; vimarsanam--full knowledge of Vedanta.
Sukadeva Gosvami, the son of Vedavyasa, answered: My dear King, since acts meant to neutralize impious actions are also fruitive, they will not release one from the tendency to act fruitively. Persons who subject themselves to the rules and regulations of atonement are not at all intelligent. Indeed, they are in the mode of darkness. Unless one is freed from the mode of ignorance, trying to counteract one action through another is useless because this will not uproot one's desires. Thus even though one may superficially seem pious, he will undoubtedly be prone to act impiously. Therefore real atonement is enlightenment in perfect knowledge, Vedanta, by which one understands the Supreme Absolute Truth.
The guru, Sukadeva Gosvami, has examined Pariksit Maharaja, and it appears that the King has passed one phase of the examination by rejecting the process of atonement because it involves fruitive activities. Now Sukadeva Gosvami is suggesting the platform of speculative knowledge. Progressing from karma-kanda to jnana-kanda, he is proposing, prayascittam vimarsanam: "Real atonement is full knowledge." Vimarsana refers to the cultivation of speculative knowledge. In Bhagavad-gita, karmis, who are lacking in knowledge, are compared to asses. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.15):
na mam duskrtino mudhah
asuram bhavam asritah
"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me." Thus karmis who engage in sinful acts and who do not know the true objective of life are called mudhas, asses. Vimarsana, however, is also explained in Bhagavad-gita (15.15), where Krsna says, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: the purpose of Vedic study is to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one studies Vedanta but merely advances somewhat in speculative knowledge and does not understand the Supreme Lord, one remains the same mudha. As stated in Bhagavad-gita (7.19), one attains real knowledge when he understands Krsna and surrenders unto Him (bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate). To become learned and free from material contamination, therefore, one should try to understand Krsna, for thus one is immediately liberated from all pious and impious activities and their reactions.
nasnatah pathyam evannam
vyadhayo 'bhibhavanti hi
evam niyamakrd rajan
sanaih ksemaya kalpate
na--not; asnatah--those who eat; pathyam--suitable; eva--indeed; annam--food; vyadhayah--different types of disease; abhibhavanti--overcome; hi--indeed; evam--similarly; niyama-krt--one following regulative principles; rajan--O King; sanaih--gradually; ksemaya--for well-being; kalpate--becomes fit.
My dear King, if a diseased person eats the pure, uncontaminated food prescribed by a physician, he is gradually cured, and the infection of disease can no longer touch him. Similarly, if one follows the regulative principles of knowledge, he gradually progresses toward liberation from material contamination.
One is gradually purified if one cultivates knowledge, even through mental speculation, and strictly follows the regulative principles enjoined in the sastras and explained in the next verse. Therefore the platform of jnana, speculative knowledge, is better than the platform of karma, fruitive action. There is every chance of falling from the platform of karma to hellish conditions, but on the platform of jnana one is saved from hellish life, although one is still not completely free from infection. The difficulty is that on the platform of jnana one thinks that he has been liberated and has become Narayana, or Bhagavan. This is another phase of ignorance.
ye 'nye 'ravindaksa vimukta-maninas
tvayy asta-bhavad avisuddha-buddhayah
aruhya krcchrena param padam tatah
patanty adho 'nadrta-yusmad-anghrayah
Because of ignorance, one speculatively thinks himself liberated from material contamination although actually he is not. Therefore even if one rises to brahma jnana, understanding of Brahman, one nevertheless falls down because of not taking shelter of the lotus feet of Krsna. Nonetheless, jnanis at least know what is sinful and what is pious, and they very cautiously act according to the injunctions of the sastras.
samena ca damena ca
yamena niyamena va
ksipanty agham mahad api
tapasa--by austerity or voluntary rejection of material enjoyment; brahmacaryena--by celibacy (the first austerity); samena--by controlling the mind; ca--and; damena--by fully controlling the senses; ca--also; tyagena--by voluntarily giving charity to good causes; satya--by truthfulness; saucabhyam--and by following regulative principles to keep oneself internally and externally clean; yamena--by avoiding cursing and violence; niyamena--by regularly chanting the holy name of the Lord; va--and; deha-vak-buddhi-jam--performed by the body, words and intelligence; dhirah--those who are sober; dharma-jnah--fully imbued with knowledge of religious principles; sraddhaya anvitah--endowed with faith; ksipanti--destroy; agham--all kinds of sinful activities; mahat api--although very great and abominable; venu-gulmam--the dried creepers beneath a bamboo tree; iva--like; analah--fire.
To concentrate the mind, one must observe a life of celibacy and not fall down. One must undergo the austerity of voluntarily giving up sense enjoyment. One must then control the mind and senses, give charity, be truthful, clean and nonviolent, follow the regulative principles and regularly chant the holy name of the Lord. Thus a sober and faithful person who knows the religious principles is temporarily purified of all sins performed with his body, words and mind. These sins are like the dried leaves of creepers beneath a bamboo tree, which may be burned by fire although their roots remain to grow again at the first opportunity.
Tapah is explained in the smrti-sastra as follows: manasas cendriyanam ca aikagryam paramam tapah. "Complete control of the mind and senses and their complete concentration on one kind of activity is called tapah." Our Krsna consciousness movement is teaching people how to concentrate the mind on devotional service. This is first-class tapah. Brahmacarya, the life of celibacy, has eight aspects: one should not think of women, speak about sex life, dally with women, look lustfully at women, talk intimately with women or decide to engage in sexual intercourse, nor should one endeavor for sex life or engage in sex life. One should not even think of women or look at them, to say nothing of talking with them. This is called first-class brahmacarya. If a brahmacari or sannyasi talks with a woman in a secluded place, naturally there will be a possibility of sex life without anyone's knowledge. Therefore a complete brahmacari practices just the opposite. If one is a perfect brahmacari, he can very easily control the mind and senses, give charity, speak truthfully and so forth. To begin, however, one must control the tongue and the process of eating.
In the bhakti-marga, the path of devotional service, one must strictly follow the regulative principles by first controlling the tongue (sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah). The tongue (jihva) can be controlled if one chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, does not speak of any subjects other than those concerning Krsna and does not taste anything not offered to Krsna. If one can control the tongue in this way, brahmacarya and other purifying processes will automatically follow. It will be explained in the next verse that the path of devotional service is completely perfect and is therefore superior to the path of fruitive activities and the path of knowledge. Quoting from the Vedas, Srila Viraraghava Acarya explains that austerity involves observing fasts as fully as possible (tapasanasakena). Srila Rupa Gosvami has also advised that atyahara, too much eating, is an impediment to advancement in spiritual life. Also, in Bhagavad-gita (6.17) Krsna says:
yogo bhavati duhkha-ha
"He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system."
In text 14 the word dhirah, meaning "those who are undisturbed under all circumstances," is very significant. Krsna tells Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita (2.14):
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
tams titiksasva bharata
"O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed." In material life there are many disturbances (adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika). One who has learned to tolerate these disturbances under all circumstances is called dhira.
kecit kevalaya bhaktya
agham dhunvanti kartsnyena
niharam iva bhaskarah
kecit--some people; kevalaya bhaktya--by executing unalloyed devotional service; vasudeva--to Lord Krsna, the all-pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead; parayanah--completely attached (only to such service, without dependence on austerity, penance, cultivation of knowledge or pious activities); agham--all kinds of sinful reactions; dhunvanti--destroy; kartsnyena--completely (with no possibility that sinful desires will revive); niharam--fog; iva--like; bhaskarah--the sun.
Only a rare person who has adopted complete, unalloyed devotional service to Krsna can uproot the weeds of sinful actions with no possibility that they will revive. He can do this simply by discharging devotional service, just as the sun can immediately dissipate fog by its rays.
In the previous verse Sukadeva Gosvami gave the example that the dried leaves of creepers beneath a bamboo tree may be completely burnt to ashes by a fire, although the creepers may sprout again because the root is still in the ground. Similarly, because the root of sinful desire is not destroyed in the heart of a person who is cultivating knowledge but who has no taste for devotional service, there is a possibility that his sinful desires will reappear. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.4):
sreyah-srtim bhaktim udasya te vibho
klisyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
Speculators who undergo great labor to gain a meticulous understanding of the material world by distinguishing between sinful and pious activities, but who are not situated in devotional service, are prone to material activities. They may fall down and become implicated in fruitive activities. If one becomes attached to devotional service, however, his desires for material enjoyment are automatically vanquished without separate endeavor. Bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra ca: if one is advanced in Krsna consciousness, material activities, both sinful and pious, automatically become distasteful to him. That is the test of Krsna consciousness. Both pious and impious activities are actually due to ignorance because a living entity, as an eternal servant of Krsna, has no need to act for his personal sense gratification. Therefore as soon as one is reclaimed to the platform of devotional service, he relinquishes his attachment for pious and impious activities and is interested only in what will satisfy Krsna. This process of bhakti, devotional service to Krsna (vasudeva-parayana), relieves one from the reactions of all activities.
Since Maharaja Pariksit was a great devotee. the answers of his guru, Sukadeva Gosvami, concerning karma-kanda and jnana-kanda could not satisfy him. Therefore Sukadeva Gosvami, knowing very well the heart of his disciple, explained the transcendental bliss of devotional service. The word kecit, which is used in this verse, means. "a few people but not all." Not everyone can become Krsna conscious. As Krsna explains in Bhagavad-gita (7.3):
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
"Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth." Practically no one understands Krsna as He is, for Krsna cannot be understood through pious activities or attainment of the most elevated speculative knowledge. Actually the highest knowledge consists of understanding Krsna. Unintelligent men who do not understand Krsna are grossly puffed up, thinking that they are liberated or have themselves become Krsna or Narayana. This is ignorance.
To indicate the purity of bhakti, devotional service, Srila Rupa Gosvami says in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.1.11):
silanam bhaktir uttama
"One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Krsna favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service." Srila Rupa Gosvami further explains that bhakti is klesaghni subhada, which means if one takes to devotional service, all kinds of unnecessary labor and material distress cease entirely and one achieves all good fortune. Bhakti is so powerful that it is also said to be moksa-laghutakrt; in other words, it minimizes the importance of liberation.
Nondevotees must undergo material hardships because they are prone to commit sinful fruitive activities. The desire to commit sinful actions continues in their hearts due to ignorance. These sinful actions are divided into three categories--pataka, maha-pataka and atipataka--and also into two divisions; prarabdha and aprarabdha. Prarabdha refers to sinful reactions from which one is suffering at the present, and aprarabdha refers to sources of potential suffering. When the seeds (bija) of sinful reactions have not yet fructified, the reactions are called aprarabdha. These seeds of sinful action are unseen, but they are unlimited, and no one can trace when they were first planted. Because of prarabdha, sinful reactions that have already fructified, one is seen to have taken birth in a low family or to be suffering from other miseries.
When one takes to devotional service, however, all phases of sinful life, including prarabdha, aprarabdha and bija, are vanquished. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.14.19) Lord Krsna tells Uddhava:
karoty edhamsi bhasmasat
tatha mad-visaya bhaktir
"My dear Uddhava, devotional service in relationship with Me is like a blazing fire that can burn to ashes all the fuel of sinful activities supplied to it." How devotional service vanquishes the reactions of sinful life is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.33.6) in a verse spoken during Lord Kapiladeva's instructions to His mother, Devahuti. Devahuti said:
yat-prahvanad yat-smaranad api kvacit
svado 'pi sadyah savanaya kalpate
kutah punas te bhagavan nu darsanat
"My dear Lord, if even a person born in a family of dog-eaters hears and repeats the chanting of Your glories, offers respects to You and remembers You, he is immediately greater than a brahmana and is therefore eligible to perform sacrifices. Therefore, what is to be said of one who has seen You directly?"
In the Padma purana there is a statement that persons whose hearts are always attached to the devotional service of Lord Visnu are immediately released from all the reactions of sinful life. These reactions generally exist in four phases. Some of them are ready to produce results immediately, some are in the form of seeds, some are unmanifested, and some are current. All such reactions are immediately nullified by devotional service. When devotional service is present in one's heart, desires to perform sinful activities have no place there. Sinful life is due to ignorance, which means forgetfulness of one's constitutional position as an eternal servant of God, but when one is fully Krsna conscious he realizes that he is God's eternal servant.
In this regard, Srila Jiva Gosvami comments that bhakti may be divided into two divisions: (1) santata, devotional service that continues incessantly with faith and love, and (2) kadacitki, devotional service that does not continue incessantly but is sometimes awakened. Incessantly flowing devotional service (santata) may also be divided into two categories: (1) service performed with slight attachment and (2) spontaneous devotional service. Intermittent devotional service (kadacitki) may be divided into three categories: (1) ragabhasamayi, devotional service in which one is almost attached, (2) ragabhasa-sunya-svarupa-bhuta, devotional service in which there is no spontaneous love but one likes the constitutional position of serving, and (3) abhasa-rupa, a slight glimpse of devotional service. As for atonement, if one has caught even a slight glimpse of devotional service, all needs to undergo prayascitta, atonement, are superseded. Therefore atonement is certainly unnecessary when one has achieved spontaneous love and, above that, attachment with love, which are signs of increasing advancement in kadacitki. Even in the stage of abhasa-rupa bhakti, all the reactions of sinful life are uprooted and vanquished. Srila Jiva Gosvami expresses the opinion that the word kartsnyena means that even if one has a desire to commit sinful actions, the roots of that desire are vanquished merely by abhasa-rupa bhakti. The example of bhaskara, the sun, is most appropriate. The abhasa feature of bhakti is compared to twilight, and the accumulation of one's sinful activities is compared to fog. Since fog does not spread throughout the sky, the sun need do no more than merely manifest its first rays, and the fog immediately disappears. Similarly, if one has even a slight relationship with devotional service, all the fog of his sinful life is immediately vanquished.
na tatha hy aghavan rajan
na--not; tatha--so much; hi--certainly; agha-van--a man full of sinful activities; rajan--O King; puyeta--can become purified; tapah-adibhih--by executing the principles of austerity, penance, brahmacarya and other purifying processes; yatha--as much as; krsna-arpita-pranah--the devotee whose life is fully Krsna conscious; tat-purusa-nisevaya--by engaging his life in the service of Krsna's representative.
My dear King, if a sinful person engages in the service of a bona fide devotee of the Lord and thus learns how to dedicate his life unto the lotus feet of Krsna, he can be completely purified. One cannot be purified merely by undergoing austerity, penance, brahmacarya and the other methods of atonement I have previously described.
Tat-purusa refers to a preacher of Krsna consciousness, such as the spiritual master. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura has said, chadiya vaisnava-seva nistara payeche keba: "Without serving a bona fide spiritual master, an ideal Vaisnava, who can be delivered from the clutches of maya?" This idea is also expressed in many other places. Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.2) says, mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimukteh: if one desires liberation from the clutches of maya, one must associate with a pure devotee mahatma. A mahatma is one who engages twenty-four hours daily in the loving service of the Lord. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (9.13):
mahatmanas tu mam partha
daivim prakrtim asritah
jnatva bhutadim avyayam
"O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible." Thus the symptom of a mahatma is that he has no engagement other than service to Krsna. One must render service to a Vaisnava in order to get freed from sinful reactions, revive one's original Krsna consciousness and be trained in how to love Krsna. This is the result of mahatma-seva. Of course, if one engages in the service of a pure devotee, the reactions of one's sinful life are vanquished automatically. Devotional service is necessary not to drive away an insignificant stock of sins, but to awaken our dormant love for Krsna. As fog is vanquished at the first glimpse of sunlight, one's sinful reactions are automatically vanquished as soon as one begins serving a pure devotee; no separate endeavor is required.
The word krsna-rpita-pranah refers to a devotee who dedicates his life to serving Krsna, not to being saved from the path to hellish life. A devotee is narayana-parayana, or vasudeva-parayana, which means that the path of Vasudeva, or the devotional path, is his life and soul. Narayana-parah sarve na kutascana bibhyati (Bhag. 6.17.28): such a devotee is not afraid of going anywhere. There is a path toward liberation in the higher planetary systems and a path toward the hellish planets, but a narayana-para devotee is unafraid wherever he is sent; he simply wants to remember Krsna, wherever he may be. Such a devotee is unconcerned with hell and heaven; he is simply attached to rendering service to Krsna. When a devotee is put into hellish conditions, he accepts them as Krsna's mercy: tat te 'nukampam susamiksamanah (Bhag. 10.14.8). He does not protest, "Oh, I am such a great devotee of Krsna. Why have I been put into this misery?" Instead he thinks, "This is Krsna's mercy." Such an attitude is possible for a devotee who engages in the service of Krsna's representative. This is the secret of success.
sadhricino hy ayam loke
panthah ksemo 'kuto-bhayah
susilah sadhavo yatra
sadhricinah--just appropriate; hi--certainly; ayam--this; loke--in the world; panthah--path; ksemah--auspicious; akutah-bhayah--without fear; su-silah--well-behaved; sadhavah--saintly persons; yatra--wherein; narayana-parayanah--those who have taken the path of Narayana, devotional service, as their life and soul.
The path followed by pure devotees, who are well behaved and fully endowed with the best qualifications, is certainly the most auspicious path in this material world. It is free from fear, and it is authorized by the sastras.
One should not think that the person who takes to bhakti is one who cannot perform the ritualistic ceremonies recommended in the karma-kanda section of the Vedas or is not sufficiently educated to speculate on spiritual subjects. Mayavadis generally allege that the bhakti path is for women and illiterates. This is a groundless accusation. The bhakti path is followed by the most learned scholars, such as the Gosvamis, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Ramanujacarya. These are the actual followers of the bhakti path. Regardless of whether or not one is educated or aristocratic, one must follow in their footsteps. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah: one must follow the path of the mahajanas. The mahajanas are those who have taken to the path of devotional service (susilah sadhavo yatra narayana-parayanah), for these great personalities are the perfect persons. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.18.12):
yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana
sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah
"One who has unflinching devotion to the Personality of Godhead has all the good qualities of the demigods." The less intelligent, however, misunderstand the bhakti path and therefore allege that it is for one who cannot execute ritualistic ceremonies or speculate. As confirmed here by the word sadhricinah, bhakti is the path that is appropriate, not the paths of karma-kanda and jnana-kanda. Mayavadis may be susilah sadhavah (well-behaved saintly persons), but there is nevertheless some doubt about whether they are actually making progress, for they have not accepted the path of bhakti. On the other hand, those who follow the path of the acaryas are susilah and sadhavah, but furthermore their path is akuto-bhaya, which means free from fear. One should fearlessly follow the twelve mahajanas and their line of disciplic succession and thus be liberated from the clutches of maya.
na nispunanti rajendra
prayascittani--processes of atonement; cirnani--very nicely performed; narayana-paranmukham--a nondevotee; na nispunanti--cannot purify; rajendra--O King; sura-kumbham--a pot containing liquor; iva--like; apa-gah--the waters of the rivers.
My dear King, as a pot containing liquor cannot be purified even if washed in the waters of many rivers, nondevotees cannot be purified by processes of atonement even if they perform them very well.
To take advantage of the methods of atonement, one must be at least somewhat devoted; otherwise there is no chance of one's being purified. It is clear from this verse that even those who take advantage of karma-kanda and jnana-kanda, but are not at least slightly devoted cannot be purified simply by following these other paths. The word prayascittani is plural in number to indicate both karma-kanda and jnana-kanda. Narottama dasa Thakura therefore says, karma-kanda, jnana-kanda, kevala visera bhanda. Thus Narottama dasa Thakura compares the paths of karma-kanda and jnana-kanda to pots of poison. Liquor and poison are in the same category. According to this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, a person who has heard a good deal about the path of devotional service, but who is not attached to it, who is not Krsna conscious, is like a pot of liquor. Such a person cannot be purified without at least a slight touch of devotional service.
sakrn manah krsna-padaravindayor
nivesitam tad-guna-ragi yair iha
na te yamam pasa-bhrtas ca tad-bhatan
svapne 'pi pasyanti hi cirna-niskrtah
sakrt--once only; manah--the mind; krsna-pada-aravindayoh--unto the two lotus feet of Lord Krsna; nivesitam--completely surrendered; tat--of Krsna; guna-ragi--which is somewhat attached to the qualities, name, fame and paraphernalia; yaih--by whom; iha--in this world; na--not; te--such persons; yamam--Yamaraja, the superintendent of death; pasa-bhrtah--those who carry ropes (to catch sinful persons); ca--and; tat--his; bhatan--order carriers; svapne api--even in dreams; pasyanti--see; hi--indeed; cirna-niskrtah--who have performed the right type of atonement.
Although not having fully realized Krsna, persons who have even once surrendered completely unto His lotus feet and who have become attracted to His name, form, qualities and pastimes are completely freed of all sinful reactions, for they have thus accepted the true method of atonement. Even in dreams, such surrendered souls do not see Yamaraja or his order carriers, who are equipped with ropes to bind the sinful.
Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (18.66):
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear." This same principle is described here (sakrn manah krsna-padaravindayoh). If by studying Bhagavad-gita one decides to surrender to Krsna, he is immediately freed from all sinful reactions. It is also significant that Sukadeva Gosvami, having several times repeated the words vasudeva-parayana and narayana-parayana, finally says krsna-padaravindayoh. Thus he indicates that Krsna is the origin of both Narayana and Vasudeva. Even though Narayana and Vasudeva are not different from Krsna, simply by surrendering to Krsna one fully surrenders to all His expansions, such as Narayana, Vasudeva and Govinda. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.7), mattah parataram nanyat: "There is no truth superior to Me." There are many names and forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but Krsna is the supreme form (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). Therefore Krsna recommends to neophyte devotees that one should surrender unto Him only (mam ekam). Because neophyte devotees cannot understand what the forms of Narayana, Vasudeva and Govinda are, Krsna directly says, mam ekam. Herein, this is also supported by the word krsna-padaravindayoh. Narayana does not speak personally, but Krsna, or Vasudeva, does, as in Bhagavad-gita for example. Therefore, to follow the direction of Bhagavad-gita means to surrender unto Krsna, and to surrender in this way is the highest perfection of bhakti-yoga.
Pariksit Maharaja had inquired from Sukadeva Gosvami how one can be saved from falling into the various conditions of hellish life. In this verse Sukadeva Gosvami answers that a soul who has surrendered to Krsna certainly cannot go to naraka, hellish existence. To say nothing of going there, even in his dreams he does not see Yamaraja or his order carriers, who are able to take one there. In other words, if one wants to save himself from falling into naraka, hellish life, he should fully surrender to Krsna. The word sakrt is significant because it indicates that if one sincerely surrenders to Krsna once, he is saved even if by chance he falls down by committing sinful activities. Therefore Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (9.30):
api cet su-duracaro
bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah
"Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated." If one never for a moment forgets Krsna, he is safe even if by chance he falls down by committing sinful acts.
In the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-gita (2.40) the Lord also says:
pratyavayo na vidyate
svalpam apy asya dharmasya
trayate mahato bhayat
"In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear."
Elsewhere in the Gita (6.40) the Lord says, na hi kalyana-krt kascid durgatim tata gacchati: "one who performs auspicious activity is never overcome by evil." The highest kalyana (auspicious) activity is to surrender to Krsna. That is the only path by which to save oneself from falling down into hellish life. Srila Prabodhananda Sarasvati has confirmed this as follows:
kaivalyam narakayate tri-dasa-pur akasa-puspayate
visvam purna-sukhayate vidhi-mahendradis ca kitayate
yat-karunya-kataksa-vaibhavavatam tam gauram eva stumah
The sinful actions of one who has surrendered unto Krsna are compared to a snake with its poison fangs removed (protkhata-damstrayate). Such a snake is no longer to be feared. Of course, one should not commit sinful activities on the strength of having surrendered to Krsna. However, even if one who has surrendered to Krsna happens to do something sinful because of his former habits, such sinful actions no longer have a destructive effect. Therefore one should adhere to the lotus feet of Krsna very tightly and serve Him under the direction of the spiritual master. Thus in all conditions one will be akuto-bhaya, free from fear.
samvadas tam nibodha me
atra--in this connection; ca--also; udaharanti--they give as an example; imam--this; itihasam--the history (of Ajamila); puratanam--which is very old; dutanam--of the order carriers; visnu--of Lord Visnu; yamayoh--and of Yamaraja; samvadah--the discussion; tam--that; nibodha--try to understand; me--from me.
In this regard, learned scholars and saintly persons describe a very old historical incident involving a discussion between the order carriers of Lord Visnu and those of Yamaraja. Please hear of this from me.
The Puranas, or old histories, are sometimes neglected by unintelligent men who consider their descriptions mythological. Actually, the descriptions of the Puranas, or the old histories of the universe, are factual, although not chronological. The puranas record the chief incidents that have occurred over many millions of years, not only on this planet but also on other planets within the universe. Therefore all learned and realized Vedic scholars speak with references to the incidents in the Puranas. Srila Rupa Gosvami accepts the Puranas to be as important as the Vedas themselves. Therefore in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu he quotes the following verse from the Brahma-yamala:
aikantiki harer bhaktir
"Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanisads, puranas and Narada-pancaratra is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society." A devotee of Krsna must refer not only to the Vedas, but also to the puranas. One should not foolishly consider the Puranas mythological. If they were mythological, Sukadeva Gosvami would not have taken the trouble to recite the old historical incidents concerning the life of Ajamila. Now the history begins as follows.
kanyakubje dvijah kascid
kanya-kubje--in the city of Kanyakubja (Kanauj, a town near Kanpur); dvijah--brahmana; kascit--some; dasi-patih--the husband of a low-class woman or prostitute; ajamilah--Ajamila; namna--by name; nasta-sat-acarah--who lost all brahminical qualities; dasyah--of the prostitute or maidservant; samsarga-dusitah--contaminated by the association.
In the city known as Kanyakubja there was a brahmana named Ajamila who married a prostitute maidservant and lost all his brahminical qualities because of the association of that low-class woman.
The fault of illicit connection with women is that it makes one lose all brahminical qualities. In India there is still a class of servants, called sudras, whose maidservant wives are called sudranis. Sometimes people who are very lusty establish relationships with such maidservants and sweeping women, since in the higher statuses of society they cannot indulge in the habit of woman hunting, which is strictly prohibited by social convention. Ajamila, a qualified brahmana youth, lost all his brahminical qualities because of his association with a prostitute, but he was ultimately saved because he had begun the process of bhakti-yoga. Therefore in the previous verse, Sukadeva Gosvami spoke of the person who has only once surrendered himself at the lotus feet of the Lord (manah krsna-padaravindayoh) or has just begun the bhakti-yoga process. Bhakti-yoga begins with sravanam kirtanam visnoh, hearing and chanting of Lord Visnu's names, as in the maha-mantra--Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Chanting is the beginning of bhakti-yoga. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu declares:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
"In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way." The process of chanting the holy name of the Lord is always superbly effective, but it is especially effective in this age of Kali. Its practical effectiveness will now be explained by Sukadeva Gosvami through the history of Ajamila, who was freed from the hands of the Yamadutas simply because of chanting the holy name of Narayana. Pariksit Maharaja's original question was how to be freed from falling down into hell or into the hands of the Yamadutas. In reply, Sukadeva Gosvami is citing this old historical example to convince Pariksit Maharaja of the potency of bhakti-yoga, which begins simply with the chanting of the Lord's name. All the great authorities of bhakti-yoga recommend the devotional process beginning with the chanting of the holy name of Krsna (tan-nama-grahanadibhih).
bandy-aksaih kaitavais cauryair
garhitam vrttim asthitah
bibhrat kutumbam asucir
yatayam asa dehinah
bandi-aksaih--by unnecessarily arresting someone; kaitavaih--by cheating in gambling or throwing dice; cauryaih--by committing theft; garhitam--condemned; vrttim--professions; asthitah--who has undertaken (because of association with a prostitute); bibhrat--maintaining; kutumbam--his dependent wife and children; asucih--being most sinful; yatayam asa--he gave trouble; dehinah--to other living entities.
This fallen brahmana, Ajamila, gave trouble to others by arresting them, by cheating them in gambling or by directly plundering them. This was the way he earned his livelihood and maintained his wife and children.
This verse indicates how degraded one becomes simply by indulging in illicit sex with a prostitute. Illicit sex is not possible with a chaste or aristocratic woman, but only with unchaste sudras. The more society allows prostitution and illicit sex, the more impetus it gives to cheaters, thieves, plunderers, drunkards and gamblers. Therefore we first advise all the disciples in our Krsna consciousness movement to avoid illicit sex, which is the beginning of all abominable life and which is followed by meat-eating, gambling and intoxication, one after another. Of course, restraint is very difficult, but it is quite possible if one fully surrenders to Krsna, since all these abominable habits gradually become distasteful for a Krsna conscious person. If illicit sex is allowed to increase in a society, however, the entire society will be condemned, for it will be full of rogues, thieves, cheaters and so forth.
evam nivasatas tasya
kalo 'tyagan mahan rajann
evam--in this way; nivasatah--living; tasya--of him (Ajamila); lalayanasya--maintaining; tat--of her (the sudrani); sutan--sons; kalah--time; atyagat--passed away; mahan--a great amount; rajan--O King; astasitya--eighty-eight; ayusah--of the duration of life; samah--years.
My dear King, while he thus spent his time in abominable, sinful activities to maintain his family of many sons, eighty-eight years of his life passed by.
tasya pravayasah putra
dasa tesam tu yo 'vamah
balo narayano namna
pitros ca dayito bhrsam
tasya--of him (Ajamila); pravayasah--who was very old; putrah--sons; dasa--ten; tesam--of all of them; tu--but; yah--the one who; avamah--the youngest; balah--child; narayanah--Narayana; namna--by name; pitroh--of the father and mother; ca--and; dayitah--dear; bhrsam--very.
That old man Ajamila had ten sons, of whom the youngest was a baby named Narayana. Since Narayana was the youngest of all the sons, he was naturally very dear to both his father and his mother.
The word pravayasah indicates Ajamila's sinfulness because although he was eighty-eight years old, he had a very young child. According to Vedic culture, one should leave home as soon as he has reached fifty years of age; one should not live at home and go on producing children. Sex life is allowed for twenty-five years, between the ages of twenty-five and forty-five or, at the most, fifty. After that one should give up the habit of sex life and leave home as a vanaprastha and then properly take sannyasa. Ajamila, however, because of his association with a prostitute, lost all brahminical culture and became most sinful, even in his so-called household life.
sa baddha-hrdayas tasminn
mumude jaratho bhrsam
sah--he; baddha-hrdayah--being very attached; tasmin--to that; arbhake--small child; kala-bhasini--who could not talk clearly but talked in broken language; niriksamanah--seeing; tat--his; lilam--pastimes (such as walking and talking to his father); mumude--enjoyed; jarathah--the old man; bhrsam--very much.
Because of the child's broken language and awkward movements, old Ajamila was very much attached to him. He always took care of the child and enjoyed the child's activities.
Here it is clearly mentioned that the child Narayana was so young that he could not even speak or walk properly. Since the old man was very attached to the child, he enjoyed the child's activities, and because the child's name was Narayana, the old man always chanted the holy name of Narayana. Although he was referring to the small child and not to the original Narayana, the name of Narayana is so powerful that even by chanting his son's name he was becoming purified (harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam). Srila Rupa Gosvami has therefore declared that if one's mind is somehow or other attracted by the holy name of Krsna (tasmat kenapy upayena manah krsne nivesayet), one is on the path of liberation. It is customary in Hindu society for parents to give their children names like Krsnadasa, Govinda dasa, Narayana dasa and Vrndavana dasa. Thus they chant the names Krsna, Govinda, Narayana and Vrndavana and get the chance to be purified.
bhunjanah prapiban khadan
bhojayan payayan mudho
na vedagatam antakam
bhunjanah--while eating; prapiban--while drinking; khadan--while chewing; balakam--unto the child; sneha-yantritah--being attached by affection; bhojayan--feeding; payayan--giving something to drink; mudhah--the foolish man; na--not; veda--understood; agatam--had arrived; antakam--death.
When Ajamila chewed food and ate it, he called the child to chew and eat, and when he drank he called the child to drink also. Always engaged in taking care of the child and calling his name, Narayana, Ajamila could not understand that his own time was now exhausted and that death was upon him.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is kind to the conditioned soul. Although this man completely forgot Narayana, he was calling his child, saying, "Narayana, please come eat this food. Narayana, please come drink this milk." Somehow or other, therefore, he was attached to the name Narayana. This is called ajnata-sukrti. Although calling for his son, he was unknowingly chanting the name of Narayana, and the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so transcendentally powerful that his chanting was being counted and recorded.
sa evam vartamano 'jno
matim cakara tanaye
sah--that Ajamila; evam--thus; vartamanah--living; ajnah--foolish; mrtyu-kale--when the time of death; upasthite--arrived; matim cakara--concentrated his mind; tanaye--on his son; bale--the child; narayana-ahvaye--whose name was Narayana.
When the time of death arrived for the foolish Ajamila, he began thinking exclusively of his son Narayana.
In the Second Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.1.6) Sukadeva Gosvami says:
janma-labhah parah pumsam
"The highest perfection of human life, achieved either by complete knowledge of matter and spirit, by acquirement of mystic powers, or by perfect discharge of one's occupational duty, is to remember the Personality of Godhead at the end of life." Somehow or other, Ajamila consciously or unconsciously chanted the name of Narayana at the time of death (ante narayana-smrtih), and therefore he became all-perfect simply by concentrating his mind on the name of Narayana.
It may also be concluded that Ajamila, who was the son of a brahmana, was accustomed to worshiping Narayana in his youth because in every brahmana's house there is worship of the narayana-sila. This system is still present in India; in a rigid brahmana's house, there is narayana-seva, worship of Narayana. Therefore, although the contaminated Ajamila was calling for his son, by concentrating his mind on the holy name of Narayana he remembered the Narayana he had very faithfully worshiped in his youth.
In this regard Srila Sridhara Svami expressed his verdict as follows: etac ca tad-upalalanadi-sri-narayana-namoccarana-mahatmyena tad-bhaktir evabhud iti siddhantopayogitvenapi drastavyam. "According to the bhakti-siddhanta, it is to be analyzed that because Ajamila constantly chanted his son's name, Narayana, he was elevated to the platform of bhakti, although he did not know it." Similarly, Srila Viraraghava Acarya gives this opinion: evam vartamanah sa dvijah mrtyu-kale upasthite satyajno narayanakhye putra eva matim cakara matim asaktam akarod ity arthah. "Although at the time of death he was chanting the name of his son, he nevertheless concentrated his mind upon the holy name of Narayana." Srila Vijayadhvaja Tirtha gives a similar opinion:
mrtyu-kale deha-viyoga-laksana-kale mrtyoh sarva-dosa-papa-harasya harer anugrahat kale datta-jnana-laksane upasthite hrdi prakasite tanaye purna-jnane bale panca-varsa-kalpe pradesa-matre narayanahvaye murti-visese matim smarana-samartham cittam cakara bhaktyasmarad ity arthah.
Directly or indirectly, Ajamila factually remembered Narayana at the time of death (ante narayana-smrtih).
sa pasa-hastams trin drstva
atmanam netum agatan
sah--that person (Ajamila); pasa-hastan--having ropes in their hands; trin--three; drstva--seeing; purusan--persons; ati-darunan--very fearful in their features; vakra-tundan--with twisted faces; urdhva-romnah--with hair standing on the body; atmanam--the self; netum--to take away; agatan--arrived; dure--a short distance away; kridanaka-asaktam--engaged in his play; putram--his child; narayana-ahvayam--named Narayana; plavitena--with tearful eyes; svarena--with his voice; uccaih--very loudly; ajuhava--called; akula-indriyah--being full of anxiety.
Ajamila then saw three awkward persons with deformed bodily features, fierce, twisted faces, and hair standing erect on their bodies. With ropes in their hands, they had come to take him away to the abode of Yamaraja. When he saw them he was extremely bewildered, and because of attachment to his child, who was playing a short distance away, Ajamila began to call him loudly by his name. Thus with tears in his eyes he somehow or other chanted the holy name of Narayana.
A person who performs sinful activities performs them with his body, mind and words. Therefore three order carriers from Yamaraja came to take Ajamila to Yamaraja's abode. Fortunately, even though he was referring to his son, Ajamila chanted the four syllables of the hari-nama Narayana, and therefore the order carriers of Narayana, the Visnudutas, also immediately arrived there. Because Ajamila was extremely afraid of the ropes of Yamaraja, he chanted the Lord's name with tearful eyes. Actually, however, he never meant to chant the holy name of Narayana; he meant to call his son.
bhartur nama maharaja
nisamya--hearing; mriyamanasya--of the dying man; mukhatah--from the mouth; hari-kirtanam--chanting of the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; bhartuh nama--the holy name of their master; maha-raja--O King; parsadah--the order carriers of Visnu; sahasa--immediately; apatan--arrived.
My dear King, the order carriers of Visnu, the Visnudutas, immediately arrived when they heard the holy name of their master from the mouth of the dying Ajamila, who had certainly chanted without offense because he had chanted in complete anxiety.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura remarks, hari-kirtanam nisamyapatan, katham-bhutasya bhartur nama bruvatah: the order carriers of Lord Visnu came because Ajamila had chanted the holy name of Narayana. They did not consider why he was chanting. While chanting the name of Narayana, Ajamila was actually thinking of his son, but simply because they heard Ajamila chanting the Lord's name, the order carriers of Lord Visnu, the Visnudutas, immediately came for Ajamila's protection. Hari-kirtana is actually meant to glorify the holy name, form, pastimes and qualities of the Lord. Ajamila, however, did not glorify the form, qualities or paraphernalia of the Lord; he simply chanted the holy name. Nevertheless, that chanting was sufficient to cleanse him of all sinful activities. As soon as the Visnudutas heard their master's name being chanted, they immediately came. In this regard Srila Vijayadhvaja Tirtha remarks: anena putra-sneham antarena pracinadrsta-balad udbhutaya bhaktya bhagavan-nama-sankirtanam krtam iti jnayate. "Ajamila chanted the name of Narayana because of his excessive attachment to his son. Nevertheless, because of his past good fortune in having rendered devotional service to Narayana, he apparently chanted the holy name in full devotional service and without offenses."
vikarsato 'ntar hrdayad
varayam asur ojasa
vikarsatah--snatching; antah hrdayat--from within the heart; dasi-patim--the husband of the prostitute; ajamilam--Ajamila; yama-presyan--the messengers of Yamaraja; visnu-dutah--the order carriers of Lord Visnu; varayam asuh--forbade; ojasa--with resounding voices.
The order carriers of Yamaraja were snatching the soul from the core of the heart of Ajamila, the husband of the prostitute, but with resounding voices the messengers of Lord Visnu, the Visnudutas, forbade them to do so.
A Vaisnava, one who has surrendered to the lotus feet of Lord Visnu, is always protected by Lord Visnu's order carriers. Because Ajamila had chanted the holy name of Narayana, the Visnudutas not only immediately arrived on the spot but also at once ordered the Yamadutas not to touch him. By speaking with resounding voices, the Visnudutas threatened to punish the Yamadutas if they continued trying to snatch Ajamila's soul from his heart. The order carriers of Yamaraja have jurisdiction over all sinful living entities, but the messengers of Lord Visnu, the Visnudutas, are capable of punishing anyone, including Yamaraja, if he wrongs a Vaisnava.
Materialistic scientists do not know where to find the soul within the body with their material instruments, but this verse clearly explains that the soul is within the core of the heart (hrdaya); it is from the heart that the Yamadutas were extracting the soul of Ajamila. Similarly, we learn that the Supersoul, Lord Visnu, is also situated within the heart (isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati). In the Upanisads it is said that the Supersoul and the individual soul are living in the same tree of the body as two friendly birds. The Supersoul is said to be friendly because the Supreme Personality of Godhead is so kind to the original soul that when the original soul transmigrates from one body to another, the Lord goes with him. Furthermore, according to the desire and karma of the individual soul, the Lord, through the agency of maya, creates another body for him.
The heart of the body is a mechanical arrangement. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (18.61):
hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati
"The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy." Yantra means a machine, such as an automobile. The driver of the machine of the body is the individual soul, who is also its director or proprietor, but the supreme proprietor is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One's body is created through the agency of maya (karmana daiva-netrena), and according to one's activities in this life, another vehicle is created, again under the supervision of daivi maya (daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya). At the appropriate time, one's next body is immediately chosen, and both the individual soul and the Supersoul transfer to that particular bodily machine. This is the process of transmigration. During transmigration from one body to the next, the soul is taken away by the order carriers of Yamaraja and put into a particular type of hellish life (naraka) in order to become accustomed to the condition in which he will live in his next body.
ucur nisedhitas tams te
ke yuyam pratiseddharo
ucuh--replied; nisedhitah--being forbidden; tan--to the order carriers of Lord Visnu; te--they; vaivasvata--of Yamaraja; purah-sarah--the assistants or messengers; ke--who; yuyam--all of you; pratised-dharah--who are opposing; dharma-rajasya--of the king of religious principles, Yamaraja; sasanam--the ruling jurisdiction.
When the order carriers of Yamaraja, the son of the sun-god, were thus forbidden, they replied: Who are you, sirs, that have the audacity to challenge the jurisdiction of Yamaraja?
According to the sinful activities of Ajamila, he was within the jurisdiction of Yamaraja, the supreme judge appointed to consider the sins of the living entities. When forbidden to touch Ajamila, the order carriers of Yamaraja were surprised because they had never been hindered in the execution of their duty by anyone within the three worlds.
kasya va kuta ayatah
kasmad asya nisedhatha
kim deva upadeva ya
yuyam kim siddha-sattamah
kasya--whose servants; va--or; kutah--from where; ayatah--have you come; kasmat--what is the reason; asya--(the taking away) of this Ajamila; nisedhatha--are you forbidding; kim--whether; devah--demigods; upadevah--sub-demigods; yah--who; yuyam--all of you; kim--whether; siddha-sat-tamah--the best of the perfect beings, the pure devotees.
Dear sirs, whose servants are you, where have you come from, and why are you forbidding us to touch the body of Ajamila? Are you demigods from the heavenly planets, are you sub-demigods, or are you the best of devotees?
The most significant word used in this verse is siddha-sattamah, which means "the best of the perfect." In Bhagavad-gita (7.3) it is said, manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye: out of millions of persons, one may try to become siddha, perfect--or, in other words, self-realized. A self-realized person knows that he is not the body but a spiritual soul (aham brahmasmi). At the present moment practically everyone is unaware of this fact, but one who understands this has attained perfection and is therefore called siddha. When one understands that the soul is part and parcel of the supreme soul and one thus engages in the devotional service of the supreme soul, one becomes siddha-sat-tama. One is then eligible to live in the Vaikuntha planets or Krsnaloka. The word siddha-sattama, therefore, refers to a liberated, pure devotee.
Since the Yamadutas are servants of Yamaraja, who is also one of the siddha-sattamas, they knew that a siddha-sattama is above the demigods and sub-demigods and, indeed, above all the living entities within this material world. The Yamadutas therefore inquired why the Visnudutas were present where a sinful man was going to die.
It should also be noted that Ajamila was not yet dead, for the Yamadutas were trying to snatch the soul from his heart. They could not take the soul, however, and therefore Ajamila was not yet dead. This will be revealed in later verses. Ajamila was simply in an unconscious state when the argument was in progress between the Yamadutas and the Visnudutas. The conclusion of the argument was to be a decision regarding who would claim the soul of Ajamila.
sarve ca nutna-vayasah
kurvantah svena tejasa
kim artham dharma-palasya
kinkaran no nisedhatha
sarve--all of you; padma-palasa-aksah--with eyes like the petals of a lotus flower; pita--yellow; kauseya--silk; vasasah--wearing garments; kiritinah--with helmets; kundalinah--with earrings; lasat--glittering; puskara-malinah--with a garland of lotus flowers; sarve--all of you; ca--also; nutna-vayasah--very youthful; sarve--all of you; caru--very beautiful; catuh-bhujah--with four arms; dhanuh--bow; nisanga--quiver of arrows; asi--sword; gada--club; sankha--conchshell; cakra--disc; ambuja--lotus flower; sriyah--decorated with; disah--all directions; vitimira--without darkness; alokah--extraordinary illumination; kurvantah--exhibiting; svena--by your own; tejasa--effulgence; kim artham--what is the purpose; dharma-palasya--of Yamaraja, the maintainer of religious principles; kinkaran--servants; nah--us; nisedhatha--you are forbidding.
The order carriers of Yamaraja said: Your eyes are just like the petals of lotus flowers. Dressed in yellow silken garments, decorated with garlands of lotuses, and wearing very attractive helmets on your heads and earrings on your ears, you all appear fresh and youthful. Your four long arms are decorated with bows and quivers of arrows and with swords, clubs, conchshells, discs and lotus flowers. Your effulgence has dissipated the darkness of this place with extraordinary illumination. Now, sirs, why are you obstructing us?
Before even being introduced to a foreigner, one becomes acquainted with him through his dress, bodily features and behavior and can thus understand his position. Therefore when the Yamadutas saw the Visnudutas for the first time, they were surprised. They said, "By your bodily features you appear to be very exalted gentlemen, and you have such celestial power that you have dissipated the darkness of this material world with your own effulgences. Why then should you endeavor to stop us from executing our duty?" It will be explained that the Yamadutas, the order carriers of Yamaraja, mistakenly considered Ajamila sinful. They did not know that although he was sinful throughout his entire life, he was purified by constantly chanting the holy name of Narayana. In other words, unless one is a Vaisnava, one cannot understand the activities of a Vaisnava.
The dress and bodily features of the residents of Vaikunthaloka are properly described in these verses. The residents of Vaikuntha, who are decorated with garlands and yellow silken garments, have four arms holding various weapons. Thus they conspicuously resemble Lord Visnu. They have the same bodily features as Narayana because they have attained the liberation of sarupya, but they nevertheless act as servants. All the residents of Vaikunthaloka know perfectly well that their master is Narayana, or Krsna, and that they are all His servants. They are all self-realized souls who are nitya-mukta, everlastingly liberated. Although they could conceivably declare themselves Narayana or Visnu, they never do so; they always remain Krsna conscious and serve the Lord faithfully. Such is the atmosphere of Vaikunthaloka. Similarly, one who learns the faithful service of Lord Krsna through the Krsna consciousness movement will always remain in Vaikunthaloka and have nothing to do with the material world.
ity ukte yamadutais te
tan pratyucuh prahasyedam
sri-sukah uvaca--Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said; iti--thus; ukte--being addressed; yamadutaih--by the messengers of Yamaraja; te--they; vasudeva-ukta-karinah--who are always ready to execute the orders of Lord Vasudeva (being personal associates of Lord Visnu who have obtained the liberation of salokya); tan--unto them; pratyucuh--replied; prahasya--smiling; idam--this; megha-nirhradaya--resounding like a rumbling cloud; gira--with voices.
Sukadeva Gosvami continued: Being thus addressed by the messengers of Yamaraja, the servants of Vasudeva smiled and spoke the following words in voices as deep as the sound of rumbling clouds.
The Yamadutas were surprised to see that the Visnudutas, although polite, were hindering the rule of Yamaraja. Similarly, the Visnudutas were also surprised that the Yamadutas, although claiming to be servants of Yamaraja, the supreme judge of religious principles, were unaware of the principles of religious action. Thus the Visnudutas smiled, thinking, "What is this nonsense they are speaking? If they are actually servants of Yamaraja they should know that Ajamila is not a suitable candidate for them to carry off."
yuyam vai dharma-rajasya
bruta dharmasya nas tattvam
yac cadharmasya laksanam
sri-visnudutah ucuh--the blessed messengers of Lord Visnu spoke; yuyam--all of you; vai--indeed; dharma-rajasya--of King Yamaraja, who knows the religious principles; yadi--if; nirdesa-karinah--order carriers; bruta--just speak; dharmasya--of religious principles; nah--unto us; tattvam--the truth; yat--that which; ca--also; adharmasya--of impious activities; laksanam--symptoms.
The blessed messengers of Lord Visnu, the Visnudutas, said: If you are actually servants of Yamaraja, you must explain to us the meaning of religious principles and the symptoms of irreligion.
This inquiry by the Visnudutas to the Yamadutas is most important. A servant must know the instructions of his master. The servants of Yamaraja claimed to be carrying out his orders, and therefore the Visnudutas very intelligently asked them to explain the symptoms of religious and irreligious principles. A Vaisnava knows these principles perfectly well because he is well acquainted with the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Lord says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give up all other varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me." Therefore surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the actual principle of religion. Those who have surrendered to the principles of material nature instead of to Krsna are all impious, regardless of their material position. Unaware of the principles of religion, they do not surrender to Krsna, and therefore they are considered sinful rascals, the lowest of men, and fools bereft of all knowledge. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.15):
na mam duskrtino mudhah
asuram bhavam asritah
"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me." One who has not surrendered to Krsna does not know the true principle of religion; otherwise he would have surrendered.
The question posed by the Visnudutas was very suitable. One who represents someone else must fully know that person's mission. The devotees in the Krsna consciousness movement must therefore be fully aware of the mission of Krsna and Lord Caitanya; otherwise they will be considered foolish. All devotees, especially preachers, must know the philosophy of Krsna consciousness so as not to be embarrassed and insulted when they preach.
katham svid dhriyate dandah
kim vasya sthanam ipsitam
dandyah kim karinah sarve
aho svit katicin nrnam
katham svit--by which means; dhriyate--is imposed; dandah--punishment; kim--what; va--or; asya--of this; sthanam--the place; ipsitam--desirable; dandyah--punishable; kim--whether; karinah--fruitive actors; sarve--all; aho svit--or whether; katicit--some; nrnam--of the human beings.
What is the process of punishing others? Who are the actual candidates for punishment? Are all karmis engaged in fruitive activities punishable, or only some of them?
One who has the power to punish others should not punish everyone. There are innumerable living entities, the majority of whom are in the spiritual world and are nitya-mukta, everlastingly liberated. There is no question of judging these liberated living beings. Only a small fraction of the living entities, perhaps one fourth, are in the material world. And the major portion of the living entities in the material world--8,000,000 of the 8,400,000 forms of life--are lower than human beings. They are not punishable, for under the laws of material nature they are automatically evolving. Human beings, who are advanced in consciousness, are responsible, but not all of them are punishable. Those engaged in advanced pious activities are beyond punishment. Only those who engage in sinful activities are punishable. Therefore the Visnudutas particularly inquired about who is punishable and why Yamaraja has been designated to discriminate between who is punishable and who is not. How is one to be judged? What is the basic principle of authority? These are the questions raised by the Visnudutas.
hy adharmas tad-viparyayah
vedo narayanah saksat
svayambhur iti susruma
yamadutah ucuh--the order carriers of Yamaraja said; veda--by the four Vedas (Sama, Yajur, Rg and Atharva); pranihitah--prescribed; dharmah--religious principles; hi--indeed; adharmah--irreligious principles; tat-viparyayah--the opposite of that (that which is not supported by Vedic injunctions); vedah--the Vedas, books of knowledge; narayanah saksat--directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead (being the words of Narayana); svayam-bhuh--self-born, self-sufficient (appearing only from the breath of Narayana and not being learned from anyone else); iti--thus; susruma--we have heard.
The Yamadutas replied: That which is prescribed in the Vedas constitutes dharma, the religious principles, and the opposite of that is irreligion. The Vedas are directly the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, and are self-born. This we have heard from Yamaraja.
The servants of Yamaraja replied quite properly. They did not manufacture principles of religion or irreligion. Instead, they explained what they had heard from the authority Yamaraja. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah: one should follow the mahajana, the authorized person. Yamaraja is one of twelve authorities. Therefore the servants of Yamaraja, the Yamadutas, replied with perfect clarity when they said susruma ("we have heard"). The members of modern civilization manufacture defective religious principles through speculative concoction. This is not dharma. They do not know what is dharma and what is adharma. Therefore, as stated in the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam, dharmah projjhita-kaitavo 'tra: dharma not supported by the Vedas is rejected from srimad-bhagavata-dharma. Bhagavata-dharma comprises only that which is given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Bhagavata-dharma is sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: one must accept the authority of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrender to Him and whatever He says. That is dharma. Arjuna, for example, thinking that violence was adharma, was declining to fight, but Krsna urged him to fight. Arjuna abided by the orders of Krsna, and therefore he is actually a dharmi because the order of Krsna is dharma. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (15.15), vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: "The real purpose of veda, knowledge, is to know Me." One who knows Krsna perfectly is liberated. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (4.9):
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so 'rjuna
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna." One who understands Krsna and abides by His order is a candidate for returning home, back to Godhead. It may be concluded that dharma, religion, refers to that which is ordered in the Vedas, and adharma, irreligion, refers to that which is not supported in the Vedas.
Dharma is not actually manufactured by Narayana. As stated in the Vedas, asya mahato bhutasya nisvasitam etad yad rg-vedah iti: the injunctions of dharma emanate from the breathing of Narayana, the supreme living entity. Narayana exists eternally and breathes eternally, and therefore dharma, the injunctions of Narayana, also exist eternally. Srila Madhvacarya, the original acarya for those who belong to the Madhva-Gaudiya-sampradaya, says:
vedanam prathamo vakta
harir eva yato vibhuh
ato visnv-atmaka veda
ity ahur veda-vadinah
The transcendental words of the Vedas emanated from the mouth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore the Vedic principles should be understood to be Vaisnava principles because Visnu is the origin of the Vedas. The Vedas contain nothing besides the instructions of Visnu, and one who follows the Vedic principles is a Vaisnava. The Vaisnava is not a member of a manufactured community of this material world. A Vaisnava is a real knower of the Vedas, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah).
yena sva-dhamny ami bhava
yena--by whom (Narayana); sva-dhamni--although in His own place, the spiritual world; ami--all these; bhavah--manifestations; rajah-sattva-tamah-mayah--created by the three modes of material nature (passion, goodness and ignorance); guna--qualities; nama--names; kriya--activities; rupaih--and with forms; vibhavyante--are variously manifested; yatha-tatham--exactly to the right point.
The supreme cause of all causes, Narayana, is situated in His own abode in the spiritual world, but nevertheless He controls the entire cosmic manifestation according to the three modes of material nature--sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna. In this way all living entities are awarded different qualities, different names [such as brahmana, ksatriya and vaisya], different duties according to the varnasrama institution, and different forms. Thus Narayana is the cause of the entire cosmic manifestation.
The Vedas inform us:
na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate
na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca
(Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.8)
Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is almighty, omnipotent. He has multifarious energies, and therefore He is able to remain in His own abode and without endeavor supervise and manipulate the entire cosmic manifestation through the interaction of the three modes of material nature--sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna. These interactions create different forms, bodies, activities and changes, which all occur perfectly. Because the Lord is perfect, everything works as if He were directly supervising and taking part in it. Atheistic men, however, being covered by the three modes of material nature, cannot see Narayana to be the supreme cause behind all activities. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.13):
tribhir gunamayair bhavair
ebhih sarvam idam jagat
mam ebhyah param avyayam
"Deluded by the three modes, the whole world does not know Me, who am above the modes and inexhaustible." Because unintelligent agnostics are mohita, illusioned by the three modes of material nature, they cannot understand that Narayana, Krsna, is the supreme cause of all activities. As stated in Brahma-samhita (5.1):
isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah
"Krsna, who is known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, for He is the prime cause of all causes."
suryo 'gnih kham marud devah
somah sandhyahani disah
kam kuh svayam dharma iti
hy ete daihyasya saksinah
suryah--the sun-god; agnih--the fire; kham--the sky; marut--the air; devah--the demigods; somah--the moon; sandhya--evening; ahani--the day and night; disah--the directions; kam--the water; kuh--the land; svayam--personally; dharmah--Yamaraja or the Supersoul; iti--thus; hi--indeed; ete--all of these; daihyasya--of a living entity embodied in the material elements; saksinah--witnesses.
The sun, fire, sky, air, demigods, moon, evening, day, night, directions, water, land and Supersoul Himself all witness the activities of the living entity.
The members of some religious sects, especially Christians, do not believe in the reactions of karma. We once had a discussion with a learned Christian professor who argued that although people are generally punished after the witnesses of their misdeeds are examined, where are the witnesses responsible for one's suffering the reactions of past karma? To such a person the answer by the Yamadutas is given here. A conditioned soul thinks that he is working stealthily and that no one can see his sinful activities, but we can understand from the sastras that there are many witnesses, including the sun, fire, sky, air, moon, demigods, evening, day, night, directions, water, land and the Supersoul Himself, who sits with the individual soul within his heart. Where is the dearth of witnesses? The witnesses and the Supreme Lord both exist, and therefore so many living entities are elevated to higher planetary systems or degraded to lower planetary systems, including the hellish planets. There are no discrepancies, for everything is arranged perfectly by the management of the Supreme God (svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca). The witnesses mentioned in this verse are also mentioned in other Vedic literatures:
aditya-candrav anilo 'nalas ca
dyaur bhumir apo hrdayam yamas ca
ahas ca ratris ca ubhe ca sandhye
dharmo 'pi janati narasya vrttam
etair adharmo vijnatah
sthanam dandasya yujyate
dandam arhanti karinah
etaih--by all these (witnesses, beginning from the sun-god); adharmah--deviation from the regulative principles; vijnatah--is known; sthanam--the proper place; dandasya--of punishment; yujyate--is accepted as; sarve--all; karma-anurodhena--with consideration of the activities performed; dandam--punishment; arhanti--deserve; karinah--the performers of sinful activities.
The candidates for punishment are those who are confirmed by these many witnesses to have deviated from their prescribed regulative duties. Everyone engaged in fruitive activities is suitable to be subjected to punishment according to his sinful acts.
sambhavanti hi bhadrani
karinam guna-sango 'sti
dehavan na hy akarma-krt
sambhavanti--there are; hi--indeed; bhadrani--auspicious, pious activities; viparitani--just the opposite (inauspicious, sinful activities); ca--also; anaghah--O sinless inhabitants of Vaikuntha; karinam--of the fruitive workers; guna-sangah--contamination of the three modes of nature; asti--there is; deha-van--anyone who has accepted this material body; na--not; hi--indeed; akarma-krt--without performing action.
O inhabitants of Vaikuntha, you are sinless, but those within this material world are all karmis, whether acting piously or impiously. Both kinds of action are possible for them because they are contaminated by the three modes of nature and must act accordingly. One who has accepted a material body cannot be inactive, and sinful action is inevitable for one acting under the modes of material nature. Therefore all the living entities within this material world are punishable.
The difference between human beings and nonhuman beings is that a human is supposed to act according to the direction of the Vedas. Unfortunately, men manufacture their own ways of acting, without reference to the Vedas. Therefore all of them commit sinful actions and are punishable.
yena yavan yathadharmo
dharmo veha samihitah
sa eva tat-phalam bhunkte
tatha tavad amutra vai
yena--by which person; yavan--to which extent; yatha--in which manner; adharmah--irreligious activities; dharmah--religious activities; va--or; iha--in this life; samihitah--performed; sah--that person; eva--indeed; tat-phalam--the particular result of that; bhunkte--enjoys or suffers; tatha--in that way; tavat--to that extent; amutra--in the next life; vai--indeed.
In proportion to the extent of one's religious or irreligious actions in this life, one must enjoy or suffer the corresponding reactions of his karma in the next.
As stated in Bhagavad-gita (14.18):
urdhvam gacchanti sattva-stha
madhye tisthanti rajasah
adho gacchanti tamasah
Those who act in the mode of goodness are promoted to higher planetary systems to become demigods, those who act in an ordinary way and do not commit excessively sinful acts remain within this middle planetary system, and those who perform abominable sinful actions must go down to hellish life.
yatha--just as; iha--in this life; deva-pravarah--O best of the demigods; trai-vidhyam--three kinds of attributes; upalabhyate--are achieved; bhutesu--among all living entities; guna-vaicitryat--because of the diversity of the contamination by the three modes of nature; tatha--similarly; anyatra--in other places; anumiyate--it is inferred.
O best of the demigods, we can see three different varieties of life, which are due to the contamination of the three modes of nature. The living entities are thus known as peaceful, restless and foolish; as happy, unhappy or in-between; or as religious, irreligious and semireligious. We can deduce that in the next life these three kinds of material nature will similarly act.
The actions and reactions of the three modes of material nature are visible in this life. For example, some people are very happy, some are very distressed, and some are in mixed happiness and distress. This is the result of past association with the modes of material nature--goodness, passion and ignorance. Since these varieties are visible in this life, we may assume that the living entities, according to their association with the different modes of material nature, will be happy, distressed or between the two in their next lives also. Therefore the best policy is to disassociate oneself from the three modes of material nature and be always transcendental to their contamination. This is possible only when one fully engages in the devotional service of the Lord. As Krsna confirms in Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
sa gunan samatityaitan
"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down under any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the spiritual platform." Unless one is fully absorbed in the service of the Lord, one is subject to the contamination of the three modes of material nature and must therefore suffer from distress or mixed happiness and distress.
vartamano 'nyayoh kalo
evam janmanyayor etad
vartamanah--the present; anyayoh--of the past and future; kalah--time; guna-abhijnapakah--making known the qualities; yatha--just as; evam--thus; janma--birth; anyayoh--of the past and future births; etat--this; dharma--religious principles; adharma--irreligious principles; nidarsanam--indicating.
Just as springtime in the present indicates the nature of springtimes in the past and future, so this life of happiness, distress or a mixture of both gives evidence concerning the religious and irreligious activities of one's past and future lives.
Our past and future are not very difficult to understand, for time is under the contamination of the three modes of material nature. As soon as spring arrives, the usual exhibition of various types of fruits and flowers automatically becomes manifest, and therefore we may conclude that spring in the past was adorned with similar fruits and flowers and will be so adorned in the future also. Our repetition of birth and death is taking place within time, and according to the influence of the modes of nature, we are receiving various types of bodies and being subjected to various conditions.
manasaiva pure devah
manasa bhagavan ajah
manasa--by the mind; eva--indeed; pure--in his abode, or within everyone's heart like the Supersoul; devah--the demigod Yamaraja (divyatiti devah, one who is always brilliant and illuminated is called deva); purva-rupam--the past religious or irreligious condition; vipasyati--completely observes; anumimamsate--he considers; apurvam--the future condition; manasa--with his mind; bhagavan--who is omnipotent; ajah--as good as Lord Brahma.
The omnipotent Yamaraja is as good as Lord Brahma, for while situated in his own abode or in everyone's heart like the Paramatma, he mentally observes the past activities of a living entity and thus understands how the living entity will act in future lives.
One should not consider Yamaraja an ordinary living being. He is as good as Lord Brahma. He has the complete cooperation of the Supreme Lord, who is situated in everyone's heart, and therefore, by the grace of the Supersoul, he can see the past, present and future of a living being from within. The word anumimamsate means that he can decide in consultation with the Supersoul. Anu means "following." The actual decisions concerning the next lives of the living entities are made by the Supersoul, and they are carried out by Yamaraja.
yathajnas tamasa yukta
upaste vyaktam eva hi
na veda purvam aparam
yatha--just as; ajnah--an ignorant living being; tamasa--in sleep; yuktah--engaged; upaste--acts according to; vyaktam--a body manifested in a dream; eva--certainly; hi--indeed; na veda--does not know; purvam--the past body; aparam--the next body; nasta--lost; janma-smrtih--the remembrance of birth; tatha--similarly.
As a sleeping person acts according to the body manifested in his dreams and accepts it to be himself, so one identifies with his present body, which he acquired because of his past religious or irreligious actions, and is unable to know his past or future lives.
A man engages in sinful activities because he does not know what he did in his past life to get his present materially conditioned body, which is subjected to the threefold miseries. As stated by Rsabhadeva in Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.4), nunam pramattah kurute vikarma: a human being who is mad after sense gratification does not hesitate to act sinfully. Yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti: he performs sinful actions simply for sense gratification. Na sadhu manye: this is not good. Yata atmano 'yam asann api klesada asa dehah: because of such sinful actions, one receives another body in which to suffer as he is suffering in his present body because of his past sinful activities.
It should be understood that a person who does not have Vedic knowledge always acts in ignorance of what he has done in the past, what he is doing at the present and how he will suffer in the future. He is completely in darkness. Therefore the Vedic injunction is, tamasi ma: "Don't remain in darkness." Jyotir gama: "Try to go to the light." The light or illumination is Vedic knowledge, which one can understand when he is elevated to the mode of goodness or when he transcends the mode of goodness by engaging in devotional service to the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord. This is described in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (6.23):
yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
"Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed." The Vedas enjoin, tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: one must approach a spiritual master who has full knowledge of the Vedas and be faithfully directed by him in order to become a devotee of the Lord. Then the knowledge of the Vedas will be revealed. When the Vedic knowledge is revealed, one need no longer remain in the darkness of material nature.
According to his association with the material modes of nature--goodness, passion and ignorance--a living entity gets a particular type of body. The example of one who associates with the mode of goodness is a qualified brahmana. Such a brahmana knows past, present and future because he consults the Vedic literature and sees through the eyes of sastra (sastra-caksuh). He can understand what his past life was, why be is in the present body, and how he can obtain liberation from the clutches of maya and not accept another material body. This is all possible when one is situated in the mode of goodness. Generally, however, the living entities are engrossed in the modes of passion and ignorance.
In any case, one receives an inferior or superior body at the discretion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Paramatma. As stated in the previous verse:
manasaiva pure devah
manasa bhagavan ajah
Everything depends on bhagavan, or ajah, the unborn. Why doesn't one please Bhagavan to receive a better body? The answer is ajnas tamasa: because of gross ignorance. One who is in complete darkness cannot know what his past life was or what his next life will be; he is simply interested in his present body. Even though he has a human body, a person in the mode of ignorance and interested only in his present body is like an animal, for an animal, being covered by ignorance, thinks that the ultimate goal of life and happiness is to eat as much as possible. A human being must be educated to understand his past life and how he can endeavor for a better life in the future. There is even a book, called Bhrgu-samhita, which reveals information about one's past, present and future lives according to astrological calculations. Somehow or other one must be enlightened about his past, present and future. One who is interested only in his present body and who tries to enjoy his senses to the fullest extent is understood to be engrossed in the mode of ignorance. His future is very, very dark. Indeed, the future is always dark for one who is grossly covered by ignorance. Especially in this age, human society is covered by the mode of ignorance, and therefore everyone thinks his present body to be everything, without consideration of the past or future.
pancabhih kurute svarthan
panca vedatha pancabhih
ekas tu sodasena trin
svayam saptadaso 'snute
pancabhih--with the five working senses (voice, arms, legs, anus and genitals); kurute--performs; sva-arthan--his desired interests; panca--the five objects of the senses (sound, form, touch, aroma and taste); veda--knows; atha--thus; pancabhih--by the five senses of perception (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and feeling); ekah--the one; tu--but; sodasena--by these fifteen items and the mind; trin--the three categories of experience (happiness, distress and a mixture of both); svayam--he, the living entity himself; saptadasah--the seventeenth item; asnute--enjoys.
Above the five senses of perception, the five working senses and the five objects of the senses is the mind, which is the sixteenth element. Above the mind is the seventeenth element, the soul, the living being himself, who, in cooperation with the other sixteen, enjoys the material world alone. The living being enjoys three kinds of situations, namely happy, distressful and mixed.
Everyone engages in work with his hands, legs and other senses just to achieve a certain goal according to his concocted ideas. One tries to enjoy the five sense objects, namely form, sound, taste, aroma and touch, not knowing the actual goal of life, which is to satisfy the Supreme Lord. Because of disobeying the Supreme Lord, one is put into material conditions, and he then tries to improve his situation in a concocted way, not desiring to follow the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nevertheless, the Supreme Lord is so kind that He comes Himself to instruct the bewildered living entity how to act obediently and then gradually return home, back to Godhead, where he can attain an eternal, peaceful life of bliss and knowledge. The living entity has a body, which is a very complicated combination of the material elements, and with this body he struggles alone, as indicated in this verse by the words ekas tu. For example, if one is struggling in the ocean, he must swim through it alone. Although many other men and aquatics are swimming in the ocean, he must take care of himself because no one else will help him. Therefore this verse indicates that the seventeenth item, the soul, must work alone. Although he tries to create society, friendship and love, no one will be able to help him but Krsna, the Supreme Lord. Therefore his only concern should be how to satisfy Krsna. That is also what Krsna wants (sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja). People bewildered by material conditions try to be united, but although they strive for unity among men and nations, all their attempts are futile. Everyone must struggle alone for existence with the many elements of nature. Therefore one's only hope, as Krsna advises, is to surrender to Him, for He can help one become free from the ocean of nescience. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore prayed:
ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
patitam mam visame bhavambudhau
krpaya tava pada-pankaja-
"O Krsna, beloved son of Nanda Maharaja, I am Your eternal servant, but somehow or other I have fallen into this ocean of nescience, and although I am struggling very hard, there is no way I can save myself. If You kindly pick me up and fix me as one of the particles of dust at Your lotus feet, that will save me."
In a similar way, Bhaktivinoda Thakura sang:
anadi karama-phale, padi' bhavarnava-jale,
taribare na dekhi upaya
"My dear Lord, I cannot remember when I somehow or other fell into this ocean of nescience, and now I can find no way to rescue myself." We should remember that everyone is responsible for his own life. If an individual becomes a pure devotee of Krsna, he is then delivered from the ocean of nescience.
tad etat sodasa-kalam
lingam sakti-trayam mahat
dhatte 'nusamsrtim pumsi
tat--therefore; etat--this; sodasa-kalam--made of sixteen parts (namely the ten senses, the mind and the five sense objects); lingam--the subtle body; sakti-trayam--the effect of the three modes of material nature; mahat--insurmountable; dhatte--gives; anusamsrtim--almost perpetual rotation and transmigration in different types of bodies; pumsi--unto the living entity; harsa--jubilation; soka--lamentation; bhaya--fear; arti--misery; dam--which gives.
The subtle body is endowed with sixteen parts--the five knowledge-acquiring senses, the five working senses, the five objects of sense gratification, and the mind. This subtle body is an effect of the three modes of material nature. It is composed of insurmountably strong desires, and therefore it causes the living entity to transmigrate from one body to another in human life, animal life and life as a demigod. When the living entity gets the body of a demigod, he is certainly very jubilant, when he gets a human body he is always in lamentation, and when he gets the body of an animal, he is always afraid. In all conditions, however, he is actually miserable. His miserable condition is called samsrti, or transmigration in material life.
The sum and substance of material conditional life is explained in this verse. The living entity, the seventeenth element, is struggling alone, life after life. This struggle is called samsrti, or material conditional life. In Bhagavad-gita it is said that the force of material nature is insurmountably strong (daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya). Material nature harasses the living entity in different bodies, but if the living entity surrenders to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he becomes free from this entanglement, as confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te). Thus his life becomes successful.
dehy ajno 'jita-sad-vargo
necchan karmani karyate
dehi--the embodied soul; ajnah--without perfect knowledge; ajita-sat-vargah--who has not controlled the senses of perception and the mind; na icchan--without desiring; karmani--activities for material benefit; karyate--is caused to perform; kosakarah--the silkworm; iva--like; atmanam--himself; karmana--by fruitive activities; acchadya--covering; muhyati--becomes bewildered.
The foolish embodied living entity, inept at controlling his senses and mind, is forced to act according to the influence of the modes of material nature, against his desires. He is like a silkworm that uses its own saliva to create a cocoon and then becomes trapped in it, with no possibility of getting out. The living entity traps himself in a network of his own fruitive activities and then can find no way to release himself. Thus he is always bewildered, and repeatedly he dies.
As already explained, the influence of the modes of nature is very strong. The living entity entangled in different types of fruitive activity is like a silkworm trapped in a cocoon. Getting free is very difficult unless he is helped by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
na hi kascit ksanam api
jatu tisthaty akarma-krt
karyate hy avasah karma
gunaih svabhavikair balat
na--not; hi--indeed; kascit--anyone; ksanam api--even for a moment; jatu--at any time; tisthati--remains; akarma-krt--without doing anything; karyate--he is caused to perform; hi--indeed; avasah--automatically; karma--fruitive activities; gunaih--by the three modes of nature; svabhavikaih--which are produced by his own tendencies in previous lives; balat--by force.
Not a single living entity can remain unengaged even for a moment. One must act by his natural tendency according to the three modes of material nature because this natural tendency forcibly makes him work in a particular way.
The svabhavika, or one's natural tendency, is the most important factor in action. One's natural tendency is to serve because a living entity is an eternal servant of God. The living entity wants to serve, but because of his forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Lord, he serves under the modes of material nature and manufactures various modes of service, such as socialism, humanitarianism and altruism. However, one should be enlightened in the tenets of Bhagavad-gita and accept the instruction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead that one give up all natural tendencies for material service under different names and take to the service of the Lord. One's original natural tendency is to act in Krsna consciousness because one's real nature is spiritual. The duty of a human being is to understand that since he is essentially spirit, he must abide by the spiritual tendency and not be carried away by material tendencies. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has therefore sung:
(miche) mayara vase, yaccha bhese',
khaccha habudubu, bhai
"My dear brothers, you are being carried away by the waves of material energy and are suffering in many miserable conditions. Sometimes you are drowning in the waves of material nature, and sometimes you are tossed like a swimmer struggling in the ocean." As confirmed by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, this tendency to be battered by the waves of maya can be changed to one's original, natural tendency, which is spiritual, when the living entity comes to understand that he is eternally krsna-dasa, a servant of God, Krsna.
(jiva) krsna-dasa, ei visvasa,
karle ta' ara duhkha nai
If instead of serving maya under different names, one turns his service attitude toward the Supreme Lord, he is then safe, and there is no more difficulty. If one returns to his original, natural tendency in the human form of life by understanding the perfect knowledge given by Krsna Himself in the Vedic literature, one's life is successful.
labdhva nimittam avyaktam
vyaktavyaktam bhavaty uta
labdhva--having gotten; nimittam--the cause; avyaktam--unseen or unknown to the person; vyakta-avyaktam--manifested and unmanifested, or the gross body and the subtle body; bhavati--come into being; uta--certainly; yatha-yoni--exactly like the mother; yatha-bijam--exactly like the father; sva-bhavena--by the natural tendency; baliyasa--which is very powerful.
The fruitive activities a living being performs, whether pious or impious, are the unseen cause for the fulfillment of his desires. This unseen cause is the root for the living entity's different bodies. Because of his intense desire, the living entity takes birth in a particular family and receives a body which is either like that of his mother or like that of his father. The gross and subtle bodies are created according to his desire.
The gross body is a product of the subtle body. As stated in Bhagavad-gita (8.6):
yam yam vapi smaran bhavam
tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya
"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail." The atmosphere of the subtle body at the time of death is created by the activities of the gross body. Thus the gross body acts during one's lifetime, and the subtle body acts at the time of death. The subtle body, which is called linga, the body of desire, is the background for the development of a particular type of gross body, which is either like that of one's mother or like that of one's father. According to the Rg Veda, if at the time of sex the secretions of the mother are more profuse than those of the father, the child will receive a female body, and if the secretions of the father are more profuse than those of the mother, the child will receive a male body. These are the subtle laws of nature, which act according to the desire of the living entity. If a human being is taught to change his subtle body by developing a consciousness of Krsna, at the time of death the subtle body will create a gross body in which he will be a devotee of Krsna, or if he is still more perfect, he will not take another material body but will immediately get a spiritual body and thus return home, back to Godhead. This is the process of the transmigration of the soul. Therefore instead of trying to unite human society through pacts for sense gratification that can never be achieved, it is clearly desirable to teach people how to become Krsna conscious and return home, back to Godhead. This is true now and, indeed, at any time.
asit sa eva na cirad
esah--this; prakrti-sangena--because of association with the material nature; purusasya--of the living entity; viparyayah--a situation of forgetfulness or an awkward position; asit--came to be; sah--that position; eva--indeed; na--not; cirat--taking a long time; isa-sangat--from the association of the Supreme Lord; viliyate--is vanquished.
Since the living entity is associated with material nature, he is in an awkward position, but if in the human form of life he is taught how to associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee, this position can be overcome.
The word prakrti means material nature, and purusa may also refer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one wants to continue his association with prakrti, the female energy of Krsna, and be separated from Krsna by the illusion that he is able to enjoy prakrti, he must continue in his conditional life. If he changes his consciousness, however, and associates with the supreme, original person (purusam sasvatam), or with His associates, he can get out of the entanglement of material nature. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (4.9), janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah: one must simply understand the Supreme Person, Krsna, in terms of His form, name, activities and pastimes. This will keep one always in the association of Krsna. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so'rjuna: thus after giving up his gross material body, one accepts not another gross body but a spiritual body in which to return home, back to Godhead. Thus one ends the tribulation caused by his association with the material energy. In summary, the living entity is an eternal servant of God, but he comes to the material world and is bound by material conditions because of his desire to lord it over matter. Liberation means giving up this false consciousness and reviving one's original service to the Lord. This return to one's original life is called mukti, as confirmed in Srimad-Bhagavatam (muktir hitvanyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih).
ayam hi sruta-sampannah
dhrta-vrato mrdur dantah
satya-van mantra-vic chucih
ayam--this person (known as Ajamila); hi--indeed; sruta-sampannah--well educated in Vedic knowledge; sila--of good character; vrtta--good conduct; guna--and good qualities; alayah--the reservoir; dhrta-vratah--fixed in the execution of the Vedic injunctions; mrduh--very mild; dantah--completely controlling the mind and senses; satya-vak--always truthful; mantra-vit--knowing how to chant the Vedic hymns; sucih--always very neat and clean; guru--the spiritual master; agni--the fire-god; atithi--guests; vrddhanam--and of the old household members; susrusuh--very respectfully engaged in the service; anahankrtah--without pride or false prestige; sarva-bhuta-suhrt--friendly to all living entities; sadhuh--well behaved (no one could find any fault in his character); mita-vak--talking with great care not to speak nonsense; anasuyakah--not envious.
In the beginning this brahmana named Ajamila studied all the Vedic literatures. He was a reservoir of good character, good conduct and good qualities. Firmly established in executing all the Vedic injunctions, he was very mild and gentle, and he kept his mind and senses under control. Furthermore, he was always truthful, he knew how to chant the Vedic mantras, and he was also very pure. Ajamila was very respectful to his spiritual master, the fire-god, guests, and the elderly members of his household. Indeed, he was free from false prestige. He was upright, benevolent to all living entities, and well behaved. He would never speak nonsense or envy anyone.
The order carriers of Yamaraja, the Yamadutas, are explaining the factual position of piety and impiety and how a living entity is entangled in this material world. Describing the history of Ajamila's life, the Yamadutas relate that in the beginning he was a learned scholar of the Vedic literature. He was well behaved, neat and clean, and very kind to everyone. In fact, he had all good qualities. In other words, he was like a perfect brahmana. A brahmana is expected to be perfectly pious, to follow all the regulative principles and to have all good qualities. The symptoms of piety are explained in these verses. Srila Viraraghava Acarya comments that dhrta-vrata means dhrtam vratam stri-sanga-rahityatmaka-brahmacarya-rupam. In other words, Ajamila followed the rules and regulations of celibacy as a perfect brahmacari and was very softhearted, truthful, clean and pure. How he fell down in spite of all these qualities and thus came to be threatened with punishment by Yamaraja will be described in the following verses.
ekadasau vanam yatah
adaya tata avrttah
dadarsa kaminam kancic
chudram saha bhujisyaya
pitva ca madhu maireyam
ekada--once upon a time; asau--this Ajamila; vanam yatah--went to the forest; pitr--of his father; sandesa--the order; krt--carrying out; dvijah--the brahmana; adaya--collecting; tatah--from the forest; avrttah--returning; phala-puspa--fruits and flowers; samit-kusan--two kinds of grass, known as samit and kusa; dadarsa--saw; kaminam--very lusty; kancit--someone; sudram--a fourth-class man, a sudra; saha--along with; bhujisyaya--an ordinary maidservant or prostitute; pitva--after drinking; ca--also; madhu--nectar; maireyam--made of the soma flower; mada--by intoxication; aghurnita--moving; netraya--her eyes; mattaya--intoxicated; vislathat-nivya--whose dress was slackened; vyapetam--fallen from proper behavior; nirapatrapam--without fear of public opinion; kridantam--engaged in enjoyment; anugayantam--singing; hasantam--smiling; anaya--with her; antike--close by.
Once this brahmana Ajamila, following the order of his father, went to the forest to collect fruit, flowers and two kinds of grass, called samit and kusa. On the way home, he came upon a sudra, a very lusty, fourth-class man, who was shamelessly embracing and kissing a prostitute. The sudra was smiling, singing and enjoying as if this were proper behavior. Both the sudra and the prostitute were drunk. The prostitute's eyes were rolling in intoxication, and her dress had become loose. Such was the condition in which Ajamila saw them.
While traveling along the public way, Ajamila came upon a fourth-class man and a prostitute, who are vividly described here. Drunkenness was sometimes manifest even in bygone ages, although not very frequently. In this age of Kali, however, such sin is to be seen everywhere, for people all over the world have become shameless. Long ago, when he saw the scene of the drunken sudra and the prostitute, Ajamila, who was a perfect brahmacari, was affected. Nowadays such sin is visible in so many places, and we must consider the position of a brahmacari student who sees such behavior. For such a brahmacari to remain steady is very difficult unless he is extremely strong in following the regulative principles. Nevertheless, if one takes to Krsna consciousness very seriously, he can withstand the provocation created by sin. In our Krsna consciousness movement we prohibit illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling. In Kali-yuga, a drunk, half-naked woman embracing a drunk man is a very common sight, especially in the Western countries, and restraining oneself after seeing such things is very difficult. Nevertheless, if by the grace of Krsna one adheres to the regulative principles and chants the Hare Krsna mantra, Krsna will certainly protect him. Indeed, Krsna says that His devotee is never vanquished (kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati). Therefore all the disciples practicing Krsna consciousness should obediently follow the regulative principles and remain fixed in chanting the holy name of the Lord. Then there need be no fear. Otherwise one's position is very dangerous, especially in this Kali-yuga.
drstva tam kama-liptena
drstva--by seeing; tam--her (the prostitute); kama-liptena--decorated with turmeric to incite lusty desires; bahuna--with the arm; parirambhitam--embraced; jagama--went; hrt-saya--of lusty desires within the heart; vasam--under the control; sahasa--suddenly; eva--indeed; vimohitah--being illusioned.
The sudra, his arm decorated with turmeric powder, was embracing the prostitute. When Ajamila saw her, the dormant lusty desires in his heart awakened, and in illusion he fell under their control.
It is said that if one's body is smeared with turmeric, it attracts the lusty desires of the opposite sex. The word kama-liptena indicates that the sudra was decorated with turmeric smeared on his body.
yavat sattvam yatha-srutam
na sasaka samadhatum
stambhayan--trying to control; atmana--by the intelligence; atmanam--the mind; yavat sattvam--as far as possible for him; yatha-srutam--by remembering the instruction (of celibacy, brahmacarya, not even to see a woman); na--not; sasaka--was able; samadhatum--to restrain; manah--the mind; madana-vepitam--agitated by Cupid or lusty desire.
As far as possible he patiently tried to remember the instructions of the sastras not even to see a woman. With the help of this knowledge and his intellect, he tried to control his lusty desires, but because of the force of Cupid within his heart, he failed to control his mind.
Unless one is very strong in knowledge, patience and proper bodily, mental and intellectual behavior, controlling one's lusty desires is extremely difficult. Thus after seeing a man embracing a young woman and practically doing everything required for sex life, even a fully qualified brahmana, as described above, could not control his lusty desires and restrain himself from pursuing them. Because of the force of materialistic life, to maintain self-control is extremely difficult unless one is specifically under the protection of the Supreme Personality of Godhead through devotional service.
tam eva manasa dhyayan
sva-dharmad virarama ha
tat-nimitta--caused by the sight of her; smara-vyaja--taking advantage of his thinking of her always; graha-grastah--being caught by an eclipse; vicetanah--having completely forgotten his real position; tam--her; eva--certainly; manasa--by the mind; dhyayan--meditating upon; sva-dharmat--from the regulative principles executed by a brahmana; virarama ha--he completely ceased.
In the same way that the sun and moon are eclipsed by a low planet, the brahmana lost all his good sense. Taking advantage of this situation, he always thought of the prostitute, and within a short time he took her as a servant in his house and abandoned all the regulative principles of a brahmana.
By speaking this verse, Sukadeva Gosvami wants to impress upon the mind of the reader that Ajamila's exalted position as a brahmana was vanquished by his association with the prostitute, so much so that he forgot all his brahminical activities. Nevertheless, at the end of his life, by chanting the four syllables of the name Narayana, he was saved from the gravest danger of falling down. Svalpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat: even a little devotional service can save one from the greatest danger. Devotional service, which begins with chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is so powerful that even if one falls down from the exalted position of a brahmana through sexual indulgence, he can be saved from all calamities if he somehow or other chants the holy name of the Lord. This is the extraordinary power of the Lord's holy name. Therefore in Bhagavad-gita it is advised that one not forget the chanting of the holy name even for a moment (satatam kirtayanto mam yatantas ca drdha-vratah). There are so many dangers in this material world that one may fall down from an exalted position at any time. Yet if one keeps himself always pure and steady by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, he will be safe without a doubt.
tam eva tosayam asa
gramyair manoramaih kamaih
prasideta yatha tatha
tam--her (the prostitute); eva--indeed; tosayam asa--he tried to please; pitryena--he got from his father's hard labor; arthena--by the money; yavata--as long as possible; gramyaih--material; manah-ramaih--pleasing to her mind; kamaih--by presentations for sense enjoyment; prasideta--she would be satisfied; yatha--so that; tatha--in that way.
Thus Ajamila began spending whatever money he had inherited from his father to satisfy the prostitute with various material presentations so that she would remain pleased with him. He gave up all his brahminical activities to satisfy the prostitute.
There are many instances throughout the world in which even a purified person, being attracted by a prostitute, spends all the money he has inherited. Prostitute hunting is so abominable that the desire for sex with a prostitute can ruin one's character, destroy one's exalted position and plunder all one's money. Therefore illicit sex is strictly prohibited. One should be satisfied with his married wife, for even a slight deviation will create havoc. A Krsna conscious grhastha should always remember this. He should always be satisfied with one wife and be peaceful simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Otherwise at any moment he may fall down from his good position, as exemplified in the case of Ajamila.
vipram sva-bharyam apraudham
kule mahati lambhitam
vipram--the daughter of a brahmana; sva-bharyam--his wife; apraudham--not very old (youthful); kule--from a family; mahati--very respectable; lambhitam--married; visasarja--he gave up; acirat--very soon; papah--being sinful; svairinya--of the prostitute; apanga-viddha-dhih--his intelligence pierced by the lustful glance.
Because his intelligence was pierced by the lustful glance of the prostitute, the victimized brahmana Ajamila engaged in sinful acts in her association. He even gave up the company of his very beautiful young wife, who came from a very respectable brahmana family.
Customarily everyone is eligible to inherit his father's property, and Ajamila also inherited the money of his father. But what did he do with the money? Instead of engaging the money in the service of Krsna, he engaged it in the service of a prostitute. Therefore he was condemned and was punishable by Yamaraja. How did this happen? He was victimized by the dangerous lustful glance of a prostitute.
yatas tatas copaninye
nyayato 'nyayato dhanam
kutumbam manda-dhir ayam
yatah tatah--wherever possible, however possible; ca--and; upaninye--he got; nyayatah--properly; anyayatah--improperly; dhanam--money; babhara--he maintained; asyah--of her; kutum-binyah--possessing many sons and daughters; kutumbam--the family; manda-dhih--bereft of all intelligence; ayam--this person (Ajamila).
Although born of a brahmana family, this rascal, bereft of intelligence because of the prostitute's association, earned money somehow or other, regardless of whether properly or improperly, and used it to maintain the prostitute's sons and daughters.
yad asau sastram ullanghya
avartata ciram kalam
aghayur asucir malat
yat--because; asau--this brahmana; sastram ullanghya--transgressing the laws of sastra; svaira-cari--acting irresponsibly; ati-garhitah--very much condemned; avartata--passed; ciram kalam--a long time; agha-ayuh--whose life was full of sinful activities; asucih--unclean; malat--because of impurity.
This brahmana irresponsibly spent his long lifetime transgressing all the rules and regulations of the holy scripture, living extravagantly and eating food prepared by a prostitute. Therefore he is full of sins. He is unclean and is addicted to forbidden activities.
Food prepared by an unclean, sinful man or woman, especially a prostitute, is extremely infectious. Ajamila ate such food, and therefore he was subject to be punished by Yamaraja.
tata enam danda-paneh
yatra dandena suddhyati
tatah--therefore; enam--him; danda-paneh--of Yamaraja, who is authorized to punish; sakasam--in the presence; krta-kilbisam--who has regularly committed all sinful activities; nesyamah--we shall take; akrta-nirvesam--who has not undergone atonement; yatra--where; dandena--by punishment; suddhyati--he will be purified.
This man Ajamila did not undergo atonement. Therefore because of his sinful life, we must take him into the presence of Yamaraja for punishment. There, according to the extent of his sinful acts, he will be punished and thus purified.
The Visnudutas had forbidden the Yamadutas to take Ajamila to Yamaraja, and therefore the Yamadutas explained that taking such a man to Yamaraja was appropriate. Since Ajamila had not undergone atonement for his sinful acts, he was to be taken to Yamaraja to be purified. When a man commits murder he becomes sinful, and therefore he also must be killed; otherwise after death he must suffer many sinful reactions. Similarly, punishment by Yamaraja is a process of purification for the most abominable sinful persons. Therefore the Yamadutas requested the Visnudutas not to obstruct their taking Ajamila to Yamaraja.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Sixth Canto, First Chapter, of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled "The History of the Life of Ajamila."