Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.1.39–40 , Surat , 1970-12-21

Prabhupāda: Begin. Begin from there. Where is Bhagyobhai?

[pause] Hare Kṛṣṇa. [break]

Viṣṇudūta, representative of Lord Viṣṇu, challenged the Yamadūta that "If you are representative of Yamarāja, who is supposed to be one of the authorities of religion, then you must explain what is religion, dharma, and what is nonreligion, or adharma, because, according to this principle, one is punished or rewarded. If you become religious, then you are rewarded, and if you are irreligious, then you are punished."

That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā also:

ūrdhvaṁ gacchanti sattva-sthā
madhye tiṣṭhanti rājasāḥ
adho gacchanti tāmasāḥ

How a man is going to heaven or hell, one can understand from the direction of the scriptures, just like you can understand how a man is going to be punished or rewarded within this material world. If you see somebody is working very hard, doing nicely, you can conjecture that "This man will be happy." Say, for example, if a boy is studying very nicely, you can conjecture that "This boy will rise very highly in his future life."

And similarly, if a boy is whiling away his time by playing, you can understand, "This boy is being spoiled." Similarly, by the direction of the scripture, you can understand what is the destination of a certain person. Therefore they say śāstra-cakṣuṣaḥ. Whether I am progressing or regressing, that will be understood through the eyes of śāstra, not in ordinary eyes.

So he says, kathaṁ svid dhriyate daṇḍaḥ kiṁ vāsya sthānam īpsitam [SB 6.1.39]: "According to punishment and reward, a man, a living entity..." Living entity means this daṇḍaḥ, this punishment and reward is meant for the human being, not the animals. Animals are not supposed to be under the stringent laws of material nature.

Just like in ordinary way, all the state laws are applicable to the human being, not to the animals. Because if an animal goes to the wrong path or if an animal takes away something from your possession, he is not punished, neither anybody goes to complain in the police court.

Similarly, human being... That is also civilized human being, advanced, civilized. That is stated here that daṇḍyāḥ kiṁ kāriṇaḥ sarve āho svit katicin nṛṇām. Human being... That is also very few human being, because those who are supposed to be advanced, the Āryans... The Āryans are called the advanced human being. The civilization means Āryan civilization. So katicin nṛṇām.

This very word is used here. Not all human beings. Those who are..., they are also punished. But a civilized human being is very much responsible life. The chance is given to get out of this cycle of birth and death. Therefore, for civilized human being, these Vedas, these scriptures, are made for them, not for the rascals and fools, those who are in the lower stage of life; only for the civilized.

So the yamadūta ūcuḥ. Then the reply is given by the Yamadūtas, the representatives, the constables of Yamarāja. They are working under Yamarāja, who is an authority. They must know. They must know what is right and wrong. So how nicely they are replying. So the first challenge was given: "What is dharma? What is religion? What is piety?"

So they are replying, veda-praṇihito dharmaḥ: "Dharma means the injunctions given in the Vedas. That is dharma." Just like if you ask, "What is law?" then the immediate answer is, "Law means the injunction of the state." You cannot make it law. The state, the government, whatever the government orders, that is law. The word of the government is law.

Similarly, dharma means the injunctions given in the Vedas. It is clearly said, veda-praṇihito dharma hy adharmas tad viparyayaḥ [SB 6.1.40]: "And nonreligions, or irreligious, irreligion, or nonreligion, is just the opposite." For example, if you abide by the laws of the Vedas, then you should know that you are following the path of dharma, or religion. But if you do not abide by the laws of Vedas, then you are irreligious. This is the sum and substance.

Now, why Vedas should be accepted so seriously? At least we, who are supposed to be followers of the Vedic laws, we take it so seriously. For example, how we accept the injunctions of Vedas seriously? There is example: a stool, animal stool, or any, human being stool—stool is stool—that stool is supposed to be impious, impure. If you touch stool, then you have to take your bath. You become impure. You have to take your bath, as you do generally. After passing stool we take bath. That is a Hindu injunction. And even a man goes twice for passing stool, he must take twice bath. That is real Hindu religious life.

Now, stool, in one place it is said that "It is impure. If you touch, then you have to take your bath." In another place it is said, "This stool, particular, the cow dung, is pure. Cow dung is pure. If there is any impure place, if you smear over it cow dung, then it is pure." That is also injunction of the Vedas. Now, you cannot argue that "One place you say that this stool is impure, and another place you say this is pure. This is contradiction." Sometimes people find this contradiction. But you have to accept, because it is injunction of the Vedas. That you are doing practically, every day.

Similarly, this bone, any bone, animal bone, if you touch, you have to take bath. You become impure. But this conchshell which you are sounding, vibrating in the Deity room, that is also bone. But you cannot argue that "You say bone is impure. Why you are taking one bone in the Deity room?" That you cannot say. This is acceptance of Vedas, without any argument. And if you want to know why one is accepted pure and one is accepted impure, if you make, I mean to say, research, you will find that the Vedic injunction is right.

Take for..., this cow dung. Perhaps, you doctor, know that one Dr. Lalman Ghosh in Calcutta, he analyzed this cow dung, and—he was a professor in the medical college—he has declared that cow dung is full of antiseptic properties. So Vedic injunction is..., that is right. But sometimes it appears to be contradictory. But we cannot judge how it is so contradictory. We have to accept like that. That is the following of Vedic rules.

Similarly, in the Bhagavad-gītā you will find Kṛṣṇa has explained so many ways, karma-yoga, jñāna-yoga, dhyāna-yoga, haṭha-yoga, so many other things, but ultimately He says bhakti-yoga is the supreme. Sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]. Mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja means this is bhakti-yoga. One has to simply obey or surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, giving up all other types of religious principles.

So one can say that Lord Kṛṣṇa said in some places of the Bhagavad-gītā that this yoga, karma-yoga, is nice, jñāna-yoga is nice. No. The last word what He says, that is to be accepted. You cannot argue that Kṛṣṇa said, "Karma-yoga is also good." You cannot argue that "I shall take to karma-yoga." That is..., karma-yoga, different stages of evolution. One who is fit for simply karma-yoga, that process is recommended for him. But if one ultimately wants the supreme benefit, then this is the injunction of Bhagavad-gītā, that sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66].

So we have to follow the Vedic principles. That is dharma. And why Vedic principles are to be accepted as supreme? That is also explained here: veda-praṇihito dharmo hy adharmas tad viparyayaḥ vedo nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt [SB 6.1.40]. Veda means Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, directly. Just like law book is directly government, similarly, veda nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt svayambhūr iti śuśruma. Again he says susruma, "I have heard it. I have heard it."

When I say, "I have heard it," that means I have heard it from a superior authority. Śuśruma. No followers of Vedic principle will say, "It is my opinion." Your opinion is nonsense. What you are? This is the way of understanding Vedas. Śuśruma. Therefore Veda is known as śruti—śruti and smṛti. There is no such thing that "In my opinion," "I comment like this," "I take the meaning like this." No. You have to understand it by the śuśruma process, or śrota-panthā, by hearing from the authorities.

Just like in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam [Bg. 4.1], that "First of all I said this principle of bhagavad-bhakti-yoga, or Bhagavad-gītā yoga, to the sun-god." Imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham: "I spoke." Proktavān. Vivasvān manave prahuḥ: "And the sun-god said to his son, Manu." Manur ikṣvākave bravīt. Just see. That means the principles of Bhagavad-gītā is being accepted by the process of hearing from authority. That is the process. You cannot comment in your own way. That is not authorized. You have to hear from the authority.

Therefore Kathopanisad says, tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet [MU 1.2.12]: "If anyone wants to learn the transcendental science, he has to, he has to accept." Gacchet. This is vidhiliṅ, "must." There is no exception. You cannot say that "Without going to a spiritual master, I shall learn the transcendental science." No, that is not possible. Therefore, in our Vaiṣṇava principles it is said, ādau gurv-āśrayam. In the very beginning of understanding spiritual knowledge, one has to take shelter of a guru. Ādau gurv-āśrayam. Sad-dharma-pṛcchati: the next stage is inquiring from the spiritual master about real spiritual life. These are the processes.

In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also it is said that tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21]: "One who has actually [become] serious inquiring about supreme subject, uttamam..." Udgata tamaṁ yasmāt. In the material world, all knowledge is covered with illusion, and material world is known as tama. Tamasi mā jyotir gamaḥ [Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.3.28]. This is darkness. So real knowledge means which has surpassed this province of darkness, uttamam. Jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam: "Anyone who has become very much inquisitive to learn about the transcendental subject matter, he has to accept a guru." Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta [SB 11.3.21].

Guru means you have to find out some personality who is well-versed in the Vedic knowledge. Śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam. These are the symptoms of guru: that he is well versed, well cognizant in the conclusion of the Vedas. Not only that he is well versed, but he has actually in his life taken to that path, upaśamāśrayam, without being deviated by any other ways. Upaśama, upaśama. He has finished all material hankerings. He has taken simply to the spiritual life and simply surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And at the same time, he knows all the Vedic conclusions. This is the description of a guru.

Similarly, Kathopaniṣad also it is said, tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta... [SB 11.3.21]—this is Bhāgavata—tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet samit-pāniḥ śrotriyam [MU 1.2.12]. Śrotriyam. One who has very nicely heard, one who has acquired Vedic knowledge by the hearing process, śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham, and the result is that he is fully, firmly fixed up in Brahman.

Bhagavad-gītā also says that tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā [Bg. 4.34]. Tat. If you want to understand the spiritual knowledge, then you have to learn it by surrender, praṇipāta. Praṇipātena, paripraśnena and sevayā—these three things. You have to surrender; you have to inquire or make questions with service, not by challenging way. Upadekṣyanti tad-jñānaṁ jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ. Then you will be able to understand real spiritual knowledge.

So veda-praṇihitaḥ, this very word, is implicated with so many ideas of Vedic knowledge, but they have summarized that "Dharma means the injunctions of the Vedas." Dharmo... Veda-praṇihito dharmo hy adharmas tad viparyayaḥ, vedo nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt [SB 6.1.40]. Why Vedas should be taken so seriously? People question that "Vedas are written by some man." That's wrong. Vedas are not written by any man. Otherwise, why Vedas should be taken so seriously? Not... Not at present moment. It is coming. All the ācāryas. All the ācāryas.

So far we are concerned, we Indians, Hindus, we are being controlled by the ācāryas, recent ācāryas—Śaṅkarācārya, Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī. They have accepted Vedas as supreme. Lord Caitanya accepted Vedas as the supreme. And Lord Buddha, although he is accepted incarnation of God, still, because he did not accept Vedas, his philosophy was not accepted in India. Veda nā māniyā bauddha haila nāstika. Our principle, the Vedic principle, is that anyone who does not obey the injunctions of the Vedas, he is called nāstika, atheist. He does not believe.

Veda nā māniyā bauddha haila nāstika. Caitanya Mahāprabhu's saying that "We consider the Buddhists as atheists, because they do not accept the Vedic principles." But Caitanya Mahāprabhu says, vedāśraya-nāstikya-vada bauddhake adhika [Cc. Madhya 6.168]: "But persons who superficially says that 'We are being controlled by the Vedas,' but actually they are atheists—they do not believe in God—they are more dangerous than these Buddhists." That is the version of Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

So dharma-praṇihitaḥ. Veda-praṇihito dharmo hy adharmas tad viparyayaḥ, vedo nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt. Vedo nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt. This is the injunction. You have to accept the Vedic words as the words of Nārāyaṇa. Now, if you accept Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then whatever He has said in the Bhagavad-gītā, that is Veda. Is it not? If vedo nārāyaṇaḥ sākṣāt, if Vedas are to be considered as Nārāyaṇa directly, then Kṛṣṇa... He is accepted by the ācāryas as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is a conclusion of the Vedas also. Nārāyaṇa is expansion of Kṛṣṇa. If you read Caitanya-caritāmṛta—and there are many other saṁhitās—Kṛṣṇa is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ

[Bs. 5.1]

Even He is the cause of Nārāyaṇa, Kṛṣṇa expansion. Kṛṣṇa expands, advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpam [Bs. 5.33]. He is advaita, absolute, but He expands Himself in multiforms. He expands Himself as Baladeva, and from Baladeva, there is Saṅkarṣaṇa; from Saṅkarṣaṇa, there is Aniruddha, Pradyumna. In this way, expansion goes. These are Vedic versions.

So Nārāyaṇa is also Kṛṣṇa's expansion, although these expansions are not different from one another. That is also... The example is given, just like one candle, then you light up another candle, another candle. Each one of these candles are equally powerful, but the original candle is called the first candle. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead. From Him, all other expansions, they are called viṣṇu-tattva. And Kṛṣṇa also says in the Bhagavad-gītā, ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavaḥ [Bg. 10.8], aham ādir devānām. These things are there.

So in this way we have to accept dharma. As it is said in the recent, say, within five years..., five thousand years, the Kṛṣṇa consciousness is... Actually we are spreading. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness means what Kṛṣṇa has said. That we have taken. That is Vedas. Sometimes people argue that Bhagavad-gītā is smṛti. Professor..., Dr. Stahl, he argued with me that Bhagavad-gītā is smṛti. Smṛti means the Vedic conclusion written by somebody else. That is called smṛti. He is also authorized.

So Bhagavad-gītā is also accepted as smṛti, but smṛti is not different from śruti. Rūpa Gosvāmī says,

aikāntikī harer bhaktir
utpātāyaiva kalpate

[Brs. 1.2.101]

So smṛti is not without Veda. Or Purāṇa... Sometimes people do not accept the Purāṇas as Vedic. No. Here it is said by Rūpa Gosvāmī, śruti-smṛti-purāṇādi. They are all Vedas. Purāṇa means supplementary. Just like the Vedic knowledge is described in the Mahābhārata. It is in the form of history. But actually the Vedic knowledge is there.

That is also stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, strī-śūdra-dvija-bandhūnāṁ trayī na śruti-gocaraḥ [SB 1.4.25]. Strī, woman; śūdra; and dvija-bandhu... Dvija-bandhu means a person who is born in brāhmaṇa family but he is not advanced in spiritual knowledge. He is called dvija-bandhu. He is not called a brāhmaṇa. Strī, śūdra. And they are classified along with strī and śūdra. Strī-śūdra-dvija-bandhūnāṁ trayī na śruti-gocaraḥ. For these persons it is very difficult to understand the Vedic injunctions.

Therefore the Vedic injunctions are sometimes made into historical stories. The stories, they are not fiction; they are fact. But some of the... Just like the Battle of Kurukṣetra between the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas, this is a fact. But the incidences are so nice that you can derive Vedic knowledge from them. And Bhagavad-gītā is within Mahābhārata.

So this is a fact, that veda-praṇihito dharmaḥ. Dharma... It is to be settled up that dharma means the injunction of the Supreme Nārāyaṇa. And adharma means that you manufacture something out of your own fertile brain. That is adharma. And dharma means the injunction. Dharmāṁ [tu] sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam [SB 6.3.19]: "Dharma means what is spoke by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that is dharma." Therefore we take it for acceptance that Kṛṣṇa says... That is actually the fact. Mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. To surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, that is dharma. Sarva-dharmān parityajya [Bg. 18.66].

And in another place of the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate [Bg. 7.19]. Those who are thinking themselves as advanced in knowledge, such persons, after many, many births take to the surrendering process to Kṛṣṇa. So the version of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and version of the Vedas and version of Bhagavad-gītā, there is no difference. It has to be studied a little carefully.

I think we should finish here. Any question?

Now we have come to the conclusion: dharma means the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is sum and substance, what we mean by dharma. That means dharma cannot be manufactured by any conditioned soul. Conditioned souls, they are subjected to so many deficiencies; therefore they cannot create any dharma. That will not be accepted as dharma. Here, as the assistants of Yamarāja says, that veda-praṇihito dharmo... Dharma means what is stated in the Vedas. And Vedas means the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sākṣād, directly.

Just like when you speak, when you speak or hear Bhagavad-gītā, immediately we should know—at least this vision we take—that Kṛṣṇa is directly speaking. And if we interpret, then the whole thing is lost. That is not Bhagavad-gītā, and that is going on, malinterpretation of Bhagavad-gītā. Everyone is taking Bhagavad-gītā, and he is interpreting in his own way. So that is not Bhagavad-gītā. Bhagavad-gītā means as Kṛṣṇa says. Kṛṣṇa says, man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru [Bg. 18.65]. But a commentator, big commentator, says, "Oh, it is not to Kṛṣṇa, to the person." Just see. This kind of commentary is going on.

Mālatī: Śrīla Prabhupāda, you said that the animals are not subject to the laws of the state, that if they steal something, they are not punished. But in our country, even if a person has a mouse in his house, a little mouse, he sets some trap and he kills him for stealing some food. So what is...

Prabhupāda: That is not punishment. That is to stop the disturbance. By law... There is no such law that "When there is a rat in your house, you should catch it and kill it." Law does not say. Is there any law like that?

Mālatī: No.

Prabhupāda: Then that is another thing.

Mālatī: But this country [indistinct] into their own [indistinct].

Prabhupāda: Yes, but sometimes... That depends on the person. Sometimes... Those who are pious persons, they know that "These rats, they are also hungry, and they should be given some food." That is the vision of the pious person. And that is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, that in your house you should see not only to the welfare of your children; even there is a lizard, there is a rat, even there is a snake, you should see how he is also comfortably situated. That is spiritual communism.

In Vṛndāvana still, a snake found in the house is never killed. Snake. Still a rat is never killed. If you kill a rat in Vṛndāvana, then so many people will come: "Oh, you are committing such sinful acts. You are killing a rat." So that depends on the mentality of the person. You can take care of this animal... You can take care of this animal, I mean to say, against the disturbance created by this animal, but you cannot kill them. That is not. But when it is unavoidable, we have to do like that. But as far as possible we should avoid.

We have heard from our father that his elder brother in the village had a cloth shop, and there were rats. So at night he would keep a big bowl of rice in the middle of the shop, and the rats will eat whole night. They would not commit any harm to the cloth. They respect it. They are also hungry; they are also living entities. They have also right to live, to eat. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam [Īśo mantra 1]. Everything. They are God's creatures. The food is not only meant for you, that you shall simply eat rice and not allow to the rats and cats. No. That is not Vedic injunction. You will find in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. You can take precaution against. After all, they are animals. But you cannot kill.

Himāvatī: But then if you think further, then that is that if you are going to make a program to feed the animals in your house, then won't more and more animals come into your residence? [indistinct] room for you. Suppose I feed these rats and I go on feeding them. Won't more and more rats come?

Prabhupāda: Well, the rats will be fed. Either you give or not, it will steal. So that is not the problem. But if you give them food, they will... Of course, that is Western philosophy, that because the animals are increasing, they should be killed. We Indians also, we have taken that view—because we cannot give protection to the cows, they must be sent to the slaughterhouse. That is the modern views. But that is not injunction of the Vedas. The Vedas says that everyone has right to live, every living entity.

That is going on not only in consideration of the animals—even in human beings. Just like the Americans, they were all Europeans, and they entered this American land, killed so many Red Indians. So these kind of things are going on, but that does not mean that is the law. You killed so many Red Indians for your benefit, but you have to suffer for that.

So that... This is going on in the human society, but that does not mean it is dharma. No. Dharma means you have to abide by the regulation given by the Vedas. You have to adjust things. Sometimes in Africa the man-eaters, they kill their grandfather, make a feast. The Russians also, they maintain such theory, that old men, they should be neglected. I have heard. I do not know. They become burden. But that is not Vedic injunction.

Himāvatī: But isn't that natural, just like no one wants to keep an old bull in the barn?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. These things are man-manufactured. Dharmāṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam [SB 6.3.19]. Therefore we have to accept the words of Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is dharma.

Yamunā: Bhaktivinoda in one of his prayers prays that he may be born "as a worm in the home of Thy devotee, rather than be born a brāhmaṇa averse to Thee."

Prabhupāda: Yes? [pause] So in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam every line is so interesting. Therefore vidyā bhāgavatāvadhiḥ: knowledge means up to the knowledge of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. But generally people do not discuss Bhāgavatam in this way. They go immediately to the Tenth Canto and rāsa-līlā. You see? That is the subject matter of [chuckles] Bhāgavatam. And Bhagavat-saptāha means that Kṛṣṇa is kissing the gopīs, that's all. And there are so many nice instructions—that is nothing. They have neglected, because they do not like to hear such instructions. Kṛṣṇa's dealings with the gopīs, that is very much liked.

But Bhāgavata, in order to understand Kṛṣṇa, nine cantos have been written. And Kṛṣṇa's activities have been inserted in the Tenth Canto, after understanding Kṛṣṇa. Vetti māṁ tattvataḥ. And it is said in the Bhagavad-gītā, manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye yatatām api siddhānām [Bg. 7.3]. So first of all one has to become liberated person by understanding Kṛṣṇa; then he can understand what is Kṛṣṇa's pastimes with the gopīs. It is for the liberated person. It is not a thing to be explained in the marketplace.

Haṁsadūta: [addendum to recording] The preceding lecture was recorded on the morning of the 21st December, 1970, in Surat, Gujarat. [end]

tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet
samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham

"To understand these things properly, one must humbly approach, with firewood in hand, a spiritual master who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth."

[Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12]

tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet
samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham

"To understand these things properly, one must humbly approach, with firewood in hand, a spiritual master who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth."

[Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12]

pañcarātra-vidhiṁ vinā
aikāntikī harer bhaktir
utpātāyaiva kalpate

"Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upaniṣads, Purāṇas and Nārada-pañcarātra is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society." Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.101