Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.1.9 , Nellore , 1976-01-07
jānann apy ātmano 'hitaṁ
karoti bhūyo vivaśaḥ
prāyaścittam atho katham
"Mahārāja Parīkṣit 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 the people in general, and because he hears from the scriptures and learned scholars that one is thrown into hellish condition 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?"
kvacic carati tat punaḥ
prāyaścittam atho 'pārthaṁ
Mahārāja Parīkṣit said = "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 bathing of an elephant, for an elephant cleanses itself by taking a full bath but then thrown dust over its head and body as soon as it returns to the land."
[devotees translates throughout]
In every religious system there is a process of atonement. In Christian religion there is a process of atonement called confession. The Parīkṣit Mahārāja is practical politician. He said that... He had also experience that a criminal is punished and again he commits the criminal act. Nowadays we practically see also that government has enacted so many laws against criminality, but criminality is going on without any stoppage. We have got practical experience, as we have explained last night, that in the airport the security checking is going on for everyone, which means that after so much education, every one of us, we are dishonest. This answer is there in the śāstra = yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ This means that if one is turned to be a pure devotee, then all the good qualities automatically become manifest in him. Harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇā manorathenāsato dhāvato bahiḥ [SB 5.18.12]. Whereas a nondevotee, he has no good qualification because he is acting on the mental platform, as such he will be always attracted by material things.
In this connection I shall recite one historical incident from the Purāṇas. There was a hunter in Prayāg. Prayāg you know, in Allahabad. So he was hunting in the forest indiscriminately. So Nārada Muni was passing through the jungle, and he was very compassionate to see the animals being half dead and half killed by the hunter. Nārada Muni, being Vaiṣṇava, he was very kind to all living entities, so he went to the hunter, whose name was Mṛgāri. So the Mṛgāri thought that "This saintly person is coming to me for some deerskin," so he said, "Sir, don't disturb in my business. If you want deerskin I shall give you. Please get out of my activities for the present." Nārada Muni said that "I have not come here to ask for deerskin, but I simply ask you that if you want to kill the animals, you kill them total. Why you are killing half?" The hunter said, "What is the difference between killing whole and killing half?"
Actually he had no idea about pāpa and puṇya. Actually, those who are animal-hunter, they cannot understand what is spiritual life, what is God, what is sinful life, what is pious life. There is a verse in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam quoted by Mahārāja Parīkṣit,
ka uttamaśloka guṇānuvādāt
virajyeta vinā paśughnāt
Unless one is animal-hunter, he cannot be away from chanting this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. So Nārada Muni said that "If you kill the animal totally, it is less sinful than you kill them half." Nārada Muni said, "No, if you kill the animal half, it is more sinful than you kill them whole." The hunter said that "From my childhood I have been taught like this by my father. I do not know which is sinful, which is pious." Nārada Muni, as Vaiṣṇava, advised him that "You stop this hunting business and I will give you your livelihood." So hunter, having seen a Vaiṣṇava, was little convinced about spiritual life. Then he said that "Sir, if you give me my livelihood, then I can give up my this business." Then Nārada Muni suggested that "You and your wife may come with me. I shall arrange for your livelihood. You give up this business."
So they followed the instruction of Nārada Muni, the spiritual master, and they came with Nārada Muni and sat down in a place on the bank of the Ganges at Prayāg. Nārada Muni gave them one tulasī plant, and they sat down near the tulasī plant, and he advised that "Go on chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra." In the meantime, in the village it was advertised that "The hunter has become a Vaiṣṇava. Let us go and see him." So people who were coming to visit, they were bringing... It is the custom still now, India, that when you go to see some Deity or a Vaiṣṇava, sādhu, you bring some..., one [indistinct] rice or āttā; you give them as contribution. So he thought that Nārada Muni was sending the āttā, rice, dāl, and everything. So he became confident that he would not die because he is chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. In this way he gradually became a perfect Vaiṣṇava because he was chanting under the instruction of the spiritual master and committing no sinful activities. So we, being in the disciplic succession of Nārada Muni, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, we are advising the same principle, that "Don't commit sinful activities, and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra."
So one day Nārada Muni asked his friend, Parvata Muni, "I have got a disciple. Let us go and see him." [to translator:] Parvata Muni, his friend. Yes. So when Nārada Muni and Parvata Muni was coming to the same hunter who had become now a Vaiṣṇava, so he was going to receive his spiritual master by going forward. So while he was going forward towards his spiritual master to receive him, on the way he was jumping in so many places. So Parvata Muni asked him that "Why you are jumping on your way while coming to us?" The hunter, the Vaiṣṇava, he replied, "Sir, there were so many ants on the ground. Therefore I was trying to avoid trampling them." So Parvata Muni was surprised, that "This man was hunting and killing animal half. Now, because he has become a Vaiṣṇava, he is not prepared to kill even an ant."
So this is the practical instance, that if one becomes devotee of the Lord, all the good qualities manifest in his body. Therefore Śukadeva Gosvāmī replied to Parīkṣit Mahārāja that "You are saying right, that simply by atonement, simply by punishment, one cannot become honest." Practically speaking, if you simply enact laws to make people honest, it is impossible to do that. So Śukadeva Gosvāmī said,
na hy ātyantika iṣyate
The Śukadeva Gosvāmī said, "O son of Vedavyāsa..." The Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the son of Vedavyāsa... Śukadeva Gosvāmī is the son of Vyāsadeva. He answered, "My dear king, since acts meant to neutralize impious action are also fruitive, they will not relieve one from the tendency to act fruitatively. Persons who subject themselves to the rules and regulation 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 desire. Thus, even though one may superficially seem pious, he will undoubtedly be prone to act impiously. Therefore real atonement is enlightenment in perfect knowledge, Vedānta, by which one understands the Supreme Absolute Truth." In this verse there is one particular word, vimarśanam. The meaning of this vimarśanam: "full knowledge of Vedānta."
Then Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued to speak = "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. If one follows the regulative principles of knowledge, he gradually progresses toward liberation from material contamination." Therefore in the Vedānta-sūtra it is said that athāto brahma jijñāsā: "Now this life, human form of life, is simply meant for inquiring about Brahman." At the present moment, especially in this Kali-yuga, nobody is interested in brahma-jijñāsā. Therefore he prescribes from scripture,
śamena ca damena ca
yamena niyamena vā
One should make his life successful by tapasya, austerity, penance. So brahmācārya is one of the item. Tapasya means beginning with brahmācārya, celibacy. Here we have given the meaning of tapasya: "by austerity or voluntary rejection of material enjoyment." Tapasā bramacaryeṇa. So tapasya. I do not like something to do because it is pleasing to me, but for the sake of my advancement of spiritual life I must have it. This is called tapasya. We prescribe four kinds of regulative principle = no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication. In the Western countries these four things are very ordinary means of life. In the Western countries practically cent percent population, they are addicted to these sinful activities. So in our Society, anyone who joins, he has to accept these four principles of regulative life.
So brahmācārya, celibacy, sex, prohibition of sex life, especially illicit sex life... Unless one is married, no sex life is allowed. That is called brahmācārya. Tapasya begins with brahmācārya, life of celibacy, or accepting one wife only. That's all. Then śamena. Śamena, controlling the senses, controlling the mind. Śamena damena ca, these two things required. We should not become the servant of the mind; we should become master of the mind. And tyāgena. Tyāgena. Therefore in the śāstra the process of charity is recommended. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also recommended that yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-kriya na tyājyaṁ kāryam eva tat. Because I have renounced this world, it does not mean I shall give up the process of performing yajña, dāna and tapasya. It is further stressed, yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-kriya pāvanāni manīṣiṇāḥ. Even if you think that you are very advanced, still, you should not give up these three processes, means performing yajña, giving in charity and performing tapasya. "One must then control the mind and senses, give charity, be truthful, clean and nonviolent, follow the regulative principle and regularly chant the holy name of the Lord. Thus a sober and faithful person who knows the religious principle is temporarily purified of all sins performed with his body, words and mind." In the Bhagavad-gītā it is also recommended,
yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā
In this way, if we practice yoga, bhakti-yoga, then gradually we are elevated to the perfectional stage.
Now, one may say that "If I give up all these thing which is habituated to me, there will be some painful condition." So therefore Bhagavad-gītā has recommended to tolerate. Mātrā sparśās tu kaunteya. We have to tolerate. This is called tapasya. Even though it is painful for me---it is not at all painful, but those who are trying to practice, in the beginning it may be painful---so Bhagavān, Kṛṣṇa, is advising that even it is painful, you must do it and tolerate it. So mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkha-dāḥ [Bg. 2.14]. The example is given just like we suffer sometimes in scorching heat and very pinching or chilly cold. But we tolerate and do our business. Sometimes to cure our disease, say, for example, fever, we have to swallow very bitter quinine pills. But Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, considering the people in general of this age, Kali-yuga, He knew that people will not be able to even tolerate such little pain for advancing in spiritual life. So Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore recommended that,
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
[Cc. Ādi 17.21]
It is very difficult in this age to follow the principles of brahmācārya, as it is recommended, tapasā brahmacaryeṇa śamena damena vā [SB 6.1.13]. [to translator:] Yes, go on. Therefore Nārada Muni also... Śukadeva Gosvāmī also advising that "If one is unable to follow the regulative principles, then," he says,
aghaṁ dhunvanti kārtsnyena
nīhāram iva bhāskaraḥ
The translation is, "Only a rare person who has adopted complete unalloyed devotional service to Kṛṣṇa can uproot the weeds of sinful action with no possibility that they will revive." Kevalayā bhaktyā. "Simply... He can do this simply by discharging devotional service, just as the sun can immediately dissipate fog by its rays." So by other processes temporarily it can be ceased, but actually from the root of the cause it is not possible to get it out.
In the previous verse Śukadeva Gosvāmī gave the example that "The dried leaves of creepers beneath a bamboo tree may be completely burned to ashes by a fire, although the creepers may sprout again because the root is still within the ground." You have seen practically. On the field the grass is dried up, and sometimes fire is set and it becomes all burned into ashes. But as soon as there is rainy season, again they sprout and become green. The idea is that you may perform the religious, ritualistic ceremonies, but if your heart is not cleansed, simply by performing these ritualistic ceremonies you'll not be purified. So we have got two desires = pious desire or impious desires. So either you become desirous of doing pious thing or you desirous of doing impious things, the sufferings of this material world will continue.
It is said in the Bhagavad-gītā,
madhye tiṣṭhanti rājasāḥ
adho gacchanti tāmasāḥ
So by pious activities you can be elevated to the higher planetary system in the heavenly planet, but that does not mean completion of your suffering of the material world. Kṛṣṇa has said, therefore, ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino 'rjuna [Bg. 8.16]. Even you are promoted to the Brahmaloka, where the standard of living, duration of life, is very, very big, still, you cannot avoid there these material pains and pleasure, because after finishing your resultant action of pious activities you'll come..., you'll have to come back again in this lower planetary system. Kṣīṇe puṇye puṇar martya-lokaṁ viśanti [Bg. 9.21]. After the resultant action of pious activity is finished, you are again dragged within this lower planetary system. Therefore, unless you take to the devotional path, bhakti, because Kṛṣṇa says, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ [Bg. 18.55], if you want to understand God, Kṛṣṇa, then you have to take the only path, bhaktyā, bhakti, or devotional service.
So we shall discuss further tomorrow about this bhakti-yoga, and today let us end here. Thank you very much. [end]