Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 6: “Prescribed Duties for Mankind”
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Chapter One

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.



sri-pariksid uvaca

nivrtti-margah kathita

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
atmavit-sammatah pumsam
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 [Bg. 4.9]). 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
samprapte pratisancare
parasyante krtatmanah
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.”



pravrtti-laksanas caiva

traigunya-visayo mune

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 [Bg. 15.6]). 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.



adharma-laksana nana

narakas canuvarnitah

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.



adhuneha maha-bhaga

yathaiva narakan narah

nanogra-yatanan neyat

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.



sri-suka uvaca

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
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate

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

manye kunjara-saucavat


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.



sri-badarayanir uvaca

karmana karma-nirharo

na hy atyantika isyate


prayascittam vimarsanam


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
prapadyante naradhamah
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

(Bhag. 10.2.32)

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.


TEXTS 13–14

tapasa brahmacaryena

samena ca damena ca

tyagena satya-saucabhyam

yamena niyamena va

deha-vag-buddhijam dhira

dharmajnah sraddhayanvitah

ksipanty agham mahad api

venu-gulmam ivanalah


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:

yukta-cestasya karmasu
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
agamapayino ’nityas
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.

Next verse (SB6.1.15)