|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Chaitanya Shikshamrita > Chapter-II|
The first section explained about bhakti, which is the abhidheya or the only means to attain prema. It was also shown that karma and jnana are not direct means, though they have a role to play. Karma and jnana may be designated as secondary means, whereas hearing and chanting are primary means. Though secondary, they may be called the means for those jivas deeply bound by maya.1
Jnana and karma are secondary means and bhakti is the principal means. Jnana and karma help in the process of bhakti, and bhakti produces prema. The relationship will be discussed later. In as much as karma and jnana can make the body, mind and environment favorable for bhakti, they can be accepted as means; otherwise they are condemned in the scriptures as materialistic endeavors. After describing the secondary rules, the conclusion will be presented.
The secondary rules are of three types: rules regarding self; rules regarding society; rules regarding afterlife. Rules regarding the self are of two types: those for body and those for mind. Those rules to keep a man's body properly nourished so that he can remain healthy are the bodily rules.2 Such things as regulated drinking, eating, sleeping, exercise, and for sickness, prescriptions for cure, are bodily rules. If a person does not follow these rules he cannot pass through life smoothly. If a person does not follow the mental rules, his power of realization, concentration, imagination, contemplation and judgment will be weak and will not properly function. There will be no advancement in arts and sciences, and moreover one will not be able to take the mind from material thoughts and direct it to thoughts of God. As a result, the mind will be dominated by sinful thoughts and atheistic attitude; finally man will become no better than beast. Therefore these bodily and mental rules are very necessary for success in human life.
Men live together in society. There are certain social rules prescribed for elevation of the populace and avoidance of criminal mentality. An example of a rule for social stability is the prescription of marriage. Without rules for marriage society could not progress to the present state.3 Men used to wander around like animals. In the beginning there were no rules for marriage, but as this created great social problems, marriage customs were introduced. Giving up his freedom, a man takes a woman with consent from others and the witness of God, and lays the foundation for family life. The parents are obligated to protect and teach the children, and provide a means from them to make a living.
For the benefit of family life, such concepts as mutual brotherhood, helping others in difficulty, earning a livelihood by honest means, speaking the truth, and avoiding lying are established. The tendency towards social stability is a dominant characteristic of the human species. It is visible in all human races. As a society or civilization advances, one will find a greater degree of rules for social stability. There is consensus that amongst all cilvizations, the Aryans were the most progressive. There can be no doubt that among the Aryans, the people of Bharata were the most advanced in knowledge, intelligence and social organization. One should not lose respect for the Aryan civilization just because with age, it has become weak and dependent on other cultures. Because some ignorant persons dispute the advanced state of the Aryan civilization, that does not mean it loses its importance. If one reads the dharma sastra, he can understand how much the Aryan civilization of Bharata achieved in implementation of social rules. In fact all serious, thoughtful men must accept that this civilization, through the guidance of sages, achieved the highest state of social regulation in the world.
They divided the social rules into two parts after thorough deliberation: varna and asrama. Men in such a society have two aspects: basic nature and stage of life. Their nature is fixed by following the rules for individual development (mental and bodily), and their stage of life is fixed according to the social rules. As man becomes more social, observance of rules for the self do not decrease, but rather increases in significance. From an individual's nature arises the rules of varnas, and from the progressive stages of life comes the asramas.
When man's bodily and mental tendencies gradually develop by cultivation, they attain a fixed stage, where one quality dominates all others. That quality is a man's nature. There are four natures: brahamana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra. These four varnas have arisen on the basis of the positive qualities of men. With the display of negative qualities, the outcast from the social system arises. For a person is such a situation there is no alternative but to give up those negative qualities.4
From birth until the appearance of a predominate nature in the individual, environment and discipline are the factors which nourish the seed. The seed then sprouts, grows and finally manifests as ones nature. The authors of scripture have explained of course that the actions of previous lives is the ultimate cause of the nature. The nature of the family into which a child is born determines the child's qualities through hereditary factors. Later by training and environment that nature will improve or degrade. A man of sudra nature will produce offspring of sudra nature and a man of brahminical nature will produce brahminical offspring. That is the general rule, but not the absolute rule.
The writers of scripture made arrangements for samskaras or purificatory rites with the intention of fixing the varna of a person after determining his nature. However, with time, these rites have become corrupted. When the rites which determine the varna became lost, the country became degraded.5 However, there can be no doubt that the rules of varna are the real rules for society.
The stages of life are four: brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa. The brahmacari is the person who before marriage gets education and is free to wander. The grhastha is the person he gets married and takes up family responsibilities. The person who upon aging gives up work and lives alone is a vanaprastha. One who gives up all relations with his family and is free to wander is a sannyasi. The system set up after working out the relation of the varnas and asramas is called varnasrama dharma. This dharma is the social code for the people of Bharata. If a country lacks this system of dharma, it cannot be called an advanced society. In the third part of this chapter these things will be discussed in detail.
1 ...Because I desire that human beings may achieve perfection, I have presented three paths of advancement--the path of knowledge, the path of work and the path of devotion. Besides these three there is absolutely no other means of elevation. S.B.11.20.6
2 There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. When the yogi, by practice of yoga, disciplines his mental activities and becomes situated in transcendence--devoid of all material desires--he is said to be well established in yoga. B.G.6.16-18
3 na grham grham ity ahur grhinir grham ucyate
taya hi sahitah sarvan purusarthan samasnute
The house is not a household without a wife. The husband along with the wife can attain all his goals. smrti??
4 Dirtiness, dishonesty, thievery, faithlessness, useless quarrel, lust, anger and hankering constitute the nature of those in the lowest position outside the varnasrama system. S.B.11.17.20
5 If one shows the symptoms of being a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification. S.B.7.11.35
Punya karma Meritorious Action
Man's future life is determined according to his activities. The person who performs punya karma or pious activities in society attains a heavenly abode after death, and the person who performs sinful activities suffers in hell. Activities which lead to heavenly enjoyment are called punya (piety) and activities which lead to hellish suffering are called papa (sin). The rules for accruing punya and the rules for eradicating papa together make up the rules for determining after-life. In all the punyas and varnasrama activities there is the factor of faith of the practitioner, which may be tamasika, rajasika or sattvika. That faith may be inclined either toward enjoyment of the world or towards renunciation of the world. Those on the lowest stage are inclined to worldly enjoyment. Those slightly more advanced are inclined both ways. Those most advanced dedicate themselves to renunciation of the world.1 Though there are provisions for worshipping numerous devatas, the sattvika person worships only Bhagavan. As the vaishnava has no motive for sense gratification, he accepts only those actions which lead to the spiritual goal. 2 In the Gita, Krishna has said that the wise man should accept only those actions favorable to devotion and reject those which are unfavorable to devotion.3
In attempting to give a brief description and analysis of punya and papa is extremely difficult to classify them methodically. Some sages have classified papa and punya according to bodily, mental, social and spiritual emphasis. Others have classified them according to bodily, verbal and mental involvement. Others have classified them as bodily, sensual and mental. However all these classifications are less than perfect. Here they will simply be divided into two groups: constitutional punyas (pertaining to the real nature of the jiva) and conditioned punyas (relating to a relative bodily state).
Righteousness, truth, purity, friendship, honesty and affection are punyas of the first category, as they are found in the jiva's real nature; they are the eternal ornaments of the jiva. In conditioned state of the jiva, as they become more gross in nature, these natural qualities of the soul are called punya. The rest of the punyas are called conditioned, because they arise only because of the conditioned state of the jiva. In the liberated state these punyas are not necessary to perform.
Sin is not a constitutional factor of the jiva, but rather takes shelter of the jiva in the conditioned state. Some actions or states are contradictory to the natural qualities (punyas) of the jiva: hatred, lying, cruelty, lust, envy, injustice. All other sins are those contrary to the relative punyas. As the discussion of papa and punya will be very brief, the constitutional and conditioned divisions have not been indicated. The papa and punyas have simply been enumerated with a little discussion. But having been given the guidelines above, the reader can easily make the proper distinctions.
There are ten kinds of punyas:
assistance to others
service to elders
cultivation of cleanliness
celebration of festivals
performance of vows
protection of animals
increase of population
Assistance to others is of two kinds: relieving others of distress and helping others make progress. should help others as much as possible without distinguishing whether they are relatives or not. The same distress that befalls ourselves also comes to others. When a person is in difficulty, he thinks that others should give him relief. Thus one should try to relieve distress as if it were ones own. A person must attempt to relieve distress by putting aside ones own self interest, which may prevent one from acting. One should try to remove other peoples' bodily, mental, social and spiritual difficulties. Examples of bodily distress are sickness and hunger. Examples of mental distress are anxiety, envy, lamentation, and fear. Examples of social distress are inability to support the family, inability to give education to ones children, inability to get them married, and lack of resources for cremation. Examples of spiritual distress are lack of faith, atheism, and desire for sinful acts. Just as one must relieve a person of distress, one should also try to elevate him. One should help people progress physically, mentally socially and spiritually by offering monetary, physical, and verbal assistance, and by engaging that person's relatives as well.
There are three types of service to elders: protection of parents, protection of teachers, and protection of other elders. One must follow the instructions of parents and serve them as much as is possible. A person should serve those who have protected him as a helpless child; he should also service those who have given knowledge, especially those who have given spiritual knowledge and mantra.4 Those are considered superior who are bigger in body, greater in age or more experienced in knowledge. One must respect and serve them all. One cannot follow incorrect orders of a superior but one should not show hostility towards him, using disrespectful or harsh words. One should put a stop to their improper behavior or instructions by using sweet words, humility, and gentle reasoning at the proper time.
Charity (dana) refers to giving money or materials to a suitable person. Giving to an undeserving person is a worthless expense, and is considered a sin. There are twelve varieties of charity: making water bodies or wells, planting trees to give shade and air, supplying lights, dispensing medicines, giving education, giving food, building roads, building ghatas, building houses, giving materials, giving the first portion of a meal, giving a daughter in marriage.5
One should give water to those who are thirsty. If a thirsty person comes to ones house, one is obliged to give him drinking water. Digging wells and ponds for drinking water, after selecting a suitable place, is also an act of punya.6 Wherever water is necessary, for instance at tirthas where there is no river or water body, wells should be dug. One should plant huge trees such as asvattha on the sides of the road or river or at places of relaxation. One should also plant tulasi and other holy trees in ones own house and at pure places. These trees assist in bodily and spiritual health. Lights should be installed at ghatas, on roads and narrow paths to assist night travelers when there is no moonlight. By giving light in charity a person earns heaps of punya. Raising lights during Kartika month is for beauty but does not aid the traveler, as they are too high to light the path.
In giving medical relief, a person can go to the house and distribute medicine, or can have the sick persons come to a designated shop and receive free medicine. A person should perform this punya with sincerity. Students may be given education at ones expense. Educating children is a very important service. Food distribution may be done at ones home or at designated place for the public. Roads should be constructed to places difficult to approach or to places which are inaccessible. Ghatas should be constructed on river banks or the banks of other water bodies for use by the general public. If a person also constructs resting place at the ghata, or plants gardens, roof coverings or temples, he gains addition merit. Building a house for a person who has no money and nowhere to live is a punya karma. Giving materials should be done to qualified or deserving persons. Before taking ones own food in the house one should offer the first portion to another person. One should give ones daughter along with ornaments to a suitable person of the same varna.
A person should show hospitality towards his guests and society as a whole. The householder should take care to serve guests when they arrive at his house. In the scriptures it is directed that after preparing food the householder should go to his door and call out three times for persons who have not eaten. If anyone appears, he should feed tha person first, and later eat along with his family. There is a rule that one should call out about an hour after noon, but in modern times it is difficult to remain without food till then. Therefore whenever the food is ready, the householder should call out for hungry persons. This does not refer to feeding professional beggars. Social hospitality is performed by acts beneficial to society in general.
Purity refers to cleaning the body, roads, ghatas, shops, cowsheds, temples, ones house, forests, and going on pilgrimage. Personal cleanliness is both internal and external. Internal cleanliness, purity of mind, is accomplished by sinless actions and punyas. One should also eat and drink in regulated amount food which is sinless and easy to digest. By eating or drinking food touched by alcoholics or other sinful people the mind becomes impure. Amongst all the methods for creating purity of mind, the chief is remembrance of Vishnu. For purifying the sinful mind there is prescription of prayascitta or atonement. By such atonements, however, only the sinful reaction leaves the person. The root is sinful desire. If a person performs atonement with genuine remorse, the sinful desire will be removed, but the seed of all sin--hostility to the Lord--can be removed only by remembrance of the Lord.7 Other books should be consulted for the many aspects of atonement. The mind is also purified by bathing in sacred rivers such as the Ganga and by seeing the deity.
External cleanliness refers to maintaining purity of ones body, clothing, and house. This external cleanliness is maintained by bathing in fresh water, wearing clean cloth and eating sattvika food. If the body touches contaminated objects, one should wash that part of the body.
A person should not only clean his own house, ghata, road, cowshed temple and yard, but the public roads, ghatas, shops, and temples in the town. If the town is large, the citizens should together raise funds and maintain the cleanliness. These acts generate punya. A person should keep his private gardens clean, and contribute the cleanliness of public forests by the above mentioned method. By going on pilgrimage men gain enormous purity. Though association with saintly people is the final goal of pilgrimage, by the act of pilgrimage sinful desire is greatly reduced, and people feel purified.
Festivals are of three types: those centered on deity worship, those centered on family affairs and those for public rejoicing. Deity festivals are often observed, and without doubt they generate punya, as they include a great gathering of people, feasting, musical performances, shows, food distribution of the needy, and giving gifts to the learned. If a person is capable of holding such festivals but avoids to do so, he is an offender. Especially when these festivals are permeated with devotion to the Lord, they must not be avoided. There are many family occasions for festivals, such birthdays, feeding grains, marriage, and sraddha rites with sacrifices. A person is obliged to celebrate these functions to the best of his ability. A person should also sponsor fairs where the populace can gather for enjoyment. There are also many social festivals such harvest festivals, pisthakotsava, sitalotsava, bhratrpuja.
Vratas or vows are of three types: bodily, social and spiritual. Early morning bath, parikrama, paying obeisances, which relate to exercising the body, are bodily vows. When one element of the body becomes disturbed, a person falls ill. To prevent this there are many vows such as fasting on the new and full moon day or on Mondays. By fasting and refraining from normal activities on the prescribed days and controlling the senses, a person is made to concentrate on the Lord. When it is necessary to fast in this way, a person gains punya by following the prescribed procedures.
The samskara rites may be considered social vows. According to the varna, these rites are performed with modification. Other rites are prescribed for all men. Marriage rites, in which one man marries a girl of the same varna, are prescribed for all varnas. The vow of taking only one wife is essential, for any other marriage is simply due to lust. This tendency is exhibited in persons of low nature. In exceptional cases, where there are no offspring, a second wife is allowed.
The monthly vows mentioned in Mahabharata and other similar vows such as the twenty four ekadashi fasts and fasting on the six appearance days (jayanti) such Janmastami are spiritual vows. The sole aim of these vratas is spiritual advancement. These will be discussed along with the topic of bhakti. Hari bhakti Vilasa describes these vratas in detail.
A person should strive for the upliftment of animals. Without the help of animals, human life cannot go on properly. Care should be taken to improve the form, strength and nature of animals. By selective breeding this can be accomplished. This particularly applies to the cow. With their help agriculture and transport develop. Therefore strong and well formed bull must be selected for mating; for this reasons, during the sraddha ceremony young bulls are let loose. By freely roaming, they become strong and big, and are able to produce good offspring. Being of such service to the family, cows should be protected and nourished with proper food and housing. Cow protection and rearing is well know in India as very pious activity.
As far as increasing the population goes, this is a pious activity when the offspring arise from legal marriage, when the offspring are raised and protected responsibly , when the offspring are led into stable married life, and when they are given spiritual education. After marrying a suitable person at a suitable age, a person should affectionately raise a family, following the rules for maintaining proper health and mind.8 By providence, children are born; the parents should raise them with care, giving training and education. When the children are older, they are taught a means of livelihood, and when they are of suitable age, they are married and take up family life. According to age, the children should be taught rules for bodily maintenance and cleanliness, morality and spiritual truth. The most important teaching is detachment from material life. 9
The following are parts of righteous conduct: forgiveness, gratitude, truthfulness, honesty, not stealing, not accepting from others, mercy, detachment, respect for the scriptures, travel to holy places, proper judgment, courtesy, worship of the Lord and being steadily situated in work according to ability. Giving up the desire to punish a person for committing an offense is called forgiveness or tolerance. It is not wrong to punish the offenders but forgiveness is an even higher principle. Prahlada and Haridasa Thakura forgave their enemies and are worshipped as great examples by all.
To recognize the help that another person has given is called gratitude. The Aryan civilization has such gratitude that the children would serve the parents as long as they lived, and when they died, they would undergo periods of austere restriction (asauca), giving up sleeping and eating, and would observe the sraddha ceremonies by giving food to others. To express their gratitude to their parents they would yearly offer sraddha and tarpana. To show gratitude to all people is also a punya karma.
Telling what one believes to be true is called truthfulness. Truthful people are respected by the whole world. Having a direct, sincere nature is called honesty. The more honestly one lives his life, the more virtuous he is. Taking illegally others' belongings is called theft. A person has no right to objects which he has not earned through labor or as gift. Those who are lame or blind have a right to beg, but others should receive goods only through honest work. Begging without right to do so is called parigraha. It should be avoided. One should show mercy to all living beings. Real mercy is shown to those who deserve. The aspect of mercy which is displayed in raga bhakti will be dealt with elsewhere. The idea that compassion should be shown to humans but not to animals is wrong. One should try to relieve the suffering of others.
Attachment to material objects is reduced by control of mind (sama), control of senses (dama), tolerance and abstinence. The practice of resisting the temptation of evil desires is called tolerance. Giving up the thirst for material objects in general is called abstinence. Detachment is a punya, for with detachment one is free from sin. Detachment must be cultivated gradually in the beginning stages, but on the path of raga, detachment is attained very easily. This will be discussed elsewhere. Practice of detachment is an act of punya. By repeatedly enduring the hardships of caturmasya, fasting and staying awake on the new and full moons, one becomes accustomed to renunciation. By first gradually giving up the desire for enjoyment of sleeping and eating, one can eventually give up desire for all material enjoyments. When one becomes perfect at accepting only what is necessary for maintaining life, one has attained detachment. Attaining detachment, a person is qualified for sannyasa.
All people should respect the scriptures. Scripture refers to those works which distinguish right from wrong, spirit from matter, truth from illusion. Those who were properly qualified revealed genuine scriptures. Unqualified persons who have compiled works attempting to delineate the goal of life and rules to follow, have given the world false scriptures which misguide the world. Such atheistic works, which have arisen from use of faulty logic, should not be respected. As one blind man leads another blind into the ditch, so such authors of faulty works lead themselves and their followers on the wrong path. Genuine scripture means the Vedas and those works which agree with the Vedic conclusions. To study those works and teach those works is a punya.
By traveling to places of pilgrimage a person gains knowledge and purifies himself of sin.
A person should his power of discrimination properly. The person who do not consider question such as "What is the world, who am I, who created he world, what is my duty in life, and what do I achieve?" is not to be considered a human being. The difference between man and animal is that man can consider these questions whereas the animal cannot. The result of this inquiry is self realization.
Courtesy is another punya. One should follow the conduct of the ancient sages and follow their instructions on the matter.10 In different ages sometimes the conduct changes. for instance the animal sacrifices performed in Satya, Treta and Dvapara yugas are forbidden in Kali yuga. After examining with intelligence all the previous rules of conduct the proper mode of conduct should be framed. Proper respect should be given, considering the person's status. This is called maryada. Not giving proper respect is considered a great faulty. One should give respect to all human beings, but should give more respect to a man with position. Most respect should be given to the devotee. The following is the order: respect to humans, respect to those who are civilized, respect to position (king), respect to the educated (pandita), respect to a person with good qualities (especially the brahmana, the sannyasi, and the vaishnava), respect according to varna (brahmana), respect according to asrama (sannyasa) and respect to devotion (devotee).
Worship of the Lord is considered a punya. Among all rules, worship of the Lord is the most important. However, the form of the Lord which is worshipped will differ according to the level of consciousness of the individual.
Performance of good acts is punya, and performance of unauthorized acts is sin. There are three types of actions: karma, akarma and vikarma. Those acts which are beneficial are called karma, failure to do those acts which should be done is called akarma. Forbidden action is called vikarma. Punya karmas are o three types: daily (such as worship of the Lord), periodic ( such as tarpanas to pitrs) and impelled by personal desire. Those impelled by personal desire should be avoided, but the other two should be performed.
1 According to the modes of nature acquired by the embodied soul, one's faith can be of three kinds--in goodness, in passion or in ignorance. According to one's existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquire. Men in the mode of goodness worship the demigods; those in the mode of passion worship the demons; and those in the mode of ignorance worship ghosts and spirits. B.G.17.2-4
One who is situated in his prescribed duty, free from sinful activities and cleansed of material contamination, in this very life obtains transcendental knowledge or, by fortune, devotional service to me. S.B.11.20.11
2 Always remembering Me, one should perform all his duties for Me without becoming impetuous. With mind and intelligence offered to Me, one should fix his mind in attraction to My devotional service. B.S.11.29.9
3 In intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should know properly what action is, what forbidden action is and what inaction is. One who sees inaction in action and action in inaction is intelligent among men, and he is in the transcendental position, although engaged in all sorts of activities. B.G.4.17-18
4 One must conquer the modes of passion and ignorance by developing the ,mode of goodness, and then one must become detached from the mode of goodness by promoting oneself to the platform of suddha sattva. All this can be automatically done if one engages in the service of the spiritual master with faith and devotion. In this way one can conquer the influence of the modes of nature. The spiritual master should be considered to be directly the Supreme Lord because he gives transcendental knowledge for enlightenment. Consequently, for one who maintains the material conception that the spiritual master is an ordinary human being, everything is frustrated. His enlightenment and his Vedic studies and knowledge are like the bathing of an elephant. S.B.7.15.25-26
5 Charity, prescribed duties, observance of major and minor regulative principles, hearing from scripture, pious works and purifying vows all have as their final aim the subduing of the mind. Indeed, concentration of the mind on the Supreme is the highest yoga. S.B.11.23.46
6 One who has executed sacrificial performances and pious works (beneficial for others) for my satisfaction, and who thus worships me with fixed attention, obtains unflinching devotional service unto Me. By the excellent quality of his service such a worshiper obtains realized knowledge of Me. S.B.11.11.47
7 Authorities who are learned scholars and sages have carefully ascertained that one should atone for the heaviest sins by undergoing a heavy process of atonement and one should atone for lighter sins by undergoing lighter atonement. Although one may neutralize the reactions of sinful life through austerity, charity, vows and other such methods, these pious activities cannot uproot the material desires in one's heart. However, if one serves the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead, he is immediately freed from all such contaminations. S.B.6.2.16-17
8 One who desires to establish family life should marry a wife of his own caste, who is beyond reproach and younger in age....S.B.11.17.39
9 A householder should comfortably maintain his dependents either with money that comes of its own accord or with that gathered by honest execution of one's duties. According to one's means, one should perform sacrifices and other religious ceremonies. A householder taking care of many dependent family members should not become materially attached to them, nor should he become mentally unbalanced, considering himself to be the lord. An intelligent householder should see that all possible future happiness, just like that which he has already experienced, is temporary. The association of children, wife, relatives and friends is just like the brief meeting of travelers. With each change of body one is separated from all such associates, just as one loses the objects one possesses in a dream when the dream is over. Deeply considering the actual situation, a liberated soul should live at home just like a guest, without any sense of proprietorship or false ego. In this way he will not be bound or entangled by domestic affairs. A householder devotee who Me by execution of his family duties may remain at home, go to a holy place, or, if he has a responsible son, take sannyasa. S.B.11.17.51-55
10 One who follows the principles and instructions enjoined by the great sages of the past can utilize these instructions for practical purposes. Such a person can very easily enjoy life and pleasures. A foolish person who manufactures his own ways and means through mental speculation and does not recognize the authority of the sages who lay down unimpeachable directions is simply unsuccessful again and again in his attempts. S.B.4.18.4-5
Qualification For Work And Varnas
Identifying ones qualification is a very important item of conduct. This qualification is of two types: qualification for a certain action and the extent of qualification for action. All people are not qualified for all types of punya activities. Though a person may be able to perform a certain activity, he may not be qualified to execute it in such a way to produce the desired auspicious result. If a person performs an action without first seeing his suitability to do it, one cannot say if the act will bring the intended result. For that reason it is necessary to consider ones qualification. As the performer cannot judge his own qualification, he must inquire from an authority or guru on this matter. And in undertaking a particular rite, a priest must decide on the suitable process. Thus people must accept a qualified guru and a qualified priest. The modern method of accepting guru and priest is not the process envisaged by the writers of scripture. Accepting guru and priest as a matter of formality is simply useless. One must choose a qualified person. If such a person does not exist in the locality one must search elsewhere. Giving an example will make this clearer.
Digging ponds is a punya karma. If personally digging, one is qualified if he has enough strength, tools, a piece of land and assistance. If expenses are to be incurred, money is also necessary. A person is qualified for the act to the extent that he has strength, tools, land, assistance and money. Without these items in sufficient quantity, there will be no result, except loss of energy, time or money. For marriage the qualification is a healthy body, ability to support a family, and a mentality suitable for living with a wife. In desiring to perform any act, a person should see his qualification.
Qualification may be intrinsic or circumstantial. Man has three divisions of life: time of learning (educational period of life), time of work and time of recreation. During education, the person studies books, associates with others, sees others working, and receives instruction. What tendency emerges prominently at this time is the intrinsic nature of the person. Though a person usually gets association , instruction and information under influence of the family in which he is born, sometimes his instruction, association and nature are different from that of his family. Thus the person may have a different nature than that of his family. That nature which is perceived in a person after his education and before he takes up work is his intrinsic nature.
The wise have scientifically classified nature into four types: brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra. Those who have sense control, mind control, tolerance, purity, forgiveness, nonduplicity, cultivation of knowledge and faith worship of the Lord have brahmanical nature. Those who have valor, energy, determination, dexterity, fearlessness in battle, charitable inclination, ability to protect others and ability to control others have ksatriya nature. Those who are inclined to agriculture, raising cows and trade have vaisya nature. Those who maintain their life by serving others have sudra nature. 1
Those who do not distinguish proper from improper action, have no inclination for righteousness, are fond of argument, are extremely selfish, think only of food, and are devoid of marriage rules, are called antyaja or outcast. Without giving up such a nature, the real nature of a human being does not manifest. Only four classes are admitted as human. According to nature, a person possesses certain qualities. According to those qualities a person should accept work and duty. If one performs work contradictory to ones nature, it will not give proper result. It is hard to change a nature once matured. Therefore one should work and worship according to ones nature.
According to these natures, the people of India were classed in four varnas. If society is divided according to the varnas, all the work in society becomes effective. This is beneficial for the whole world. That society which has the varnas has a scientific basis and is worshipable by all. Some people may question the efficacy of the varnasrama system, since the countries of Europe attained great feats and fame without having a varnasrama system. But such a doubt has no substance, because these people are all recent. Due to being very bold and energetic, they have taken all the previous skills, arts and sciences, and begun to act. But gradually with time, these societies will fall, because of lack of scientific organization of varnas. Though the Aryan civilization is much older, it has remained intact with the same characteristics because of the varnasrama system.
The Roman and Greek civilizations were much more powerful than modern European nations, but where are they now? Those peoples have become devoid of their previous qualities and taken up the qualities and life style of the modern nations. They have become so transformed that they have no pride in their previous glory. Though the Aryan civilization is much more ancient than that of the Greeks and Romans, even now the people of India take pride in their ancient heroes. Why is that? Because the varnasrama system remained strong, the culture of the society was preserved and not lost. Though the ranas were defeated by the Muslims, even today they identify themselves as the descendants from Ramacandra's line. Though the people of India may have declined to a decrepit state with age, as long as the varnasrama system is practiced, the Aryan identity will also remain. The Roman and other peoples , who were offshoots of Vedic civilization, declined as they mixed with the outcast cultures such as Huns and Vandals. If one examines modern European cultures, one will notice that all its remarkable features are due to preservation of varnas, based upon intrinsic nature of the individual. Those who have the nature of merchants prefer that occupation, and by that profession obtain their progress. Those who have ksatriya nature join the military. Those who are sudra in nature prefer to do menial service. Actually no society can exist without a division of varnas. Even in matching for marriage, nature and occupational status have to be considered. Though the European nations incorporated some aspects of varnas, the varnas were not systematically established there. Civilization and knowledge advance in proportion to the degree of systemization of the varnas.
There are two methods of approach: systematic and unsystematic. Things work ineffectively if a systematic method is not followed. If we do not follow a scientific procedure for making a boat, then we have to use a primitive craft for crossing the water. In the same way, as long as the varnas are not scientifically incorporated, society will continue run on an unscientific basis. Except for India, all places remain with unscientific incorporation of varnas. That is why India alone is known as the place of action, karma ksetra.
Is the system of varna in India now in a healthy state? No, though the system was established in a perfect way, it gradually deteriorated, and that is responsible for the troubles and degradation of present India. If that were not the case, India could have taken the role of an elder brother, who in old age and retirement, could give good instruction to other nations. One should deeply consider the reason for India's deteriorated state. The varnasrama system was established in India at the beginning of Treta Yuga, at which time the Aryans had advanced knowledge.2 The rule was established that each person took up a varna according to his nature, and getting a qualification through that varna, he would carry out his duties and work designated by the varna. By following this system of asrama and varna according to nature, the work of society went on smoothly. Varna was decided solely on the basis of nature for those people whose father had no varna. Jabali, Gautama, Janasruti and Citraratha are examples from Vedic history. For those whose father had a varna, their varna was decided on the basis of both father's varna and individual nature. From the ksatriya dynasty of Narisyanta, the great rsi Jatukarna appeared, who started a famous brahmana lineage called Agnivesya. In the Aila dynasty, Jahnu, the son of Hotraka became a brahmana. From King Vitatha of Bharadvaja's dynasty came Nara and others who were ksatriyas, and Garga, who was a brahmana. In King Bharmasva's ksatriya line were born Satananda of the Maudagalya gotra and Krpacarya. There are many examples like this in the scriptures, showing that birth is not the only qualification for occupation. When the actual system was practiced, the glory of India was as strong as the midday sun. All nations worshipped the inhabitants of Bharata as rulers, administrators and teachers. Egypt, China and other countries used to take instruction from the people of India with great reverence.
The varnasrama system continued purely for a long time, until Jamadagni and his son Parasurama, of ksatriya nature, claimed themselves as brahmanas. By following a varna contrary to their nature, out of self interest, they created friction between the brahamana and ksatriya classes. Because of this seed of enmity between the two classes, the procedure of judging varna by birth became fixed. In time, this system of varnas without reference to nature entered covertly in the Manu Samhita and other scriptures. Without possibility of attaining a higher varna, out of frustration, the ksatriyas created Buddhism to destroy the brahmana varna. But for every action there is an equally strong reaction. Therefore the class distinction based on birth became even stronger. With the conflict between exploitation of position, based on birth (the brahmanas), and disloyalty to ones culture (ksatriyas), they gradually destroyed themselves. Those with no brahman qualities, brahmanas in name only, began to write scriptures with their own interest at heart, thus cheating the other classes. Ksatriyas, without ksatriya qualities were defeated in battle. Without their kingdoms, they began to support Buddhism. Vaisyas without vaisya nature began to preach Jainism. By this act, the great mercantile community became weakened. Laborers without sudra nature, without qualification for works of specific nature, became thieves. Running without any scriptural reference, the country came under the control of the Muslims. Shipping companies entered. The concept of service vanished. Gradually the influence of Kali deepened.3 The present pitiful condition of India, which was once the controller and teacher of the whole world, is not because of old age, but because of the corruption of the varnasrama system. By the desire of the Lord, the controller of all living beings and rules, may there arise again in India an empowered person who can establish the varnasrama system. The writer of the puranas also expectantly awaits the action of Kalki.
According to the scriptures, a person is qualified for action according to his varna. In this book it will be impossible to discuss this in detail. A brahmana is qualified for the following activities: feeding guests, bathing three times a day, deity worship, reading the Vedas, teaching, serving as priest, taking vows, leading the life of a brahmacari and sannyasi.
The ksatriya is qualified for righteous war, ruling a kingdom, protecting the citizens, works of charity and social relief. The vaisya is qualified for raising and protecting animals, agriculture and commerce. The sudra is qualified for serving the deity without mantras and serving the three higher varnas. All men and women of all varnas are qualified for marriage rites, worship of the Lord, helping others in distress, charity, service to guru, welcoming guests, purity of body and mind, observing festivals, serving the cow, maintaining the population and proper conduct. Women' special qualification is serving the husband.
A person should do that work and follow those rules of varna which are most suitable to his nature. By honest judgment person can determine the work and lifestyle most suitable to himself, and if he cannot do so, he should consult a competent authority. Those Vaishnavas who would like additional information on these matters should consult Gopala Bhatta Gosvami's Sat Kriya Sara Dipika.
1 Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, cleanliness, satisfaction, tolerance, simple straightforwardness, devotion to me, mercy and truthfulness are the natural qualities of the brahmanas. Dynamic power, bodily strength, determination, heroism, tolerance, generosity, great endeavor, steadiness, devotion to the brahmanas and leadership are the natural qualities of the ksatriyas. Faith in Vedic civilization, dedication to charity, Vedic civilization, dedication to charity, freedom from hypocrisy, service to the brahmanas and perpetually desiring to accumulate more money are the natural qualities of the vaisyas. Service without duplicity to the brahmanas, cows, demigods and other worshipable personalities, and complete satisfaction with whatever income is obtained in such service, are the natural qualities of sudras. S.B.11.17.16-19
Nonviolence, truthfulness, honesty, desire for the happiness and welfare of all others and freedom from lust, anger and greed constitute duties for all members of society. S.B.11.17.21
2 in the beginning, in Satya yuga, there is only one social class, called hamsa, to which all human beings belong. In that age all people are unalloyed devotees of the Lord from birth, and thus learned scholars call this first age Krta yuga, or the age in which all religious duties are perfectly fulfilled. In Satya yuga the Veda is expressed by the syllable om, and I am the only object of mental activities. I become manifest as the four-legged bull of religion, and thus the inhabitants of Satya yuga, fixed in austerity and free from all sins, worship Me as Lord Hamsa. O greatly fortunate one, at the beginning of Treta yuga Vedic knowledge appeared from My heart, which is the abode of the air of life, in three divisions- as Rg, Sama And Yajur. Then from that knowledge I appeared as threefold sacrifice. In Treta yuga the four social orders were manifested from the universal form of the Personality of Godhead. The brahmanas appeared from the Lord's face, the ksatriyas from the Lord's arms, the vaisyas from the Lord's thighs and the sudras from the legs of that might form. Each social division was recognized by its particular duties and behavior. S.B.11.17.10-13
3 It is abominable for a person living in the grhastha asrama to give up the regulative principles, for a brahmacari not to follow the brahmacari vows while living under the care of the guru for the vanaprastha to live in the village and engage in so-called social activities, or for the sannyasi to be addicted to sense gratification. One who acts in this way is to be considered the lowest renegade. Such a pretender is bewildered by the external energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and one should either reject him from any position, or taking compassion upon him, teach him, if possible, to resume his original position. S.B.7.15.38-39
Man's activity stems from his nature. This activity is situated in an asrama. Taking shelter of that asrama a man performs his work. As varnas and asramas are intimately related, karma is sometimes called varnasrama dharma. There are four asramas: brahamacarya, grhasthya, varnaprastha and sannyasa.
Those of brahminical nature are qualified for brahmacarya. The brahmacari is of controlled mind, proper, gentle conduct, accepts bodily austerities, and stays in the gurukula until his studies are completed. Then, after giving the guru a donation, with his permission, he may get married. It is written in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, in praise of Murari Gupta's behavior:
He never accepted things from others, but maintained his family by his own endeavors.
All varnas are qualified for grhastha asrama. The brahmana enters household life after his brahmacari education is finished; the ksatriya , after studying the scriptures to some extent, leaves the gurukula and enters the grhastha asrama. The vaisya studies those subjects relevant to cow protection, commerce and agriculture. The sudras, when of proper age, simply get married. The varna of a person should be decided by father, family priest, local community at the time of educating the child. The child should be placed in studies which suit his observed nature. Those who have no attraction for study, and are more inclined to do service, will waste their time in studies. If he is judged to be of sudra nature he should be engaged in service.
In order to be a householder a person should first have a means of earning his living. This varies according to the different varnas. The six activities of the brahmana are: perform worship or sacrifice, perform this for others, studying , teaching, giving charity and accepting charity. In performing worship, studying and giving charity he spends money, and in performing worship for others, teaching and accepting charity, he earns money. Ksatriyas support themselves by taxes and revenues, and by use of weapons. The vaisya earns by raising cows, agriculture and commerce, and the sudra earns by serving the three higher varnas.1 In emergency circumstances, the brahmanas can take up ksatriya and vaisya occupations, but the three higher varnas should not take up a sudra occupation unless there is extreme circumstance.
The person should accept a wife according the scriptural rules and produce children. The householder should express gratitude to his ancestors by offering pinda; he should worship the devas with sacrifices, serve guests by offering food, and respect all living beings by correct behavior. As the sannyasi parivrajaka and the brahmacari survive by the charity of the householder, the householder asrama is considered the best.
When a man grows older he should leave his wife with the son, and take varnaprastha. If there is no son, he may take his wife with him, and together they go to the forest. Reducing needs, he sleeps on the earth, makes clothing of the bark of trees, avoids shaving, observes a vow of silence, bathes three times a day, serves guests as far as possible, eats forest fruits and roots, and worships the Lord in a solitary place. All varnas can take vanaprastha.
Sannyasa asrama is the fourth asrama.2 This person is called a bhiksu or parivrajaka. When the brahamcari, grhasthi or vanaprasthi develops a keen sense of renunciation, is devoid of attachment to family life, is able to tolerate all difficulties, has gained knowledge of the truth, has no desire for worldly friendship, develops equal vision of all living beings, is devoid of envy, has compassion, has fixed his mind on the Lord, and is engaged in yoga, he is fit for sannyasa. The sannyasi is always engaged in meditation on the Lord. He should not stay in a village more than one night, except when observing caturmaysa vows. In this first stage the sannyasi begs only from brahmanas. Only brahmanas are allowed to accept this asrama. Those who are devoid of normal physical or mental power (those who are mentally or physically disabled, too young or too old) are not qualified for any asrama, but exist at the mercy of the asramas. The people of the asramas are obligated to assist them as much as possible.
Women are allowed to enter the grhastha asrama and vanaprastha asrama only. Though some women, being exceptionally qualified, achieving high education, expert understanding of scripture and great expertise, may become a brahmacari or sannyasi, it is not the normal rule, as women are usually of weaker body, faith and discriminating power.
The household asrama may be considered the only asrama, since the other three asramas depend on it. Most of society takes up household life. Those who are specially qualified become brahmacari, vanaprasthi and sannyasi, but their numbers are few. Without such division of asramas according to different types of activity, social consciousness will not be complete.
The rules for the household life are elaborately described in the twenty dharma sastras and the Puranas. The manus, rsis, and prajapatis have written in respective scriptures what activities the householder should do and what activities he should avoid, on a daily, fortnightly, monthly, semiannual and annual schedule. The rules are many and should the subject of a separate work. Here they have been given only a brief treatment.
1 For a brahmana there are six occupational duties. A ksatriya should not accept charity, but he may perform the other five of these duties. A king or ksatriya is not allowed to levy taxes on brahmanas, but he may make his livelihood by levying minimal taxes, customs duties, and penalty fines upon his other subject. The mercantile community should always follow the directions of the brahmanas and engage in such occupational duties as agriculture, trade, and protection of cows. For the sudras the only duty is to accept a master from a higher social order and engage in his service. S.B.7.11.14-15
If one acts in his profession according to his position in the modes of nature and gradually gives up these activities, he attains the niskama state. S.B.7.11.32
2 One who desires to conquer the mind must leave the company of his family and live in a solitary place, free from contaminated association. To maintain the body and soul together, he should beg as much as he needs for the bare necessities of life. S.B.7.15.30
Rising during the brahma muhurta, a person should fix his mind by thinking of the spiritual and worldly activities he must perform that day. Relieving himself in a place proper according to the scriptural rules every morning, he should clean his face, mouth, arms, hands and other body organs. Bathing in pure fresh water, he should dress in suitable cloth. Then he should work by a method allotted by his varna. According to state of health he may bathe again at noon and offer worship of the Lord and tarpanas to the pitras. After preparing meals, he should put some aside for animals and destitute persons, and stand at his door front to receive any guest. If a guest comes, he should feed him with attention. He need not feed people of his own town, but rather those who are from other places, without relatives, who have no money and are hungry. He should not inquire about their family lineage (gotra). He should first of all feed a sinless brahman. After feeding a pregnant woman, his own children, and the elders, he should himself take his meal, while facing north or east. He should eat only food which is fresh, pure, and wholesome, untouched by sinful people, from a pure plate, at a regulated time. After eating he should contemplate the Lord. Without being lazy he should do some light task, and in the last part of the day he should read or discuss the scriptures. At the sunset he should perform his sandhya rites with great concentration, and then, as at noon, he should serve any guests with food, after which he should eat. At night he should offer a place and bed for his guest to sleep in. Then he should sleep in a clean bed with head facing east or south, as sleeping with head to the north or west causes sickness. He should not associate with his wife against the rules of scripture.
In other words, the householder should live his life by working honestly in order to support his own family, guests and shelterless people, while following the scriptural rules for purification of body and mind in order to maintain a sinless heart.
All the daily rules cannot be practiced perfectly in modern times, due to the influence of differing political and social trends. Since in modern states, the main activities are reserved for midday, people eat first, then work. Due to time, the rules for keeping good health have also changed, and thus eating so late at night, bathing three times a day and staying awake at night are not necessary. The essential goal of these rules formulated by the great rsis was to carry out the bodily activities of eating, bathing and sleeping without hindrance or sin. Thus the householder should perform his daily activities with great faith after considering his individual needs.1
Rules for daily activities include rules for body, mind, society and afterlife. Such bodily rules as rising early in the morning, cleaning the body, suitable work, bathing, eating at the proper time, choice of nourishing food, drinking fresh water, strolling, wearing clean cloth, sleeping no more than eight hours, must be done daily. For steadiness of mind a person must daily cultivate different facets of knowledge such as geography, astronomy, history, geometry, mathematics, chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, philosophy of life's goals, meditation and contemplation of the day's work. Daily he must also earn a living by lawful work, raise his family, and perform works beneficial for society and the world. For assuring good afterlife, he must daily perform rites at the sandhya. Most of the activities are daily, but some are performed every two weeks, or monthly, or every six months, yearly, or irregularly. The daily activities are called nitya karma. The others are called naimittika karma: some of these are performed at regular intervals and some at irregular intervals. The householder must always remain free from sin and engage in beneficial work.
The previous descriptions were of the works which yield beneficial results. Now, in order
avoid sin, a description of the main sinful activities will be given.2 There are eleven principal sins: violence, cruelty, anger, wandering mind, lying, disobedience to a superior, lust, selfishness, impurity, rude conduct, and destructiveness.
Violence is of three sorts: against man, animal and devas. To kill another living being is called violence. It arises from hatred. Attachment to an object is called raga, and repulsion to an object is called dvesa. Permitted attachment is considered a beneficial act, a punya, but unauthorized attachment is called lust. The opposite tendency to attachment is repulsion. Permitted repulsion is considered a punya, while unlawful repulsion is sin, the root of violence and hatred. In society, people must treat others with affection; only the person involved in sin shows violence and hatred to others. As violence is a great sin, all people must avoid it. Violence to humans is the greatest sin. The amount of reaction will be according to the elevated qualities of the victim. Thus greater sin is respectively incurred against the following: brahmana, a relative or parent, a woman, a vaishnava, a guru.
Even killing animals is not an ordinary sin. The killers of animals, showing their animal nature, are controlled by their appetites and selfishness. Unless a person gives up violence to animals, he cannot display his nature as a human being. The purpose of animal sacrifices prescribed in the scriptures is for gradually restricting the lower nature of the sacrificer until he finally gives it up.3 Violence to animals is for animals, not for the human being.
Violence to the devas is also a serious sin. Men in different countries have different methods of worship. The purpose is to gradually bring the person worship of the Supreme Lord. Ignorant fanatics, however, think their way is best and condemn all others; they destroy someone else's temple or deity at any opportunity. As the Lord is only one, by such acts they commit violence to God. Those who have proper conduct must always avoid such unlawful and bestial actions.4
Cruelty may be directed towards human beings or animals. If a person acts cruelly towards other men he creates a disturbance to the world. A world devoid of mercy means a world filled with cruelty. Such people as Nero and Serajaddaulla brought great problems to the world. If a person has that tendency in his mind he must gradually replace it with a merciful attitude and practice being merciful to others. Even in some low religions of the modern world, cruelty to animals has become a prescribed practice. This only brings infamy to its founders. If a compassionate person sees the way in which horse and bullock owners treat the animals pulling their cart, he cannot help but feel pain. People must give up treating animals with such cruelty.
Hypocrisy is a sin. When a person acts deceitfully towards another by habit or with self interest, it is called crooked dealing. When this deceitful nature becomes extreme it becomes cruelty. A person who is very attached to this sin is a pretender.
Illusion5 is of four types: intoxication, being possessed by the six enemies, atheism and laziness. Many problems of the world are caused by intoxication. All sins reside in intoxications. Alcohol, marijuana, opium, tobacco and betel nut counted as intoxicants. Some of these disturb the mind and destroy the health. Opium reduces a person's mental power and turns him into an animal. Tobacco has a similar effect, lowering man's nature and making him an addict. Drinking alcohol is very dangerous. A real human being should not contact an alcohol drinker except to give him medical advice.
The six enemies are lust. anger, greed, pride, delusion and envy. If they take control of the mind, man becomes sinful. To desire those items which are necessary for minimal daily existence is not lust, but to aspire for more than this is called lust. Following this lust puts us in various difficulties. If desires are not fulfilled, anger results. From anger comes quarreling, harsh words, fighting, murder and all sorts of sinful actions. Greed overtakes us by degrees, until we commit sinful activity to fulfill it. Pride is the tendency to think oneself great. The human being actually attains gentle behavior when he begins to think of himself as very insignificant. If we think of ourselves as servants of God, pride will not possess us. Delusion means ignorance. Not being able to tolerate another person's elevated position is called envy. It is the root of all sin. If a person is overcome by any of these six enemies he is said to be in illusion.
Atheism is of two types: conviction that God does not exist, an doubt that God does exists. This is also a type of illusion that we see repeatedly in this world. Insane people are usually atheists as well. In a healthy state, some people have faith, but when insanity strikes they lose their faith. When they become normal, they also regain their faith. Some insane person may chant day and night, but when asked about it, they say that they are God. Laziness is also considered a sin, and must be avoided.
Falsehood consists of verbal lies, cheating religion, cheating conduct and prejudice. Lying is forbidden, and to tell a lie under oath is even more serious. Therefore in no circumstance should a person tell a lie. Those who act falsely in society lose their credibility and become the object of contempt. Cheating religion is also a serious sin. Those who decorate themselves on the exterior with the signs of a pious person (tilaka, mala, sacred thread, red or white cloth), but have no internal devotion to the Lord, are called religious pretenders. Those who carry out deceitful dealings with others or who smile without revealing their true intentions, are called duplicitous, and gain the hatred of all. Favoritism means to support an unjust party rather than support the righteous side for selfish reasons. This type of conduct must be avoided.
Disrespect to elders has three objects: parents, teachers, and other superiors. Even if the superior makes a mistake, he should not be disrespected. A person should be careful to please superiors with polite and gracious conduct. To disobey the orders of superiors is also disrespect.
Lust manifests itself in relation to money, women and position. By indulging in lust for wealth and goods, gradually desire increases to such an extent that happiness is not possible. A person should give up this lust and live simply, so that even if he gains wealth and possessions, he does not develop such lust in the heart. Lust for women is a great sin. Relations with anther's wife or with a prostitute is forbidden. Even in living with his wife, a person must observe scriptural rules for physical and social benefit. To fall under the control of a woman is certain ruination.6 By illicit contact with women a person weakens his body; misuse of his sex organ creates unintelligent, sickly, short-lived children. In India, sexual contact is forbidden before the age of 16 for a woman and 21 for a man. Lust for women should be prevented by proper scriptural conduct. By lusting for position a person becomes very selfish. This type of lust must be avoided by following the rules in an unselfish way.
Selfishness is a great sin. Though all endeavors for gaining material assets in this life or the next are for ones own benefit, there is no injunction forbidding pursuit of those interests, for God has sanctioned personal and universal benefit to occur simultaneously. But if we ignore God's interest, we can do no good to the world. That self-interest which lives at the expense of others' welfare is condemned. From such selfishness arises undue miserliness towards ones family members, reluctance to do charity, argument, theft, frustration, egotism, envy, violence, lust and extravagance. According to the degree of selfishness in a person , one can measure his disservice to himself and the world. If no attempt is made to remove selfishness form the heart, the human being can not perform any beneficial activity.
Impurity is of two types: bodily and mental. These have three subdivisions: impurity due to place, time and utensil. By going to an impure place to perform a person becomes impure. Therefore according to the scriptures, if a person goes to a foreign land he becomes impure. But there is no injunction against going to foreign lands to free people from the hands of evil rulers by battle or diplomacy or to preach the real dharma. But to live in foreign places in order to learn useless sciences and morality has brought the ruination of the Aryans. Whoever contacts such impure places is supposed to perform acts of repentance to purify himself.
According to karma kanda, times like mala masa (intercalary month) are considered impure , because works should only be performed at the scripturally prescribed times. Additional months and the times of great celestial events such as eclipses are not considered as proper for performing regular rituals. To do activities during this time is considered impure. There is impurity due to time attached to sexual activity, eating and sleeping. By doing activities or making offerings to the deity on behalf of a sinful drunkard or lusty person one also develops impurity. If body, cloth bed or house remains unclean, impurity also results. After passing nature it is necessary to purify the body by washing with water. Illusion and hatred produce impurity of the heart.
Improper conduct is another sin. To disregard the conduct which has been delineated by the saintly people and take up conduct of foreigners is improper conduct. Those who, by associating with foreigners for a time, give up the pure rules of varnasrama in favor of freedom from rules, become fallen, acting against the perfect, scientific rules of conduct. For purification they must perform penances.
There are five types of activities which are destructive to the world.: opposition to good works, false renunciation, preaching irreligion in the name of God, unjust war, and waste. By creating obstacles directly or indirectly to those who are engaged in beneficial work, the whole world suffers. Detachment produced through activities of devotional service and spiritual knowledge is best. To try to produce detachment by ones own effort simply produces disturbing effects. This is false renunciation. Normally people should stay as householders and follow the rules for grhastha asrama. When genuine detachment appears, a person should act according to the rules of sannyasa. Otherwise he should gradually decrease his household duties while engaging more in the Lord's service. That is real renunciation. It is sinful to leave the family simply because of some problem or because it seems difficult to manage. This is instant renunciation without having the proper qualification. Some people wrongly think that they can put on the cloth of a renunciate and obtain devotion later. Such renunciation does not arise from their nature, but from a temporary whim. Having arisen only temporarily, that renunciation can throw him back into sinful life and sense gratification. Having real qualities of renunciation should be the cause of taking such a role. Proper conduct means to follow the actions prescribed in scripture that are suitable to ones qualities.7 If a person takes a role which is not suitable to his qualities, he simply creates a disturbance to himself and the world. Taking on activities for which one does not have the capacity destroys the world.
Preaching irreligion in the name of religion is very common. Nera, baul, kartabhaja, daravesa, kumbhapatiya, ativari, sveccacari and other such groups are all harmful. The sin that they spread by their activities is destructive to the world. The illicit sexual activities that pervade the sahajiyas, neras, baulas and kartabhajas is completely against the Vedic norms.
Wars for increasing the size of a country are sinful and destructive. Only unavoidable wars are allowed by scripture. A person should spend his time, money, energy and materials correctly. By misspending, he commits a sin.
According to the seriousness of the sin, it has various names such as papa, pataka, atipataka, mahapataka. When sins are committed against the devotee and the Lord they are called offenses, or aparadhas. These are the most serious sins and should be avoided. In the next chapter these will be discussed.
In this book only a summary has been given of religion and irreligion, sin and pious activity, rules and prohibitions. To know more about these topics, please consult the twenty dharma sastras, Mahabharata and the Puranas.
Leading a life according the principles of God is the only thing of value in this temporary world. One should make all efforts to do this.8 Prescribed actions are of two types: traivargika, which yield temporary, material results for oneself; and apavargika, which yields liberation from the material world. However in performing devotion to Krishna, the best of the apavargika dharmas, there is no need to strive for liberation; devotion itself is the end.
1 According to the Vedas, there are two kinds of activities--pravrtti and nivrtti. Pravrtti activities involve raising oneself from a lower to a higher condition of materialistic life, whereas nivrtti means the cessation of material desire. Through pravrtti activities one suffers from material entanglement, but by nivrtti activities one is purified and becomes fit to enjoy eternal, blissful life. S.B.7.15.47
2 Theft, violence, speaking lies, duplicity, lust, anger, perplexity, pride, quarreling, enmity, faithlessness, envy and the dangers caused by women, gambling and intoxication are the fifteen undesirable qualities that contaminate men because of greed for wealth. Although these qualities are undesirable, men falsely ascribe value to them. One desiring to achieve the real benefit of life should therefore remain aloof from undesirable material wealth. S.B.11.23.18-19
3 In this material world the conditioned soul is always is inclined to sex, meat-eating and intoxication. Therefore religious scriptures never actually encourage such activities. Although the scriptural injunctions provide for sex sacred marriage, for meat-eating through sacrificial offerings and for intoxication through the acceptance of ritual cups of wine, such ceremonies are meant for the ultimate purpose of renunciation. S.B.11.5.11
According to the Vedic injunctions, when wine is offered in sacrificial ceremonies it is later to be consumed by smelling, and not by drinking. Similarly, the sacrificial offering of animals is permitted, but there is no provision for wide-scale animal slaughter. Religious sex life is also permitted, but only in marriage for begetting children, and not for sensuous exploitation of the body. Unfortunately, however, the less intelligent materialists cannot understand that their duties in life should be performed purely on the spiritual platform. S.B.11.5.13
4 Those who have not achieved knowledge of the Absolute Truth, yet who are still beyond the darkness of complete ignorance, generally follow the threefold path of pious material life, namely religiosity, economic development and sense gratification. Not having time to reflect on any higher purpose, they become the killers of their own soul. S.B.11.5.16
5 Maharaja Pariksit, thus being petitioned by the personality of Kali, gave him permission to reside in places where gambling, drinking, prostitution and animal slaughter were performed. The personality of Kali asked for something more, and because of his begging, the King gave him permission to live where there is gold because wherever there is gold there is also falsity, intoxication, lust, envy and enmity. S.B.1.17.38-39
6 If, therefore, the living entity again associates with the path of unrighteousness, influenced by sensually minded people engaged in the pursuit of sexual enjoyment and the gratification of the palate, he again goes to hell as before. He becomes devoid of truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, gravity, spiritual intelligence, shyness, austerity, fame, forgiveness, control of the mind, control of the senses, fortune and all such opportunities. S.B.31.32-33
7 Steadiness in one's own position is declared to be actual piety, whereas deviation from one's is considered impiety. In this way the two are definitely ascertained. S.B.11.21.2
8 Those who are followers of this varnasrama system accept principles according to authorized traditions of proper conduct. When such varnasrama duties are dedicated to Me in loving service, they award the supreme perfection of life. S.B.11.18.47