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Shaunaka asked, "O Suta, now that Kali-yuga has arrived, please tell me what a person must do to free himself from material bondage.Suta Gosvami said,Your question is very nice, for you are thinking of the welfare of all people.In answer to your question, I will refer to a conversation between Shrila Vyasadeva and Jaimini.Jaimini inquired,Please tell me how people in the age of Kali,who are ortlived, will be able to become liberated, even with little effort.Vyasadeva said, "By association with devotees, one hears the sa¬cred texts that glorify the Supreme Lord. From such hearing, devotion to the Lord comes into being, along with transcendental knowledge. This ultimately awards one liberation."In fact, the Supreme Lord, Krishna, always resides at that place where His glories are being described by pure devotees. When one attentively listens to Krishna-katha from a pure devotee, his past sins are immediately destroyed.Vyasa then narrated this story: There was once a thief named Dandaka. In fact, he terrorized the people of his vicinity. He stole the wealth of brahmanas, killed his friends, and took delight in having sexual relations with the wives of others. He ate the meat of cows, drank liquor, and kept the association of those who blasphemed the Supreme Lord.One night, that foolish man went to a temple of Lord Vishnu, hoping to steal the paraphernalia used for worshiping the Deity. His shoes were muddy and so he made the temple dirty. With two iron rods, »e pried open the door. In Dandaka's hand was a jeweled lamp, illumi¬nating the darkness. The oil being burned in the lamp made a very nice fragrance that wafted throughout the temple.The thief saw the Deity of Lord Krishna, sleeping in His bed, along with Radha. As soon as he offered his obeisances to the Deity, uandaka became freed from the reactions to his previous sins. He thought, "Should I steal the things I see here, or not? Because I am a 'ull-time thief, I cannot serve the Lord. I wonder if anything here would be useful for me?Finally, Dandaka made up his mind to steal the things he saw there. He took the silk garment of the Lord and placed it on the floor. Then, he put everything else on top of the cloth and tied it into a bundle.The thief's hands were trembling, though, and as a result, he dropped some heavy items which made a crashing sound when they hit the floor. Hearing this, many people came running, having woken up from their sleep. They exclaimed, "What is this!" Frightened, the thief left everything on the floor and quickly ran away.Then, it so happened that as he was fleeing, Dandaka was bitten by a black snake and died, after having become freed from all his previ¬ous sins. The Yamadutas then brought him into the presence of their master.
Yama angrily asked Chitragupta to tell him about Dandaka's ac¬tivities. Chitragupta replied, "This one has committed every sin pos¬sible. But, he has done one good act that I believe would destroy all of his sins.Yamaraja was eager to hear about that act, and so Chitragupta continued, "This worst of sinners went to steal from a temple of Lord Vishnu. His feet were muddy and so when he walked into the temple, he filled the holes in the floor. It is that act which has freed him from all sins. You therefore have no right to punish him.Next, there is glorification of the worship of Lord Vishnu in the month of Karttika. During the course of this discussion, the following story was told: There was formerly, in the Treta yuga, a pure brahmana named Vaikuntha. One day, after having offered a ghee lamp to Lord Vishnu in the temple, during the month of Karttika, he returned home. A rat then came and began eating the ghee from the lamp, caus¬ing it to burn more brightly. Out of fear of being burnt by the lamp, however, the rat suddenly ran away, and at that time, he was bitten by a snake and died.As the Yamadutas were binding the rat, to take him to their mas¬ter, four Vishnudutas suddenly arrived, mounted upon Garuda. They cut off the Yamaduta's ropes and then said, "Fools, this is a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Return to you master at once, if you value your lives.The Yamadutas humbly inquired, "What glorious act did this rat perform, so that you are now taking him to Vaikuntha?The Vishnudutas said, "This rat revived the lamp in front of Lord Vishnu. Even though this was done unintentionally, that act has the power to vanquish sins committed in millions of previous births.Formerly, in Dvapara yuga, there was a sinful woman named Chanchalapangi. She was very beautiful, and possessed a lovely smile, but she was a prostitute. Once, she travelled to another kingdom and there, she went to a temple of Lord Vishnu. She chewed some tambula and threw the remaining part on a wall.Then, desiring to get money money by securing a lover, she went into the city. There, she made arrangements with a businessman to meet that evening in the forest. However, Chanchalapangi became disappointed because her customer failed to show up. She thought to herself, "Was he eaten by a tiger or bit by a serpent? Perhaps, he found another woman.Because it was dark, she was afraid to re-enter the city, thinking that the guards at the gate would surely question her. It so happened that a hungry tiger came and ate the prostitute that night, as she stayed in the forest. The Yamadutas then came there to take her away.
The Vishnudutas also arrived, however, and forbade the Yamadutas, saying that the lady was dear to Lord Vishnu.Later, when the Yamadutas related the incident to him, Yamaraja inquired from Chitragupta, "By what merit was the prostitute able to attain salvation?Citragupta replied, "From her birth, this woman performed many sins. And yet, just by throwing the powder of tambula on the wall in the Vishnu temple, all of her sins became eradicated. The magnani¬mous Lord considered that she was beautifying His temple by decorat¬ing the walls with that powder.Next, there is glorification of Krishna Janmastami. Shaunaka Rishi said, "O Suta, please tell us about the importance °f Krishnashtami (Janmashtami), which emancipates one from the great ocean of worldly existence.Suta Gosvami said, "A devotee who earnestly observes the festi-val of Krishnashtami throughout his life, ultimately attains the abode °f the Lord, along with his family members. On the other hand, the wicked-minded
person who avoids celebrating Janmastami attains only misery in this life and the next. The foolish man who eats cooked food on Janmashtami, certainly goes to suffer in hell, after death.The following story was then related:There was a king named Chitrasena, who delighted in performing all kinds of sinful activities.It could be said that he strictly followed his four regulative principleshaving sex with the wives of others whenever the opportunity arose, drinking wine, eating all kinds of meat, and gambling with illegally acquired money. His associates wre mostly chandalas.One day, Chitrasena went hunting in the forest. When he saw a tiger there, he ordered his men to surround it. He then told his soldiers, "1 will fight with this tiger single-handedly. If anyone interferes, I will kill him.After a long hunt, the king became very hungry and thirsty, and in the evening, he reached the banks of the River Yamuna. It just happened to be Krishna Janmashtami. By the side of the river, the king saw many chandala girls observing the auspicious day by worshiping the Lord with various articlessuch as sandalwood paste,camphor,flowers and ghee lamps.Being irritable because of hunger, the king exclaimed, "Due to lack of food, I shall surely die tonight!
The women replied, "On this auspicious day, the appearance day of Lord Krishna, you should fast. For one who has never fasted on Krishna Janmashtami, the puishments of hell are his just reward.
Upon hearing this, King Citrasena decided to fast all night. In fact, being delighted with the prospect of engaging in the Lord's devo¬tional service, he worshiped Krishna that night, with offerings of san¬dalwood paste and flowers. As a result of this sincere endeavor in Krishna consciousnes, the king went to the abode of Lord Vishnu, after quitting his material body at the time of death.Next, is the glorification of Radhashtami.Shaunaka Rishi said, "O Suta, tell me about the importance of observing the appearance day of Shri Radha.Suta Gosvami said, "Formerly, Narada Muni made the very same
request to Lord Brahma.Narada said, "O best among those who know the sacred texts, tell me about Radhashtami. What is the result of observing the appearance day of Shrimati Radharani? What is the sin incurred by those who do not observe it?Lord Brahma said, "My child, please listen carefully. The religious merit earned by observing Radhashtami is one hundred times more than the fruit a man obtains by following one thousand Ekadashis.In fact, the benefit received by observing Radhashtami only once is more than a man achieves by giving gold the weight of Mount Meru. The merit achieved is equal to that of giving one thousand virgin girls in marriage.Lord Brahma then narrated this story: Long ago, in the Krita-yuga, there was a beautiful, thinwaisted girl named Lilavati.She had committed many, many sins. One day, desiring to earn wealth, she left home and went to another town. Upon entering a temple there, she saw many people observing Radhashtami, with great devotion. Indeed, they were worshiping the Deity of Radha with very opulent parapher¬nalia. Some of the devotees sang, some of the devotees danced, while others offered prayers.Being curious, Lilavati approached the devotees and asked, "Pious ones, you appear to be very joyfui. What are you doing?The devotees explained, "Today is Radhashtami, the day that Radha was born. We are celebrating that auspicious day with care and attention. By doing so, we are confident that all of our sinful reactions will be destroyed- even those that are very grave, such as the killing of a brahmana.Lilavati thought to herself, I shall observe this vow, which destroys all sins.Thus it so happened that she joined the other devotees in cel¬ebrating Radhashtami. Later on, that woman died of a snake bite. The Yamadutas immediately came and bound her tightly, but then the Vishnudutas also arrived there. After cutting the Yamadutas' ropes with their chakras, they put Lilavati upon their divine chariot and took her to Goloka Vrindavana.
Lord Brahma concluded his discussion of Radhashtami by saying, O Narada, once the Earth was greatly burdened by sinful men. Taking the form of a cow, she came to me for help. I then prayed to Lord Krishna and He replied to me, 'I shall descend upon the Earth, along with my associates.' After that, Krishna told Radha, 'Goddess, I am going to appear on the Earth, to relieve her burden. You should accom¬pany Me.' Radha thus appeared as the daughter of Vrishabanu. Her birth was not like that of an ordinary conditioned soul. Actually, she appeared from Vrishabanu's sacrificial grounds, in a divine form. He then adopted her, as his daughter.Next, Shaunaka Rishi said, "Please describe the importance of Ekadashi. What does one gain by observing Ekadashi and what sin does one incur by not following it.Suta Gosvami said, "What can 1 say about Ekadashi? The Yamadutas, who cause fear to all beings, themselves become frightened upon hearing the name, Ekadashi!"A man should fast the entire day of Ekadashi and then remain awake that night, worshiping Lord Vishnu. The man who worships Lord Vishnu with Tulasi leaves, obtains the results of millions of sacrifices.To hell with the life, wealth, beauty and conduct of those most sinful persons who eat grains on Ekadashi! They are indeed the eaters of feces!Those who eat grains on Ekadashi become diseased and crippled, and they suffer from cough and leprosy. Indeed, they become village pigs in their next lives and are reduced to poverty in this life.In this way, there is a lenghty description of the benefits obtained by fasting on Ekadashi, as well as the punishments that are meted out to those who do not observe Ekadashi."O brahmana, the woman who, along with her husband, stays awake all night on Ekadashi, will reside for a long time with her hus¬band in the abode of Lord Vishnu.This story was then narrated: Formerly, there was a very wealthy man named Vallabha, in the city of Kanchana. His beautiful wife was Hemaprabha, but her fault was this, as is common in the age of Kali she was excessively talkative. Indeed, she always quarreled with her husband and criticized her elders with cruel words. She would secretly eat directly from the cooking pots, and then give the leftovers to her superiors. Her heart was always filled with thougths of her illicit lover and yet, she would say, "1 am a chaste woman.Once, after she had quarreled with her husband, he had beaten her. Being very angry, she went to a vacant house, without telling any¬one, and slept there. Indeed, for as long as she remained there, she did not eat or drink anything. Fortunately for her, it was Ekadashi, the day that destroys all sins. In fact, she not only fasted on Ekadashi, but on the next day, Dvadashi, as well.Later on, she happened to die on the night of Janmastami. The Yamadutas came to take her. After being bound by them, the Vishnudutas arrived and cut the Yamadutas' ropes to pieces. They then placed her, who was freed from alll sins, upon a divine chariot and carried her to Vaikuntha.
This story was narrated just to show the importance of observing a fast on the Ekadashi day.Next, there is discussion about what is the attonement for a per¬son who has had illicit sex. It is said, "That fool who cohabits with a cow should observe three days of fasting. Then, he should give a cow and food to a brahmana in charity. He who cohabits with a prostitute, a female ass, a female pig, monkey or she-buffalo, should remain with¬out eating, after putting himself into mud up to the neck, for three nights. He should do this after shaving his head, leaving a sikha.Next, there are descriptions of attonement for one who has eaten feces, drunk urine or partaken of wine.It is also said, "A man who eats an onion, garlic, or meat should observe the Chandrayana vow.This story is then told: Long ago, in the Treta-yuga, lived a Shudra named Shankara in the Saurashtra country. His wife was Kalipriya. She considered her husband to be no better than straw in the street, however, and so she was always on the lookout for a paramour. She thought, "This husband is not suitable for me. My real love is someone else.Thinking in this way, she always fed her husband stale food. She drank liquor and ate meat in the company of other low-minded people. For no reason at all, she would continually reproach her husband, think¬ing, "He is like a rope tied to my feet, binding me. When will he die? when he dies, I will be free to enjoy as I like.Then, one night, she cut her husband's throat with a sword and went to meet her paramour. However, at the designated meeting place, the woman found that her paramour had been eaten by a tiger. Being highly aggrieved, she fainted onto the ground. Then, after regaining consciousness, she wept for a long time. She lamented, "I killed my husband so that I could approach a stranger. Due to my bad luck, that man was killed by a tiger! What shall 1 do? Where shall I go? I have been deceived by God !Finally, Kalipriya returned home. She kissed the mouth of her dead husband and wailed, "What a terrible deed 1 have done! My dear husband, speak to me! O, there is not a single sin that I have not committed.Thereafter, that woman travelled to another city. There, she saw many good people, engaged in the worship of Lord Vishnu, while bath¬ing in the Narmada river. It was the month of Karttika. She approached a group of women who were worshiping Lord Vishnu and asked, "O ladies, kindly tell me what you are doing.They replied, "It is the most auspicious month of Karttika, and so we are offering worship to Shri Shri Radha-Krishna. This practice frees one of all sinful reactions.
On that very day, Kalipriya gave up eating meat, and she wor¬shiped Lord Vishnu very nicely on the following Ekadashi. Then, on the Purnima, it so happened that she gave up her material ody. Immediately, the Yamadutas came and bound her, but at that time, the Vishnudutas also arrived. Thus it came to be that Kalipriya attained the abode of Radha and Krishna, which is known as Goloka.
Next, Padma Purana describes in detail how one should worship Lord Vishnu during the month of Karttika. In the course of this discus¬sion, it is said, "The body of a human being which is without the Urdhvapundra (tilak on the forehead) should not be seen.Shrila Prabhupada quotes a verse from this section, as follows: "It is stated in the Karttika-mahatmya section of the Padma Purana:
suklastami karttike tu I smrta gopastami budhaih
tad-dinad vasudevo 'bhud I gopah purvah tu vatsapah
The eighth lunar day of the bright fortnight of the month of Karttika is known by authorities as Gopastami. From that day, Lord Vasudeva served as a cowherd, whereas previously He had tended the calves.During the month of Karttika, the Damodara-ashtaka is sung in all the ISKCON temples, while ghee lamps are offered to the Deities, in the evening. Two of these prayers are quoted by Shrila Prabhupada, as follows:Hiitidrk-sva-lilabhir ananda-kunde sva-ghosam nimajjantam akhyapayantam tadiyesita-jnesu bhaktair jitatvam punah prematas tarn satavrtti vande
TRANSLATION: Again let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. O my Lord, I offer my obei¬sances hundreds and thousands of times with all affection because by Your personal pastimes You plunge the gopis into an ocean of nectar. Appreciating Your opulence, devotees generally declare that You are always subjugated by their feelings.
PURPORT: This verse is from the Damodarastaka, in the Padma Purana.In the Damodarastaka, which is part of the Padma Purana, a devotee prays,
varam deva moksha na mokshavadhim va
na chanyam vrine 'ham vareshad apiha
idam te vapur natha gopala-balam
sada me manasy avirastam kim anyaih
'O Lord Damodara, although You are able to give all kinds of benedictions, I do not pray to You for the boon of impersonal libera¬tion, nor for the highest liberation of eternal life in Vaikuntha, nor for any other, similar boon. O Lord, I simply wish that this form of Yours as baby Gopala in Vrindavana may ever be manifest in my heart, for what is the use to me of any other boon besides this?' (Damodarastaka 4).Next, the glories of Tulasidevi are described. Suta Gosvami said, "The servants of Yamaraja do not come to a house that is located in the vicinity of a Tulasi garden. Indeed, a garden of Tulasi plants is very auspicious, and it removes all sin. Those who plant Tulasi will never have to see the abode of Yamaraja.In this connection, the following story is narrated: Formerly,in Dvaparayuga, there was a pious brahmana. Once, after bathing and offering Tulasi puja, the brahmana returned home. A very sinful man then came to that place. Being very thirsty, he drank the water that had been offered to Tulasidevi. This caused the destruction of all his sinful reactions.A hunter named Asimardana next came there. It so happened that there was a misunderstanding and, as a result, the hunter killed the sinful man who drank the water that had been offered to Tulasi. The Yamadutas quickly came to bind him, but then the Vishnudutas also arrived and forbade them.At this, the Yamadutas were surprised and asked, "What pious act did this sinful man perform so that you are now taking him to Lord Vishnu's abode?The Vishnudutas replied, "Formerly, this man was a king. He had performed many religious acts, but then he kidnapped a beautiful woman. For this, he had to visit Yamaraja's abode and suffer great torments. Indeed, he had to lie down and embrace a woman made of red-hot copper. Now, it is because of drinking the water at the roots of Tulasidevi that he is on his way to Lord Vishnu's abode.Next is described the importance of chanting the holy name of the Lord. While conversing with Narada, Sanat-kumara said, "Even a man who is without any good behavior, who is wicked-minded, who is an outcaste, deceitful, a hypocrit, full of pride, drinks liquor, is cruel, a thief, and covets another man's wife- if he takes shelter of Lord Vishnu, he become purified of all sins.Here, in this section, is a verse that Shrila Rupa Gosvami in¬cluded in his Bhaktirasamritasindhu.Shrila Prabhupada often quoted this verse, throughout his writings: "As confirmed by the Padma Purana:
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
No one can understand Krishna as He is by utilizing the blunt material senses. However, the Lord reveals Himself to His devotees, being pleased with them because of their transcendental loving service
rendered unto Him.Sanat-kumara continued, "If a wicked person offends Lord Vishnu, but then chants the holy name of the Lord, he will become freed from that offense. However, one who offends the holy name of the Lord, cannot be delivered by any means.Narada asked, "What are the offenses against the holy names of the Lord?Shrila Prabhupada has quoted these verses (including Sanat-kumrara's reply to this question) and explained them, in his commen¬tary on Shrimad-Bhagavatam, second canto, first chapter, as follows: "Shrila Jiva Gosvami instructs that chanting of the holy name of the Lord should be loudly done, and it should be performed offenselessly as well, as recommended in the Padma Purana. One can deliver himself from the effects of all sins by surrendering himself unto the Lord. One can deliver himself from all offenses at the feet of the Lord by taking shelter of His holy name. But one cannot protect himself if one com¬mits an offense at the feet of the holy name of the Lord.Such offenses are mentioned in the Padma Purana as being ten in number. The first offense is to vilify the great devotees who have preached about the glories of the Lord.The second offense is to see the holy names of the Lord in terms of worldly distinction. The Lord is the proprietor of all the universes, and therefore He may be known in different places by different names, but that does not in any way qualify the fullness of the Lord. Any nomenclature which is meant for the Supreme Lord is as holy as the others because they are all meant for the Lord. Such holy names are as powerful as the Lord, and there is no bar for anyone in any part of the creation to chant and glorify the Lord by the particular name of the Lord as it is locally understood.They are all auspicious, and one should ot distinguish such names of the Lord as material commodities.The third offense is to neglect the orders of the authorized charyas or spiritual masters.The fourth offense is to vilify scriptures or Vedic knowledge."The fifth offense is to define the holy name of the Lord in terms f one's mundane calculation. The holy name of the Lord is identical ith the Lord Himself, and one should understand the holy name of he Lord to be nondifferent from Him.The sixth offense is to interpret the holy name. The Lord is not maginary, nor is His holy name. There are persons with a poor fund of nowledge who think the Lord to be an imagination of the worshiper nd therefore think His holy name to be imaginary. Such a chanter of he name of the Lord cannot achieve the desired success in the matter f chanting the holy name.The seventh offense is to commit sins intentionally on the strength of the holy name. In the scriptures it is said that one can be liberated from the effects of all sinful actions simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord.
One who takes advantage of this transcendental method and continues to commit sins on the expectation of neu¬tralizing the effects of sins by chanting the holy name of the Lord is the greatest offender at the feet of the holy name. Such an offender cannot purify himself by any recommended method of purification. In other words, one may be a sinful man before chanting the holy name of the Lord, but after taking shelter in the holy name of the Lord and becoming immune, one should strictly restrain oneself from commit¬ting sinful acts with a hope that his method of chanting the holy name will give him protection.The eighth offense is to consider the holy name of the Lord and His chanting method to be equal to some material auspicious activity. There are various kinds of good works for material benefits, but the holy name and His chanting are not mere auspicious holy services. Undoubtedly the holy name is holy service, but He should never be utilized for such purposes. Since the holy name and the Lord are of one and the same identity, one should not try to bring the holy name into the service of mankind. The idea is that the Supreme Lord is the supreme enjoyer. He is no one's servant or order supplier. Similarly, since the holy name of the Lord is identical with the Lord, one should not try to utilize the holy name for one's personal service.The ninth offense is to instruct those who are not interested in chanting the holy name of the Lord about the transcendental nature of the holy name, if such instruction is imparted to an unwilling audience,the act is considered to be an offense at the feet of the holy name.The tenth offense is to become uninterested in the holy name of the Lord even after hearing of the transcendental nature of the holy name. The effect of chanting the holy name of the Lord is perceived by the chanter as liberation from the conception of false egoism. False egoism is exhibited by thinking oneself to be the enjoyer of the world and thinking everything in the world to be meant for the enjoyment 01 one's self only. The whole materialistic world is moving under such false egoism of T and 'mine,' but the factual effect of chanting the holy name is to become free from such misconceptions.
Narada asked, "If a person is not well-behaved, if helacks dis¬crimination and detachment, and if he is full of love for his body, what can he do to avoid offenses while chanting the holy name of the Lord?Sanatkumara replied that such a person's only recourse is to take shelter of continuous chanting of the Lord's holy name.Shrila Prabhuapda quotes this verse, as follows: "Continuous chanting of the holy name with great relish (ruchi) is the privilege of the advanced devotee, but one who chants with offenses is also recommended to chant constantly.As the Padma Purana states, although in the beginning one may chant the Hare Krishna mantra with offenses, one can free himself from those offenses by chanting again and again.Papa-kshayas ca bhavati smaratah tarn ahar-nisham:One becomes free from all sinful reactions if one remembers the Lord day and night.Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura also quotes this verse from the Padma Purana:namaparadha-yuktanam / namany eva haranty agham avisranti-prayuktani / tarry evartha-karani ca 'Even if in the beginning one chants the Hare Krishna mantra with offenses, one will become free from such offenses by chanting again and again. Even if one chants the Hare Krishna maha-man-tra offensively, one can avoid offenses by continuously chanting without deviation. One who becomes accustomed to this practice will always remain in a pure transcendental position, untouchable by sinful reactions.Here is another verse that is quoted by Shrila Prabhupada: "In the Padma Purana it is said, sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te nishphala rnatah: if one does not follow the four recognized disciplic successions, his mantra or initiation is useless. In the present day there are many apasampradayas, or sampradayas which are not bona fide, which have no link to authorities like Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva,the Kumaras or Lakshmi.