by Shrila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami
In Padma Purana, Lord Shiva says to Durga:
ghore kali-yuga prapte
vasudeva para martyas
te kritartha na shamshayah
“In the dangerous age of Kali only those who have abandoned all kinds of religious activities and engage in the service of Lord Vasudeva, are really successful (kritartha). Of this there is no doubt.”
The word ‘ghore’ means very dangeorus, subject to the unavoidable network of dangers which bind one in worldly existence. Such a Kali-Yuga arrives after the age of Dvapara, and has a duration of 432,000 years. ‘Sarva-dharma-vivarjita’ means those who have avoided all kinds of religious activities of varna and ashrama, and only engage in the service of Lord Vasudeva, not even worshipping demigods and forefathers to achieve fruitive result. They are doubtlessly successful in their purpose. It has already been explained that both service to Vasudeva and the fulfillment of one’s desire is achieved by chanting the name of Lord Hari and other devotional activities.
As well it is stated in Skanda Purana :
sa karta sarva-dharmanam
bhakto yas tava keshava
sa karta sarva-papanam
yo na bhaktas tavacyuta
“O Keshava, one who is Your devotee has performed all auspicious activities, while one who is not Your devotee is the committer of all sinful activities.”
Lord Brahma himself says, “Simply because he is Your devotee, O Keshava, whoever adores only You, is the performer of all religious activities. That means the pure and steady-minded devotee has certainly already performed all fruitive activities (which he is supposed to perform in his so-called religion according to varna and ashrama, such as worshipping demigods and honouring forefathers) because he worships You, the infallible Godhead. But, O Acyuta, one who is not Your devotee or one who has not accepted Your holy name from a bona fide guru and has neglected to follow the regulative principles, being under the control of the external energy of the Lord, desiring to get material results, he is certainly a committer of all sinful activities.”
How is this possible? Having avoided dedication to devotional service and rejecting the worship of the Lord who is always in pure goodness, one who acts like a prostitute by following activities prescribed in Shruti, Smriti, and Puranic texts (that are in the modes of passion and ignorance) performs many kinds of yoga, sacrifice, oblations, charity, penance and worship of demigods. According to the statement, ‘svakarma-phala-bhuk pumam’, one has to enjoy or suffer according to all of his deeds. One has to revolve in the cycle of birth and death through 8,400,000 species of life, as an enjoyer of his own deeds after leaving his body. After wandering through all these species, when one finally gets a human life, that person again acts sinfully by the influence of his previous activities — because of not having lived according to the principles of devotional life.
Again, in the same scripture it is stated:
papam bhavati dharmo’ pi
tava bhaktaih kritam hare
nih shesha-karma karta va-
‘py abhakto narake patet
“O Lord Hari, even the sinful actions commited by Your devotees are considered a religious action, but a nondevotee who performs all kinds of religous activities, is still thrown into hell.”
The meaning of ‘bhakta’ and ‘abhakta’ have been explained already. “O Lord, the apparent sin of not performing demigod and ancestor worship by Your devotees is certainly considered correct according to the principles of Bhagavata-dharma, because they have undeviated devotion to the Lord. On the other hand, a nondevotee may perform all kinds of religious actions, but as a result he has to fall down to hell. This refers to all the actions mentioned in the Vedas and Puranas which are in the modes of passion and ignorance, such as Soma-Yaga, Vajapeya-Yaga, Shad-Anga-Yaga, atonement, Pancagni Sadhana (the process in which one has to sit down lighting five fires around himself), Vayu-Bhojana ( or eating only air), Ashvamedha Yajna, penance and sacrifice which involves killing animals, and worshipping demigods. After quitting his body such a person sometimes goes to the heavenly planets and enjoys the results of his actions; sometimes he stays on this planet; and sometimes falls down to hell. I, Lord Brahma, servant of Your servants, being afraid of Kali, pray to You, O Lord Hari, by the two vocative words “he hare!” (This section proves that in any varna, the Vaishnava, exclusively worshipping Vishnu, is the best, and amongst all the Vaishnavas- the brahmana-sannyasi is the best. )
In the same text it is mentioned:
brahmanah kshatriyo vaishyah
shudro va yadi vetarah
“A brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra or whoever one may be, if he is dedicated to Vishnu, he is considered the best of people.”
It was mentioned earlier that a person who has taken up the devotional service of Lord Vishnu is superior to all others inside or outside the varnashrama system. He has completely rejected fruitive activities like worship of demigods and forefathers, and nitya, naimittika and kamya rites mentioned in the Vedas and Puranas which are in the modes of passion and ignorance. ‘Va’ means applicable to any of the varnas and ‘yadi’ means if. Even those born in low families, if they give up all kinds of activities causing further entanglement in material existence and take up serving the devotees, they are considered the best. The shudra who is servant of a devotee is superior to the shudra serving a brahmana, kshatriya or vaishya. There are eleven kinds of shudras according to Harita Samhita:
malakarash ca tailikah
modako thaliko narah
tambulikrit tatha shudrah
sat shudrau gopa-napitau
palaganda – a stone worker or claypot maker
tantravaya – a weaver
malakara – a gardener
tailika – an oilman
karmakara- a blacksmith
tambuliko – seller of betel nuts
modaka – a confectioner
thalika – plate maker
tambulikrit – preparer of betel leaves
gopa – a milker of cows (distinct from the vaishya, who owns the cows)
napita – a barber
All are counted in the shudra category, but the gopas and napitas are the true shudras.
The vaishya, performing duties such as farming, commerce, and cow protection, and avoiding such fruitive actions which cause one to enjoy or suffer in heaven or hell, and serving only the brahmanas and kshatriyas, is superior to a shudra serving the higher classes.
Superior to such a vaishya is a kshatriya, who in his occupation serves the brahmanas of great devotion and faith, and with determination protects all living entities by his heroic qualities. Superior to such a kshatriya is a brahmana who has destroyed the karma causing material bondage and suffering in hellish conditions, who has the eight or twelve qualities as described in Shrimad Bhagavatam, and who chants only the Brahma-Gayatri and avoids all rituals aiming at material enjoyment. The twelve qualities are stated in Mahabharata by Sanat Sujata:
dharmash ca satyam ca damash tapas ca
hy amatsaryam hris titikshanasuya
yajnash ca danam ca dhritih shrutam ca
vratani vai dvadasha brahmanasya
“Religiosity, truthfulness, sense-control, austerity, nonenvy, modesty, tolerance, freedom from fault-finding, sacrifice, charity, steadiness and knowledge are the twelve qualities of a brahmana.”
‘Vai’ means certainly. These are the twelve qualities of brahmanas who are purified by chanting Gayatri mantra. ‘Dharma’ means to be steady in proper behaviour, avoiding nonreligious action. ‘Satyam’ means always being truthful, even till the end of life. ‘Dama’ means sense control. ‘Tapa’ means to be steady in daily austerity, not giving trouble to the body for fruitive results. ‘Hri’ means always being modest because of great civility, out of fear of social dishonour and falling to a low position. ‘Amatsarya’ means free from jealousy, free from showing one’s household opulence to put down others. A person should be enthusiastic to see other’s advancement. ‘Titiksha’ means to be tolerant of abusive speech, insult, defeat, disregard, disrespect and other bodily troubles. ‘Anasuya’ means not finding any fault in others. ‘Yajna’ means non-fruitive sacrifices, but the yajna of chanting Gayatri mantra hundreds and thousands of times. ‘Danam’ refers to those charitable activities like distributing water, food, clothes to all whether invited or uninvited guests, relatives and others who are within or outside of the varnashrama system, with devotion and according to ones ability. There is no sankalpa (vow) or desire to enjoy the fruit of such distribution. ‘Dhriti’ means firmness and satisfaction of mind without disturbance from the turbulence of the material world. ‘Shruta’ means having natural attraction for studying, teaching and hearing the Vedas in the mode of goodness.
The qualties of brahmanas are also described in Shrimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.28, 7.7.9, and 7.11.21. In Narada Pancaratra 1.2.42 it says that the svadharma of the brahmanas is to serve Krishna and to eat His naivedya (an offering of bhoga to the Deity) and to drink His padaka water daily.
Superior to such a brahmana is a brahmacari who practises all the brahminical qualities faithfully throughout his life, and practises all the rules of brahmacarya or penance as mentioned in the Shruti, Smriti, and Puranas. Superior to such a brahmacari is a grihastha, a householder who has the same brahminical qualities and offers service to guests, who come by their own will without any invitation, with food and water, and satisfies them according to his ability. The vanaprastha, who has renounced his grihastha-ashrama and stays in the forest with his wife, following strictly all rules of brahminical qualities, is superior to such a householder. And the sannyasi or an ascetic who practices all the rules and regulations as prescribed in the Vedas, Puranas, Upa-Puranas, and Mahabharata is superior to such a vanaprastha.
(This last section shows that the sannyasi, the topmost person in the varnashrama system, gives up all fruitive actions -worship of devatas and pitris completely. He is a model for all others to follow.)
In Bhagavad-Gita 18.2, Lord Krishna speaks about sannyasa to Arjuna:
kamyanam karmanam nyasam
sannyasam kavayo viduh
prahus tyagam vicakshanah
“Giving up of activities that are based on material desire is what great learned men call the renounced order of life (sannyasa). And giving up the result of all activities is what the wise call renunciation (tyaga).”
Giving up of kamya karmas is known by the learned men as sannyasa, and giving up the result of activity is called tyaga or renunciation by the wise men. There is a deep import in the words of the Lord. One may ask whether one may perform all the nitya and naimittika activities if only kamya karmas are rejected. If that were so, then what is the question of sannyasa? The Shruti says “om tad van vai karmakrit, sannyaso naigamam karma ca, anyasat karmi, (nyasat) sannyasah he hiti.” One who does not give up Vedic performance is a karmi, and one who gives it up is a sannyasi. The word ‘hi’ means certainly, ‘naigama’ means activities prescribed in the Vedas. In this world the performer of such activities is certainly called a karmi. Being talented in all such activities he is called karmatha or active. Therefore not performing such activities gives rise to sannyasa, and one who performs the duty of sannyasa is called sannyasi.
Sat Kriya Sara Dipika, Part Nine
BY: SUN STAFF