Tag Archives: Morality

How to Make Kali-Yuga the BEST of All the Ages

SB 1.18.5

While the kingdom of Abhimanyu’s superexcellent son remained intact, Kali could not expand and flourish anywhere.

Abhimanyu’s superexcellent son is King Pariksit.

6

But certainly Kali’s immorality began to flourish the instant he left the world, following the All-Attractive.

Parīkṣit gave Kali’s immorality five places of shelter in the world. But while Parīkṣit was king the world remained very disinterested in those five, and therefore Kali could not spread. The second he left the earth to join All-Attractive Śrī Krishna, however, the population began to wander towards the immoral bases of Kali’s influence, and thus the degradations of this age began to gain a foothold.

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The King never hated Kali, because he was like a honey bee who takes the essence of a flower to produce wondrous honey. [In this age] Good deeds bear fruit quickly, and bad deeds are not taken very seriously.

Most of us are very superficial. Parīkṣit was not. His deep vision saw through the superficial degradations of Kali-yuga. He saw that even though it appears bad, there are good things about it. For example, any good deed done in this age has a magnified effect, while any bad thing is minimized. There is a logical psychological principle behind this; It is not a random statement. Sūta explains the logic in the next text.

8

The powerful do not fear the strong; The sober do not fear Kali. A wise person amongst the insane is like a tiger among men.

This explains why good deeds are amplified and bad deeds minimized during Kali-yuga. To be wise when everyone around you is in an insane panic is very noteworthy and makes one extremely great, like a tiger among men. If the environment around you is full of violence, you will not be criticized highly if you have to punch someone, but you will be praised greatly if you can accomplish something peaceful. Similarly if the environment around you is very peaceful and loving it is not so outstanding if you also do something peaceful, but you will be greatly condemned if you punch someone. In Kali Yuga immorality and madness is everywhere. Therefore no one should be harshly condemned for being immoral or bewildered, but if anyone does anything slightly good or gains any clarity whatsoever, it is extremely praiseworthy and potent.

So there is no need to fear Kali yuga. If one has the strength to go against the grain, Kali Yuga becomes the most advantageous epoch for spiritual progress.

9

I’ve said what I can in answer to your wonderful questions about Parīkṣit’s relationship with this discussion of Vasudeva’s son.

Sūta has said everything he can think of saying in response to the questions from the sages. They wanted to know about the participants in the story of Vasudeva’s son (Krishna). The story of Vasudeva’s son is this book, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. The main participants creating the book are Vyāsa, Śuka, and Parīkṣit. Several chapters ago Sūta finished answering the sages’ questions about Vyāsa. Now he feels that he is finished answering their questions about Parīkṣit as well.

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Anyone who really wants the best for themselves should listen carefully whenever and wherever there is discussion of the All-Attractive, glorifying his amazing deeds that arise from his good qualities.

This cannot be overstated. And to understate this principle is to miss the entire point of what true sadhana (spiritual practice) is.


Wretched Hives of Scum and Villany

SB 1.17.35

Sūta said:

Thus commanded by Parīkṣit, whose sword was raised like the god of death, Kali trembled as he answered.

36

Kali said:

On this entire earth, anywhere you may send me I will see your powerful bow and arrow and remember your orders.

37

O best of those who protect morality, might you assign me some place to confine myself within, under your rule?

Parīkṣit threatened to kill Kali, but Kali took refuge of his mercy. The king agreed not to kill him, but still refused to allow him full freedom. Kali assured the king that fear would always keep him on good behavior. If the King would give Kali a limited jurisdiction Kali would stay put there and not spread anywhere else.

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Sūta said:

Petitioned thus, Parīkṣit gave Kali: places of gambling and contest, places of drinking, places of sexual promiscuity, and slaughterhouses.

Through sports and gambling Kali encourages untruth. Through drinking he encourages a loss of sobriety and simplicity, because alcohol sets free our “repressed” desires. Where there is sexual promiscuity Kali destroys purity and cleanliness, causing loss of self-esteem and venereal disease. Where there is meat eating Kali destroys compassion.

Parīkṣit limited Kali’s power to certain domains. Unfortunately Kali has spread the influence of these domains to every nook and cranny of the earth. Where can you go to escape sports, beer, cleavage and hamburgers? Stadiums, bars, pornography hard and soft, and slaughterhouses now dominate our entire “culture” of sports, alcohol, blatant sexuality, and hamburgers.

Kali has taken over the earth.

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Begging for a little more, the Master gave him a fifth place: wherever money accumulates. In such places there is always cheating, maddening desire, passion, and enmity.

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The Son of Uttarā gave Kali to the order to live only in those five places, through which Kali could certainly encourage immorality.  

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Therefore a person who desires his own well-being must never, ever go to such places. Especially not those who protect morality: kings, leaders, and teachers.

No one who wishes to truly improve their lives should become a fan of making money, competing with others, getting drunk, trying to have sex, and eating meat. Do not become intimate or close with anyone who seriously values any of these things!


The Political Scene of Kali Yuga (Plus, Reconciling Dualism, Non-Dualism, and the Vedas)

SB 1.17.25

Morality now limps around only on the leg of truthfulness. In Kali Yuga, immorality tries to destroy that leg by instigating deceits.

26

The All Attractive erased this great burden from the earth while his beautiful footprints spread happiness everywhere.

27

This saintly woman weeps and sheds tears, forsaken and unfortunate, thinking “Now low-class small-minded men masquerading as kings will exploit me.”

“This saintly woman” refers to the Earth goddess, present there in the form of a cow. In texts 26 & 27 Parīkṣit guesses her mind as thinking, “Now that my husband Krishna is gone I am forsaken and alone. Detestable creatures masquerading as real men will soon pounce upon and rape me.”

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Having thus soothed Dharma and the Earth, the great chariot-warrior drew his sharp sword against Kali, the agent of immorality.

The “great charior-warrior” is King Parīkṣit.

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Seeing his intention to kill, Kali very fearfully abandoned his king-costume and bowed his head to the king’s feet.

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The heroic show mercy and kindness to the wretched who fall at their feet. So the praiseworthy giver of shelter did not kill him. With a bit of a smile, he spoke.

31

The King Said:

I must uphold the reputation of Arjuna, so since you put your hands together in supplication to me nothing fearful shall befall you. But by no means can you roam free in my lands, because you are a friend to immorality.

32

Wherever you impersonate a ruler the masses will become full of immoralities: greed, falsehood, thievery, unkindness, violence, decay, delusion, bickering and vanity.

33

A friend of immorality cannot remain where there is truth and morality: a spiritual place where sacrifice is done for the master of sacrifice with a full abundance of deep realization.

34

Such sacrifices worship the All-Attractive Hari – who is the soul of all worshipable forms, and who expands the happiness of the worshipers. His desires are unfailing. He is the soul that is inside and outside of everything that moves and does not move; like the sky.

Parīkṣit uses Sanskrit words here that fell out of fashion after the four Veda evolved into Upanishads and Puranas. It is because he is discussing the performance of sacrifice, and the four Veda are the basis of sacrificial culture in ancient India.

The sacrifices of the Veda seem rarely if ever directed to the All-Attractive Godhead. Instead they serve very practical, materialistic purposes and are directed to various material powers and demigods who can award practical success and happiness. Parīkṣit declares in texts 33 & 34 that when truly realized people perform these sacrifices it is All-Attractive Hari (hari bhagavān) whom they worship (iyjamāna), not the various demigods with whom the four Veda seem preoccupied. Those demigods are actually the forms (murti) in which the realized sacrificer sees All-Attractive Hari as the soul (ijyātma-murtiḥ). The demigods themselves are under the control of fate, therefore what power do they truly have to bless their worshipper? It is only Hari whose will cannot be thwarted in any circumstance, who has “unfailing desires” (kāmān amoghān). Therefore it is only Hari who can bless anyone with happiness and success. In Vedic sacrifices he uses the demigods as a vehicle to bestow those blessings. This is not a sectarian or ecclesiastic opinion. It is a self-evident philosophical truism.

One may then wonder, Are the demigods are equivalent to Hari? Parīkṣit says that Hari is not just the soul within the demigods, he is the soul within everything, even things which do not seem to be alive! Then is Hari contained within the demigods and souls of the world? No. Parīkṣit says that he is not only within everything, he is also beyond everything (sthira-jangamānām antar bahir ātmā). In this half of the verse Parīkṣit switches is word choice from a Vedic to an Upanishadic tone; because the Upanishads were written to explain the philosophical truths hidden within the apparently superficial symbols and rituals of the Veda, and that is exactly what Parīkṣit is doing.

One may ask, How can something be inside and outside at the same time? Parīkṣit therefore names a prominent Vedic deity: Vāyu, god of the sky. Everything in our world is within the sky, but that does not mean that the sky is limited and contained within everything. The sky is distinct from and greater than everything within it! Similarly All-Attractive Hari is the soul within everyone and everything, yet is an individual person as well, greater than and distinct from everyone else.

This is a perfect synthesis of dualism and non-dualism. The great teacher Śrī Caitanya picked up on this philosophy held by Parīkṣit and enunciated by Sūta in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. He developed it into a school of thought known as acintya-bhedābheda-tattva (“the truth of wondrous unity and difference”).


Moral Principles

21

Sūta said:

O best among twice-born, when the Sovereign heard these words from Dharma he replied without doubt or hesitation.

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The King said:

Your words are full of dharma. You understand dharma. You are Dharma in the form of a bull. One who criticizes the wrongdoings of others also becomes a wrongdoer.

By hearing the bull speak, and speak so eloquently and knowledgeably, Parīkṣit confirmed his initial suspicion that it was not an ordinary bull, but a god, Dharma – the god of religion / morality.

If one understands morality as deeply as the god of morality does, one becomes extremely averse to criticizing others. If we criticize someone, invariably our mind becomes enrapt in the qualities we criticize. Those qualities then seep into our own behavior. Parīkṣit himself will explain in the next verse that to criticize another person is to assume that the universe is flawed.

There are many different levels of dharma, morality. Parīkṣit previously pointed out that it is a moral duty to identify wrongdoers so they may be punished. Now, on a deeper level, he acknowledges that it is ignorant to consider anything a “wrong.” In practice, I suggest that we may point out the wrongdoings perpetrated on other people when there is something productive to be gained by so doing.

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He thinks, “The minute movements of divine magic are beyond the boundaries of the mind or words of any living being.”

Parīkṣit explains why a very moral person does not criticize the wrongdoer. When a wrong is done, he thinks, “Who can say if this is truly ‘wrong’ since the minutia of fate is so far beyond my capacity to understand.”

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Properly established, your legs are simplicity, purity, compassion and truthfulness. They are broken by the triplicate immoralities: arrogance, copulation, and intoxication.

Among the scriptural statements I have yet studied this is one of the closest to the somewhat famous “four regulative principles” of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. There they have a stature reminiscent of the 10 Commandments. I believe they were originally enunciated by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī for his organization, the Gauḍiya Maṭh.

The common expression of the “Four Regs” is: (1) no meat eating, (2) no intoxication, (3) no illicit sex, and (4) no gambling. I would like to explain these rules more deeply and thoroughly than is common.

These four prohibitions are said to break the four legs of morality. So we should first understand the four legs of morality a little more clearly.

  1. 1.       Tapaḥ – This means to be simple, spartan, minimalist, austere, and self-sacrificing.
  2. 2.       Śaucaṁ – This means to be pure. Purity means to be emotionally, mentally, and physically clean, free from contamination.
  3. 3.       Dayā – This means to be kind, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, generous, etc.
  4. 4.       Satyaṁ – This means to be truthful. It also means to be “real” and not concerned with irrelevant and meaningless gossips and diversions.

In this verse and the next, Parīkṣit identifies four aspects of immorality which break the four legs of morality:

  1. 1.       Smaya – This means arrogance and conceit.
  2. 2.       Sanga – This means “coming together” and can have a social or physical context. In a social context it means gathering in a close and emotionally intimate group. In a physical context it means physical intimacy, sex.
  3. 3.       Madaiḥ – This means excitement, passion, lust, and the intoxication and insanity which tends to result.
  4. 4.       Anṛta – This means falsehood, lying, cheating and being out of touch with reality.

Smaya (arrogance) breaks the leg of dayā (compassion).  Compassion means to feel empathy for the needs and wants of others. When we are self-absorbed and self-important we overlook the needs and wants of other people. We will even kill them if it suits our whims, just as millions of people kill animals and destroy nature every day because it suits their tastes.

Not eating meat is one way to counteract arrogance because it forces us to value the lives of animals more than we value our own fancies. It is not the only way. And it should be clear that a vegetarian who remains arrogant, conceited, and insensitive to the human beings he or she lives with hardly makes much progress towards dayā (compassion). We should be compassionate in all ways, not just in our diet.

Sanga (copulation) breaks the leg of śaucaṁ (purity). It is not that sex is evil. In fact, all acts which unify express a godly principle, “aditi.” But intimacy, especially sexual intimacy, with anyone and everyone is immoral because it violates our ideological and emotional purity. It also threatens our physical purity and cleanliness and creates needless disease.

Some form of abstinence is therefore an important principle of morality. Total celibacy is an extreme application, but the same principle also positively operates whenever sexual intercourse is held within reasonable limits such as marriage or even in long-term relationships. Sexual restraint alone does not itself make us pure. We must also seek to be free from emotionally intimate relationships with unsavory persons.

Madaiḥ (the intoxication of lust) breaks the leg of tapaḥ (simplicity). Simplicity means to be content with whatever you have. It means to be free from the complications that arise by always desiring more, bigger and better. Simplicity and sobriety have something important in common, as a sober person doesn’t chase whims and desires here and there.

Literally drinking alcohol or taking other sorts of drugs is certainly an important part of madai (lustful intoxication), but it is not really the essence of it. To restore the leg of tapaḥ we must be “sober” in much more than merely a literal sense of the word. Surely a person who is literally sober has a head start, but it is not that intoxicants themselves are evil. A person who does not drink alcohol is not necessarily a simple, austere person. Nor is a person who occasionally and moderately drinks incapable of being minimalist, simple and austere. We must strive to be sober in all ways, so that we have more time and energy to dedicate to the service of others.

The fourth leg, satya (truthfulness) is broken by anṛta (deceit). Playing poker or gambling is not the essence of untruthfulness! Still, gambling is based on bluffing, cheating, tricking, or just risking what is comparatively real (money) on something comparatively unreal (dice). Thus to restore the principle of truthfulness we would do well to avoid such behavior, but a game of cards, or a bluff at stealing second base in a game of baseball does not make one a “sinner.” Simply put, we must not tell lies, must keep promises, fulfill responsibilities, disclose the truth plainly but with good manners and sensitivity, and not risk what is real for the sake of what is unreal.

The fourth leg (sat-ya) still has significant potency in the fourth age, the age of Kali. It endures even in adverse conditions because it is the principle, most durable, powerful leg of morality. This is why sat-sanga and sat-kathā are such essential aspects of religion and spirituality. These prevent us from sacrificing the truly real for the truly unreal: and that is actual morality.

What is truly unreal? Our ego.

What is truly real? The All-Attractive Divine Identity (“Śrī Krishna”). The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam describes Śrī Krishna as satyam-param: the paramount truth. Thus krsna-sanga (emotionally intimate association with Krishna, via those who are deeply absorbed in contemplation of Krishna) and krsna-kathā (discussion and broadcast of Krishna’s name, qualities, beauty and activities) can restore all the legs of morality fully and deliver happiness, satisfaction and enlightenment to anyone and everyone.

The four principles of morality are four “legs” that hold up the “bull” of dharma. What is the bull itself? What are the principles actually supporting? Divine Love for the All-Attractive. Without divine love, all behavior – moral or not – is pretentious and ugly. When one focuses on cultivating divine love through krsna-sanga and krsna-kathā the four principles of morality automatically become firm, strong and whole.

Hare Krishna.


The Futility of Morality and Philosophy

[1.5.12]

Without heartfelt affection for the Infallible there is no beauty even in knowledge that liberates one from all karma. What to speak of laborious duties, be they selfishly intended or not, if they are not done in offering to The Master.

Nārada continues to explain Vyāsa’s failure, revealing why he felt depressed and incomplete even after creating the entire culture of Vedic knowledge. The bulk of Vyāsa’s work focused on duties (karma). A higher but smaller portion focused on philosophy (jñāna). He relatively ignored the most essential subject: heartfelt devotion to the Infallible Master (“acyuta-bhāva”).

[13]

Therefore – O greatly blessed man of perfect vision, famous for your purity, truthfulness and dedication – to liberate the people from bondage you must first enter a trance of constant contemplation upon the deeds of the Supernatural Doer.

Since deeds and knowledge are not satisfying unless connected to heartfelt devotion for the All-Attractive, to remedy his depression and accomplish his goal Vyāsa must make humanity more clearly aware of the beautiful deeds of the All-Attractive. To accomplish this he must first have perfect vision of those deeds, and so must enter a meditative trance upon them.

[14]

Do not discuss anything without connecting it to this. The myriad names and forms of such things will make the heart unsteady like a boat troubled by a storm.

Nārada will explain this concept in a more practical manner:

[15]

The instructions you gave about moral duties are condemnable because they will be completely misappropriated by humanity’s powerful natural attachments. “We are following religion,” they will say – as they completely ignore your prohibitions.

This is a practical explanation of how a storm of problems arises from discussion of anything – even morality and philosophy – without direct connection to heartfelt devotion for the All-Attractive. Vyāsa gave so much guidance on how to be moral and dutiful, how to be “religious.” But the powerful natural inclination of a human being is to exploit whatever we can for our own purposes. Unless this natural inclination is replaced with a natural inclination of divine love, humanity will take any morality and philosophy and twist it to serve our own agendas. While slaughtering men, women and children, and destroying centuries of accumulated study and knowledge we will hold aloft religious symbols and claim that our despicable deeds – great and small – are religious and just, completely ignoring all the parts of our morality and religion that state to the contrary.

Thus promotion of religion is a mistake, and Vyāsa himself made that mistake. To benefit humanity, direct heartfelt devotion for the All-Attractive that must be promoted first and foremost. Morality and philosophy must attend this devotion as loving servants. To reverse this ratio and put morality and philosophy before divine devotion is a catastrophic error – and Vyāsa made this error in his efforts prior to Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.