|Canto 4: Creation of the Fourth Order||Chapter 21: Instructions by Mahārāja Pṛthu|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 4.21.30
dauhitrādīn ṛte mṛtyoḥ
dauhitra-ādīn — grandsons like my father, Vena; ṛte — except; mṛtyoḥ — of personified death; śocyān — abominable; dharma-vimohitān — bewildered on the path of religion; varga — religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation; svarga — elevation to the heavenly planets; apavargāṇām — being freed from material contamination; prāyeṇa — almost always; eka — one; ātmya — the Supreme Personality of Godhead; hetunā — on account of.
Although abominable persons like my father, Vena, the grandson of death personified, are bewildered on the path of religion, all the great personalities like those mentioned agree that in this world the only bestower of the benedictions of religion, economic development, sense gratification, liberation or elevation to the heavenly planets is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
King Vena, the father of Pṛthu Mahārāja, was condemned by the brāhmaṇas and saintly persons because of his denying the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and rejecting the method of satisfying Him by performance of Vedic sacrifice. In other words, he was an atheist, who did not believe in the existence of God, and who consequently stopped all Vedic ritualistic ceremonies in his kingdom. Pṛthu Mahārāja considered King Vena's character abominable because Vena was foolish regarding the execution of religious performances. Atheists are of the opinion that there is no need to accept the authority of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be successful in religion, economic development, sense gratification or liberation. According to them, dharma, or religious principles, are meant to establish an imaginary God to encourage one to become moral, honest and just so that the social orders may be maintained in peace and tranquillity. Furthermore, they say that actually there is no need to accept God for this purpose, for if one follows the principles of morality and honesty, that is sufficient. Similarly, if one makes nice plans and works very hard for economic development, automatically the result of economic development will come. Similarly, sense gratification also does not depend on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for if one earns enough money by any process, one will have sufficient opportunity for sense gratification. Insofar as liberation is concerned, they say that there is no need to talk of liberation because after death everything is finished. Pṛthu Mahārāja, however, did not accept the authority of such atheists, headed by his father, who was the grandson of death personified. Generally, a daughter inherits the qualities of her father, and a son gets the qualities of his mother. Thus Mṛtyu's daughter, Sunīthā, got all the qualities of her father, and Vena inherited the qualities of his mother. A person who is always subjected to the rules and regulations of repeated birth and death cannot accommodate anything beyond materialistic ideas. Since King Vena was such a man, he did not believe in the existence of God. Modern civilization agrees with the principles of King Vena, but factually if we scrutinizingly study all the conditions of religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation, we must accept the principles of the authority of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to Vedic literature, religion consists only of the codes of law given by God.
If one does not accept the authority of the Supreme Godhead in matters of religion and morality, one must explain why two persons of the same moral standard achieve different results. It is generally found that even if two men have the same moral standards of ethics, honesty and morality, their positions are still not the same. Similarly, in economic development it is seen that if two men work very hard day and night, still the results are not the same. One person may enjoy great opulence without even working, whereas another person, although working very hard, does not even get two sufficient meals a day. Similarly, in the matter of sense gratification, sometimes one who has sufficient food is still not happy in his family affairs or sometimes is not even married, whereas another person, even though not economically well off, has the greatest opportunity for sense gratification. Even an animal like a hog or a dog may have greater opportunities for sense gratification than a human being. Aside from liberation, even if we consider only the preliminary necessities of life — dharma, artha and kāma (religion, economic development and sense gratification) — we will see that they are not the same for everyone. Therefore it must be accepted that there is someone who determines the different standards. In conclusion, not only for liberation must one depend on the Lord, but even for ordinary necessities in this material world. Pṛthu Mahārāja therefore indicated that in spite of having rich parents, children are sometimes not happy. Similarly, in spite of valuable medicine administered by a competent physician, sometimes a patient dies; or in spite of having a big safe boat, sometimes a man drowns. We may thus struggle to counteract impediments offered by material nature, but our attempts cannot be successful unless we are favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness