Prescribed Duties for Mankind:
Relating to Nârada, the sages and Indra, the king of heaven
Chapter 1: Dharma and Adharma: the Life of Ajaamila
(1) S’rî Parîkchit said: ‘By following the path of liberation described in the beginning by your Holiness is duly to order, by means of the process of yoga and by Lord Brahmâ, learnt how not to start for another life. (2) Marked by fate and indeed directed at the three modes, is one time and again caught in the material world, where there is a constant renewal of forms, o sage. (3) The hells typical for the different sorts of impiety were by you described as also the period of Manu, the manvantara wherein we find the original Svâyambhuva, the son of Brahmâ. (4-5) Of Priyavrata and of Uttânapâda you described the character and the dynasties and you also described the different realms, regions, oceans, mountains, rivers, gardens and trees of the earthly sphere and its situation in the sense of the divisions, characteristics and measurements of all the higher and lower worlds that the Almighty created. (6) Please explain to me right now what human beings must do out here so that they may not have to undergo all the sorts of terrible conditions of veritable suffering in hell.’
(7) S’rî S’uka said: ‘If there within this life is not the necessary counteraction, the proper atonement, after having been wrong with the mind, in one’s words and in one’s sensuality, will undoubtedly that person, indeed after having died, end up in the different types of hell of terrible suffering, which I’ve already described to you. (8) Therefore, before one’s death and before one’s body is too old and decrepit, should one out here as soon as one can endeavor to nullify one’s offenses with a proper estimate of their gravity, just like a physician good at diagnosing would do treating a disease.’
(9) The king said: ‘What is the value of atonement when one, despite of hearing and seeing about it and of knowing how harmful to the self one acts in committing offenses, is not really able to exercise control in one’s repetitiously falling down? (10) Sometimes ceasing with the sin, sometimes engaging in it again, I consider the process of atonement quite useless; it is like with an elephant covering itself with dust after coming out of the water.’
(11) The son of Vyâsa said: ‘By undoing karma is indeed, from being without knowledge, not its end realized; for real atonement one really has to be through with all that. (12) Those who eat the right food are truly not overcome by all sorts of disease indeed, similarly is the one acting in orderly observance o King, more and more likely to be well. (13-14) This is done by vow and regulation [yama and niyama]; voluntary penance, celibacy, mindcontrol [in dhyâna and japa e.g.] and restraint of the sensual as also by donating to good causes, truthfulness and internal and external cleanliness. By the body, the voice and by the intelligence do the sober ones in full knowledge of the actual duty of dharma with faith put an end to all kinds of offenses, however great and abominable, like a fire consuming dry leaves. (15) Some manage, in relying on nothing but an unalloyed devotion [*] towards Vâsudeva, to destroy all their badness beyond revival, like the sun does with fog. (16) A man full of sin, o King is for certain not as much purified by penance and such as the devotee is who surrendered his life to Krishna in dedicated service unto the original person of God [or the âcârya]. (17) In this world is the path that is really appropriate the one that is followed by the well-behaved, fearless and auspicious, saintly people in surrender of Nârâyana. (18) Most of the atonement well performed by a nondevotee will not purify, o King, like all the rivers can’t with the washing of a liquor jar. (19) Once the mind is of full surrender to the two lotusfeet of Lord Krishna, will one, hankering after His qualities, out here never encounter Yamarâja and his superintendents, or even in one’s dreams meet his servants carrying the ropes to bind, because one is then of the right atonement [compare B.G. 18: 66]. (20) Relating to this is the example given of the very old story of the discussion between the order-carriers of Vishnu and Yamarâja. Please hear about it from me.
(21) In the city of Kânyakubja there was some brahmin with the name of Ajâmila who as the husband of a low class woman was contaminated by his association with her services and had lost all his truthful conduct. (22) By having resorted to reprehensible exploits as arresting without need, cheating in gambling and theft, gave he others a lot of trouble in maintaining his family in a most sinful way. (23) Living on this way keeping up his family consisting of many sons, o King, passed the great amount of time of eighty-eight years of his life. (24) He, as an old man, had ten sons and the youngest of them was a small child that by the father and the mother was held very dear and addressed by the name of Nârâyana. (25) The little one was very dear to him; to see its child-talk and its playing enjoyed the old man very much. (26) When he ate, drank and chewed fed he in great affection the child, and gave he it also something to drink, but being foolish failed he to understand that his end was near. (27) When the time of his death had arrived had he, living as an ignoramus, thus a mind fixed on the little son who carried the name of Nârâyana. (28-29) At a short distance he saw that three characters, with ropes in their hands and fearful features, twisted faces and their hairs erect on their bodies, had arrived, ready to take him away. Terrified and with tears in his eyes he thus loudly called for his nearby playing child which carried the name of Nârâyana. (30) Hearing the chant of the name of the Lord their master from the mouth of the dying man, o King, arrived His attendants immediately. (31) As the messengers of Yâma were pulling away the heart of the maid’s husband, did the Vishnudûtas with resounding voices forbade it. (32) They being forbidden replied to them: ‘Who are you all, to oppose the authority of the King of Dharma? (33) To whom or where do you belong, why have you come here and why are you forbidding us to proceed? Who would you be, the best of the perfect, gods or some godlike? (34-36) You all, with your lotuslike eyes, yellow garments, helmets, glittering earrings and lotusflower garlands; you all, looking so young and all beautiful with four arms, bow, quiver of arrows and the decoration of a sword, club, conch, disc and lotusflower, in all directions dissipate the darkness by the effulgence of the light emanating from you; what is the purpose of your denying us, the servants of the Maintainer of Dharma?’
(37) S’uka said: ‘Thus being addressed by the Yamadûtas did they, always ready to serve Vâsudeva, reply them smilingly the following, with voices resounding like rumbling clouds. (38) The honorable Vishnudûtas said: ‘If the lot of you are indeed the order-carriers of the King of Dharma, then you tell us the truth of dharma as also how adharma should be recognized. (39) In what way should punishment be administered or what would be the suitable place to do so, and are all or only some of the humans out for their advantage punishable?’
(40) The Yamadûtas said: ‘In the Vedas indeed is the dharma prescribed, adharma is the opposite of that; the Vedas are to be seen as born from Himself, from Nârâyana, so we’ve heard. (41) By Him, from His own position, are under the rule of the modes of passion, goodness and slowness all these manifestations created and have they their appropriate differences in qualities, names, activities and forms. (42) The divinity of the sun, the fire, the sky, the air, the gods, the moon, the evening, the day and the night, the directions, the water and the land; all these are dharma personified verily thus bearing witness to the embodied living entity. (43) By all these is the deviation in adharma known and are the proper places of punishment all acknowledged with regard to the karma in question of the offenders deserving the chastisement. (44) With the karmîs who contaminated by the modes took up a material form, are there indeed auspicious, pious acts as well as actions opposite to that, o sinless ones, because practically no one does his work completely free from material motives. (45) The extent to which someone in this life performs a certain adharma or dharma, assures him of enjoying or suffering a particular result accordingly in his next life [compare B.G. 14: 18]. (46) The way in this life among the living, o best of the divine, from the different effects of the natural modes, the three kinds of attributes are achieved [of being peaceful, restless and foolish; of being happy, unhappy or in-between; or of being religious, irreligious and semi-religious], may one expect it to be similar when one reaches elsewhere [in an afterlife]. (47) Just as the present time is evidence of the past and an indication for the future, is even so this birth indicative of the dharma and adharma of one’s past and future births. (48) In his abode does the godhead [of Yamarâja] in his mind’s eye observe the previous form taken and considers he its possible future; to the mind is he a great Lord as good as Brahmâ. (49) The way someone in his sleep is engaged in acting to a particular form, is one similarly unaware of the past and of what’s next when one because of one’s birth has lost the remembrance. (50) By the seventeen of the five working senses, the five senses of perception and their five objects, he performs, knows and has its interests, but with these fifteen elements and the mind to it, is he himself the one [soul] that is the seventeenth element enjoying the threefold. (51) Since that sixteen part subtle body is the effect of the three forces of the greater of nature, is the living entity subjected to a [difficult to overcome] perpetual transmigration [samsriti] that gives it jubilation, lamentation, fear and misery. (52) The embodied one who, not being in control with the senses and the mind, misses the awareness, is against his will caused to perform actions for his own material benefit; like a silkworm he thus weaves himself into his own karma, getting bewildered. (53) There is verily no one who but for a moment can remain without doing something; indeed is one by the three modes automatically forced to perform fruitive activities that are the result of one’s own natural tendencies. (54) By the so very powerful inborn nature comes into being, no doubt as a copy to the mother’s flesh and the father’s seed, the gross and the subtle of the body to the drive of the, for the person invisible, cause [see also: B.G. 8: 6]. (55) The position of a living entity has because of this association with the material of nature turned into an awkward one of forgetfulness, but if one but for a short while manages to enjoy the association of the Controller, is that problem overcome.
(56-57) This one [Ajâmila] was always good with the Veda, of a good character, good conduct and a reservoir of good qualities; conscientiously he followed the injunctions, was mild, controlled, truthful, knew his mantras, was neat and clean, of the greatest esteem in service of the guru, the fire-god, his guests and members of the household and free from false pride, friendly to all, faultless, non-envious and of the best words. (58-60) Once did this brahmin, following the orders of his father, go to the forest to collect from there fruits and flowers and samit and kus’a [types of grass]. Returning, he saw some s’ûdra very lusty together with a public woman that drunken of maireya nectar [a drink made from the somaflower] rolled her eyes to and fro of the intoxication. Under the influence had her dress slackened and, unashamed having fallen from proper conduct, stood he close to her singing and laughing, having a good time. (61) Seeing her with his lusty, with turmeric decorated, arm around her, fell Ajâmila thus, with his heart after what he saw, victim of perplexity. (62) From within trying to get himself under control, reminding himself what was taught, failed he to manage to restrain his mind, agitated as it was by Cupid. (63) Provoked by the sight was he, in the bewilderment of his mind, a planet in eclipse forgetting his real position and gave he, with his mind fixed on her, up on his dharma. (64) Her he ventured to please, as far as the money he had from his father would permit it, offering her material certainty in catering to her desires, so that she thus would be satisfied. (65) His youthful wife, the brahmin’s daughter from a respectable family he married, he in his sin abandoned the moment his mind got caught by the looks of the public woman. (66) By all means and at all times did he, this person, bereft of all intelligence, by either properly or improperly acquiring the money for it, take care of her and the many children that were part of the family she constituted. (67) Because this man, acting irresponsibly, broke with all the rules of the s’âstra, was his life of passing such a long time in wrongful activities, because of its impurity most condemned as being unclean. (68) Since he did not atone for his perpetual sinning, shall we therefore take him to the presence of the Lord of Punishment where being chastised he will find purification.’