All religious scriptures prescribe pious acts, 
but pious acts alone aren't enough for liberation.

A lecture at Kumbha-mela in Allahabad, India, on January 16, 1971

na niskrtair uditair brahma-vadibhis
tatha visuddhyaty aghavan vratadibhih
yatha harer nama-padair udahrtais
tad uttamasloka-gunopalambhakam

"By following the Vedic ritualistic ceremonies or undergoing atonement, sinful men do not become as purified as by chanting once the holy name of Lord Hari. Although ritualistic atonement may free one from sinful reactions, it does not awaken devotional service, unlike the chanting of the Lord's holy names, which reminds one of the Lord's fame, qualities, attributes, pastimes, and paraphernalia." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.11)

There are twenty kinds of ritualistic religious scripture, out of whichManu-samhita is considered to be the greatest. These scriptures prescribe many methods for getting oneself released from the reaction of sinful activities.

Anyone who is engaged in karma is performing sinful activities. Akarmi is one who is working for his own benefit. Everyone is working so hard not for others' benefit but for his personal benefit. That is calledkarma. And whenever you perform karma for your personal interest there must be some sinful activity. Therefore every karmi is a sinful man. This is the clear understanding. No karmi can live without being sinful.

Therefore how can one work and avoid sin? Take the example of the government. The government gives you license, say, for business. Every businessman is given some license: the municipality gives a license; the sales tax department gives a license. There are so many rules for obtaining licenses that a businessman has to follow. There are rules and regulations because all these departments know it very well that any businessman orkarmi is sure to commit sinful activities. Therefore there are so many regulations just to stop him as far as possible from sinful activities. Similarly, there are twenty kinds of dharma-sastra, which tell how one can live faithfully and religiously. The directions are there in the scriptures written by Parasara, Manu, and many other sages.

So therefore it is said here, na niskrtair uditair brahma-vadibhih. Brahma-vadi means those who are trying to lead persons to realize Brahman. The whole direction of the Vedic injunctions is to lead us to understand this point: "I am not this material body; I am spirit soul." And in order to understand this factual position, there are so many directions in thedharma-sastra, or religious scriptures.

You'll find in a later chapter of this volume of Srimad-Bhagavatam that Yamaraja will say, dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: "Originally, the regulator of religious principles is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Therefore Krsna is sometimes addressed as dharma-setu. Setu means bridge. We have to cross over. The whole plan is that we have to cross over the ocean of nescience in which we are now situated. The material existence is an ocean of nescience, and one has to cross over it Then one gets real life.

This present life is not real life. People are so foolish. They do not take it very seriously because they do not know that they are eternal. That is ignorance. Bhagavad-gita begins from the knowledge that the living soul is eternal: na hanyate hanyamane sarire. But people are in ignorance. They take it as a matter of fact that this life, this body, is all in all; and after death there is no more body, so who cares for sinful activities? That is another ignorance. And in order to give them direction, there are so many religious scriptures.

Therefore it is said, dharmena hinah pasubhih samanah: "If one is not following the principles of religious scriptures, one is no better than an animal." It doesn't matter whether it is Hindu religion or Christian religion or Muslim religion. It doesn't matter. But a civilized human being must follow some religious principles. That is the aim of human life. And anyone who does not follow any religious scripture is simply an animal. That is the position of the present world. We may claim to be Hindu or Muslim or Christian, but nobody cares for religion. They are simply karmis. Therefore they are all sinful.

Now, here the Visnuduta says, "The directions given in the religious scriptures to get out of the reactions of sinful activities are not sufficient." For example, in the Christian religion there is the direction that if anyone is sinful he should go to a priest and confess that "I have committed these things." And if the priest, who is supposed to be a representative of God or Christ, excuses the sinner because of his confession, then the sinful activities become null and void. But this verse says that this direction cannot purify the sinful man because the same man who has confessed that "I have committed these sins" comes out of the church and again commits the same sins. Therefore he is not purified.

This is not only in the Christian religion. In every religion there are some prescribed methods for purification. Because it is accepted that every man is sinful, therefore in religious scriptures there are certain methods of purification. But here the Visnuduta says that these prescribed methods, although they are authorized, cannot purify the heart of the follower of that religion.

You can see also in the Hindu and Muslim religions that even if they perform the ritualistic ceremonies, they do not cease from committing sins. They are just like a rascal patient. He goes to the physician, who gives him some medicine and some direction. The physician says, "You take this medicine. Do not do this. Do not eat so many things. You eat like this." So the patient takes the medicine, and for the time being he follows. But again he commits the same mistake, and again he goes to the physician "Doctor, please give me medicine." This is going on. So this kind of treatment is not accepted by the Visnuduta.

Therefore it is said here, "Such prescriptions for performing ritualistic ceremonies are not sufficient to purify a person." But if one chants the holy name of God, the Hare Krsna mantra, once only, one is purified. The purification of chanting harer-nama [the name of Hari, or Krsna] is that as soon as you chant the holy name of Krsna, immediately you will see the form of Krsna, you will realize the qualities of Krsna, and you will remember the pastimes of Krsna. That is the result of pure chanting of the Hare Krsnamantra.

Srila Jiva Gosvami has said that a pure devotee who chants the Hare Krsna mantra experiences immediately Krsna's name, form, qualities, pastimes, and so on. Simply by chanting Krsna's name, you will feel the form of Krsna: "Here is Krsna. Here are His qualities. Oh, Krsna is so qualified. He is so kind. He is so magnanimous." You will remember so many of His qualities. Then you'll remember His pastimes: "Oh, Krsna instructed Arjuna. Krsna played with His cowherd boys. Krsna had very nice talks with the gopis and with His mother, Yasoda." These things will be remembered.

This is the factual perfection of chanting. Although Ajamila became fallen in later age, in his early life he was a brahmacari [celibate student]. He was being trained by his father, and he knew the pastimes, the form, the names of Narayana. But by bad association, for the time being he forgot Then as soon as he chanted the name of Narayana, he remembered all these Narayana's form, pastimes, and so on. Therefore he was saved. Try to understand this.

One should know that offenseless chanting means remembering the form of Krsna. Therefore Mayavadis. those who are impersonalists. cannot think of the form of the Lord, nor of His pastimes. They do not believe in the pastimes of the Lord. They think these pastimes are maya [illusion]. Krsna's transcendental pastimes they think they are maya. Because they are impersonalists, they think His form is maya. Therefore Krsna says, janma karma ca me divyam: "My birth and activities are transcendental." The rascals cannot understand the activities and pastimes of Krsna. They think they are maya. But they are divyam, transcendental, not of this material nature. Krsna-lila is not of the material nature. Krsna says that anyone who knows this factually, in truth, he only is immediately liberated.

Here it is said that simply by chanting "Narayana, Narayana," if immediately you remember the nature of the form of Krsna, the nature of His pastimes, the nature of His entourage, then you immediately become liberated. That is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita:

jamma karma ca me divyam 
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punarjanma 
naiti mam eti so 'rjuna

"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna."

Therefore chanting is so easy and sublime. One who is offenselessly chanting the Hare Krsna mantra will always remember Krsna's form, Krsna's pastimes, Krsna's qualities, Krsna's entourage. He will remember all these things, and that remembering will make him liberated. By offenseless chanting one is liberated.

We should therefore be very careful not to commit offenses. So long as you chant the Hare Krsna mantra, you remain liberated. Actually, Srila Rupa Gosvami has said that chanting is possible only by the liberated soul:ayi mukta-kulair upasyamanam. When Rupa Gosvami glorifies the holy name, he says, mukta-kulair upasya: "Those who are liberated can chant the pure holy name of the Lord." And Pariksit Maharaja also has stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, nivrtta-tarsair upagiyamanat: "The holy name of Krsna can be chanted by persons who are nivrtta-tarsaih." Nivrttameans those who have completely ceased from material desire. They can chant. The holy name of God, Krsna, can be chanted by persons who are completely liberated from all kinds of material desire. That is the pure stage of devotional service.

Srila Rupa Gosvami states,

anukulyena krsnanu-
silanam bhaktir uttama

"One who has become completely freed from all kinds of material desires can engage in pure devotional service." Jnana, the cultivation of knowledge, and karma, the cultivation of pious activities, are also on the material field. To become very pious does not mean that one is liberated. A good man is also a conditioned soul. He is bound up by his good condition. A brahmana. for example, has acquired good qualities, but that does not mean that he is a devotee. You will find many good men, but you will rarely find a pure devotee. So a good man is not necessarily a devotee. Try to distinguish. A good man is good for this material existence, but a devotee is different from a good man.

For example, Arjuna was engaged in killing. People may think, "Oh, Arjuna is not a very good man: he is killing his grandfather; he is killing his nephews and devastating the whole family. Oh, he is not a good man." Sometimes people comment like that But Krsna says, bhakto 'si me sakha ceti: "You are My very dear friend."

Just try to understand. In the estimation of the material world, Arjuna is not a good man, because he is killing his own kinsmen. But in the estimation of Krsna, he is a dear friend and devotee. So that is the difference between a devotee and a good man of this world. A devotee is naturally a very good man, but when he acts just like a bad man on behalf of Krsna, he does not fall down. He still remains a pure devotee.

There is a class of persons known as sahajiyas. They think, "Krsna'srasa-lila is very nice, but Krsna's fighting with the demons and killing the demons that is not very nice." But they do not know the Absolute Truth. Krsna is good in any circumstance, whether He is enjoying the company of the gopis or He is killing the demons. That is the Absolute Truth.

So these things should be understood. So if you remember any krsna-lila, any of Krsna's activities, by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, then you are liberated. Immediately you are liberated. This we learn from the authoritative description of Srimad-Bhagavatam.

On the other hand, it is said here, na niskrtair uditair brahma-vadibhih: those who are very much anxious to realize Brahman the Brahmavadis have prescribed so many ritualistic methods, but these methods are not sufficient because they cannot elevate a person to the standard of a pure devotee.

This Kumbha-mela arrangement is a prescription by the Brahmavadis. There is a prescription that one should go during this time and live on the bank of the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna for at least three days. Then he becomes eligible to enter into the heavenly kingdom. The people who have come here are ambitious to enter into the heavenly kingdom. But a devotee does not care for the heavenly kingdom. A devotee doesn't care a fig for any planet within this material world. Devotees know the benefit of entering into the heavenly kingdom: There is no benefit

Suppose I may get a life span of thousands of years and enjoy a very high standard of life, with women, money, wine, and so forth. But what is the benefit? There is no benefit.

I was very glad to read an article sent by one of my disciples in Boston. He has written, "What is this society and family? It is all hellish. We do not wish to live without Krsna." This is a very nice statement. That is real realization: "We do not like to live without Krsna."

So anyone who has realized, "Any amount of material happiness is to be kicked out. I don't care for it. I simply care for Krsna, how Krsna will be happy" that person is a pure devotee. Anukulyena krsnanusilanam. Anukulyena means "favorably." We should simply try to please Krsna favorably, not unfavorably like Kamsa. Kamsa was also Krsna conscious, always thinking of Krsna, but unfavorably. His business was how to kill Krsna. He was thinking of Krsna, but he was thinking. "How can I kill Krsna?" That is called pratikula, "unfavorable."

Pratikula is not bhakti. When you think of Krsna against His desire, against the principle of satisfying Him, that is not bhakti. although that is also Krsna consciousness. An enemy of Krsna's is also thinking of Krsna. That does not mean that he is a devotee of Krsna. He is Krsna conscious unfavorably. Therefore it is not bhakti. You have to act favorably.

So Arjuna became a devotee because he acted favorably for the satisfaction of Krsna. It was not favorable to material life, but it was favorable to Krsna. That should be your business: how Krsna should be satisfied. And therefore naturally it is concluded that you have to satisfy his representative. Therefore we have sung just now, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah: if you satisfy Krsna's representative, then He is satisfied.

For example, in an office the proprietor has a head of a department If you satisfy the head of the department, the proprietor is satisfied. The report goes to the proprietor "This clerk is working very nicely." So your promotion and increase in pay are already there.

So a pure devotee's business is how to satisfy Krsna. And as soon as he chants the Hare Krsna mantra, immediately he remembers the whole plan of how to satisfy Krsna. Therefore he's liberated.

Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.