On the ascertainment of Dharma
1-10. Janamejaya said :– “O King of the Brâhmanas! You said that Râma and Krisna took their incarnations to relieve the burden of earth. One great doubt arises in my mind on this point. At the end of the Dvâpara Yuga, the Earth, burdened and oppressed very much, assumed, in anguish, the form of a cow and took refuge under Brahmâ. Brahmâ, then, went with the Earth to Visnu, the Lord of Laksmî, and thus prayed, “O Bibhu! Let You, with all the other gods, incarnate soon on earth at the house of Vâsudeva to relieve the Earth of Her load, as well as to protect the righteous.” When Brahmâ thus prayed, the Bhagavân Visnu incarnated as the son of Devakî, along with Balarâma to lessen the burden of the Earth. And, in fact, he relieved, to a certain extent, the Earth by killing many vicious persons and many wicked and irreligious Kings. But, along with that, Bhîsma, Drona, Virâta, Drupada, Somâdatta, and Karna, the son of the Sun were killed. But, See! that those who plundered afterwards His riches, and stole away the wives of Hari, those crores of Âbhîras, S’akas, Mlechchas, and Nisâdas and other vicious people remained alive; and how could it, then, be said that the Earth was relieved when Krisna did not kill those people! O Fortunate One! When I see all the people in this Kâlî Yuga addicted to sinful acts, this great doubt is not going out of my mind (how the Earth had been relieved of Her load).
11-14. Vyâsa said :– O King! As the Yuga changes, so the people changes in course of time. Nothing can alter its course, for this is caused by the Yuga Dharma (the Dharma peculiar to each Yuga). Therefore if all the subjects that are considered wicked and vicious according to the law of the Yuga Dharma, then this creation would be destroyed; hence Krisna killed only those Dânavas and vicious Ksattriyas that were really the burden of Earth. O King! The persons that are devoted to religion take their births in the Satya Yuga; those that are fond of religion and wealth they become manifest in the Tretâ Yuga; those that like Dharma (religion), Artha (wealth) and Kama (desires), they are born in the Dvâpara Yuga, and those that dote on wealth and lust, they are seen in the Kâlî Yuga. O King! Know this as certain that these characteristics, peculiar to each Yuga, never vary; and know this too, that Time, the Lord of Dharma and Adharma, is always present.
15-18. The King said :– “O Intelligent One! Where are those pious persons now that were born as high-souled religious persons in the Satya Yuga; where are those Munis now who were devoted to charity in the Tretâ or Dvâpara Yuga? Again where will go these shameless and merciless persons, that are being seen now in this Kâlî Yuga, these vicious creatures that revile their own Gurus? O Highly Intelligent One! I am very eager to know how these religious matters are brought to a decision and settlement; kindly describe to me in detail all these secret truths.”
19-30. Vyâsa said :– O King! Persons, born in the Satya Yuga, that perform acts of merit, go to the Deva Loka. O King! The Brâhmins, Ksattriyas, Vais’yas and S’ûdras, if they remain in their own spheres and if they be devoted to religious acts, go to their respective spheres, earned by their meritorious deeds. By virtue of truth, mercy, charity, going to one’s own wives, not injuring animals, and having no jealousy and showing mercy equally towards all, by practising these universal forms of religion, even the lowest castes, e.g., washermen and others all go to the Paradise. So in the Tretâ and Dvâpara Yugas men go to Heaven by virtue of their merits, earned in practising their own Dharma; but in this Kâlî Yuga persons addicted to vicious acts go to terrible hells and remain there till the end of the Kâlî Yuga when they will be again born in this earth. O King! When the Satya Yuga begins and the Kâlî Yuga ends, at this junction time, the virtuous highsouled persons descend from Heaven and are born on this earth; and when the Kâlî begins and the Dvâpara ends, the vicious souls come on the earth again from their hells. O King! Know this as the course of Time; it never becomes otherwise. See, then, that the Kâlî Yuga tends to do vicious things and the people, therefore, become vicious. At times, the birth of beings takes place otherwise than the laws of Yugas, out of the strange combinations of Fate (i.e., good persons are seen in the Kâlîand vicious persons are seen in the Satya). For this reason those that do meritorious acts in the Kâlî Yuga are born as men in the Dvâpara; so the Dvâpara good persons take their births as men in the Tretâ; and the Tretâ good persons are born as men in the Satya Yuga. Again those who are vicious in the Satya Yuga become persons of the Kâlî Yuga. The Jîvas suffer miseries on account of their own bad Karmas; they again suffer more miseries by doing over and over again those bad Karmas by virtue of the Yuga Dharma.
31. Janamejaya said :– “O Bhagavân! Describe particularly the details of the Yuga Dharma. I am now very desirous to hear which Dharma is for which Yuga?”
32-54. Vyâsa said :– O King! I will now show to you by example the influence of the religion peculiar to each Yuga; hear it attentively. O King! The hearts even of saints are quite disturbed by the Yuga Dharma. See! Your father was a religious and high-souled monarch; still the wicked Kâlî defiled his mind and prompted him to do an act very insulting to a Brâhmana. Otherwise why would he, being a renowned prince amongst the Ksattriyas and a descendant of Yayâti, thus go and encircle a snake round the throat of an ascetic Brâhmin? Therefore, O King! All actions are being influenced by the Yuga Dharma. The Pundits, also recognise this. If you try your best to perform any religious act, even then the Yuga Dharma would prevail, yet you would be able to perform to a certain extent, a part of your intention. O King! In the Satya Yuga, the Brâhmins were versed in the Vedas, always devoted to worship the Highest Force, with an ardent desire to see the Devî; they were devoted to Gâyatrî with Pranava, devoted to the meditation of Gâyatrî, always reciting silently Gâyatrî, and the Mâyâvîja Mantram, the chief mantram. In every village, the Brâhmins were very eager to erect temples of the Devî Mahâ Mâyâ Ambikâ and were truthful, merciful and pure and devoted to their own respective works. The Ksattriyas, skilled in the science of the highest knowledge, were ever engaged in doing things ordained by the Vedas and were always intent in protecting well their subjects. The Vais’yas did their cultivation and trade and the S’ûdras always served the other three castes. Thus, in the Satya Yuga, all the Varnas (castes) were devoted to the worship of the Devî Ambikâ, the Highest S’akti; but in the Tretâ Yuga, the observance of the religion declined a little and in the Dvâpara, it declined very much. O Ornament of Indra! Those who were Râksasas before, they become the Brâhmins of the Kâlî Yuga; they are the flowers of atheists, deceptors of men, untruthful, without any Vedas, devoid of the Vedic practices, arrogant, cunning, egoistic, and capable only to serve the S’ûdras. Some of them try to find fault with the Sanâtan Dharma and are the promulgators of various other creeds, wicked, fallen from their religion and given to much talking. O King! As Kâlî gets stronger, so the true religion declines and ultimately dies; and, in that proportion, the Ksattriyas, Vais’yas and S’ûdras are also devoid of their religion. When Kâlî will be in full swing, the Ksattriyas, Vais’yas and S’ûdras will all be untruthful, vicious; the Brâhmins will act like S’ûdras and will accept other’s gifts. O King! The women in the Kâlî Yuga would be very passionate, avaricious and ignorant. They would be very powerful and insolent, wilful, vicious and untruthful and so would be a source of pain to the society. They would think themselves vainly religious and learned and would be always ready to impart religious instructions and deceive their own husbands and be exceedingly vicious. O King! Our minds are purified by the food that we take; when our minds are pure, the Light of Dharma shines clearly. The customs and practices of Varna and Âs’rama Dharmas get intermixed with each other and so arises the fault of Dharma S’amkara (i.e., mixture of the several parts of religion with each other). When the Dharma S’amkara creeps in, the Varna S’ankara is seen (i.e., purity in blood and other matters of birth are lost). Thus, in the Kâlî Yuga, all the Dharmas will gradually die out and ultimately nothing will be heard about one’s wn religion. O King! In this Yuga even the religious high-souled persons will be found to do irreligious acts! The nature of Kâlî is so; nobody will be able to quit it. O King! Thus, in this age, men naturally commit vicious things; with ordinary means, therefore, no one becomes able to extricate from the worst vicious habits.
55-56. Janamejaya said :– “O Bhagavân! You know all and you are versed in all the S’âstras; what will be the fate of so many persons in this Kâlî Yuga? If there be any path, kindly describe it to me.”
57-65. Vyâsa said :– O King! There is only one path and none other which can save a man from the sin of this Kâlî; and that is this :– The Jîvas must meditate on the lotus-feet of the Highest Devî for the purification of all their faults and sins. O King! There is so much strength in Her sin-destroying Name, that the amount of sin in this world falls much less in proportion to that. Where, then, is the cause of fear? Her Name, uttered at random, even in an unconscious state, bestows so much unspeakable results that even Hari, Hara and others have not the capacity to know that. O King! The mere remembrance of the name of S’rî Devî is an atonement for a multitude of sins; then it behoves that every man, afraid of the Kâlî Yuga, residing in a place of pilgrimage, ought to remember incessantly the Name of the Highest Deity. Even if anybody cuts, pierces, and kills all the beings in this whole world, he won’t be touched with the sins, if he bows down, with devotion, before the Devî. O King! I have narrated to you all the secret truths of all the S’âstras. Consider all these fully and always worship the lotus-feet of the Devî. All men are reciting silently the Japam called the Ajapâ Gâyatrî; still they do not know the glory of it; such is the powerful influence of Mâyâ. All the Brâhmanas are reciting in the depth of their hearts the Gâyatrî Mantram, yet they do not know the glory of it (otherwise they would have been liberated); such is the great influence of Mâyâ. O King! I have described to you all that you asked me about the Yuga Dharmas; what more do you want to hear?
Here ends the Eleventh Chapter of the Sixth Book on the ascertainment of Dharma in the Mahâ Purânam, S’rî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam, of 18,000 verses by Maharsi Veda Vyâsa.