RITUALISTIC ATONEMENT OF SINS IS USELESS

ByHis Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda

param vijayte sri krishna sankirtanam 1975

At the end of the Fifth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī has given description of the hellish planets. Parīksit Mahārāja, after hearing the pitiable condition of persons in the hellish planets, became sympathetic. Therefore he is putting the statement before Śukadeva Gosvāmī: Adhuneha mahā-bhāga yathaiva narakān narah: “My dear sir, you have described about the hellish condition of the suffering persons. Now kindly give me any enlightenment how they can be delivered.”

So Śukadeva Gosvāmī says, “My dear king, if before one’s next death whatever impious acts one has performed in this life with his mind, words, and body, are not counteracted through proper atonement according to the description of the Manu-samhitā and other dharma-śāstras, one will certainly enter into the hellish planets after death and undergo terrible sufferings as I have previously described.”

So Parīksit Mahārāja is an intelligent devotee. He therefore protested against this so-called atonement. Therefore he describes like this, “Everyone knows that ‘I am stealing; it is not good for me’, but even though he is put into the jail as prāyaścitta (atonement), again he comes back and does the same thing. Then what is the meaning of this legal punishment or prāyaścitta?” Therefore Parīksit Mahārāja says that

kvacin nivartate ‘bhadrāt kvacic carati tat punah
prāyaścittam atho ‘pārtham manye kunjara-śaucavat

“Sometimes one who is very alert so as not to commit sinful acts is victimized by sinful life again. I therefore consider this process of repeated sinning and atoning to be useless. It is like the bathing of an elephant, for an elephant cleanses itself by taking a full bath, but then throws dust over its head and body as soon as it returns to the land.” [SB 6.1.10]

He gave very good example – “This prāyaścitta or legal punishment is like kunjara-śaucavat.” Kunjara means elephant, and śauca, taking bath. So kunjara, the elephant, dips itself into the water and takes bath very thoroughly, and as soon as it comes on the land, it takes some dust and throws over his body. The purport is that unless one is fully convinced that “Sinful activities are very, very abominable for me,” he cannot give it up. Therefore one has to cleanse his heart. That is real prāyaścitta. Otherwise, even by being imprisoned or by giving fine or by suffering, one cannot cease from sinful activity. So this Krishna consciousness movement is thoroughly, the wholesale process of cleansing the mind.

Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has given His own version, ceto-darpana-mārjanam. The purport is that if we perform this Krishna sankīrtana, then immediately the core of our heart, which is filled up with all dirty things, will be cleansed. For example, you can see practically that all my disciples who  present here, are coming from Western countries, Europe, America, or even in India, Parsis and Mohammedans, they are coming. But they are now pure, cleansed of all dirty things. In this movement throughout the whole world there are at least ten to twelve thousand devotees like that. And before this life they were addicted to all kinds of sinful life. We have summarized all sinful activities into four groups, namely, illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling. So all these ten to twelve thousand men who are now attached with this Krishna consciousness movement, they are not committing these four pillars of sinful life.

Therefore our request is that you take to this chanting method. It is very easy – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare – and gradually you shall become free from all sinful reaction of life. But one thing we must be very careful, that we should not commit sinful life again. If you chant Hare Krishna mantra, you will become free immediately from all sinful reaction. But if you again commit sinful life, that is your responsibility. This is warned very… amongst the ten kinds of offenses, one offense is very grievous offense—nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhih—if one thinks that ‘I am chanting Hare Krishna; therefore whatever sinful acts I am doing, they are becoming counteracted’, then one is mistaken.

If you keep yourself on the platform of chanting Hare Krishna mantra and do not commit sinful life willfully, then you are liberated. If you keep yourself always pure, do not commit any sinful activity and chant Hare Krishna mantra, then your life is successful. Don’t commit the mistake of the elephant of taking bath thoroughly and again coming and throwing dust on your body.

[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on January 5, 1976 in Nellore, India]

Also Read:
PUNISHMENT FOR ILLICIT SEX
DEVOTIONAL EMOTION IS THE MAIN THING IN KIRTAN – NOT STYLE AND INSTRUMENT
KRISHNA CAN BE SERVED BY EVERYONE – INCLUDING THE THIEVES AND THE ROGUES
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