By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
“When King Vena ascended to the throne, he became all-powerful with eight kinds of opulences. Consequently he became too proud. By virtue of his false prestige, he considered himself to be greater than anyone. Thus he began to insult great personalities.
“When he became overly blind due to his opulences, King Vena mounted a chariot and, like an uncontrolled elephant, began to travel through the kingdom, causing the sky and earth to tremble wherever he went.
“All the twice-born [brahmanas] were forbidden henceforward to perform any sacrifice, and they were also forbidden to give charity or offer clarified butter. Thus King Vena sounded kettledrums throughout the countryside. In other words, he stopped all kinds of religious rituals.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.4 – 6 Translation]
What was committed by King Vena many years ago is at present being carried out by atheistic governments all over the world. The world situation is so tense that at any moment governments may issue declarations to stop religious rituals. Eventually the world situation will become so degraded that it will be impossible for pious men to live on the planet. Therefore sane people should execute Krishna consciousness very seriously, so that they can go back home, back to Godhead, without having to further suffer the miserable conditions predominant in this universe.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.6 Purport]
“Therefore all the great sages assembled together and, after observing cruel Vena’s atrocities, concluded that a great danger and catastrophe was approaching the people of the world. Thus out of compassion they began to talk amongst themselves, for they themselves were the performers of the sacrifices.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.7 Translation]
Before King Vena was enthroned, all the great sages were very much anxious to see to the welfare of society. When they saw that King Vena was most irresponsible, cruel and atrocious, they again began to think of the welfare of the people. It should be understood that sages, saintly persons and devotees are not unconcerned with the people’s welfare. Ordinary karmīs are busy acquiring money for sense gratification, and ordinary jnānīs are socially aloof when they speculate on liberation, but actual devotees and saintly persons are always anxious to see how the people can be made happy both materially and spiritually. Therefore the great sages began to consult one another on how to get out of the dangerous atmosphere created by King Vena.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.7 Purport]
“Thinking to save the state from irregularity, the sages began to consider that it was due to a political crisis that they made Vena king although he was not qualified. But alas, now the people were being disturbed by the king himself. Under such circumstances, how could the people be happy?
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.9 Translation]
In Bhagavad-gita (18.5) it is stated that even in the renounced order one should not give up sacrifice, charity and penance. The brahmacārīs must perform sacrifices, the grhasthas must give in charity, and those in the renounced order of life (the vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs) must practice penance and austerities. These are the procedures by which everyone can be elevated to the spiritual platform. When the sages and saintly persons saw that King Vena had stopped all these functions, they became concerned about the people’s progress. Saintly people preach God consciousness, or Krishna consciousness, because they are anxious to save the general populace from the dangers of animalistic life. There must be a good government to see that the citizens are actually executing their religious rituals, and thieves and rogues must be curbed. When this is done, the people can advance peacefully in spiritual consciousness and make their lives successful.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.9 Purport]
“The saintly sages continued thinking: Of course we are completely aware of his mischievous nature. Yet nevertheless we enthroned Vena. If we cannot persuade King Vena to accept our advice, he will be condemned by the public, and we will join them. Thus by our prowess we shall burn him to ashes.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.12 Translation]
Saintly persons are not interested in political matters, yet they are always thinking of the welfare of the people in general. Consequently they sometimes have to come down to the political field and take steps to correct the misguided government or royalty. However, in Kali-yuga, saintly persons are not as powerful as they previously were. They used to be able to burn any sinful man to ashes by virtue of their spiritual prowess. Now saintly persons have no such power due to the influence of the age of Kali. Indeed, the brahmanas do not even have the power to perform sacrifices in which animals are put into a fire to attain a new life. Under these circumstances, instead of actively taking part in politics, saintly persons should engage in chanting the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna. By the grace of Lord Chaitanya, by simply chanting this Hare Krishna maha-mantra, the general populace can derive all benefits without political implications.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 4.14.12 Purport]
The entire account of King Vena is narrated in the 14th Chapter of the 4th Canto of SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM