Following is a lecture given by His Holiness Bhakti Caru Swami on Srimad Bhagavatam. Canto Seven, Chapter Fifteen, Text Fourteen : Instructions For Civilised Human Beings, on 23 March 2010.

yas tv icchaya kritah pumbhir
abhaso hy asramat prithak
sva-bhava-vihito dharmah
kasya neshtah prasantaye


yah —  that which; tu — indeed; icchaya — whimsically; kritah — conducted; pumbhih — by persons; abhasah — dim reflection; hi — indeed; asramat — from one’s own order of life; prithak — different; sva-bhava — according to one’s own nature; vihitah — regulated; dharmah — religious principle; kasya — in what respect; na — not; ishtah — capable; prasantaye — for relieving all kinds of distress.

A pretentious religious system manufactured by one who wilfully neglects the prescribed duties of his order of life is called abhasa [a dim reflection or false similarity]. But if one performs the prescribed duties for his particular asrama or varna, why are they not sufficient to mitigate all material distresses?


It is indicated here that everyone should strictly follow the principles of varna and asrama as given in the sastra. In the Vishnu Purana (3.8.9) it is said:


purushena parah puman

vishnur aradhyate pantha

nanyat tat-tosha-karanam

One should focus upon the destination for progress, which is to become Krishna conscious. This is the aim and end of all Varna’s and ashram’s. However, if Vishnu is not worshiped, the followers of the varnasrama institution manufacture some concocted God. Thus it has now become fashionable for any rascal or fool to be elected God, and there are many missionaries who have concocted their own gods, giving up their relationship with the real God.

In Bhagavad-Gita it is clearly said that one who worships the demigods has lost his intelligence. Nonetheless we find that even an illiterate person who has lost all intelligence is elected God, and although he has a temple, it has meat-eating sannyasis, and many polluted activities go on there. This type of religious system, which misguides its poor followers, is strictly forbidden. Such pretentious religions should be stopped altogether.

The original system is that a brahmana should actually become a brahmana; he should not only take birth in a brahmana family, but must also be qualified. Also, even if one is not born in a brahmana family but has brahminical qualifications, he must be considered a brahmana. By strictly following this system, one can be happy without extra endeavour. Svabhava-vihito dharmah kasya neshtah prasantaye. The real aim of life is to mitigate distress, and one can do this very easily by following the principles of sastra.

Lecture by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:

So, five types of adharma have been described here in the previous verse and in this verse. Narada Muni is instructing Yudhishthira Maharaja. He is talking about different, 5 types of adharma: vidharma, para-dharma, upadharma, chala-dharma and now dharmabhasa. It has been described as pratibimba. It appears to be like a dharma, but actually it is not dharma.

Abhasah, one example of abhasah is a reflection. Say, there is a tree, a reflection of a tree. In the tree there are many fruits in the reflection. Now can we get the fruits from that reflection? So, similarly these dharmas appear to be like dharma, but the real fruit of the dharma is not available. Therefore, Srimad Bhagavatam right at the beginning is telling us to reject all these adharmas. Krishna instructed in Bhagavad-Gita “yada yada hi dharmasya glanir”(BG 4.7). So this dharmasya-glanir is this adharma.

Like all appears to be dharma. Vidharma, vipari dharma is not dharma; it’s against dharma. Like we find some religion, like dharma is go-brahmana-hitaya ca, but their religion says kill the cows. So, that is vidharma. Kill the brahmana and kill the cow; that is their dharma. So, that is vidharma.

Now para-dharma. I am not qualified to perform those activities, but I am imitating that dharma. That is “sva-dharme nidhanam sreya para-dharmo bhayavahah”(BG3.35), Krishna is telling in Bhagavad-Gita. So in this way these although appear to be like dharma, but they are not dharma. Like now in this verse the description means dharma-bhasa. It seems that they are following the Vedic dharma. But it is actually not going to give the actual result. Then that dharma-bhasa is mayavada. It appears to be dharma, following the Veda’s. They are following the Veda’s. It appears that it is right on the line, but we won’t get the real benefit of dharma. The fruits we will not get from the reflection of the tree. And it is this, is very very dangerous. Therefore Caitanya Charitam is saying the “mayavadhi bhasya sunile haya sarva nasa”.

So even here the commentary of the mayavadi will cause us a great harm, cause us a great damage. Why? Because it will appear that it is dharma and we will think that we are practising dharma. But actually there won’t be any benefit. On the other hand it will cause us a great damage. Great damage, because we will think that we are performing dharma but actually we are not.

Prabhupada gave another example. Like, especially in Bengal there is one mission. It is called Rama-Krishna mission. Prabhupada is pointing out, let us read that purport. Prabhupada is saying, “they elected an illiterate person as God. They don’t follow Krishna, they don’t accept Rama, but for them this person is God. But actually who is he? He is an illiterate fool.” But what some people did. There is one queen called Rani Rasmani and she became attracted to him. And her followers elected him to become God. Let me just see: we find that even an illiterate person who has lost all his intelligence is elected to be God. And although he has a temple, it has meat eating sannyasis. Their understanding is, when you are a bramachari you should be a vegetarian. But when you become a sannyasi, then you can eat anything. Because now you have become brahmana. So you can digest anything. This type of religious system which misguides the poor follower, is strictly forbidden.

So, therefore Bhagavatam right at the beginning pointed out, dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra paramo nirmatsarana, dharmah projjhita. All these kaitava dharma: chala-dharma, upadharma, para-dharma, vidharma, dharmabhasa, all have to be given up. And then only one becomes paramo nirmatsarana. Unless and until one becomes paramo nirmatsarana. Unless and until one becomes free from all this misconception that goes in the name of dharma, unless and until one rejects them, he cannot become situated in a perfectly platform of understanding dharma. Then only vedyam vastavam atra vastu shivadam tapatraounmulanam. So – vedyam – he can understand only then: What is vastava-vastu? What is vastava-vastu? Vastava-vastu is Krishna. Then we are actually understanding from Srimad Bhagavatam there are two types of dharma: naimittikih dharma and nitya dharma. Naimittikih dharma is the dharma of the body. Now what are those dharmas, like brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra? This is varna-ashrama dharma. Or brahmachari, grhastha, vanaprastha, sannyasa. Even up to sannyasa, it is naimittikih dharma. When one comes to the highest platform of sannyasa, when sannyasa reaches the transcendental platform paramahamsa, then only he can understand. Nirmatsarana parma nirmatsarana dharma. So that is the actual dharma? And what is that dharma? Transcending the dharma of the body, one comes to the platform of the soul and the soul is nitya, therefore the dharma of the soul is nitya.

So Bhagavatam very clearly is indicating that the ultimate dharma is the dharma of the soul. And that is nitya-dharma or sanatana-dharma. So when you speak of sanatana-dharma we speak of dharma of the soul. And what is the dharma of the soul? The dharma of the soul is to love Krishna. The living entity, a spiritual soul, is a part and parcel of Krishna – therefore his dharma is to love Krishna. Why loving Krishna is the dharma of the soul? Because through love the soul becomes connected to Krishna. This prema is the force or prema is the means by which the soul becomes connected to Krishna.

This has been very wonderfully demonstrated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu through his questions with Ramananda Raya. Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Ramananda Raya: what is the sadhya sadhana tatva? Sadhya, what is the goal and the sadhana – the means? One practises spiritual life, but for what? One practises dharma for what? So Ramananda Raya pointed out that to practice varna-ashrama is the goal of life. But Sri Caitanya Mahaprabu rejected that. Yo bathso age kahe. Why Caitanya Mahaprabu rejected varna-ashrama? Because the varna-ashrama dharma is related to the body. It is not nitya-dharma, it is naimittikih dharma. It is the dharma of the body, not the dharma of the soul. Because today somebody may be a sudra, but tomorrow he is born in a brahmana family and practises brahmana, then from sudra he will become a brahmana. So the dharma may change by the changing of the body. Therefore, this is not the ultimate goal of life.

So then Ramananda Raya proposed that the karma-misra-bhakti or karma-yoga is the goal of life. Ramananda Raya is giving scriptural evidence. Like he gave this example from Visnu Purana Varnasramacara-vata purusena parah puman visnur aradhyate pantha nanyat tat-tosa-karanam.  So Visnur aradhyate pantha, that is the goal of varna-ashrama. Visnur aradhyate is going on, but still Mahaprabhu is rejecting that. Because that Visnur aradhyate is in the bodily platform. By performing the varna and ashrama of that person. Therefore Ramananda Raya said ok, then karma-yoga is the goal of life. And he quoted from Bhagavad-gita, Yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat yat tapasvasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever austerities you perform, whatever you give in charity, do all that for My sake. That is karma-yoga, Mahaprabu rejected that. No, this is not the ultimate goal. Tell me what is the ultimate goal? Then he speaks about karma-yaga. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraj.(BG 18.66) But Mahaprabu rejected that also. Then Ramananda Raya spoke about jnana-misra bhakti.

Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati samah sarvesu bhutesu mad-bhaktim labhate param. Speaking about, at that stage one gets the parama-bhakti, transcendental devotional service. But Mahaprabhu rejected that. But then Ramananda Raya spoke about anyabhilasita sunyam jnana karmady anavrtam, anukulyena krsnanusilanam bhaktir uttama.(Nectar of Devotion) When jnana and karma is also rejected; not jnana-misra-bhakti, not karma-misra-bhakti, jnana karma, anatpralam that is bhakti-uttama, uttama-bhakti or sudha-bhakti. Then Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted that. But he didn’t stop at that, “Yo ahai but age kaho”. Then he spoke about bhakti in santa-rasa, bhakti in dasya-rasa, bhakti in sakhya-rasa, bhakti in vatsalya-rasa, bhakti in madhurya-rasa. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted them one after another. But even then he said,” age kaho age kaho”. So then Ramananda Raya said “I didn’t know anyone who could say age kaho after that”.

But from this point it’s not possible. Madhurya is the highest, madhurya-rasa. But you are questioning me and you are empowering me to answer the question. If you empower me, then probably I will be able to answer. Then Ramananda Raya explained the deepest aspect of vraja-prema. Krishna is dancing with sixteen thousand gopis. The gopis are dancing with Krishna in circles. But in the circle there is one Krishna between two gopis. But in the centre Krishna is dancing with one gopi. So this gopi must be very special. And then although Krishna was dancing with sixteen thousand gopis, this gopi became upset with Krishna and She left rasa-mandali. When She left rasa-mandali, Krishna left all sixteen thousand gopis and followed Her. So She must be very special. Now who is this gopi? Srimati Radharani.

So this is how Bhagavatam is actually taking us to the highest platform of devotional service. And only by Caitanya Mahaprabu’s mercy one can possibly understand that. The most profound secrets of Srimad Bhagavatam. Therefore Basu bose has sung…Djobhi gaura nahoi to Tabhi ki hoi to …If Gaura, Caitanya Mahabrapu didn’t come, how would I have maintained my body and soul. Prema roshimha Radha na mohima Djote djala athe….. Who would have revealed the glory of Srimati Radharani? Who is the epitome, the highest perfection of Krishna-prema? So in this way by Caitanya Mahaprabu’s mercy only these deep secrets of Srimad Bhagavatam have become revealed.

Although in this age of Kali we are totally unqualified. But Mahaprabhu’s mercy has come down to give us the highest spiritual secret, the greatest spiritual wealth.

Hare Krishna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ki Jai!.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

So this is the dharma. Chant Hare Krishna, giving up all this kaitava-dharma. By following the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the line, through his bona fide followers, then the ultimate goal will be achieved. This chanting of Hare Krishna not only transcends all the adharmas, but it also transcends the naimittikih dharma. Therefore, when one chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra there is no consideration of varna-ashrama. He becomes a Vaisnava, he becomes situated in his pure spiritual identity.

So by Prabhupada’s mercy, by Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy, people are getting this opportunity all over the world.

Gaura- premanande, Hari -Haribol.

Does anybody have any questions or any comments? Madhuvananda Prabhu, do you have any comment?

Question: not clear.

Answer by HH Bhakti Charu Swami:

Prabhupada mentioned that not that everybody will become a devotee. Those who will not become a devotee, for them we need varna-ashrama. To structure the human society, civilised human society we need daivi varna-ashrama.

Hare Krishna.

Gaura- premananda. Haribol! Srila Prabhupada ki Jai! Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja ki Jai! Samaveta bhakta vrnda ki Jai!!

Hare Krishna.


Transcription : Bhaktin Rishma Mohanlal
Editing : Her Grace Hemavati Radhika Dasi