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Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana) :: Conto 11

On Distinguishing between Good and Bad

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Srimad Bhagavatam » Conto 11   

 On Distinguishing between Good and Bad

(1) The Supreme Lord said: 'They who give up on these means of achieving Me, consisting of the devotion, the knowledge and the work to be done, are by the insignificance of the flickering lusts they cultivate with the senses, confronted with the finality of a material existence. (2) The steadiness each one has in his own position is declared to be the actual virtue and the opposite [of being unsteady] is indeed the vice; this is the final conclusion about the two [see also B.G. 2: 16]. (3) What would be pure or impure concerning the religion, what would be vice or virtue in normal affairs and what would be favorable or unfavorable for one's physical survival are matters one must evaluate from the same category of elements, o sinless one [what is good for the body e.g. is not necessarily good for the religion]. (4) This approach [of distinguishing between good and bad] I put forward for the sake of those who suffer the burden of religious principles. (5) Earth, water, fire, air and ether are the five basic elements that, from Lord Brahmâ down to the nonmoving creatures, constitute the bodies of the living beings who are all connected in the Supreme Soul. (6) Although they consist of the same elements and in that sense are equal, assign the Vedas different names and forms to them in service of their self-interest [see varnâs'rama].

(7) What would be the right and wrong considerations concerning the time, place, the things and so on, is established by Me with the purpose of restricting materially motivated activities. (8) Among all places are those places spoiled where there is no respect for the brahminical and the spotted antelopes are missing. And even when there are spotted antelopes [left, viz. not all being killed] is a place that is without saintly, cultured men, an uncivilized place where the practices are unclean and the earth is barren [see mleccha and *]. (9) That time is correct and suitable which either by its own nature [viz. not manipulated against nature] or understood according to the person [the Lord, but also according the season, the money - the lakshmî -, the availability of something] is suitable for executing one's prescribed duty. Wrong and not suitable is the time which impedes someone in the performance of his duty, the time that is not fit for doing work [a lust motivated, arbitrary notion of time, see 11.20: 26, kâla and kâlakûtha **]. (10) The pure or impure of a thing [or of a substance] is determined with the help of another thing, in respect of what one says about it, by means of a ritual performance, by the reference of time or according the relative magnitude [see ***]. (11) Depending one's power or impotence, intelligence and wealth, condition and place, imposes it [viz. the quality of a thing] accordingly upon a person a sinful [or pious] reaction. (12) By a combination of time, air, fire, earth and water or by each of them separately [are matters purified like] grains, things made of wood, clay and bone, thread, skins, liquids and things won from fire. (13) That is considered purifying which by touching the impure removes a bad smell or dirt and so restores the original nature of that object. (14) By bathing, charity and austerity, by virtue of his age, his heroism, ritual purification and his prescribed duties a twice-born man [being the doer] should, in the remembrance of Me, perform according to the pure, the cleanliness of the [original] self. (15) The purification derived from a mantra is a consequence of the correct knowledge about it and the purification by a certain act is the consequence of one's dedication to Me. Religiosity is achieved by [the purity of] the six factors [as mentioned: the place, the time, the substance, the mantras, the doer and the devotional act], whereas the irreligious is there as a consequence of the contrary.

(16) Sometimes a virtue turns into a vice though and a vice turns by the power of vedic instruction into a virtue. Respecting the regulative principles one is thus faced with the fact that the distinction [between that what is proper and improper] factually is effaced by them [4*]. (17) The same karma because of which someone fell down is not the cause of another falldown. Someone who fell [in love...] doesn't fall further; for such a one the natural attachment changes into a virtue. (18) Whatever one desists from one is freed from - this is for human beings the foundation of religious life that takes away the suffering, fear and delusion. (19) Presuming the objects that gratify the senses to be good rises from that assumption the attachment of a person, from that attachment originates the lust and because of lust there is quarrel among people. (20) From quarreling there is the anger difficult to handle and the consequent ignorance; thus is someone's consciousness quickly overtaken by darkness. (21) O saintly one, a living being bereft that way [of clear understanding] becomes empty-headed so that, consequently fallen away from his goals in life, he similar to dull matter is as good as dead [compare B.G. 2: 62-63]. (22) Overly absorbed in the sensual he, vainly living the lifestyle of a tree, fails in knowing himself and knowing the other so that his breathing is nothing but pumping air. (23) The awards promised in the scriptures are for man not the highest good; they are merely enticements to create a taste for the ultimate good, similar to what one says to make someone take a medicine. (24) Simply by their birth alone strive mortals against the interest of their souls, because their minds are entangled in the care for the objects of their desire, their vital functions and their loved ones. (25) Submissive [religiously] wander they unaware in regard of their real self-interest the path of disaster. Why would the intelligent [the vedic authority] lead those who enter the darkness further into sense engagement [see also 5.5: 17]? (26) Some people, they who this way with a perverted intelligence do not understand the actual conclusion, speak in flowery statements of the material awards about which he who really knows the Vedas doesn't speak [see also B.G. 2: 42-44]. (27) The lusty, miserly and greedy ones take the flowers for the ultimate truth; bewildered by the fire do they, suffocating by the smoke, not know their position [of being an individual soul instead of being a body]. (28) They, armed with their expressions, My dear, do not know Me who is seated within the heart and from whom this universe has risen that is also Me - they, self-indulgent, are like people staring in fog. (29-30) They without understanding My confidential conclusion [see also 10.87 and B.G. 9] are, being absorbed in the sensual, attached to the violence that may be [an itegral part of nature], but certainly never is encouraged for the sacrifices. In reality taking pleasure in being violent with the animals that in the desire for their own happiness were slaughtered, they are in their ritual worship of the gods, the forefathers and the leading ghosts, mischievous people. (31) That unholy world [they uphold] can be compared to a dream that, sounding nice, is about mundane achievements with which they, imagined in their hearts like they were businessmen, have forsaken the actual purpose [of realizing the soul]. (32) Established in the mode of passion, goodness or ignorance they worship the gods and others headed by Indra who likewise delight in passion, goodness and ignorance. But I am thus not worshiped the proper way [see also B.G. 9: 23 and 10: 24 & 25]. (33-34) 'When we here with our sacrifices to the gods are full of worship, we will enjoy the pleasures of heaven and next on earth all live in a barn of a house and be high-born.' With their minds thus bewildered by the flowery words [of the Vedas] they despite of these words, as proud and most greedy men, are not attracted to My topics.

(35) The trikânda divided Vedas have the spiritual understanding of the true self, the soul, as their subject matter but also the vedic seers who more esoterically privately express themselves are dear to Me [the 'other gurus']. (36) The transcendental sound [the s'abda-brahman] manifesting itself in the prâna, the senses and the mind [of the self-realized, enlightened person] is something most difficult to understand, it is unlimited and is as unfathomably deep as the ocean. (37) The groundless, changeless Absolute of endless potencies that I promote [as My nature, see Omkâra], is represented within the living beings in the form of soundvibrations, the way a lotus stalk is represented by a single strand of fiber [see also 11.18: 32 and 6.13: 15]. (38-40) Just as a spider from the heart weaves its web through its opening, is the breath of God [the prâna] from the ether manifesting the soundvibration through the mind in the form of the different phonemes. Full of nectar comprising all the shapes that branch out in thousands of directions, has the Master, decorated with consonants, vowels, sibilants and semivowels, expanded from the syllable om. By the elaborated diversity of expressions and metrical arrangements that each have four more syllables, He creates and Himself withdraws again the great unlimited expanse [of the vedic manifestation of sound, see also B.G. 15: 15]. (41) For instance the metres Gâyatrî, Ushnik and Anushthup; Brihatî and Pankti as also Trishthup, Jagatî, Aticchanda, and Atyashthi, Atijagatî and Ativirâth [have each in this order four more syllables]. (42) What they [karma-kânda] enjoin [to be done], what they [upâsana-kânda] indicate [as being the object of devotion], what aspects they describe or what alternatives they [jñâna-kânda] thus literarily offer [as philosophy], the heart of this matter is in this world not known by anyone else but Me [compare 11.20, B.G. 4: 5, 7: 26, 10: 41]. (43) I am the object of worship, the concern of the enjoined action and the alternative that is offered and explained away [5*]. The transcendental sound vibration of the Vedas establishes Me as being their meaning and elaborately describes the material duality as simply being the illusory one has to emasculate to ultimately become happy.'

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SOURCE: Translation: Anand Aadhar Prabhu, http://bhagavata.org/

Production: the Filognostic Association of The Order of Time, with special thanks to Sakhya Devi Dasi for proofreading and correcting the manuscript. http://theorderoftime.com/info/guests-friends.html

The sourcetexts, illustrations and music to this translation one can find following the links from: http://bhagavata.org/