The Five Branches Of Irreligion
Srila Sukadeva Goswami
Sukadeva Goswami said to Maharaja Parikshit: Some brāhmaṇas are very attached to fruitive ac¬tivities, some are attached to austerities and pen¬ances, and still others study the Vedic literature. Furthermore, very few cultivate knowledge and practice different yogas, especially bhakti-yoga. A person desiring liberation for his forefathers or himself should give charity to a brāhmaṇas who adheres to impersonal monism [jñāna-niṣṭha]. In the absence of such an advanced brāhmaṇa, charity may be given to a brāhmaṇa addicted to fruitive activities [karma-niṣṭha]. During the pe¬riod for offering oblations to the demigods, one should invite only two brāhmaṇas, and while offering oblations to the forefathers, one may in¬vite three brāhmaṇas. Or, in either case, only one brāhmaṇa will suffice. Even though one is very opulent, he should not endeavour to invite more brāhmaṇas or make various expensive arrange¬ments on those occasions. If one arranges to feed many brāhmaṇas or relatives during the śraddhā ceremony, there will be discrepancies in the time, place, respectability and ingredients, the person to be worshiped, and the method of offering wor¬ship. When one gets the opportunity of a suitable auspicious time and place, one should, with love, offer food prepared with ghee to the Deity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and then offer that prasāda to a suitable person — a Vaishnav or brāhmaṇa. This will be the cause of everlasting prosperity. One should offer prasāda to the demi¬gods, the saintly persons, one’s forefathers, general people, one’s family members, one’s relatives and one’s friends, seeing them all as devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
A person fully aware of religious principles should never offer anything like meat, eggs or fish in the śraddhā ceremony, and even if one is a kṣatriya, he himself should not eat such things. When suitable food prepared with ghee is offered to saintly persons, the function is pleasing to the forefathers and the Supreme Lord, who are never pleased when animals are killed in the name of sacrifice. Persons who want to advance in superior religious principles are advised to give up envy of other living entities, whether in relationship to the body, words or mind. There is no religion supe¬rior to this. Because of an awakening of spiritual knowledge, those who are intelligent in regard to sacrifice, who are actually aware of religious principles and who are free from material desires, control the self in the fire of spiritual knowledge, or knowledge of the Absolute Truth. Thus they may legitimately give up the process of ritualistic ceremonies.
Upon seeing the person engaged in performing the sacrifice, animals meant to be sacrificed are extremely afraid, thinking,“This merciless per¬former of sacrifices, being ignorant of the purpose of sacrifice and feeling satisfied at heart by killing others, will surely kill us.” Therefore, day by day, one who is actually aware of religious principles and is not be heinously envious of poor animals should happily perform the daily and periodical sacrifices with whatever food is available easily by the grace of the Lord.
There are five branches of irreligion, appropri¬ately known as irreligion [vidharma], religious principles for which one is unfit [para-dharma], pretentious religion [dharmābhāsa], analogical religion [upadharma] and cheating religion [cha¬la-dharma]. One who is aware of real religious life must abandon these five knowing them to be irreligious. Religious principles that obstruct one from following one’s own religion are called vidhar¬ma. Religious principles introduced by others are called para-dharma. A new type of religion created by one who is falsely proud and who opposes the principles of the Vedas is called upadharma. And interpretation by one’s jugglery of words is called chala-dharma. A pretentious religious sys¬tem manufactured by one who willfully neglects the prescribed duties of his order of life is called dharmābhāsa [a dim reflection or false similarity]. However, putting aside all of these deviations, if one performs the prescribed duties for his partic¬ular āśrama or varṇa, they certainly sufficient to mitigate all his material distress.
Even if a man is poor, he should not endeavour to improve his economic condition just to keep body and soul together or to become a famous religionist. Just as a great python, although lying in one place, not endeavouring for its livelihood, gets the food it needs to maintain it’s body, one who is desireless also obtains his livelihood without endeavour. One who is content and satisfied and who links his activities with the Supreme Personal¬ity of Godhead residing in everyone’s heart enjoys transcendental happiness without endeavouring for his livelihood. Can such happiness be found by a materialistic man who is impelled by lust and greed and who therefore wanders in all directions with a desire to accumulate wealth? For a person who has suitable shoes on his feet, there is no dan¬ger even when he walks on pebbles and thorns. For him, everything is auspicious. Similarly, for one who is always self-satisfied there is no distress; indeed, he feels happiness everywhere. My dear King, a self-satisfied person can be happy even by only drinking water. However, one who is driven by the senses, especially by the tongue and genitals, must accept the position of a household dog to satisfy his senses. Because of greed for the sake of the senses, the spiritual strength, education, auster¬ity and reputation of a devotee or brāhmaṇa who is not self-satisfied dwindle, and his knowledge gradually vanishes. The strong bodily desires and needs of a person disturbed by hunger and thirst are certainly satisfied when he eats. Similarly, if one becomes very angry, that anger is satisfied by chas-tisement and its reaction. But as for greed, even if a greedy person has conquered all the directions of the world or has enjoyed everything in the world, still he will not be satisfied. O King Yudhisthira, many persons with varied experience, many legal advisers, many learned scholars and many persons eligible to become presidents of learned assemblies fall down into hellish life because of not being satisfied with their positions.
By making plans with determination, one should give up desire for sense gratification. Similarly, by giving up envy one should conquer anger, by dis-cussing the disadvantages of accumulating wealth one should give up greed, and by discussing the truth one should give up fear. By discussing spiri¬tual knowledge one can conquer lamentation and illusion, by serving a great devotee one can become prideless, by keeping silent one can avoid obstacles on the path of mystic yoga, and simply by stopping sense gratification one can conquer envy. By good behaviour and freedom from envy one should counteract sufferings due to other living entities, by meditation in trance one should counteract sufferings due to providence, and by practicing haṭha-yoga, prāṇāyāma and so forth one should counteract sufferings due to the body and mind. Similarly, by developing the mode of goodness, especially in regard to eating, one should conquer sleep. One must conquer the modes of passion and ignorance by developing the mode of goodness, and then one must become detached from the mode of goodness by promoting oneself to the platform of purified goodness (śuddha-sattva). All this can be automatically done if one engages in the service of the spiritual master with faith and devotion. In this way one can conquer the influ¬ence of the modes of nature. The spiritual master should be considered to be directly the Supreme Lord because he gives transcendental knowledge for enlightenment. Consequently, the progress of one who maintains the mental conception that the spiritual master is an ordinary human being, is doomed. His en¬lightenment and his Vedic studies and knowledge are like the unproductive bathing of an elephant.
— Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) » Canto 7: The Science of God » Chapter Fifteen » Verses: 1-26.
The Five Branches Of Irreligion
The Five Branches Of Irreligion