Yamaraja Instructs His Messengers by Srila Sukadeva Goswami
King Pariksit said: O your lordship Sukadeva Goswami, Yamaraja is the controller of all living entities in terms of their religious and irreligious activities, but in this case, his order has been thwarted. When his servants, the Yamadutas, informed him of their being stopped in arresting Ajamila by the Vishnudutas, how did he respond? O great sage, never before has it been heard anywhere that an order from Yamaraja has been baffled. Therefore I think that people will feel doubtful about this. However, I am firmly convinced that you can clarify all this so kindly explain the causes of these extraordinary occurrences.
Sri Sukadeva Goswami replied: My dear King, when the order carriers of Yamaraja were checked and defeated by the order carriers of Lord Vishnu, they gingerly approached their master, the controller of Samyamani puri and chastiser of sinful persons, to tell him of this incident.
The Yamadutas said: Our dear Lord, how many controllers or rulers are there in this material world? How many causes are responsible for manifesting the respective results of activities performed under the three modes of material nature [sattva guṇa, rajo-guṇa, and tamo-guṇa]? If there are in this universe various rulers and justices who disagree about punishment and reward, their contradictory actions will neutralize each other, and no one will be either punished or rewarded. Or, if their contradictory acts fail to neutralize each other, everyone will have to be both punished and rewarded. Since there are many different workers (karmīs), there may be different judges or rulers to administer them.
However, just as an emperor centrally controls different departmental rulers, there must be one supreme controller to guide all the judges. The supreme judge must naturally be one, not many. It was our understanding that you are that supreme judge and that you have jurisdiction over even the demigods. Our impression was that you are the master of all living entities and the supreme authority who discriminates between the pious and impious activities of all human beings. However, now we have seen that the punishment ordained under your authority is no longer effective since your order has been apparently transgressed by four wonderful and perfect persons.
When, following your order, we were bringing the very sinful Ajamila toward the hellish planets, those beautiful persons from Siddhaloka forcibly cut the ropes with which we were binding him. At the very very moment the sinful Ajamila uttered the name Narayana, these four beautiful men immediately arrived and reassured him, saying, “Do not fear. Do not fear.” We wish to learn about them from your lordship. If you think we are able to understand this matter, kindly describe who they are, and whom they serve.
Sri Sukadeva Goswami said: Having been thus questioned, Lord Yamaraja, the supreme controller of the living entities, was very pleased with his order carriers because of hearing the holy name of Narayana from them. He focused his mind on the lotus feet of the Lord and began to reply.
Yamaraja said: My dear servants, you have accepted me as the Supreme, but actually I am not supreme. Above me, and above all the other demigods- including Indra and Candra- is the one supreme master and controller. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, who are in charge of the creation, maintenance, and annihilation of this universe, are the partial manifestations of His personality. He is like the warp and weft threads of woven cloth.
The entire world is controlled by Him in the same way that a bull is controlled by a rope in its nose. As the driver of a bullock cart affixes ropes to the nostrils of his bulls to control them, the Supreme Personality of Godhead binds all humanity through the ‘ropes’ of His words in the Vedas, which set forth the names and activities of the distinct orders of human society namely the brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra.
Out of deference to Him, the members of these orders all worship the Supreme Lord, presenting Him honor gifts according to their respective activities. I, (Yamaraja); Indra, the King of heaven; Nirrti; Varuna; Candra, the moon-god; Agni; Lord Shiva; Pavana; Lord Brahma; Surya, the sun-god; Vishvasu; the eight Vasus; the Sadhyas; the Maruts; the Rudras; the Siddhas; Marici and the other great ṛṣis engaged in maintaining the departmental affairs of the universe, as well as the best of the demigods headed by Brhaspati, and the great sages headed by Bhrgu all of whom are certainly freed from the influence of the two base material modes of nature, namely rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa (passion and ignorance.) Nevertheless, although we are in the elevated mode of goodness (sattva-guṇa), we cannot understand the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
What then is to be said of others, who under illusion merely speculate to know God? As the different parts of the body cannot see the eyes, the living entities cannot see the Supreme Lord, who is situated as the Supersoul in their very hearts. Factually speaking, the living entities can not ascertain the true nature and capacity of the Supreme Lord by their senses, mind, life air, nor by thoughts within the heart, or by the exercising the faculty of speech. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is selfsufficient and completely independent. He is the master of everyone and everything, including the illusory material energy.
He has personal form, qualities, and features; and similarly, His order carriers, the Vaishnavas, who are very beautiful, possess bodily features, transcendental qualities, and a transcendental nature almost like His. Fully independent, they perpetually wander within this world. These order carriers of Lord Vishnu, who are worshiped even by the demigods, possess wonderful bodily features exactly like those of Vishnu and are very rarely seen by man or demigod. The Vishnudutas protect the devotees of the Lord from the onslaughts of enemies, envious persons, natural disturbances, and even from my jurisdiction…
Real religious principles are enunciated and enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although completely situated in the mode of goodness, even the great ṛṣis who occupy the topmost planets cannot factually ascertain real religious principles. Neither can the demigods nor the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the asuras, Vidyadharas, and Caranas, or ordinary human beings. Lord Brahma, Bhagavan Narada, Lord Shiva, the four Kumaras, Lord Kapila [the son of Devahuti], Svayambhuva Manu, Prahlada Maharaja, Janaka Maharaja, Grandfather Bhishma, Bali Maharaja, Sukadeva Goswami and I myself know the real religious principle. My dear servants, this transcendental religious principle, which is known as bhāgavata-dharma, is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature and consists of surrender unto the Supreme Lord and love for Him.
By nature it is very confidential and difficult for ordinary human beings to understand; but if by chance a fortunate person understands it, he is immediately liberated, and thus he returns home, back to Godhead. Devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the holy name of the Lord, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society. My dear servants, who are as dear as my sons, please note how glorious it is to chant the holy name of the Lord. Intending to call his son, the extremely sinful Ajamila indirectly chanted the Lord’s holy name. Nevertheless, by that chanting of the holy name of the Lord, he remembered Narayana, and thus he was immediately saved from the clutches of death.
Therefore, it should be known that one is easily released from all sinful reactions by chanting the holy name of the Lord and subsequently chanting of His qualities and activities. This is the only recommended process for one seeking relief from sinful reactions. If one chants the holy name of the Lord even with improper pronunciation, he will still achieve relief from material bondage if he chants without offense. For example, Ajamila, though extremely sinful, unintentionally chanted the holy name whilst dying.
Although his purpose was calling his son, he achieved complete liberation because he remembered the name of Narayana. Due to being bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Yajnavalkya and Jaimini and other compilers of the religious scriptures cannot comprehend the secret, confidential religious system known by the twelve mahājanas. They cannot understand the transcendental merit achieved by devotional service and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.
Their intelligence has become dull because their minds are attracted to the ritualistic ceremonies mentioned in the Vedas- namely the Yajur Veda, Sāma Veda, and Ṛg Veda. Thus they are engaged in performing ritualistic ceremonies that yield only temporary benefits, such as elevation to heavenly planets (svargaloka) for temporary material happiness. They are interested in dharma artha kāma mokṣa, but are not attracted to the saṅkīrtana movement of chanting the Lord’s holy names. Taking into consideration all these points, intelligent men resolve to end all problems by adopting the devotional service of chanting the holy name of the Supreme Lord, who is situated in everyone’s heart and who is the complete reservoir of auspicious qualities.
Such wise persons are not within my jurisdiction. Generally, they don’t commit sinful activities; but even if by mistake or because of bewilderment or illusion they do some commit sinful act, they are protected from sinful reactions because they always chant the Hare Krishna mantra. My dear servants, please do not approach such devotees at any time, for they have fully surrendered to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are equal to everyone, and their glories are sung by the demigods and the perfected inhabitants of Siddhaloka. Please do not even go near them.
They are always protected by the club of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and therefore Lord Brahma, I, and even the time factor are not competent to chastise them. Paramahaṁsas are exalted persons who have no taste for material enjoyment and who drink the honey of the Lord’s lotus feet. My dear servants, bring to me for punishment only those persons who are averse to the taste of that honey, who do not associate with Paramahaṁsas and who are attached to family life and worldly enjoyment, which is the path to hell.
My dear servants, please bring to me only those sinful persons who do not use their tongues to chant the holy name and qualities of Sri Krishna, whose hearts have not remembered His lotus feet even once, and whose heads have never bowed before Him even one time. Send me those who do not perform their obligatory duties toward Vishnu, which are the only real duties in human life. Please bring me only such fools and rascals. [Then Yamaraja adopted the mood that he and his servants were at fault and spoke as follows, begging pardon from the Supreme Lord.] O my Lord, my servants have surely committed a great offense by arresting a Vaishnava devotee of yours such as Ajamila.
O Narayana, O supreme and oldest person, kindly forgive us. Due to ignorance, we failed to recognize Ajamila as a servant of Your Lordship, and thus we committed a grave offense. With folded hands, we, therefore, beg Your pardon. My Lord, since You are supremely merciful and are a reservoir of good qualities, please pardon us. We offer our respectful obeisance unto You. The chanting of the holy name of the Lord is able to uproot the reactions of even the greatest sins. Therefore the chanting of the names of the Lord (saṅkīrtana) is the most auspicious activity in the entire universe. Please try to understand this so that others will similarly take it seriously.
One who constantly hears and chants the holy name of the Lord and who hears and chants about His activities can very easily attain the platform of pure devotional service, and thus cleanse the material contamination from his heart. One cannot achieve such purification by observing vows or performing Vedic ritualistic ceremonies. Devotees who always taste the honey coming from the lotus feet of Lord Krishna do not care for material activities at all, as such endeavors are invariably performed under the modes of material nature and eventually yield only misery. Indeed, the experienced devotees never give up the lotus feet of Krishna to return to material activities.
Others however, who are addicted to Vedic rituals because they have never properly served the Lord’s lotus feet and are bewitched by material desires, sometimes perform acts of atonement. Nevertheless, because they are not completely purified, they repeatedly return. Hearing from the mouth of their master about the extraordinary glories of the Lord and His name, fame, and attributes, the Yamadutas were speechless with wonder. Since that time, whenever they see a devotee, they fell apprehensive and dare not glance towards him again. When the great sage Agastya, the son of Kumbha, was worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, residing in the Malaya Hills I approached him, and from him, I heard this confidential history.
— Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) » Canto 6: PrescribedDuties for Mankind » Chapter 3: Yamaraja Instructs His Messengers» Verses: 1-35.