Canto 11: General HistoryChapter 21: Lord Kṛṣṇa's Explanation of the Vedic Path

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.21.14



mat-smṛtyā cātmanaḥ śaucaḿ

śuddhaḥ karmācared dvijaḥ


snāna — by bathing; dāna — charity; tapaḥ — austerity; avasthā — by virtue of one's age; vīrya — potency; saḿskāra — execution of ritual purification; karmabhiḥ — and prescribed duties; mat-smṛtyā — by remembrance of Me; ca — also; ātmanaḥ — of the self; śaucam — cleanliness; śuddhaḥpure; karma — activity; ācarethe should perform; dvijaḥa twice-born man.


The self can be cleansed by bathing, charity, austerity, age, personal strength, purificatory rituals, prescribed duties and, above all, by remembrance of Me. The brāhmaṇa and other twice-born men should be duly purified before performing their specific activities.


The word avasthā indicates that when boys and girls are young they are kept pure by youthful innocence and that as they grow up they are kept pure through proper education and engagement. By one's individual potency one should avoid sinful activities and the association of those inclined toward sense gratification. The word karma here refers to prescribed duties, such as worshiping the spiritual master and the Deity, chanting the Gāyatrī mantra three times daily and accepting spiritual initiation. The prescribed duties of the varṇāśrama system automatically purify one from the covering of false ego by dovetailing one's bodily designation in appropriate religious activities. There are specific duties for brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, śūdras, brahmacārīs, gṛhasthas, vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs, as described previously in this canto by the Lord Himself. The most significant word here is mat-smṛtyā ("by remembrance of Me"). Ultimately, one cannot avoid the infection of illusion through any process except Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The three modes of nature perpetually interact, and one must sometimes fall into the mode of ignorance and sometimes rise to the mode of goodness, uselessly rotating within the kingdom of illusion. But by Kṛṣṇa consciousness, remembrance of the Personality of Godhead, one can actually uproot one's tendency to act against the will of the Absolute Truth. Then one becomes freed from the clutches of māyā and goes back home, back to Godhead. As stated in the Garuḍa Purāṇa,

apavitraḥ pavitro

sarvāvasthāḿ gato 'pi

yaḥ smaret puṇḍarīkākṣaḿ

sa bāhyābhyantare śuciḥ

"Whether one is pure or contaminated, and regardless of one's external situation, simply by remembering the lotus-eyed Personality of Godhead one can internally and externally cleanse one's existence."

Lord Caitanya recommended that we constantly remember the Supreme Lord by chanting His holy names, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. This sublime process is essential for every human actually desirous of purifying his existence.

<<< >>>

Buy Online Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
His Holiness Hrdayananda dasa Goswami
Gopiparanadhana dasa Adhikari
Dravida dasa Brahmacari