Canto 6: Prescribed Duties for MankindChapter 1: The History of the Life of Ajāmila

Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 6.1.9


dṛṣṭa-śrutābhyāḿ yat pāpaḿ

jānann apy ātmano 'hitam

karoti bhūyo vivaśaḥ

prāyaścittam atho katham


śrī-rājā uvācaParīkṣit Mahārāja replied; dṛṣṭa — by seeing; śrutābhyām — also by hearing (from the scriptures or lawbooks); yatsince; pāpam — sinful, criminal action; jānan — knowing; api — although; ātmanaḥ — of his self; ahitam — injurious; karotihe acts; bhūyaḥ — again and again; vivaśaḥ — unable to control himself; prāyaścittam — atonement; atho — therefore; katham — what is the value of.


Mahārāja Parīkṣit said: One may know that sinful activity is injurious for him because he actually sees that a criminal is punished by the government and rebuked by people in general and because he hears from scriptures and learned scholars that one is thrown into hellish conditions in the next life for committing sinful acts. Nevertheless, in spite of such knowledge, one is forced to commit sins again and again, even after performing acts of atonement. Therefore, what is the value of such atonement?


In some religious sects a sinful man goes to a priest to confess his sinful acts and pay a fine, but then he again commits the same sins and returns to confess them again. This is the practice of a professional sinner. Parīkṣit Mahārāja's observations indicate that even five thousand years ago it was the practice of criminals to atone for their crimes but then commit the same crimes again, as if forced to do so. Therefore, owing to his practical experience, Parīkṣit Mahārāja saw that the process of repeatedly sinning and atoning is pointless. Regardless of how many times he is punished, one who is attached to sense enjoyment will commit sinful acts again and again until he is trained to refrain from enjoying his senses. The word vivaśa is used herein, indicating that even one who does not want to commit sinful acts will be forced to do so by habit. Parīkṣit Mahārāja therefore considered the process of atonement to have little value for saving one from sinful acts. In the following verse he further explains his rejection of this process.

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