Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 6 Chapter 11



Chapter XI

On the ascertainment of Dharma

1-10. Janamejaya said:

“O King of the Brāhmaṇas! You said that Rāma and Kṛṣṇa took their incarnations to relieve the burden of earth.

One great doubt arises in my mind on this point. At the end of the Dvāpara Yuga, the Earth, burdened and oppressed very much, assumed, in anguish, the form of a cow and took refuge under Brahmā.

Brahmā, then, went with the Earth to Viṣṇu, the Lord of Lakṣmī, and thus prayed:

“O Bibhu! Let You, with all the other gods, incarnate soon on earth at the house of Vāsudeva to relieve the Earth of Her load, as well as to protect the righteous.”

When Brahmā thus prayed, the Bhagavān Viṣṇu incarnated as the son of Devakī, along with Balarāma to lessen the burden of the Earth.

And, in fact, he relieved, to a certain extent, the Earth by killing many vicious persons and many wicked and irreligious Kings. But, along with that, Bhīśma, Droṇa, Virāta, Drupada, Somadatta, and Karna, the son of the Sun were killed.

But, See! that those who plundered afterwards His riches, and stole away the wives of Hari, those crores of Ābhīras, Śakas, Mlechchas, and Niṣādas and other vicious people remained alive; and how could it, then, be said that the Earth was relieved when Kṛṣṇa did not kill those people!

O Fortunate One! When I see all the people in this Kālī Yuga addicted to sinful acts, this great doubt is not going out of my mind (how the Earth had been relieved of Her load).

11-14. Vyāsa said:

O King! As the Yuga changes, so the people changes in course of time. Nothing can alter its course, for this is caused by the Yuga Dharma (the Dharma peculiar to each Yuga).

Therefore if all the subjects that are considered wicked and vicious according to the law of the Yuga Dharma, then this creation would be destroyed; hence Kṛṣṇa killed only those Dānavas and vicious Kṣattriyas that were really the burden of Earth.

O King! The persons that are devoted to religion take their births in the Satya Yuga; those that are fond of religion and wealth they become manifest in the Trētā Yuga; those that like Dharma (religion), Artha (wealth) and Kāma (desires), they are born in the Dvāpara Yuga, and those that dote on wealth and lust, they are seen in the Kālī Yuga.

O King! Know this as certain that these characteristics, peculiar to each Yuga, never vary; and know this too, that Time, the Lord of Dharma and Adharma, is always present.

15-18. The King said:

“O Intelligent One! Where are those pious persons now that were born as high-souled religious persons in the Satya Yuga; where are those Munis now who were devoted to charity in the Trētā or Dvāpara Yuga?

Again where will go these shameless and merciless persons that are being seen now in this Kālī Yuga, these vicious creatures that revile their own Gurus?

O Highly Intelligent One! I am very eager to know how these religious matters are brought to a decision and settlement; kindly describe to me in detail all these secret truths.”

19-30. Vyāsa said:

O King! Persons, born in the Satya Yuga, that perform acts of merit, go to the Deva Loka.

O King! The Brāhmins, Kṣattriyas, Vaiśyas and Śudras, if they remain in their own spheres and if they be devoted to religious acts, go to their respective spheres, earned by their meritorious deeds.

By virtue of truth, mercy, charity, going to one’s own wives, not injuring animals, and having no jealousy and showing mercy equally towards all, by practising these universal forms of religion, even the lowest castes, e.g., washer-men and others all go to the Paradise.

So in the Trētā and Dvāpara Yugas men go to Heaven by virtue of their merits, earned in practising their own Dharma; but in this Kālī Yuga persons addicted to vicious acts go to terrible hells and remain there till the end of the Kālī Yuga when they will be again born in this earth.

O King! When the Satya Yuga begins and the Kālī Yuga ends, at this junction time, the virtuous high-souled persons descend from Heaven and are born on this earth; and when the Kālī begins and the Dvāpara ends, the vicious souls come on the earth again from their hells.

O King! Know this as the course of Time; it never becomes otherwise. See, then, that the Kālī Yuga tends to do vicious things and the people, therefore, become vicious.

At times, the birth of beings takes place otherwise than the laws of Yugas, out of the strange combinations of Fate (i.e., good persons are seen in the Kālī and vicious persons are seen in the Satya).

For this reason those that do meritorious acts in the Kālī Yuga are born as men in the Dvāpara; so the Dvāpara good persons take their births as men in the Trētā; and the Trētā good persons are born as men in the Satya Yuga.

Again those who are vicious in the Satya Yuga become persons of the Kālī Yuga.

The Jīvas suffer miseries on account of their own bad Karmas; they again suffer more miseries by doing over and over again those bad Karmas by virtue of the Yuga Dharma.

31. Janamejaya said:

“O Bhagavān! Describe particularly the details of the Yuga Dharma. I am now very desirous to hear which Dharma is for which Yuga?”

32-54. Vyāsa said:

O King! I will now show to you by example the influence of the religion peculiar to each Yuga; hear it attentively.

O King! The hearts even of saints are quite disturbed by the Yuga Dharma.

See! Your father was a religious and high-souled monarch; still the wicked Kālī defiled his mind and prompted him to do an act very insulting to a Brāhmaṇa.

Otherwise why would he, being a renowned prince amongst the Kṣattriyas and a descendant of Yayāti, thus go and encircle a snake round the throat of an ascetic Brahmin?

Therefore, O King! All actions are being influenced by the Yuga Dharma.

The Pundits, also recognise this. If you try your best to perform any religious act, even then the Yuga Dharma would prevail, yet you would be able to perform to a certain extent, a part of your intention.

O King! In the Satya Yuga, the Brāhmins were versed in the Vedas, always devoted to worship the Highest Force, with an ardent desire to see the Devī; they were devoted to Gāyatrī with Praṇava, devoted to the meditation of Gāyatrī, always reciting silently Gāyatrī, and the Māyāvīja Mantram, the chief mantram.

In every village, the Brāhmins were very eager to erect temples of the Devī Mahā Māyā Ambikā and were truthful, merciful and pure and devoted to their own respective works.

The Kṣattriyas, skilled in the science of the highest knowledge, were ever engaged in doing things ordained by the Vedas and were always intent in protecting well their subjects.

The Vaiśyas did their cultivation and trade and the Śudras always served the other three castes.

Thus, in the Satya Yuga, all the Varṇas (castes) were devoted to the worship of the Devī Ambikā, the Highest Śaktī; but in the Trētā Yuga, the observance of the religion declined a little and in the Dvāpara, it declined very much.

O Ornament of Indra! Those who were Rākṣasas before, they become the Brāhmins of the Kālī Yuga; they are the followers of atheists, deceptors of men, untruthful, without any Vedas, devoid of the Vedic practices, arrogant, cunning, egoistic, and capable only to serve the Śudras.

Some of them try to find fault with the Sanātana Dharma and are the promulgators of various other creeds, wicked, fallen from their religion and given to much talking.

O King! As Kālī gets stronger, so the true religion declines and ultimately dies; and, in that proportion, the Kṣattriyas, Vaiśyas and Śudras are also devoid of their religion.

When Kālī will be in full swing, the Kṣattriyas, Vaiśyas and Śudras will all be untruthful, vicious; the Brāhmins will act like Śudras and will accept other’s gifts.

O King! The women in the Kālī Yuga would be very passionate, avaricious and ignorant. They would be very powerful and insolent, wilful, vicious and untruthful and so would be a source of pain to the society.

They would think themselves vainly religious and learned and would be always ready to impart religious instructions and deceive their own husbands and be exceedingly vicious.

O King! Our minds are purified by the food that we take; when our minds are pure, the Light of Dharma shines clearly.

The customs and practices of Varna and Āśrama Dharmas get intermixed with each other and so arises the fault of Dharma Śamkara (i.e., mixture of the several parts of religion with each other). When the Dharma Śamkara creeps in, the Varṇa Śamkara is seen (i.e., purity in blood and other matters of birth are lost).

Thus, in the Kālī Yuga, all the Dharmas will gradually die out and ultimately nothing will be heard about one’s own religion.

O King! In this Yuga even the religious high-souled persons will be found to do irreligious acts! The nature of Kālī is so; nobody will be able to quit it.

O King! Thus, in this age, men naturally commit vicious things; with ordinary means, therefore, no one becomes able to extricate from the worst vicious habits.

55-56. Janamejaya said:

“O Bhagavān! You know all and you are versed in all the Śāstras; what will be the fate of so many persons in this Kālī Yuga?

If there be any path, kindly describe it to me.”

57-65. Vyāsa said:

O King! There is only one path and none other which can save a man from the sin of this Kālī; and that is this:

The Jīvas must meditate on the lotus- feet of the Highest Devī for the purification of all their faults and sins.

O King! There is so much strength in Her sin-destroying Name, that the amount of sin in this world falls much less in proportion to that. Where, then, is the cause of fear?

Her Name, uttered at random, even in an unconscious state, bestows so much unspeakable results that even Hari, Hara and others have not the capacity to know that.

O King! The mere remembrance of the name of Śrī Devī is an atonement for a multitude of sins; then it behoves that every man, afraid of the Kālī Yuga, residing in a place of pilgrimage, ought to remember incessantly the Name of the Highest Deity.

Even if anybody cuts, pierces, and kills all the beings in this whole world, he won’t be touched with the sins, if he bows down, with devotion, before the Devī.

O King! I have narrated to you all the secret truths of all the Śāstras. Consider all these fully and always worship the lotus- feet of the Devī.

All men are reciting silently the Japam called the Ajapā Gāyatrī; still they do not know the glory of it; such is the powerful influence of Māyā.

All the Brāhmaṇas are reciting in the depth of their hearts the Gāyatrī Mantram, yet they do not know the glory of it (otherwise they would have been liberated); such is the great influence of Māyā.

O King! I have described to you all that you asked me about the Yuga Dharmas; what more do you want to hear?

Here ends the Eleventh Chapter of the Sixth Book on the ascertainment of Dharma in the Mahā Purāṇam, Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam, of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.