According to the laws of man, a person may be hanged when he commits homicide, but he is not hanged when he kills lower animals. But according to the laws of God, one commits the same sin by killing a lower animal as he does by killing a man. We are punished by the laws of God for either action. Those who do not believe in the laws of God or in His existence may go on committing such sins, and they may not come to their senses despite the countless sufferings they are put into for committing such sins, but that does not affect the existence of God or His eternal laws.
The law books known as the smṛtis mention five kinds of sin which everyone inevitably commits, no matter how unwillingly. They are as follows: (1) Sins committed by itching, (2) sins committed by rubbing, (3) sins committed by starting a fire, (4) sins committed by pouring water from a pot, and (5) sins committed by cleaning the house. Even if we do not commit any intentional sins, we have to commit the above five kinds of sin, without a shadow of doubt. Thus, it is our duty to accept the remnants of offerings made to Viṣṇu, to escape the reactions of all sinful actions committed unconsciously and unavoidably. Unfortunately, those who cook food not for offering to Viṣṇu, but only for satisfying their senses, have to undergo punishments for all the sins they have committed consciously or unconsciously, while discharging prescribed duties. For this reason, the worship of Viṣṇu still goes on in the households of the followers of sanātana-dharma, and especially in the households of the brāhmaṇas.
Therefore, those who are leaders of their respective countries and communities should first be sure to satisfy Viṣṇu, for their own benefit and for the benefit of those whom they profess to lead. All leaders should ponder how they can discharge their duties by satisfying the transcendental senses of Viṣṇu, for what the leaders do will be imitated by their followers. Therefore, the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, advises Arjuna as follows: "What is done by the leader is followed by the ordinary man. Whatever the leader establishes as truth, the followers take to it unhesitatingly."
But alas, the time has already come when the leaders, whom ordinary men regard as beacons, are themselves mostly atheists at the bottom of their hearts and are against the principles laid down by Godhead. As such, what can they do for the satisfaction of the transcendental senses of Viṣṇu? And if they do not do everything for the satisfaction of the transcendental senses of Godhead, how can they expect to drag themselves or their followers from the mire of sins committed in the course of discharging prescribed duties? If the leaders do not recognize the existence of the all-powerful Viṣṇu, who is simultaneously both the supreme transcendental personality and the impersonal spirit existing everywhere, then what will ordinary men understand about Him? He is the supreme enjoyer of everything that be, and thus none of us, however great we may be, can be the enjoyer of the universe and its paraphernalia. Since our position is subordinate to that of the almighty Viṣṇu, the Supreme Godhead (Īśvara, the supreme controller), we can enjoy only what comes from Him as a token of His kindness. We must not enjoy anything that is not offered by Him. We should not make any extra effort to obtain anything which belongs to Him or others. That is the spirit of Vaiṣṇavism.
In the Īśopaniṣad this same spirit is described as follows: "Whatever we see existing throughout the universe is intrinsically the property of the supreme enjoyer, and one may enjoy a thing that is kindly given by Him, but one must never touch the property of others."
Therefore, civic and other popular leaders should center their activities upon Viṣṇu, and by this act of transcendental work, they will themselves be benefited and shall be able to do good for their respective followers. If these leaders, including preachers and heads of state, do not perform this act of Vaiṣṇavism—and instead place themselves artificially in the exalted position of Viṣṇu, the supreme enjoyer—then they may indeed enjoy temporary gain, adoration, and mundane fame, and may delude their unfortunate followers from the right path by a false display of renunciation. But such materialistic, godless leaders will never be able to do any good for the ignorant souls who follow them like a flock of sheep to the slaughterhouse. By such leadership the leader himself is temporarily benefited, but the followers are put into the worst position. The leaders incite them toward false, illusory gain and thus engage them in various acts of sin. In temporarily benefiting themselves, such leaders sacrifice the real interest of their followers and destroy the followers.