Śukadeva Gosvāmī recommended that, "Considering the gravity of your sinful life, you should undergo a type of atonement." They are prescribed in the śāstras. You have to do that. Otherwise, there is no rescue. Exactly like that, if you have committed murder, if you become killed here, then your sinful activities is neutralized.
Otherwise, you'll have to suffer next life. So when a king orders a subject, or the state orders that, "This man should be hanged," it is not cruelty to him; it is mercy. They do not know. It is mercy. Otherwise why . . . every state, anywhere you go, the law is there, "Life for life." So atonement must be done.
But King Parīkṣit Mahārāja, he's very intelligent. He says: "All right, sir, there is atonement. By performing some type of atonement I become free from the sinful activities." Suppose a man, he has committed murder and he's killed. So the sinful reaction of his committing a murder is neutralized. But it does not mean that next time, next life, he'll not again kill another. That is not guaranteed. Exactly like that you are diseased, the physician gives you medicine, you are cured. But it is not guarantee that you'll not be attacked again by that type of disease. That is not guarantee.
One man is suffering from venereal disease, and it is painful. Doctor gives some painful injection. Some way or other, he's cured, but again he's attacked with venereal disease, again comes to the doctor. There are many instances like that. A man has committed theft, and he was punished. He was taken to the government custody and he was punished for six months or one year, and comes back.
Again he commits the theft. Why? This is intelligent question. So . . . so Parīkṣit Mahārāja inquires from the . . . that, "Atonement, that's all right. You are prescribing atonement. That is all right, to counteract the sinful activities. But why a man commits again the same sinful activity? What is the remedy for that?"
This is intelligent question. He says, dṛṣṭvā, dṛṣṭa-śrutābhyāṁ yat pāpam (SB 6.1.9). Dṛṣṭa means just like one man sees this man has committed murder and he's hanged. Everyone sees. And in the law book it is said that if a man commits murder, he'll be hanged. So śruta means we have heard it from authoritative sources; law book is authoritative source. Just like śāstra.
Śāstra and law book is the same. Śāstra means that which controls. Śās-dhātu. Śastra, śāstra, śāsana, śiṣya comes from the same root. Śiṣya. Śiṣya also comes from the same root. Śiṣya means one agrees voluntarily to be governed by the spiritual master. He's called śiṣya. And śāsana, the government. So śāstra means that regulates our daily activities.
So here it is called . . . Śāstra is learned by hearing, not by licking, not by seeing. By hearing. Just like here is a śāstra, bhagavat-śāstra. You cannot learn it by seeing or by touching it or . . . You have to learn it by hearing. Śās . . . this is called śruta. Therefore Vedas are called Śrutis. Śruti. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva abhigacchet . . . śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham (MU 1.2.12). So śruta, śruta means hearing from authoritative sources, either you take a scripture or law book.
So one knows that in every śāstra, every scripture, every law book, man is warned, "Don't commit theft; you'll be punished. Don't tell lie; you'll be punished. Don't do this; you'll be punished. Don't kill. Thou shall not kill, otherwise you'll be punished." But nobody is caring. Why? What is the remedy for that? Everything is there. Dṛṣṭa, practical experience, and śruta . . .
Śruta means heard also from authoritative sources. So he says, dṛṣṭa-śrutābhyāṁ yat pāpam. Everyone knows it, jānan, everyone knows that this is pāpa, this is sinful activity. Everyone knows. Nobody can say that "I do not know what is sinful activities." Who does not know that stealing is sinful, committing murder is sinful, or so many other things?
So Parīkṣit Mahārāja inquires that dṛṣṭa-śrutābhyāṁ yat pāpaṁ jānann apy ātmano 'hitam (SB 6.1.9). "And he knows that, 'It is not good for me - if I steal I'll be arrested, I'll be punished, I'll be put into jail. That is not a very comfortable life.' He knows that." Karoti bhūyo vivaśaḥ. "But he commits again and again, vivaśaḥ, as if forced by something. Forced by something." Karoti bhūyo vivaśaḥ prāyaścittam atho katham (SB 6.1.9).
So Parīkṣit Mahārāja immediately says: "What is the value of this atonement? If he is not corrected, checked that he should not commit such sin any more, then what is the value of prāyaścitta, katham? 'I have committed some sin. I do some atonement. Again I commit. Again I atone. Again I commit. I confess, and again I do the same thing.' So what is the use of such atonement?" his question is, another question.
- kvacin nivartate 'bhadrāt
- kvacic carati tat punaḥ
- prāyaścittam atho 'pārthaṁ
- manye kuñjara-śaucavat
- (SB 6.1.10)
For the time being, when he's punished, he thinks "I shall not commit what mistake I did." But as soon as he's out of the danger, he commits again. So kvacin nivartate abhadrāt. Nivartate means he refrains, abhadrāt, from abominable activities. Kvacic carati tat punaḥ. And again sometimes he commits the same thing. Punaḥ.