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Decline in religious practice

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Bhagavad-gita As It Is

BG Chapters 1 - 6

BG 4.7, Translation and Purport:

Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.

The word sṛjāmi is significant herein. Sṛjāmi cannot be used in the sense of creation, because, according to the previous verse, there is no creation of the Lord's form or body, since all of the forms are eternally existent. Therefore, sṛjāmi means that the Lord manifests Himself as He is. Although the Lord appears on schedule, namely at the end of the Dvāpara-yuga of the twenty-eighth millennium of the seventh Manu in one day of Brahmā, He has no obligation to adhere to such rules and regulations, because He is completely free to act in many ways at His will. He therefore appears by His own will whenever there is a predominance of irreligiosity and a disappearance of true religion. Principles of religion are laid down in the Vedas, and any discrepancy in the matter of properly executing the rules of the Vedas makes one irreligious. In the Bhāgavatam it is stated that such principles are the laws of the Lord. Only the Lord can manufacture a system of religion. The Vedas are also accepted as originally spoken by the Lord Himself to Brahmā, from within his heart. Therefore, the principles of dharma, or religion, are the direct orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam (SB 6.3.19)). These principles are clearly indicated throughout the Bhagavad-gītā.

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

SB 1.14.8, Purport:

As we have discussed many times, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa has many plenary expansions, and each and every one of them, although equally powerful, executes different functions. In Bhagavad-gītā there are different statements by the Lord, and each of these statements is meant for different plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions. For example, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord, says in Bhagavad-gītā:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." (BG 4.7)

"To deliver the faithful, to annihilate the miscreants and also to reestablish the principles of occupational duty, I appear in every age." (BG 4.8)

"If I should cease to work, then all humanity would be misdirected. I would also be the cause of creating unwanted population, and I would thereby destroy the peace of all sentient beings." (BG 3.24)

"Whatever action a great man performs, common men will follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues." (BG 3.21)

All the above statements by the Lord apply to different plenary portions of the Lord, namely His expansions such as Saṅkarṣaṇa, Vāsudeva, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Nārāyaṇa. These are all He Himself in different transcendental expansions, and still the Lord as Śrī Kṛṣṇa functions in a different sphere of transcendental exchange with different grades of devotees.

SB Canto 4

SB 4.22.42, Purport:

The Lord makes so many promises for the benefit of suffering humanity. Although the Lord is very compassionate upon suffering humanity, human beings are generally not very anxious to serve Him. The relationship is something like that between the father and the son; the father is always anxious for the welfare of the son, even though the son forgets or neglects the father. The word anukampinā is significant; the Lord is so compassionate upon the living entities that He comes Himself into this world in order to benefit fallen souls.

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." (BG 4.7)

Thus it is out of compassion that the Lord appears in His different forms. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared on this planet out of compassion for fallen souls; Lord Buddha appeared out of compassion for the poor animals who were being killed by the demons; Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva appeared out of compassion for Prahlāda Mahārāja.

SB Canto 5

SB 5.3.20, Purport:

When the Supreme Lord appears or descends as an incarnation within this material world, He does not accept a body made of the three modes of material nature (sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa). Māyāvādī philosophers say that the impersonal God appears in this material world by accepting a body in the sattva-guṇa. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī states that the word śukla means "consisting of śuddha-sattva." Lord Viṣṇu descends in His śuddha-sattva form. Śuddha-sattva refers to the sattva-guṇa which is never contaminated. In this material world, even the mode of goodness (sattva-guṇa) is contaminated by tinges of rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa. When sattva-guṇa is never contaminated by rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, it is called śuddha-sattva. Sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ vasudeva-śabditam (SB 4.3.23). That is the platform of vasudeva, whereby the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, can be experienced. In Bhagavad-gītā (4.7) Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself says:

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself."

SB Canto 7

SB 7.1.11, Purport:

In Bhagavad-gītā (4.7) the Lord says:

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bhārata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." Since Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the controller of everything, when He appears He is not within the limitations of material time (janma karma ca me divyam (BG 4.9)). In this verse the words kālaṁ carantaṁ sṛjatīśa āśrayam indicate that although the Lord acts within time, whether sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa or tamo-guṇa is prominent, one should not think that the Lord is under time's control. Time is within His control, for He creates time to act in a certain way; He is not working under the control of time. The creation of the material world is one of the Lord's pastimes. Everything is fully under His control. Since creation takes place when rajo-guṇa is prominent, the Lord creates the necessary time to give facilities for rajo-guṇa. Similarly, He also creates the necessary times for maintenance and annihilation. Thus this verse establishes that the Lord is not under the limitations of time.

SB 7.9.37, Purport:

In summary, whenever the Lord incarnates, He appears in His original transcendental form. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bhārata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." It is simply foolish to think of the Lord as being originally impersonal but accepting a material body when He appears as a personal incarnation. Whenever the Lord appears, He appears in His original transcendental form, which is spiritual and blissful. But unintelligent men, such as the Māyāvādīs, cannot understand the transcendental form of the Lord, and therefore the Lord chastises them by saying, avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam: (BG 9.11) "Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form." Whenever the Lord appears, whether as a fish, a tortoise, a hog or any other form, one should understand that He maintains His transcendental position and that His only business, as stated here, is hatvā—to kill the demons. The Lord appears in order to protect the devotees and kill the demons (paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām (BG 4.8)). Since the demons are always ready to oppose Vedic civilization, they are sure to be killed by the transcendental form of the Lord.

SB 7.9.41, Purport:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bhārata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." (BG 4.7) The Lord is always ready to help the fallen souls, but because they are fools and rascals, they do not take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and abide by the instructions of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore although Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is personally the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, He comes as a devotee to preach the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Yāre dekha, tāre kaha 'kṛṣṇa'-upadeśa. One must therefore become a sincere servant of Kṛṣṇa. Āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra' ei deśa (CC Madhya 7.128). One should become a guru and spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world, simply by preaching the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā.

SB Canto 8

SB 8.3.12, Purport:

As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there are so many incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead that they are like the waves of a river. The waves of a river flow incessantly, and no one can count how many waves there are. Similarly, no one can calculate when and how the different incarnations of the Lord appear according to the necessities of time, place and candidates. The Lord appears perpetually. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." In the material world there is always the possibility of deviation from Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and therefore Kṛṣṇa and His devotees always act in various forms to curb such godlessness.

SB 8.5.46, Purport:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." Thus it is not imagination but a fact that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His sweet will, appears in different incarnations, such as Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha, Nṛsiṁha, Vāmana, Paraśurāma, Rāmacandra, Balarāma, Buddha and many other forms. Devotees are always eager to see one of the Lord's innumerable forms. It is said that just as no one can count how many waves there are in the sea, no one can count the forms of the Lord. This does not mean, however, that anyone can claim to be a form of the Lord and be acceptable as an incarnation. The incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead must be accepted in terms of the descriptions found in the śāstras. Lord Brahmā is eager to see the incarnation of the Lord, or the original source of all incarnations; he is not eager to see an imposter. The incarnation's activities are proof of His identity. All the incarnations described in the śāstras act wonderfully (keśava dhṛta-mīna-śarīra jaya jagadīśa hare). It is only by the personal sweet will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead that He appears and disappears, and only fortunate devotees can expect to see Him face to face.

SB 8.6.8, Purport:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time descend Myself." Thus although the Supreme Lord is unborn, there is no cessation to His appearance in different forms as incarnations like Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Rāma. Since His incarnations are eternal, the various activities performed by these incarnations are also eternal. The Supreme Personality of Godhead does not appear because He is forced to do so by karma like ordinary living entities who are forced to accept a certain type of body. It is to be understood that the Lord's body and activities are all transcendental, being free from the contamination of the material modes of nature. These pastimes are transcendental bliss to the Lord. The word aparigaṇya-dhāmne is very significant. There is no limit to the Lord's appearance in different incarnations. All of these incarnations are eternal, blissful and full of knowledge.

SB 8.7.44, Purport:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium." (Bg. 4.7-8) All the śāstras conclude, therefore, that spreading the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the best welfare activity in the world. Because of the ultimate benefit this bestows upon people in general, the Lord very quickly recognizes such service performed by a devotee.

SB 8.24.2-3, Purport:

Parīkṣit Mahārāja's question to Śukadeva Gosvāmī was based on this principle stated by the Lord Himself in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." The Lord appears in each incarnation to save the world from irreligious principles and especially to protect His devotees (paritrāṇāya sādhūnām (BG 4.8)). Vāmanadeva, for example, appeared to save the devotee Bali Mahārāja. Similarly, when the Supreme Personality of Godhead accepted the abominable form of a fish, He must have done so to favor some devotee. Parīkṣit Mahārāja was eager to know about the devotee for whom the Supreme Lord accepted this form.

SB Canto 9

SB 9.24.56, Purport:

The principles by which an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead descends upon earth are explained in this verse. The same principles are also explained in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7) by the Lord Himself:

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself."

SB 9.24.58, Purport:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." The real dharma is to surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, but the rebellious living entity, instead of surrendering to Kṛṣṇa, engages in adharma, in a struggle for existence to become like Kṛṣṇa. Therefore out of compassion Kṛṣṇa creates this material world to give the living entity a chance to understand his real position. Bhagavad-gītā and similar Vedic literatures are presented so that the living being may understand his relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ (BG 15.15). All these Vedic literatures are meant to enable the human being to understand what he is, what his actual position is, and what his relationship is with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called brahma-jijñāsā. Every conditioned soul is struggling, but human life provides the best chance for him to understand his position. Therefore this verse says, anugrahas tan-nivṛtteḥ, indicating that the false life of repeated birth and death must be stopped and the conditioned soul should be educated. This is the purpose of the creation.

SB Canto 10.1 to 10.13

SB 10.1.17, Purport:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I appear Myself." When the residents of this earth become atheistic and godless, they descend to the status of animals like dogs and hogs, and thus their only business is to bark among themselves. This is dharmasya glāni, deviation from the goal of life. Human life is meant for attaining the highest perfection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but when people are godless and the presidents or kings are unnecessarily puffed up with military power, their business is to fight and increase the military strength of their different states. Nowadays, therefore, it appears that every state is busy manufacturing atomic weapons to prepare for a third world war. Such preparations are certainly unnecessary; they reflect the false pride of the heads of state. The real business of a chief executive is to see to the happiness of the mass of people by training them in Kṛṣṇa consciousness in different divisions of life. Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ (BG 4.13). A leader should train the people as brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras and engage them in various occupational duties, thus helping them progress toward Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

SB 10.2 Summary:

The Supreme Godhead is absolutely independent, and His incarnations are transcendental. The prayers of the demigods glorify and exalt devotees and explain the fate of persons who superficially consider themselves liberated from the conditions of material nature. A devotee is always safe. When a devotee fully surrenders at the lotus feet of the Lord, he is completely liberated from the fear of material existence. By explaining why the Supreme Personality of Godhead descends, the prayers of the demigods clearly confirm the Lord's statement in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself."

SB 10.2.1-2, Purport:

This verse supports the following statement given by the Lord in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7-8):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ
vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya
sambhavāmi yuge yuge

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself. To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium."

SB 10.2.20, Purport:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." In this age, at the present moment, there are inordinate discrepancies in the discharge of human duties. Human life is meant for God realization, but unfortunately the materialistic civilization is stressing only the senses of the body, not understanding the living force within the body. As clearly stated in Bhagavad-gītā (dehino 'smin yathā dehe (BG 2.13)), within the body is the body's proprietor, the living force, which is more important. But human society has become so fallen that instead of understanding the living force within the body, people have become busy with external things. This is a discrepancy in human duties. Therefore Kṛṣṇa has taken birth or taken shelter within the womb of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Men of Kaṁsa's class, therefore, are very much afraid and are busy trying to stop this movement, especially in the Western countries. One politician has remarked that the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is spreading like an epidemic and that if not checked immediately, within ten years it may capture governmental power. There is, of course, such potency in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.

SB 10.2.39, Purport:

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." When there is a need to diminish a burden created by the demons, the Supreme Godhead can do it in many ways because He has multifarious energies. There is no need for Him to come as an incarnation, since He is not forced to do anything like ordinary living entities. The living entities come to this material world in the spirit of enjoyment, but because they want to enjoy without Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-bahirmukha haiyā bhoja-vāñchā kare), they suffer birth, death, old age and disease under the control of the illusory energy. When the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears, however, no such causes are involved; His descent is an act of His pleasure potency. We should always remember this distinction between the Lord and the ordinary living entity and not uselessly argue that the Lord cannot come. There are philosophers who do not believe in the Lord's incarnation and who ask, "Why should the Supreme Lord come?" But the answer is, "Why should He not come? Why should He be controlled by the desire of the living entity?" The Lord is free to do whatever He likes. Therefore this verse says, vinā vinodaṁ bata tarkayāmahe. It is only for His pleasure that He comes although He does not need to come.

SB 10.5.13, Purport:

The Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." Whenever Kṛṣṇa comes, once in a day of Brahmā, He comes to the house of Nanda Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana. Kṛṣṇa is the master of all creation (sarva-loka-maheśvaram (BG 5.29)). Therefore, not only in the neighborhood of Nanda Mahārāja's estate, but all over the universe—and in all the other universes—musical sounds celebrated the auspicious arrival of the Lord.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Adi-lila

CC Adi 3.22, Translation:
“‘Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.""
CC Adi 8.11, Purport:

Kṛṣṇa is so merciful that He always thinks of how to liberate the conditioned souls from the material platform. It is for this reason that Kṛṣṇa incarnates, as clearly indicated in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." Kṛṣṇa always protects the living entities in many ways. He comes Himself, He sends His own confidential devotees, and He leaves behind Him śāstras like the Bhagavad-gītā. Why? It is so that people may take advantage of the benediction to be liberated from the clutches of māyā. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted sannyāsa so that even a foolish person who accepted Him as an ordinary sannyāsī would offer Him respect, for this would help diminish his material distresses and ultimately liberate him from the material clutches. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī points out in this connection that Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the combined form of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa (mahāprabhu śrī-caitanya, rādhā-kṛṣṇa—nahe anya). Therefore when fools considered Caitanya Mahāprabhu to be an ordinary human being and thus treated Him disrespectfully, the merciful Lord, in order to deliver these offenders, accepted sannyāsa so that they would offer Him obeisances, accepting Him as a sannyāsī. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted sannyāsa to bestow His great mercy on people in general, who cannot appreciate Him as Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa Themselves.

CC Adi 17.53, Purport:

Lord Caitanya's mission is the same as that of Lord Kṛṣṇa, which He states in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.7–8):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
dharma-saṁsthāpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge yuge

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself. In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium."

CC Madhya-lila

CC Madhya 6.255, Purport:

As Lord Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself."

This is also the case with Caitanya Mahāprabhu's appearance. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu appeared in this world as a disguised incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, but His appearance is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Mahābhārata and other Vedic scriptures. He appeared in order to teach the fallen souls in this material world, for in this Age of Kali almost everyone has become attached to fruitive and ritualistic activities and mental speculation. Consequently there was a great need to revive the system of devotional service. The Lord Himself personally came down disguised as a devotee so that the fallen populace might take advantage of the Lord's example.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Lecture on BG 4.7-10 -- Los Angeles, January 6, 1969:

So here it is said, "Whenever and wherever there is decline in religious practice..." What is that religion practice? That religion practice is whenever there is decline of love of God. That's all. When people become lover of mammon, matter, that means decline of religion. And when people increase love of Godhead, that means real religion. So Kṛṣṇa comes, or Kṛṣṇa's servant or representative comes, to adjust things. When people forget love of Godhead, somebody, either Kṛṣṇa, God Himself or His representative comes to adjust things.