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Four legs of religion

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Expressions researched:
"Four legs of powerful religion" |"Four legs of religion" |"Four legs required: dharma, artha, kama" |"Four legs were established by the four principles" |"Hurting the legs of a cow and bull" |"One fourth of the religious principles remains" |"The duration of life, mercy, the power of recollection, and moral or religious principles" |"The four-legged bull" |"The legs of the bull"

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

He saw the master of Kali-yuga, who was lower than a śūdra, disguised as a king and hurting the legs of a cow and bull.
SB 1.16.4, Translation and Purport:

Once, when Mahārāja Parīkṣit was on his way to conquer the world, he saw the master of Kali-yuga, who was lower than a śūdra, disguised as a king and hurting the legs of a cow and bull. The King at once caught hold of him to deal sufficient punishment.

The purpose of a king's going out to conquer the world is not for self-aggrandizement. Mahārāja Parīkṣit went out to conquer the world after his ascendance to the throne, but this was not for the purpose of aggression on other states. He was the Emperor of the world, and all small states were already under his regime. His purpose in going out was to see how things were going on in terms of the godly state. The king, being the representative of the Lord, has to execute the will of the Lord duly. There is no question of self-aggrandizement. Thus as soon as Mahārāja Parīkṣit saw that a lower-class man in the dress of a king was hurting the legs of a cow and a bull, at once he arrested and punished him. The king cannot tolerate insults to the most important animal, the cow, nor can he tolerate disrespect for the most important man, the brāhmaṇa. Human civilization means to advance the cause of brahminical culture, and to maintain it, cow protection is essential. There is a miracle in milk, for it contains all the necessary vitamins to sustain human physiological conditions for higher achievements. Brahminical culture can advance only when man is educated to develop the quality of goodness, and for this there is a prime necessity of food prepared with milk, fruits and grains. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was astonished to see that a black śūdra, dressed like a ruler, was mistreating a cow, the most important animal in human society.

The age of Kali means mismanagement and quarrel. And the root cause of all mismanagement and quarrel is that worthless men with the modes of lower-class men, who have no higher ambition in life, come to the helm of the state management. Such men at the post of a king are sure to first hurt the cow and the brahminical culture, thereby pushing all society towards hell. Mahārāja Parīkṣit, trained as he was, got the scent of this root cause of all quarrel in the world. Thus he wanted to stop it in the very beginning.

With the progress of the age of Kali, four things particularly, namely the duration of life, mercy, the power of recollection, and moral or religious principles will gradually diminish.
SB 1.16.20, Purport:

With the progress of the age of Kali, four things particularly, namely the duration of life, mercy, the power of recollection, and moral or religious principles will gradually diminish. Since Dharma, or the principles of religion, would be lost in the proportion of three out of four, the symbolic bull was standing on one leg only. When three fourths of the population of the whole world become irreligious, the situation is converted into hell for the animals. In the age of Kali, godless civilizations will create so many so-called religious societies in which the Personality of Godhead will be directly or indirectly defied. And thus faithless societies of men will make the world uninhabitable for the saner section of people.

In the age of Satya (truthfulness) your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness.
SB 1.17.24, Translation and Purport:

In the age of Satya (truthfulness) your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. But it appears that three of your legs are broken due to rampant irreligion in the form of pride, lust for women, and intoxication.

The deluding energy, or material nature, can act upon the living beings proportionately in terms of the living beings' falling prey to the deluding attraction of māyā. Moths are captivated by the glaring brightness of light, and thus they become prey to the fire. Similarly, the deluding energy is always captivating the conditioned souls to become prey to the fire of delusion, and the Vedic scriptures warn the conditioned souls not to become prey to delusion but to get rid of it. The Vedas warn us to go not to the darkness of ignorance but to the progressive path of light. The Lord Himself also warns that the deluding power of material energy is too powerful to overcome, but one who completely surrenders unto the Lord can easily do so. But to surrender unto the lotus feet of the Lord is also not very easy. Such surrender is possible by persons of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. These four principles of advanced civilization were remarkable features in the age of Satya. In that age, every human being was practically a qualified brāhmaṇa of the highest order, and in the social orders of life they were all paramahaṁsas, or the topmost in the renounced order. By cultural standing, the human beings were not at all subjected to the deluding energy. Such strong men of character were competent enough to get away from the clutches of māyā. But gradually, as the basic principles of brahminical culture, namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, became curtailed by proportionate development of pride, attachment for women and intoxication, the path of salvation or the path of transcendental bliss retreated far, far away from human society. With the progression of the age of Kali, people are becoming very proud, and attached to women and intoxication. By the influence of the age of Kali, even a pauper is proud of his penny, the women are always dressed in an overly attractive fashion to victimize the minds of men, and the man is addicted to drinking wine, smoking, drinking tea and chewing tobacco, etc. All these habits, or so-called advancement of civilization, are the root causes of all irreligiosities, and therefore it is not possible to check corruption, bribery and nepotism. Man cannot check all these evils simply by statutory acts and police vigilance, but he can cure the disease of the mind by the proper medicine, namely advocating the principles of brahminical culture or the principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. Modern civilization and economic development are creating a new situation of poverty and scarcity with the result of blackmailing the consumer's commodities. If the leaders and the rich men of the society spend fifty percent of their accumulated wealth mercifully for the misled mass of people and educate them in God consciousness, the knowledge of Bhāgavatam, certainly the age of Kali will be defeated in its attempt to entrap the conditioned souls. We must always remember that false pride, or too high an estimation of one's own values of life, undue attachment to women or association with them, and intoxication will divert human civilization from the path of peace, however much the people clamor for peace in the world. The preaching of the Bhāgavatam principles will automatically render all men austere, clean both inside and outside, merciful to the suffering, and truthful in daily behavior. That is the way of correcting the flaws of human society, which are very prominently exhibited at the present moment.

In the presence of Kali, Dharma (in the shape of a bull), and the earth (in the shape of a cow), he could actually estimate the general condition of his kingdom, and therefore he at once took proper steps to reestablish the legs of the bull, namely austerity, cleanliness and mercy.
SB 1.17.42, Translation and Purport:

Thereafter the King reestablished the lost legs of the personality of religion (the bull), and by encouraging activities he sufficiently improved the condition of the earth.

By designating particular places for the personality of Kali, Mahārāja Parīkṣit practically cheated Kali. In the presence of Kali, Dharma (in the shape of a bull), and the earth (in the shape of a cow), he could actually estimate the general condition of his kingdom, and therefore he at once took proper steps to reestablish the legs of the bull, namely austerity, cleanliness and mercy. And for the general benefit of the people of the world, he saw that the gold stock might be employed for stabilization. Gold is certainly a generator of falsity, intoxication, prostitution, enmity and violence, but under the guidance of a proper king or public leader, or a brāhmaṇa or sannyāsī, the same gold can be properly utilized to reestablish the lost legs of the bull, the personality of religion.

Mahārāja Parīkṣit, therefore, like his grandfather Arjuna, collected all illicit gold kept for the propensities of Kali and employed it in the saṅkīrtana-yajña, as per instruction of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. As we have suggested before, one's accumulated wealth may be divided into three parts for distribution, namely fifty percent for the service of the Lord, twenty-five percent for the family members and twenty-five percent for personal necessities. Spending fifty percent for the service of the Lord or for propagation of spiritual knowledge in society by way of the saṅkīrtana-yajña is the maximum display of human mercy. people of the world are generally in darkness regarding spiritual knowledge, especially in regard to the devotional service of the Lord, and therefore to propagate the systematic transcendental knowledge of devotional service is the greatest mercy that one can show in this world. When everyone is taught to sacrifice fifty percent of his accumulated gold for the Lord's service, certainly austerity, cleanliness and mercy automatically ensue, and thus the lost three legs of the personality of religion are automatically established. When there is sufficient austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, naturally mother earth is completely satisfied, and there is very little chance for Kali to infiltrate the structure of human society.

SB Canto 3

Education, charity, penance and truth are said to be the four legs of religion, and to learn this there are four orders of life with different classifications of castes according to vocation. Brahmā created all these in systematic order.
SB 3.12.41, Translation and Purport:

Education, charity, penance and truth are said to be the four legs of religion, and to learn this there are four orders of life with different classifications of castes according to vocation. Brahmā created all these in systematic order.

The nucleus of the four social orders—brahmacarya, or student life, gṛhastha, or householder family life, vānaprastha, or retired life for practicing penance, and sannyāsa, or renounced life for preaching the truth—is the four legs of religion. The vocational divisions are the brāhmaṇas, or the intelligent class, the kṣatriyas, or administrative class, the vaiśyas, or mercantile productive class, and the śūdras, or general laborer class who have no specific qualifications. All were systematically planned and created by Brahmā for the regular promotion of self-realization. Student life is meant for acquiring the best education; household family life is meant for gratifying the senses, provided it is performed with a charitable disposition of mind, retirement from household life is meant for penance, for advancement in spiritual life, and renounced life is meant for preaching the Absolute Truth to the people in general. The combined actions of all members of society make the whole situation favorable for the upliftment of the mission of human life. The beginning of this social institution is based on education meant for purifying the animal propensities of the human being. The highest purificatory process is knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the purest of the pure.

SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)

I become manifest as the four-legged bull of religion, and thus the inhabitants of Satya-yuga, fixed in austerity and free from all sins, worship Me as Lord Haṁsa.
SB 11.17.11, Translation:

In Satya-yuga the undivided Veda is expressed by the syllable oṁ, and I am the only object of mental activities. I become manifest as the four-legged bull of religion, and thus the inhabitants of Satya-yuga, fixed in austerity and free from all sins, worship Me as Lord Haṁsa.

These four legs of powerful religion are truthfulness, mercy, austerity and charity.
SB 12.3.18, Translation:

Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: My dear King, in the beginning, during Satya-yuga, the age of truth, religion is present with all four of its legs intact and is carefully maintained by the people of that age. These four legs of powerful religion are truthfulness, mercy, austerity and charity.

In the age of Kali only one fourth of the religious principles remains.
SB 12.3.24, Translation:

In the age of Kali only one fourth of the religious principles remains. That last remnant will continuously be decreased by the ever-increasing principles of irreligion and will finally be destroyed.

Lectures

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Anything, it requires four pillars. So to remain steadily on the platform of dharma, these four legs required: dharma, artha, kāma, mokṣa.
Lecture on SB 1.16.25 -- Hawaii, January 21, 1974:

Real religion is no sense satisfaction, simply to satisfy the Supreme Lord. That is real religion. Therefore (s)he says, bhavān hi veda tat sarvam.

So as somebody, anything, they require four legs... Just like this platform, it has got four legs. Animal stands on four legs. Anything, it requires four pillars. So to remain steadily on the platform of dharma, these four legs required: dharma, artha, kāma... If I simply remain engaged in religious principles and nobody is engaged where to get food... Because food also is required. So therefore not only religious principle, there must be economic development attempt also. But not one-man show. We should divide our society in such a way that somebody, some group of men is engaged in studying the dharma principle and spreading it. Just like we have taken the principle, generally, to spread what is meant by real dharma. That is the business of the brāhmaṇa. And similarly, some group of men should be kṣatriya for ruling over. Unless there is discipline, ruling, everything will be chaos. The government must be there. The principle of directors must be there. So dharma, artha, kāma. And we must live peacefully. Our senses should not disturb us. Because we have got senses, they want satisfaction. So we must give food them also, senses. Dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa. But ultimate goal is how to get out of this material existence. This is four principles: dharma, artha, kāma, mokṣa. And mokṣa, by the impersonalists, their mokṣa and real mokṣa... Real mokṣa... Mokṣa means liberation. Liberation means to get out of this material existence.

People do not understand what is mokṣa, what is economic development, what is religious principle. There is no education. So unless there is sufficient education on these principles—dharma, artha, kāma, mokṣa (SB 4.8.41, Cc. Ādi 1.90)—you cannot have peaceful life in human society. That is not... That is animal society. Dharmeṇa hīnāḥ paśubhiḥ samānāḥ. If there is no principles of life, that is animal society.

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BG: 0 +, SB: 8 +, CC: 0 +, OB: 0 +, Lec: 1 +, Conv: 0 +  and Let: 0 +