बालिशा बत यूयं वा अधर्मे धर्ममानिन: ।
ये वृत्तिदं पतिं हित्वा जारं पतिमुपासते ॥ २३ ॥
bāliśā bata yūyaṁ vā
ye vṛttidaṁ patiṁ hitvā
jāraṁ patim upāsate
venaḥ — King Vena; uvāca — replied; bāliśāḥ — childish; bata — oh; yūyam — all of you; vā — indeed; adharme — in irreligious principles; dharma-māninaḥ — accepting as religious; ye — all of you who; vṛttidam — providing maintenance; patim — husband; hitvā — giving up; jāram — paramour; patim — husband; upāsate — worship.
King Vena replied: You are not at all experienced. It is very much regrettable that you are maintaining something which is not religious and are accepting it as religious. Indeed, I think you are giving up your real husband, who maintains you, and are searching after some paramour to worship.
King Vena was so foolish that he accused the saintly sages of being inexperienced like small children. In other words, he was accusing them of not having perfect knowledge. In this way he could reject their advice and make accusations against them, comparing them to a woman who does not care for her husband who maintains her but goes to satisfy a paramour who does not maintain her. The purpose of this simile is apparent: It is the duty of the kṣatriyas to engage the brāhmaṇas in different types of religious activities, and the king is supposed to be the maintainer of the brāhmaṇas. If the brāhmaṇas do not worship the king but instead go to the demigods, they are as polluted as unchaste women.