कौमार आचरेत्प्राज्ञो धर्मान्भागवतानिह ।
दुर्लभं मानुषं जन्म तदप्यध्रुवमर्थदम् ॥ १ ॥
kaumāra ācaret prājño
dharmān bhāgavatān iha
durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
śrī-prahrādaḥ uvāca — Prahlāda Mahārāja said; kaumāraḥ — in the tender age of childhood; ācaret — should practice; prājñaḥ — one who is intelligent; dharmān — occupational duties; bhāgavatān — which are devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; iha — in this life; durlabham — very rarely obtained; mānuṣam — human; janma — birth; tat — that; api — even; adhruvam — impermanent, temporary; artha-dam — full of meaning.
Prahlāda Mahārāja said: One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human form of body from the very beginning of life — in other words, from the tender age of childhood — to practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other engagements. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like other bodies, it is meaningful because in human life one can perform devotional service. Even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give one complete perfection.
The whole purpose of Vedic civilization and of reading the Vedas is to attain the perfect stage of devotional service in the human form of life. According to the Vedic system, therefore, from the very beginning of life the brahmacarya system is introduced so that from one’s very childhood — from the age of five years — one can practice modifying one’s human activities so as to engage perfectly in devotional service. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (2.40), svalpam apy asya dharmasya trāyate mahato bhayāt: “Even a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” Modern civilization, not referring to the verdicts of Vedic literature, is so cruel to the members of human society that instead of teaching children to become brahmacārīs, it teaches mothers to kill their children even in the womb, on the plea of curbing the increase of population. And if by chance a child is saved, he is educated only for sense gratification. Gradually, throughout the entire world, human society is losing interest in the perfection of life. Indeed, men are living like cats and dogs, spoiling the duration of their human lives by actually preparing to transmigrate again to the degraded species among the 8,400,000 forms of life. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is anxious to serve human society by teaching people to perform devotional service, which can save a human being from being degraded again to animal life. As already stated by Prahlāda Mahārāja, bhāgavata-dharma consists of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam/ arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam. In all the schools, colleges and universities, and at home, all children and youths should be taught to hear about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In other words, they should be taught to hear the instructions of Bhagavad-gītā, to put them into practice in their lives, and thus to become strong in devotional service, free from fear of being degraded to animal life. Following bhāgavata-dharma has been made extremely easy in this Age of Kali. The śāstra says:
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
One need only chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. Everyone engaged in the practice of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra will be completely cleansed, from the core of his heart, and be saved from the cycle of birth and death.