Betrayed by Leaders
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: My dear king, the servants of Lord Viṣṇu are always very expert in logic and argument. After hearing the statements of the Yamadūtas, the Viṣṇudūtas replied as follows:
“Alas, how painful it is that irreligion is being introduced into an assembly where religion should be maintained! Indeed, those in charge of maintaining religious principles are needlessly punishing a sinless, unpunishable person.
“A king or government official should be so well qualified that he acts as a father, maintainer, and protector of the citizens because of affection and love. He should give the citizens good advice and instructions according to the standard scriptures and should be equal to everyone. Yamarāja does this, for he is the supreme master of justice, and so do those who follow in his footsteps. However, if such persons become polluted and exhibit partiality by punishing an innocent person, where will the citizens go to take shelter for their maintenance and security?
“The mass of people follow the example of a leader and imitate his behavior. They accept as evidence whatever the leader accepts. People in general are not very advanced in knowledge by which to discriminate between religion and irreligion. The innocent, unenlightened citizen is like an ignorant animal sleeping in peace with its head on the lap of its master, faithfully believing in the master’s protection. If a leader is actually kindhearted and deserves to be the object of a living entity’s faith, how can he punish or kill a foolish person who has fully surrendered in good faith and friendship?” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.2.1–6)
Logic and Reason
The Viṣṇudūtas, like all genuine servants of God, understood everything according to logic and reason. The instructions of Kṛṣṇa are not meaningless dogma. Religion often gives rise to dogmatism, but the author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, urges us to try to understand Lord Caitanya and the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness according to logic. In other words, do not follow blindly, on the basis of sentiment alone. One who fails to apply logic can easily be misled by unscrupulous persons. For example, some so-called missionaries advertise that man can become God, and they attract millions of sentimental followers. But how is it possible? Where is there evidence of any man becoming God? This false propaganda is not at all logical. One should use his intelligence to understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
However, once we have accepted the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and taken initiation from a bona fide spiritual master, we cannot argue with him. We cannot challenge. To do so would constitute an offense and a fall from spiritual principles.
The Duty of Governments
The Viṣṇudūtas accused the Yamadūtas of violating religious principles by attempting to drag Ajāmila to Yamarāja for punishment. Yamarāja is the officer appointed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to judge religious and irreligious principles and to punish the sinful. However, if completely sinless people are punished, the entire assembly of Yamarāja is contaminated. This principle applies not only in the assembly of Yamarāja but throughout human society.
Upholding religious principles is the duty of the king or government. Unfortunately, in the present age, Kali-yuga, people have lost their intelligence, so they cannot differentiate between dharma and adharma, religion and irreligion. The courts do not know whom to punish and whom not. For example, out of compassion for all the fallen souls, Vaiṣṇavas go out to preach the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but unfortunately, because of the influence of Kali-yuga, even though these Vaiṣṇavas have dedicated their lives to preaching the glories of the Lord, they are sometimes harassed and punished by courts on false charges of disturbing the peace. This age, Kali-yuga, is very bad. We can only take shelter of Kṛṣṇa and always chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
The Viṣṇudūtas chastised the Yamadūtas for violating the principles of justice. Such corruption of the judicial system is very prominent in Kali-yuga. The judicial system is meant to provide for execution of justice, yet false witnesses and bribery make it difficult. With money, almost anyone can get a favorable judgment in court. If the justice system is corrupt, life becomes extremely troublesome. The government is supposed to offer the citizens protection, as parents do for their children. A small child is completely dependent on his father and mother, thinking with full faith, “My father is here, my mother is here – I am safe.” But if the father and mother are corrupt, where is the protection for the child? Similarly, if the whole government is corrupt, where is the protection for the citizens?
Whatever the heads of society do, people generally follow. The government or king is like a father to the citizens. A father will never tolerate the killing or injuring of his children. He will give up his own life trying to attack the person threatening his children. Yet today crime is rampant. The government spends billions of dollars, but the citizens have no security in their lives. The government is answerable to the citizens because it must protect and provide for them. If the government is incapable or corrupt, then what is the position of the citizens?
The king, or in modern times the government, should act as the guardian of the citizens by teaching them the proper goal of life. The human form of life is especially meant for attaining self-realization, realization of one’s relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The duty of the government, therefore, is to take charge of training all the citizens in such a way that they will gradually be elevated to the spiritual platform and realize their relationship with God. This principle was followed by kings like Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, Mahārāja Parīkṣit, Lord Rāmacandra, Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, and Prahlāda Mahārāja.
Unfortunately, today’s government leaders are generally dishonest and irreligious, and thus all the affairs of the state suffer. In the name of democracy, rogues and thieves fool the innocent populace into electing them to the most important posts in the government. Recently this has been proven in America, and as a result the citizens condemned the President and dragged him down from his post. This is only one case out of many.
In Kali-yuga, people have no shelter. Due to corrupt government, they are uncertain of their lives and property. The mass of people should always feel secure because of the government’s protection. Therefore, how regrettable it is for the government itself to cause a breach of trust and put the citizens in difficulty for political reasons. We saw during the partition days in India that although Hindus and Muslims had been living together peacefully, manipulation by politicians suddenly aroused feelings of hatred between them, and thus the Hindus and Muslims killed one another over politics. This is a sign of Kali-yuga.
Another symptom of Kali-yuga is the abominable practice of animal slaughter. In this age animals are kept nicely sheltered, completely confident that their masters will protect them, but unfortunately as soon as the animals are fat, they are immediately sent for slaughter. Such cruelty is condemned by Vaiṣṇavas like the Viṣṇudūtas. Indeed, hellish conditions of extreme suffering await the sinful men responsible for such cruelty. One who betrays the confidence of a living entity who takes shelter of him in good faith, whether that living entity be a human being or an animal, is extremely sinful. Because such betrayals now go unpunished by the government, all of human society is terribly contaminated. The people of this age are therefore described as mandāḥ sumanda-matayo manda-bhāgyā hy upadrutāḥ. As a consequence of such sinfulness, men are condemned (mandāḥ), their intelligence is unclear (sumanda-matayaḥ), they are unfortunate (manda-bhāgyāḥ), and therefore they are always disturbed by many problems (upadrutāḥ). This is their situation in this life, and after death they are punished in hellish conditions.
Although Ajāmila was not punishable, the Yamadūtas were insisting on taking him away to Yamarāja for punishment. This was adharma, contrary to religious principles. The Viṣṇudūtas feared that if such irreligious acts were allowed, the management of human society would be spoiled. In modern times, the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to introduce the right principles of management for human society, but unfortunately the governments of Kali-yuga do not properly support the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement because they do not appreciate its valuable service. The Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is the right movement for ameliorating the fallen condition of human society, and therefore governments and public leaders in every part of the world should support this movement to completely rectify humanity’s sinful condition.