TEXT 157
pravrtti-marge go-vadha karite vidhi haya
sastra-ajnaya vadha kaile nahi papa-bhaya
pravrtti-margeon the path of attachment; go-vadhathe killing of cows; kariteto execute; vidhiregulative principles; hayathere are; sastra-ajnayaon the order of the scripture; vadhakilling; kaileif one commits; nahithere is no; papa-bhayafear of sinful activities.
"On the path of material activities, there is regulation for killing cows. If such killing is done under the guidance of scripture, there is no sin."
The word sastra is derived from the dhatu, or verbal root, sas. Sas-dhatu pertains to controlling or ruling. A government's ruling through force or weapons is called sastra. Thus whenever there is ruling, either by weapons or by injunctions, the sas-dhatu is the basic principle. Between sastra (ruling through weapons) and sastra (ruling through the injunctions of the scriptures), the better is sastra. Our Vedic scriptures are not ordinary lawbooks of human common sense; they are the statements of factually liberated persons unaffected by the imperfectness of the senses.
Sastra must be correct always, not sometimes correct and sometimes incorrect. In the Vedic scriptures, the cow is described as a mother. Therefore she is a mother for all time; it is not, as some rascals say, that in the Vedic age she was a mother but she is not in this age. If sastra is an authority, the cow is a mother always; she was a mother in the Vedic age, and she is a mother in this age also.
If one acts according to the injunctions of sastra, he is freed from the reactions of sinful activity. For example, the propensities for eating flesh, drinking wine and enjoying sex life are all natural to the conditioned soul.The path of such enjoyment is called pravrtti-marga. The sastra says, pravrttir esam bhutanam nivrttis tu maha-phala: one should not be carried away by the propensities of defective conditioned life; one should be guided by the principles of the sastras. A child's propensity is to play all day long, but it is the injunction of the sastras that the parents should take care to educate him. The sastras are there just to guide the activities of human society. But because people do not refer to the instructions of sastras, which are free from defects and imperfections, they are therefore misguided by so-called educated teachers and leaders who are full of the deficiencies of conditioned life.

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