esa dharma-bhrtam srestho
lokam dharme ’nuvartayan
gopta ca dharma-setunam
sasta tat-paripanthinam
esah—this King Prthu; dharma-bhrtam—of persons executing religious activities; sresthah—the best; lokam—the whole world; dharme—in religious activities; anuvartayan—engaging them properly; gopta—the protector; ca—also; dharma-setunam—of the principles of religion; sasta—the chastiser; tat-paripanthinam—of those who are against religious principles.
This King, Maharaja Prthu, is the best amongst those who are following religious principles. As such, he will engage everyone in the pursuit of religious principles and give those principles all protection. He will also be a great chastiser to the irreligious and atheistic.
The duty of the king or the head of the government is described very nicely in this verse. It is the duty of the governmental head to see that people strictly follow a religious life. A king should also be strict in chastising the atheists. In other words, an atheistic or godless government should never be supported by a king or governmental chief. That is the test of good government. In the name of secular government, the king or governmental head remains neutral and allows people to engage in all sorts of irreligious activities. In such a state, people cannot be happy, despite all economic development. However, in this age of Kali there are no pious kings. Instead, rogues and thieves are elected to head the government. But how can the people be happy without religion and God consciousness? The rogues exact taxes from the citizens for their own sense enjoyment, and in the future the people will be so much harassed that according to Srimad-Bhagavatam they will flee from their homes and country and take shelter in the forest. However, in Kali-yuga, democratic government can be captured by Krsna conscious people. If this can be done, the general populace can be made very happy.

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