kvacid vitoyāḥ sarito ’bhiyāti
parasparaṁ cālaṣate nirandhaḥ
āsādya dāvaṁ kvacid agni-tapto
nirvidyate kva ca yakṣair hṛtāsuḥ
kvacit—sometimes; vitoyāḥ—without depth to the water; saritaḥ—rivers; abhiyāti—he goes to bathe or jumps into; parasparam—one another; ca—and; ālaṣate—desires; nirandhaḥ—being with no stock of food; āsādya—experiencing; dāvam—a forest fire in family life; kvacit—sometimes; agni-taptaḥ—burned by fire; nirvidyate—is despondent; kva—somewhere; ca—and; yakṣaiḥ—by kings resembling rogues and thieves; hṛta—taken away; asuḥ—wealth. which is as dear as one’s life.
Sometimes the conditioned soul jumps into a shallow river, or being short of food grains, he goes to beg food from people who are not at all charitable. Sometimes he suffers from the burning heat of household life, which is like a forest fire, and sometimes he becomes sad to have his wealth, which is as dear as life, plundered by kings in the name of heavy income taxes.
When one is hot due to the scorching sun, one sometimes jumps into a river to gain relief. However, if the river is almost dried up and the water is too shallow, one may break his bones by jumping in. The conditioned soul is always experiencing miserable conditions. Sometimes his efforts to get help from friends are exactly like jumping into a dry river. By such actions, he does not derive any benefit. He only breaks his bones. Sometimes, suffering from a shortage of food, one may go to a person who is neither able to give charity nor willing to do so. Sometimes one is stationed in household life, which is compared to a forest fire (saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka ). When a man is heavily taxed by the government, he becomes very sad. Heavy taxation obliges one to hide his income, but despite this endeavor the government agents are often so vigilant and strong that they take all the money anyway, and the conditioned soul becomes very aggrieved.
Thus people are trying to become happy within the material world, but this is like trying to be happy in a forest fire. No one need go to a forest to set it ablaze: fire takes place automatically. Similarly, no one wants to be unhappy in family life or worldly life, but by the laws of nature unhappiness and distress are forced upon everyone. To become dependent on another’s maintenance is very degrading; therefore, according to the Vedic system, everyone should live independently. Only the śūdras are unable to live independently. They are obliged to serve someone for maintenance. It is said in the śāstras: kalau śūdra-sambhavāḥ. In this age of Kali, everyone is dependent on another’s mercy for the maintenance of the body; therefore everyone is classified as a śūdra. In the Twelfth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that in Kali-yuga the government will levy taxes without reciprocally benefiting the citizens. Anāvṛṣṭyā vinaṅkṣyanti durbhikṣa-kara-pīḍitāḥ. In this age there will also be a shortage of rain; therefore a scarcity of food will arise, and the citizens will be very much harassed by government taxation. In this way the citizens will abandon their attempts to lead a peaceful life and will leave their homes and hearths and go to the forest in sheer disappointment.
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