na hy atyantika isyate
sri-badarayanih uvaca—Sukadeva Gosvami, the son of Vyasadeva, replied; karmana—by fruitive activities; karma-nirharah—counteraction of fruitive activities; na—not; hi—indeed; atyantikah—final; isyate—becomes possible; avidvat-adhikaritvat—from being without knowledge; prayascittam—real atonement; vimarsanam—full knowledge of Vedanta.
Sukadeva Gosvami, the son of Vedavyasa, answered: My dear King, since acts meant to neutralize impious actions are also fruitive, they will not release one from the tendency to act fruitively. Persons who subject themselves to the rules and regulations of atonement are not at all intelligent. Indeed, they are in the mode of darkness. Unless one is freed from the mode of ignorance, trying to counteract one action through another is useless because this will not uproot one’s desires. Thus even though one may superficially seem pious, he will undoubtedly be prone to act impiously. Therefore real atonement is enlightenment in perfect knowledge, Vedanta, by which one understands the Supreme Absolute Truth.
The guru, Sukadeva Gosvami, has examined Pariksit Maharaja, and it appears that the King has passed one phase of the examination by rejecting the process of atonement because it involves fruitive activities. Now Sukadeva Gosvami is suggesting the platform of speculative knowledge. Progressing from karma-kanda to jnana-kanda, he is proposing, prayascittam vimarsanam: “Real atonement is full knowledge.” Vimarsana refers to the cultivation of speculative knowledge. In Bhagavad-gita, karmis, who are lacking in knowledge, are compared to asses. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.15):
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.” Thus karmis who engage in sinful acts and who do not know the true objective of life are called mudhas, asses. Vimarsana, however, is also explained in Bhagavad-gita (15.15), where Krsna says, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: the purpose of Vedic study is to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one studies Vedanta but merely advances somewhat in speculative knowledge and does not understand the Supreme Lord, one remains the same mudha. As stated in Bhagavad-gita (7.19), one attains real knowledge when he understands Krsna and surrenders unto Him (bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate). To become learned and free from material contamination, therefore, one should try to understand Krsna, for thus one is immediately liberated from all pious and impious activities and their reactions.
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