kathaṁ svid dhriyate daṇḍaḥ
kiṁ vāsya sthānam īpsitam
daṇḍyāḥ kiṁ kāriṇaḥ sarve
āho svit katicin nṛṇām
katham svit—by which means; dhriyate—is imposed; daṇḍaḥ—punishment; kim—what; vā—or; asya—of this; sthānam—the place; īpsitam—desirable; daṇḍyāḥ—punishable; kim—whether; kāriṇaḥ—fruitive actors; sarve—all; āho svit—or whether; katicit—some; nṛṇām—of the human beings.
What is the process of punishing others? Who are the actual candidates for punishment? Are all karmīs engaged in fruitive activities punishable, or only some of them?
One who has the power to punish others should not punish everyone. There are innumerable living entities, the majority of whom are in the spiritual world and are nitya-mukta, everlastingly liberated. There is no question of judging these liberated living beings. Only a small fraction of the living entities, perhaps one fourth, are in the material world. And the major portion of the living entities in the material world—8,000,000 of the 8,400,000 forms of life—are lower than human beings. They are not punishable, for under the laws of material nature they are automatically evolving. Human beings, who are advanced in consciousness, are responsible, but not all of them are punishable. Those engaged in advanced pious activities are beyond punishment. Only those who engage in sinful activities are punishable. Therefore the Viṣṇudūtas particularly inquired about who is punishable and why Yamarāja has been designated to discriminate between who is punishable and who is not. How is one to be judged? What is the basic principle of authority? These are the questions raised by the Viṣṇudūtas.
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