na ced ihaivāpacitiṁ yathāṁhasaḥ
kṛtasya kuryān mana-ukta-pāṇibhiḥ
dhruvaṁ sa vai pretya narakān upaiti
ye kīrtitā me bhavatas tigma-yātanāḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; na—not; cet—if; iha—within this life; eva—certainly; apacitim—counteraction, atonement; yathā—duly; aṁhasaḥ kṛtasya—when one has performed sinful activities; kuryāt—performs; manaḥ—with the mind; ukta—words; pāṇibhiḥ—and with the senses; dhruvam—undoubtedly; saḥ—that person; vai—indeed; pretya—after death; narakān—different varieties of hellish conditions; upaiti—attains; ye—which; kīrtitāḥ—were already described; me—by me; bhavataḥ—unto you; tigma-yātanāḥ—in which there is very terrible suffering.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī replied: My dear King, if before one’s next death whatever impious acts one has performed in this life with his mind, words and body are not counteracted through proper atonement according to the description of the Manu-saṁhitā and other dharma-śāstras, one will certainly enter the hellish planets after death and undergo terrible suffering, as I have previously described to you.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura mentions that although Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a pure devotee, Śukadeva Gosvāmī did not immediately speak to him about the strength of devotional service. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (14.26):
Devotional service is so strong that if one fully surrenders to Kṛṣṇa and takes fully to His devotional service, the reactions of his sinful life immediately stop.
Elsewhere in the Gītā (18.66), Lord Kṛṣṇa urges that one give up all other duties and surrender to Him, and He promises, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi: “I shall free you from all sinful reactions and give you liberation.” Therefore in response to the inquiries of Parīkṣit Mahārāja, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, his guru, could have immediately explained the principle of bhakti, but to test Parīkṣit Mahārāja’s intelligence, he first prescribed atonement according to karma-kāṇḍa, the path of fruitive activities. For karma-kāṇḍa there are eighty authorized scriptures, such as Manu-saṁhitā, which are known as dharma-śāstras. In these scriptures one is advised to counteract his sinful acts by performing other types of fruitive action. This was the path first recommended by Śukadeva Gosvāmī to Mahārāja Parīkṣit, and actually it is a fact that one who does not take to devotional service must follow the decision of these scriptures by performing pious acts to counteract his impious acts. This is known as atonement.
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