TEXT 23
tathāpi brūmahe praśnāṁs
tava rājan yathā-śrutam
sambhāṣaṇīyo hi bhavān
ātmanaḥ śuddhim icchatā
SYNONYMS
tathāpi—still; brūmahe—I shall answer; praśnān—all the questions; tava—your; rājan—O King; yathā-śrutam—as I have learned by hearing from the authorities; sambhāṣaṇīyaḥ—fit for being addressed; hi—indeed; bhavān—you; ātmanaḥ—of the self; śuddhim—purification; icchatā—by one who desires.
TRANSLATION
My dear King, although you know everything, you have posed some questions, which I shall try to answer according to what I have learned by hearing from authorities. I cannot remain silent in this regard, for a personality like you is just fit to be spoken to by one who desires self-purification.
PURPORT
A saintly person doesn’t wish to speak to anyone and everyone, and he is therefore grave and silent. Generally a common man does not need to be advised. Unless one is prepared to take instructions, it is said that a saintly person should not address him, although sometimes, because of great kindness, a saintly person speaks to ordinary men. As for Prahlāda Mahārāja, however, since he was not a common, ordinary man, whatever questions he posed would have to be answered, even by a great and exalted personality. Therefore the saintly brāhmaṇa did not remain silent, but began to answer. These answers, however, were not concocted by him. This is indicated by the words yathā-śrutam, meaning “as I have heard from the authorities.” In the paramparā system, when the questions are bona fide the answers are bona fide. No one should attempt to create or manufacture answers. One must refer to the śāstras and give answers according to Vedic understanding. The words yathā-śrutam refer to Vedic knowledge. The Vedas are known as śruti because this knowledge is received from authorities. The statements of the Vedas are known as śruti-pramāṇa. One should quote evidence from the śruti—the Vedas or Vedic literature—and then one’s statements will be correct. Otherwise one’s words will proceed from mental concoction.

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