samskaraih samskrto dvijah
niseka-adi—the beginning of life (the purificatory process of garbhadhana, performed when the father begets a child by discharging semen into the womb of the mother); smasana-antaih—and at death, when the body is put into a crematorium and burnt to ashes; samskaraih—by such purificatory processes; samskrtah—purified; dvijah—a twice-born brahmana; indriyesu—into the senses; kriya-yajnan—activities and sacrifices (which elevate one to a higher planetary system); jnana-dipesu—by enlightenment in real knowledge; juhvati—offers.
A twice-born brahmana [dvija] gains his life by the grace of his parents through the process of purification known as garbhadhana. There are also other processes of purification, until the end of life, when the funeral ceremony [antyesti-kriya] is performed. Thus in due course a qualified brahmana becomes uninterested in materialistic activities and sacrifices, but he offers the sensual sacrifices, in full knowledge, into the working senses, which are illuminated by the fire of knowledge.
Those interested in materialistic activities remain in the cycle of birth and death. Pravrtti-marga, or the inclination to stay in the material world to enjoy varieties of sense gratification, has been explained in the previous verse. Now, in this verse, it is explained that one who has perfect brahminical knowledge rejects the process of elevation to higher planets and accepts nivrtti-marga; in other words, he prepares himself to go back home, back to Godhead. Those who are not brahmanas but atheists do not know what is pravrtti-marga or nivrtti-marga; they simply want to obtain pleasure at any cost. Our Krsna consciousness movement is therefore training devotees to give up the pravrtti-marga and accept the nivrtti-marga in order to return home, back to Godhead. This is a little difficult to understand, but it is very easy if one takes to Krsna consciousness seriously and tries to understand Krsna. A Krsna conscious person can understand that performing yajna according to the karma-kanda system is a useless waste of time and that merely giving up the karma-kanda and accepting the process of speculation is also unfruitful. Therefore Narottama dasa Thakura has sung in his prema-bhakti-candrika:
karma-kanda, jnana-kanda, kevala visera bhanda
’amrta’ baliya yeba khaya
nana yoni sada phire, kadarya bhaksana kare,
tara janma adhah-pate yaya
A life of karma-kanda or jnana-kanda is like a poison pot, and one who takes to such a life is doomed. In the karma-kanda system, one is destined to accept birth and death again and again. Similarly, with jnana-kanda one falls down again to this material world. Only worship of the Supreme Person offers one the safety of going back home, back to Godhead.
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