Srimad Bhagavatham : 5.5.17, 18, & 19.

Skandham-5 : "The Creative Impetus"

Chapter-5 : Lord Rshabhadeva’s Teachings to His Sons :

Slokam-17, 18, & 19.


"If someone is ignorant and addicted to the path of saṁsāra, how can one who is actually learned, merciful and advanced in spiritual knowledge engage him in fruitive activity and thus further entangle him in material existence? If a blind man is walking down the wrong path, how can a gentleman allow him to continue on his way to danger? How can he approve this method? No wise or kind man can allow this."


“One who cannot deliver his dependents from the path of repeated birth and death should never become a spiritual master, a father, a husband, a mother or a worshipable demigod."

There are many spiritual masters, but Rshabhadeva advises that one should not become a spiritual master if he is unable to save his disciple from the path of birth and death. Unless one is a pure devotee of the Lord, he cannot save himself from the path of repeated birth and death.  One can stop birth and death only by returning home, back to Godhead. However, who can go back to Godhead unless he understands the Supreme Lord in truth? 

We have many instances in Purana-s illustrating Rshabhadeva’s instructions. Sukracarya was rejected by King Mahabali due to his inability to save Mahabali the asura king from the path of repeated birth and death. Sukracarya was not a pure devotee, he was more or less inclined to fruitive activity, and he objected when the King promised to give everything to Lord Vishnu. Actually one is supposed to give everything to the Lord because everything belongs to the Lord. 

Consequently, the Supreme Lord advises in Bhagavad-gita (9.27):

“O Arjuna!, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” 

This is bhakti. Unless one is devoted, he cannot give everything to the Supreme Lord. Unless one can do so, he cannot become a spiritual master, husband, father or mother. Similarly, the wives of the brahmanas who were performing sacrifices gave up their relatives just to satisfy Lord. This is an example of a wife rejecting a husband who cannot deliver her from the impending dangers of birth and death. Similarly, Prahlada  rejected his father, and Bharata  rejected his mother . The word daivam indicates a demigod or one who accepts worship from a dependent. Ordinarily, the spiritual master, husband, father, mother or superior relative accepts worship from an inferior relative, but here Rshabhadeva forbids this. First the father, spiritual master or husband must be able to release the dependent from repeated birth and death. If he cannot do this, he plunges himself into the ocean of reproachment for his unlawful activities. Everyone should be very responsible and take charge of his dependents just as a spiritual master takes charge of his disciple or a father takes charge of his son. All these responsibilities cannot be discharged honestly unless one can save the dependent from repeated birth and death.


My transcendental body [sac-cid-ananda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1]] looks exactly like a human form, but it is not a material human body. It is inconceivable. I am not forced by nature to accept a particular type of body; I take on a body by My own sweet will. My heart is also spiritual, and I always think of the welfare of My devotees. Therefore within My heart can be found the process of devotional service, which is meant for the devotees. Far from My heart have I abandoned irreligion [adharma] and nondevotional activities. They do not appeal to Me. Due to all these transcendental qualities, people generally pray to Me as Rshabhadeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the best of all living entities.

In this slokam the words idam sariraṁ mama durvibhavyam are very significant. Generally we experience two energies—material energy and spiritual energy. We have some experience of the material energy (earth. water, air, fire, ether, mind, intelligence and ego) because in the material world everyone’s body is composed of these elements. Within the material body is the spirit soul, but we cannot see it with the material eyes. When we see a body full of spiritual energy, it is very difficult for us to understand how the spiritual energy can have a body. It is said that Lord Rshabhadeva’s body is completely spiritual; therefore for a materialistic person, it is very difficult to understand. For a materialistic person, the completely spiritual body is inconceivable. We have to accept the version of the Vedas when our experimental perception cannot understand a subject. As stated in Brahma-samhita: The Supreme Lord has a body with form, but that body is not composed of material elements. It is made of spiritual bliss, eternity and living force. By the inconceivable energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord can appear before us in His original spiritual body, but because we have no experience of the spiritual body, we are sometimes bewildered and see the form of the Lord as material. 

In Bhagavad-gita (9.11) it is said:

“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” 

Unintelligent people think that the Supreme Lord accepts a body composed of the material energy. We can easily understand the material body, but we cannot understand the spiritual body. Therefore Rshabhadeva says:  In the spiritual world, everyone has a spiritual body. There is no conception of material existence there. In the spiritual world there is only service and the receiving of service. There is only sevya, sevā, and sevaka—the person served, the process of service and the servant. These three items are completely spiritual, and therefore the spiritual world is called absolute. There is no tinge of material contamination there. Being completely transcendental to the material conception, Lord Rshabhadeva states that His heart is composed of dharma. Dharma is explained in Bhagavad-gita (18.66):  In the spiritual world, every living entity is surrendered to the Supreme Lord and is completely on the spiritual platform. Although there are servitors, the served and service, all are spiritual and variegated. At the present moment, due to our material conception. everything is  inconceivable. Being the Supreme, the Lord is called Rshabha, the best.