1. Sukadeva Gosvami continued: After hearing about the activities and character of Prahlada Maharaja, which are adored and discussed among great personalities like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, Yudhisthira Maharaja, the most respectful king among exalted personalities, again inquired from the great saint Narada Muni in a mood of great pleasure.
2. Maharaja Yudhisthira said: My dear lord, I wish to hear from you about the principles of religion by which one can attain the ultimate goal of life--devotional service. I wish to hear about the general occupational duties of human society and the system of social and spiritual advancement known as varnasrama-dharma.
3. O best of the brahmanas, you are directly the son of Prajapati [Lord Brahma]. Because of your austerities, mystic yoga and trance, you are considered the best of all of Lord Brahma's sons.
4. No one is superior to you in peaceful life and mercy, and no one knows better than you how to execute devotional service or how to become the best of the brahmanas. Therefore, you know all the principles of confidential religious life, and no one knows them better than you.
5. Sri Narada Muni said: After first offering my obeisances unto Lord Krsna, the protector of the religious principles of all living entities, let me explain the principles of the eternal religious system, of which I have heard from the mouth of Narayana.
6. Lord Narayana, along with His partial manifestation Nara, appeared in this world through the daughter of Daksa Maharaja known as Murti. He was begotten by Dharma Maharaja for the benefit of all living entities. Even now, He is still engaged in executing great austerities near the place known as Badarikasrama.
7. The Supreme Being, the Personality of Godhead, is the essence of all Vedic knowledge, the root of all religious principles, and the memory of great authorities. O King Yudhisthira, this principle of religion is to be understood as evidence. On the basis of this religious principle, everything is satisfied, including one's mind, soul and even one's body.
8-12. These are the general principles to be followed by all human beings: truthfulness, mercy, austerity (observing fasts on certain days of the month), bathing twice a day, tolerance, discrimination between right and wrong, control of the mind, control of the senses, nonviolence, celibacy, charity, reading of scripture, simplicity, satisfaction, rendering service to saintly persons, gradually taking leave of unnecessary engagements, observing the futility of the unnecessary activities of human society, remaining silent and grave and avoiding unnecessary talk, considering whether one is the body or the soul, distributing food equally to all living entities (both men and animals), seeing every soul (especially in the human form) as a part of the Supreme Lord, hearing about the activities and instructions given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead (who is the shelter of the saintly persons), chanting about these activities and instructions, always remembering these activities and instructions, trying to render service, performing worship, offering obeisances, becoming a servant, becoming a friend, and surrendering one's whole self. O King Yudhisthira, these thirty qualifications must be acquired in the human form of life. Simply by acquiring these qualifications, one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
13. Those who have been reformed by the garbhadhana ceremony and other prescribed reformatory methods, performed with Vedic mantras and without interruption, and who have been approved by Lord Brahma, are dvijas, or twice-born. Such brahmanas, ksatriyas and vaisyas, purified by their family traditions and by their behavior, should worship the Lord, study the Vedas and give charity. In this system, they should follow the principles of the four asramas [brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa].
14. For a brahmana there are six occupational duties. A ksatriya should not accept charity, but he may perform the other five of these duties. A king or ksatriya is not allowed to levy taxes on brahmanas, but he may make his livelihood by levying minimal taxes, customs duties, and penalty fines upon his other subjects.
15. The mercantile community should always follow the directions of the brahmanas and engage in such occupational duties as agriculture, trade, and protection of cows. For the sudras the only duty is to accept a master from a higher social order and engage in his service.
16. As an alternative, a brahmana may also take to the vaisya's occupational duty of agriculture, cow protection, or trade. He may depend on that which he has received without begging, he may beg in the paddy field every day, he may collect paddy left in a field by its proprietor, or he may collect food grains left here and there in the shops of grain dealers. These are four means of livelihood that may also be adopted by brahmanas. Among these four, each of them in succession is better than the one preceding it.
17. Except in a time of emergency, lower persons should not accept the occupational duties of those who are higher. When there is such an emergency, of course, everyone but the ksatriya may accept the means of livelihood of others.
18-20. In time of emergency, one may accept any of the various types of professions known as rta, amrta, mrta, pramrta and satyanrta, but one should not at any time accept the profession of a dog. The profession of unchasila, collecting grains from the field, is called rta. Collecting without begging is called amrta, begging grains is called mrta, tilling the ground is called pramrta, and trade is called satyanrta. Engaging in the service of low-grade persons, however, is called sva-vrtti, the profession of the dogs. Specifically, brahmanas and ksatriyas should not engage in the low and abominable service of sudras. Brahmanas should be well acquainted with all the Vedic knowledge, and ksatriyas should be well acquainted with the worship of demigods.
21. The symptoms of a brahmana are control of the mind, control of the senses, austerity and penance, cleanliness, satisfaction, forgiveness, simplicity, knowledge, mercy, truthfulness, and complete surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
22. To be influential in battle, unconquerable, patient, challenging and charitable, to control the bodily necessities, to be forgiving, to be attached to the brahminical nature and to be always jolly and truthful--these are the symptoms of the ksatriya.
23. Being always devoted to the demigods, the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord, Visnu; endeavoring for advancement in religious principles, economic development and sense gratification [dharma, artha and kama]; believing in the words of the spiritual master and scripture; and always endeavoring with expertise in earning money--these are the symptoms of the vaisya.
24. Offering obeisances to the higher sections of society [the brahmanas, ksatriyas and vaisyas], being always very clean, being free from duplicity, serving one's master, performing sacrifices without uttering mantras, not stealing, always speaking the truth and giving all protection to the cows and brahmanas--these are the symptoms of the sudra.
25. To render service to the husband, to be always favorably disposed toward the husband, to be equally well disposed toward the husband's relatives and friends, and to follow the vows of the husband--these are the four principles to be followed by women described as chaste.
26-27. A chaste woman must dress nicely and decorate herself with golden ornaments for the pleasure of her husband. Always wearing clean and attractive garments, she should sweep and clean the household with water and other liquids so that the entire house is always pure and clean. She should collect the household paraphernalia and keep the house always aromatic with incense and flowers and must be ready to execute the desires of her husband. Being modest and truthful, controlling her senses, and speaking in sweet words, a chaste woman should engage in the service of her husband with love, according to time and circumstances.
28. A chaste woman should not be greedy, but satisfied in all circumstances. She must be very expert in handling household affairs and should be fully conversant with religious principles. She should speak pleasingly and truthfully and should be very careful and always clean and pure. Thus a chaste woman should engage with affection in the service of a husband who is not fallen.
29. The woman who engages in the service of her husband, following strictly in the footsteps of the goddess of fortune, surely returns home, back to Godhead, with her devotee husband, and lives very happily in the Vaikuntha planets.
30. Among the mixed classes known as sankara, those who are not thieves are known as antevasayi or candalas [dog-eaters], and they also have their hereditary customs.
31. My dear King, brahmanas well conversant in Vedic knowledge have given their verdict that in every age [yuga] the conduct of different sections of people according to their material modes of nature is auspicious both in this life and after death.
32. If one acts in his profession according to his position in the modes of nature and gradually gives up these activities, he attains the niskama stage.
33-34. My dear King, if an agricultural field is cultivated again and again, the power of its production decreases, and whatever seeds are sown there are lost. Just as drops of ghee on a fire never extinguish the fire but a flood of ghee will, similarly, overindulgence in lusty desires mitigates such desires entirely.
35. If one shows the symptoms of being a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.