The Five Places of Kali

Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Goswāmī Ṭhākur describes the places where the Lord does not reside.

Translated from the Bengali article written by Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur and published originally in the weekly Gauḍīya. Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj was especially pleased that the text was published by Śrī Chaitanya Sāraswat Maṭh in the Bengali language compilation Śuddha-Bhakti Sādhana-Sampada.

The Five Places of Kali
Where the Lord does not reside

Jagad-guru Prabhupād
Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Goswāmī Ṭhākur

One day at the beginning of the Age of Kali, Mahārāj Parīkṣit went out to conquer the directions and saw a bull hoping on one leg and a cow weeping intensely. The bull asked the cow why she was crying: “O Mother! Are you lamenting because you see me standing on one leg? Are you distressed to think that low-class kings may eat you? No one performs sacrifice any more, and the gods no longer receive a portion of the sacrifices; are you upset by seeing this? Indra, the lord of gods, no longer showers rains at the proper time as before because he does not receive a portion of the sacrifices, and the citizens will now suffer as a result of this; are you stricken with lamentation by thinking of this? Husbands and fathers no longer endeavour for the good of their wives and children and instead behave cruelly towards them like demons (rākṣasas); brāhmaṇs no longer behave properly and instead become servants of those who are inimical to brāhmaṇs; are you lamenting to see this? In the future, debased kings will fall under the sway of Kali and destroy the country, and the citizens will not honour the prohibitions in the scriptures and instead become inclined to eat, drink, live, bathe, and misbehave freely; are you stricken with lamentation by seeing this? Lord Śrī Hari appeared to relieve your heavy burden, and He performed Pastimes on you that produced joy even greater than that of liberation; are you overwhelmed with lamentation because He has now disappeared?”

This bull with only one leg intact was Dharma himself, and this cow stricken with lamentation was Mother Earth. In response to Dharma’s question, Mother Earth said, “O Dharma! At the sight of sinful Kali, I lament for the people in distress. Thinking of the condition of yourself, myself, the gods, the sages, the sādhus, the brāhmaṇs, the brahmachārīs, and the other classes and orders, I lament.”

As Mother Earth and Dharma spoke to one another in this way, Mahārāj Parīkṣit arrived on the bank of the Saraswatī River in Kurukṣetra a short distance way. Parīkṣit saw a śūdra in the dress of a king beating a bull and a cow with a stick. The bull had three broken legs and was urinating out of fear; the cow was crying helplessly as though she had lost her children. Seeing from a secluded place such abuse of these two weakened animals, the king prepared to kill the śūdra. He dispelled the fear of the bull and the cow and then asked the bull why three of his legs where broken. In the form of the bull, Dharma gave the king many instructions in his answer. Parīkṣit could then understand that the bull was Dharma himself. In the Age of Satya [truth], his four legs were austerity, purity, compassion, and truthfulness; prior to the Age of Kali [quarrel], the three legs of austerity, purity, and compassion had been broken; Dharma was now standing somehow on only one leg in the form of truthfulness, but that also the terrible Kali on the verge of breaking.

The king consoled Dharma and Mother Earth and then prepared to kill Kali. Seeing no other option, Kali took off his kingly dress, fell at the feet of Mahārāj Parīkṣit, and began to beg for his life. Considering that it is not proper to kill someone who surrenders, Parikṣīt said to Kali, “Have no fear for your life, but you cannot stay anywhere in my kingdom. Greed, falsity, theft, dacoity, villainy, neglect of social duty, misfortune, deceit, quarrel, pride, and all other forms of adharma reside in your presence. Therefore, you cannot reside where dharma and truth reside or where devotees are present.” Kali then said to Parīkṣit, “O Mahārāj! I do not see any place apart from your kingdom anywhere. Please mercifully designate some place for me to stay.”

abhyarthitas tadā tasmai sthānāni kalaye dadau
dyūtaṁ pānaṁ striyaḥ sūnā yatrādharmaś chatur-vidhaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 1.17.38)

Parīkṣit Mahārāj then gave Kali, the friend of adharma, the four places of the greatest adharma: (1) gaming, (2) drinking, (3) women, and (4) slaughter.

Gaming’ refers to playing within inanimate objects. In general cards, chess, dice, horse racing, water play, gambling, the lottery, 10–25 (a game like dice played with cowries), capture the tiger (a board game of strategy), and so on should be counted as gaming. In different lands, gaming is seen in different forms, and with the rise of Kali, many new forms of gaming are being created. Covering over dharma, many types of play with inanimate objects have started. Wise devotees of the Lord can understand these to be places of Kali and warn others about them.

Drinking’ refers to alcohol. Drinking is also seen in many forms. Paan, betel net, snuff, tobacco, ganja, opium, wine, and so on should also counted as drinking. By chewing paan, the desire to enjoy increases, and by chewing betel nut, the mind becomes restless. By smoking tobacco, mental aberration, stupor, and aversion to the Lord develop. By smoking ganja, the intelligence is destroyed. Opium, bhang (hemp leaves and flower heads), hemlock, tobacco, datura, date liquor, arrack (palm or rice liquor), and ganja—these eight so-called ‘siddhi’ substances make men animal-like. Śrīdhar Swāmīpad has given the word pāna (‘drinking’) in his commentary as madyādi. Therefore, be it produced frommahua, sugar, grapes, breadfruits, dates, jackfruit, cowplant, honey, wood apple, liqourice, coconut, or rice—these twelve types of wine should also be counted as forms of drinking. Those who want to adhere to dharma should know that Kali resides in all these substances and stay away from them.

Because paan can be offered to the Lord and the exalted devotee Puṇḍarīk Vidyānidhi consumed it, some so-called devotees think that they can consume paan as prasādam. The answer to this is as follows:

tejīyasāṁ na doṣāya vahneḥ sarva-bhujo yathā
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.33.29)

A powerful person is not implicated in sin under any circumstances just as fire can consume any substance.” The Lord is the one and only enjoyer. The behaviour of Puṇḍarīk Vidyānidhi and other realised souls (paramahaṁsas) should never be imitated by conditioned souls. Wise devotees consider themselves unfit to accept the remnants of the Lord’s paan and honour it from a distance. Pure devotees, considering themselves servants of the servants of the embodiment of separation Śrī Gaurasundar, take to heart the advice of Śrīla Rūpapād and give up all designations and desires for enjoyment:

yvat syt svanirvhaḥ svkuryt tvad artha-vit
dhikye nynatyāñ cha chyavate paramrthataḥ
(Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: 1.2.106)

[“The sensible accept as much as is necessary for their maintenance. By accepting more or less, one fails to attain the highest goal.”] 

Association with women is of two types: illicit association with women and attachment to one’s wife. Both are places of Kali. Dharma is absent and Kali is always present in the deviant sects in which illicit association with women goes on. Making an example of Junior Haridās, Śrīman Mahāprabhu instructed the world:

prabhu kahe, “vairāgī kare prakṛti sambhāṣaṇa
dekhite nā pār āmi tāhāra vadana
durvāra indriya kare viṣaya-grahaṇa
dāru-prakṛti hare muner api mana
mātrā svasrā duhitrā vā nā viviktāsano bhavet
balavān indriya-grāmo vidvāṁsam api karṣati
kṣudra-jīva saba markaṭa-vairāgya kariyā
indriya charāñā bule ‘prakṛti’ sambhāṣiyā”
(Śrī Chaitanya charitāmṛta: Antya-līlā, 2.117–118, 120; Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 9.19.17)

[Prabhu said, “I cannot look at the face of a renunciant who converses with women. Irrepressibly, the senses grasp the sense objects; even a wooden form of a women captivates the mind of a sage. ‘One should not sit in private with one’s mother, sister, or daughter; the powerful senses can captivate the mind of even a learned man.’ Shameful souls engage in ‘monkey-renunciation’, stimulate the senses, wander about, and converse with women.”] 

Association with women is a place of Kali, and even the association of those who associate with women is to be given up in all respects.

teṣv aśānteṣu mūḍheṣu khaṇḍitātmasv asādhuṣu
saṅgaṁ na kuryāch chhochyeṣu yoṣit-krīḍā-mṛgeṣu cha
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 3.31.34)

[“One should never associate with those who are restless, foolish, self-destructive, wicked, deplorable, and the pet animals of women.”] 

Attachment to one’s lawful wife is also a shackle of adharma.

ko gṛheṣu pumān saktam ātmānam ajitendriyaḥ
sneha-pāśair dṛḍhair baddham utsaheta vimochitum
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 7.6.9)

[“Attached to household life and bound tightly by the ropes of affection, what person with uncontrolled senses is able to free themself?”] 

yato na kaśchit kva cha kutrachid vā
dīnaḥ svam ātmānam alaṁ samarthaḥ
vimochituṁ kāma-dṛśāṁ vihāra-
krīḍā-mṛgo yan-nigaḍo visargaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 7.6.17)

[“No one anywhere at any time is at all able to free themself on their own. Fallen souls become pet animals for the pleasure of seductive women and entangled by their offspring.”] 

Slaughter’ means killing living beings. Only persons dedicated to the service of the Lord are free from killing other living beings. Why? All their actions are engaged in the Lord’s service. Souls who are averse to the Lord’s service are killing living beings at every moment. By their every inhalation and exhalation, every footstep, and every daily activity, countless living beings are being killed. Within the prescriptions for atonement on the path of worldly action (karma), there are prescriptions to perform sacrifices for the sages, gods, living beings, humans, and ancestors to ward off the sin produced by the five instruments of slaughter*, but the seeds of sin are not eradicated by this. Counteraction of karma with karma is never final; know it to be like the bathing of an elephant.

There are many types of ‘killing living beings’, but in particular killing another for the nourishment of one’s own body should be known as ‘killing living beings’. The souls whom one kills in this birth obtain another body in their next birth and kill the soul that killed them.

ye tv anevaṁ-vido ’santaḥ stabdhāḥ sad-abhimāninaḥ
paśūn druhyanti viśrabdhāḥ pretya khādanti te cha tān
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.5.14)

[“Stubborn, arrogant, and impious persons who do not understand dharma confidently kill animals, but those animals eat them in their next life.”] 

sa bhakṣayitāmutra yasya māsam ihādmy aham
etan māsasya māsatva pravadanti manīṣiṇaḥ
(Śrī Manu-smṛti: 5.55)

[“Me he will eat in the next life whose meat I eat in this life. The wise say this is the reason meat is known as māṁsa (lit. ‘me’-‘he’).”]

Killing animals does not happen only by killing them with one’s own hands. There are many types of animal killing:

anumantā viśasitā nihantā kraya-vikrayī
saskartā chopahartā cha khādakaś cheti ghātakāḥ
(Śrī Manu-smṛti: 5.51)

In the killing of an animal, the permitter, the carver, the killer, the buyer, the seller, the preparer, the server, and the eater—all such persons are included in the class of the slaughterer. The prescriptions in the scriptures of worldly action to kill animals in sacrifices and other forms of worship should be known to be only for the purpose of curtailing and eliminating this natural attachment within the conditioned souls.

loke vyavāyāmiṣa-madya-sevā
nityā hi jantor na hi tatra chodanā
vyavasthitis teṣu vivāha-yajña-
surā-grahair āsu nivṛttir iṣṭā
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 11.5.11)

[“Consorting with women, eating meat, and drinking wine are habitual for living beings in this world. These activities are not mandated by scriptures, and the purpose of the allowances for these activities in the scriptures through marriage, sacrifice, and ceremony is to suppress them.”] 

Therefore, those who do not understand the hidden intention of the scripture and kill or give indulgence to the killing of animals for the nourishment of the body fall into the hands of Kali. Persons who follow the eternal dharma should reject the association of such persons as bad association. Reluctance to spread discussion of the Lord should also be considered animal killing or slaughter.

nivṛtta-tarṣair upagīyamānād
bhavauṣadhāch chhrotra-mano-’bhirāmāt
ka uttamaśloka-guṇānuvādāt
pumān virajyeta vinā paśughnāt
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 10.1.4)

[“Glorification of the Lord is constantly sung by those who have overcome material desire, is the cure for material existence, and is the delight of the ears and heart. Who could give it up other than those who slaughter animals?”] 

Where there is abstention from glorification of discussion of the Lord, there Kali enters, and where Lord’s devotees glorify the Lord, there the Lord Himself resides.

punaś cha yāchamānāya jāta-rūpam adāt prabhuḥ
tato ’nṛtaṁ madaṁ kāmaṁ rajo vairañ cha pañchamam
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 1.17.39)

Parīkṣit Mahārāj befittingly allocated four places of adharma to Kali. In gaming falsity is present, in drinking the loss of austerity as a result of pride, in association with women the loss of cleanliness, and in slaughter cruelty, the loss of compassion, and all other forms of adharma.

Although Kali obtained the four places of these four types of adharma from Mahārāj Parīkṣit, he could not be satisfied because the four aforementioned places of these four types of adharma each exist separately from one another. Kali then prayed for one such place in which the four aforementioned types of adharma can all be found in one place simultaneously. Mahārāj Parīkṣit, in response to Kali’s repeated prayer, gave him gold. The reason for this is that in gold, these four types of adharma—falsity, pride, lust produced by the association of women, and violence—exist simultaneously, and furthermore a fifth type of vice, enmity, is also present within it. Where conditioned souls use wealth with the mentality of being an enjoyer, there all vices arise. But where pure devotees whose every action is in Kṛṣṇa’s interest engage wealth in the service of the Lord, there wealth is used appropriately.

bhogīra kanaka bhogera janaka
kanakera dvāre sevaha mādhava
(Vaiṣṇava ke: 3)

[“The wealth of an enjoyer is their means to enjoyment. Therefore, you should serve the Lord with His wealth.”] 

Thus, those who do not serve the Lord and use wealth for their own service or use wealth for themselves in the name of the Lord’s service—crack open and eat nuts using a Śālagrām-śilā—fall into the hands of Kali. Even by acting in this way in the name of dharma, falsity in the form of self-deception and the desire to deceive disciples and other persons develops, as does pride about one’s birth, wealth, learning, and beauty, lust in the form of the desire to associate with women, and violence or reluctance to preach the principles of pure devotion unobstructed and unimpaired by worldly wealth and other distractions. With all this, envy and enmity of pure devotees also develop.

Those who desire genuine, eternal good fortune—who aspire for genuine service to the Name, the Lord, and the devotees—should always stay away from all these places of Kali and engage in the Lord’s service. By practising and preaching about the Lord, they will do eternal good to themselves and others.


The five instruments of slaughter (pañcha-sūnā):

pañcha-sūnā gṛhasthasya chullī peṣaṇy upaskaraḥ
kaṇḍanī cha udakumbhaś cha badhyate yāstu vāhayan
(Śrī Manu-smṛti: 3.68)

The hearth, the grinding stone, the broom, the mortar, and the waterpot—the householder has five instruments of slaughter by using which they are entangled [in sins].”

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