SB 1.1 - Question 1 - What is the ultimate good for people?

The sages asked Sūta six questions. (Q1) (1.1.9) What is the absolute and ultimate good (śreyaḥ) for people in general? Foreseeing the incompetencies of the people in the age of Kali, the sages requested Sūta to give a summary of revealed scriptures for the welfare of the people because he had studied the śāstras for many years. In the age of Kali, men have short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and always disturbed. The duration of life is shortened by irregular habits. By eating simple food and keeping regular habits, any man can maintain his health. Overeating, over sense enjoyment, over dependence on another’s mercy, and artificial standards of living sap the vitality of human energy. The people of Kali yuga are lazy not materially but in the matter of self realization. Human life is meant to know what one is, what the supreme truth is and what the world is. Due to a bad system of education, men have no desire for self realization. Even if they are interested, they unfortunately become victims of misguided teachers. Men are victims of different political creeds and other sense gratificatory diversions such as cinema, sports, clubs, smoking, drinking, cheating and so on. Their minds are always disturbed and full of anxieties due to so many engagements.

People in general are short-lived. If they have a long life they are lazy to investigate spiritual topics. If someone is not lazy, then he is unintelligent. Even if someone is intelligent, he is unfortunate because he is devoid of association of devotees. Even if someone has association of devotees, he is afflicted with sickness and other problems and so does not get time to hear from the devotees. Or even if he does hear, he cannot discern the highest goal for the human being and then carry out actions to attain it. Thus the people of Kali yuga are unfortunate in all respects.

And many unscrupulous men manufacture their own religious faiths, and people addicted to sense gratification are attracted by such institutions. There are no brahmacārīs, and householders do not observe the rules of the gṛhastha-āśrama. Consequently the vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs who come out of such gṛhastha-āśramas are easily deviated from the rigid path. The whole atmosphere is surcharged with faithlessness. Sense gratification is the standard of civilization, and men have formed complex nations and communities based on such standards. Hence there is a constant strain of hot and cold wars between the different groups. The sages of Naimiṣāraṇya were anxious to disentangle such fallen souls, and hence they were seeking the remedy from Sūta Gosvāmī.