Sastra Caksusa

seeing through the eyes of scriptures


yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas

tat tad evetaro janaḥ

sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute

lokas tad anuvartate


yatwhatever; yatand whichever; ācaratidoes he act; śreṣṭhaḥrespectable leader; tatthat; tatand that alone; evacertainly; itaraḥcommon; janaḥperson; saḥhe; yatwhichever; pramāṇamevidence; kurutedoes perform; lokaḥall the world; tatthat; anuvartatefollow in the footsteps.


Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.


People in general always require a leader who can teach the public by practical behavior. A leader cannot teach the public to stop smoking if he himself smokes. Lord Caitanya said that a teacher should behave properly even before he begins teaching. One who teaches in that way is calledācārya, or the ideal teacher. Therefore, a teacher must follow the principles of śāśtra (scripture) to reach the common man. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of revealed scriptures. The revealed scriptures, like Manu-saṁhitā and similar others, are considered the standard books to be followed by human society. Thus the leader's teaching should be based on the principles of the standard rules as they are practiced by the great teachers. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also affirms that one should follow in the footsteps of great devotees, and that is the way of progress on the path of spiritual realization. The king or the executive head of a state, the father and the school teacher are all considered to be natural leaders of the innocent people in general. All such natural leaders have a great responsibility to their dependants; therefore they must be conversant with standard books of moral and spiritual codes.

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Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:

In this verse he explains how the people are taught: by following example.


Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:

Sridhara Swami's Commentary

How the performance of prescribed Vedic actions acts as an incentive to the masses is what Lord Krishna is emphasising here. That line of reasoning that great personalities accept as authoritative people will also follow.

Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:

Madhvacarya's Commentary

The great personalities naturally set the example for the common man to follow in the manner in which they speak and in the way in which they act. This is Lord Krishna's meaning.

Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:

Ramanuja's Commentary

So understanding that the whole Earth benefits from the performance of prescribed Vedic activities, one should act altruistically not for themselves but for the welfare of the world. This is the meaning Lord Krishna is conveying. The word sresthah means great personality expert in the conclusions of the Vedas. Whatever actions such a great person performs others will try to follow. It may be that a certain activity should be performed on a special day. The common people will wait to see how a great person takes the initiative on such an action and then they will follow suit. Hence the great personalities should always act in an exemplary manner to set the standard for the world. In this way they inspire everyone to perform prescribed Vedic actions according to the qualification of one's varna or caste in life and one's asrama or stage in life. If one fails to do this by neglect or omission one commits sin by omitting to help benefit the welfare of the world by their example and the consequence will be one will fall down from the path they achieved after many lifetimes.

Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:

Kesava Kasmiri's Commentary

How Lord Krishna performing actions helps the maintenance of the world is explained here. Whatever actions a great personality performs is accepted by the common people as the path to follow due to their looking up to people in positions of leadership, royalty and fame etc. Why should they think this way when it is a known fact that the Vedic scriptures are the authority on all aspects of life? They think this way because they do not rely on the scriptures they depend upon the actions ot the visibly prominent in society to base their judhements. So whatever a prominent member of society p

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Comment by Paramananda das on July 20, 2016 at 1:12pm

Ch 3 Verse 21

yad yad acarati shreshthas / tat tad evetaro janah
sa yat pramanam kurute / lokas tad anuvarttate

Click here to read Shrila Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita As It Is 3.21 /span>>

eva---surely; yat yat---however; shreshthah---an exalted person; acarati---acts; tat tat---that very thing; itarah---a common; janah---person; sah---he; (follows) yat---whatever; pramanam--- standard; kurute---he sets; tat---that; lokah---the people; anuvarttate---follow. 

Common people will follow the behaviour of a great man, and the whole world will emulate the standards that he sets. 


In this shloka beginning with the words yad yad, Shri Bhagavan is explaining how ideals are established for the common people. 

In order to establish an ideal for the people in general, great persons should perform their karma (prescribed duties). This siddhanta of Bhagavad-gita is also verified in many parts of Shrimad-Bhagavatam: (2.8.25), (3.16.23), (5.4.14) and (6.2.4).


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