The Four Regulative Principles
There are four pillars upon which human society rests.
These pillars are: mercy, truthfulness, austerity and cleanliness.
Everyone appreciates these qualities. By following the four regulative principles, we support these pillars and free
ourselves from miseries and from causing pain to others. Along with chanting Hare Krishna, following these principles
form the basis of Krishna conscious practice.
1. No eating meat, fish, or eggs. Killing animals destroys
the quality of mercy. One turns one's body into a graveyard by
consuming dead animals. These foods are saturated with the modes
of passion and ignorance and therefore cannot be offered to the
Lord. A person who eats these foods participates in a conspiracy
of violence against helpless animals and thus curtails his spiritual
2. No gambling. Truthfulness is destroyed by gambling.
This is quite obvious. Gambling turns a person into a liar, a
cheat. Gambling invariably puts one into anxiety and fuels greed,
envy, and anger.
3. No use of intoxicants. We know many arguments against
the use of intoxicants. It is not a very difficult thing to understand
because anyone with a sane mind will accept that taking intoxicants
is physically, mentally and spiritually detrimental. It destroys the
principle of austerity because the reason people take to drugs
is that they want to avoid their suffering in the material world-
they do not want to face that austerity. Drugs, alcohol, and
tobacco, as well as any drink or food containing caffeine, cloud
the mind, over-stimulate the senses, and make it impossible to
follow the principles of bhakti-yoga.
4. No illicit sex. Cleanliness is destroyed by illicit
sex. This is sex outside of marriage or any sex for any
purpose other than procreation. Sex for pleasure compels one
to identify with the body and prevents one from understanding
Krsna consciousness. The scriptures teach that sex is the most
powerful force binding us to the material world. Anyone serious
about advancing in Krsna consciousness should therefore abstain
from or regulate sexual activity according to the scriptures.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krsna says that sexual union for conceiving
a child to be raised in God consciousness is an act of devotion
By following these principles, you are not repressing yourself,
but are elevating yourself to a superior platform. By chanting Hare Krishna, one gets a higher taste
and you leave material desires behind according to the level of your realization.
To continue with the bhakta program go on to Chapter 9- Srila
Prabhupada (at bottom of the page).
To continue with an introduction to Krishna consciousness, follow
the links below.
On Chanting Hare Krsna - essay
by Srila Prabhupada
Setting up your altar - How to worship
Krsna in your home
Eating Spiritually: Prasadam
- the Karma Free Diet
Preparing and Offering Prasadam
- How to Offer Vegetarian Food to God
Everyday Living: The Regulative Principles
- Moral Principles to Live By
Practical engagement in Devotional
Service - Doing Everything for Krsna