|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Jaiva Dharma > 7. Nitya-Dharma & Material Existence|
C H A P T E R 7
Nitya-Dharma & Material Existence
Over the ages, countless goldsmiths had lived in the ancient
mercantile town of Saptagrama, on the bank of the Sarasvati
River. By Shri Nityananda Prabhu's mercy, since the time of Shri
Uddharana Datta, these merchants had become addicted to harinama-
sankirtana. One of them, however, was a very miserly person
named Candidasa, who used to abstain from hari-kirtana with the
townspeople because he was afraid of having to spend money for
sponsoring festivals. Candidasa had managed to accumulate a good
deal of wealth through stingy dealings. His wife, Damayanti, had
adopted the same mood and did not extend even the least hospitality
to Vaishnavas or other guests. This merchant couple in their youth,
had given birth to four sons and two daughters. Their daughters
had both married, and a vast inheritance was reserved for their sons.
If saintly people never visit a house, the children in it are less
likely to become kind and compassionate. As the sons grew up, they
became increasingly selfish, and began to wish that their parents
would die so that they could have their inheritance. The merchant
couple became extremely unhappy. One by one, the sons were
married. As their wives grew older, they imbibed their husbands'
natures and also began to wish that their parents-in-law would die.
After some time, the sons became proficient in business and began
to oversee the buying and selling very expertly. Dividing up most
of their father's wealth, they set up their own businesses.
One day, Candidasa called everyone to his side and said, "Listen!
I have lived a frugal existence since childhood, and as a result,
I have managed to set aside a great fortune for all of you. I
have never eaten fine food or dressed in luxurious clothes, and
your mother has also lived in a similar manner. It is your duty to
care for us now that we are growing old, but we have become increasingly
distressed recently, because we have begun to feel that
you are neglecting us. I still have some hidden wealth, and I will
give it to whichever of my sons will be good enough to take care of
Candidasa's sons and daughters-in-law heard his words silently,
and then went off to a separate place to conspire among themselves.
They concluded, "It will be best to send Mother and Father
away, and then take possession of their hidden wealth and
divide it amongst ourselves, for there is really no telling to whom
the old man will give it unjustly." All of them were sure that the
wealth was buried in their father's bedroom.
One morning at dawn, Candidasa's eldest son, Haricarana, went
to his father, and with feigned humility said, "Dear Father, you and
Mother should go and take darsana of Shri Navadvipa-dhama at least
once, so that your human life will become successful. I have heard
that no other holy place is as beneficial in this age of Kali as Shri
Navadvipa-dhama. It will not be troublesome or expensive for you
to go there, and if you are unable to walk, we can hire you a boat to
take you upstream for a nominal fee. There is also a Vaisnavi who
would be happy to accompany you there."
When Candidasa informed Damayanti about their son's proposal,
she became very happy. Both of them concluded, "Our children
have become thoughtful and courteous since our talk that
day. We are strong enough to walk, so let us make the pilgrimage to
Shridhama-Navadvipa via Kalna and Santipura."
Having selected an auspicious day, the couple set out on their
pilgrimage, taking the Vaisnavi with them. The next day, after
walking a good distance, they arrived at Ambika-Kalna. There they
cooked for themselves in a shop, and sat down to eat. While they
were taking their meal, a resident of Saptagrama who knew them
approached and informed them, "Your sons have broken the lock
to your room and have taken all your possessions. They will not
allow you to re-enter the house. They have also found your hidden
wealth and have divided it among themselves."
When Candidasa and Damayanti received this news, they were
stricken with grief over the loss of their wealth. They were unable to
eat a single morsel, and spent the entire day crying incessant tears.
After some time, the Vaisnavi attendant tried to console them,
saying, "Don't be attached to your home. Come! You can take up
the life of Vaishnava ascetics. Build a simple asrama where Vaishnavas
can gather and live. The children for whom you have sacrificed
everything have become your enemies, so there is no need to return
home. Let us go to Navadvipa and remain there. You can maintain
yourselves by accepting alms. That will be a much better life."
When Damayanti and Candidasa thought of the behavior of
their sons and daughters-in-law, they said again and again, "It would
be better for us to die than to return home." In the end, they stayed
for a few days at the home of a Vaishnava in the village of Ambika,
after which they went to see Santipura, and finally arrived in Shri
Navadvipa-dhama. They stayed in Shri Mayapura for a few days with
a merchant relative, and began to tour the seven localities of
Navadvipa on the bank of the Ganga, as well as the seven localities
of Kuliya-grama on the other side of the river. After a few days,
however, their attachment for their sons and daughters-in-law resurfaced.
Candidasa said to his wife, "Come, let us return home to
Saptagrama. After all, they are our sons, aren't they? Won't they
show us even a little affection?"
Their Vaisnavi attendant said emphatically, "Have you no dignity?
This time, they will take your life!"
When the old couple heard this, they saw the truth in her words,
and became apprehensive. "O respected Vaisnavi," they said, "you
may return to your own place. We have enough discrimination now.
We will maintain our existence by begging, approach a qualified
person for instruction, and engage in bhagavad-bhajana."
The Vaisnavi attendant left, and the merchant couple, having
now given up all hope of returning to their former home in
Saptagrama, began to build a new home in the area of Kuliya-grama,
where Chakauri Cattopadhyaya had lived. Taking contributions
and instruction from many gracious and well-mannered people,
they built a cottage and began to live there permanently. Kuliyagrama
is known as the holy place where offenses are eradicated,
and the longstanding belief was that all of one's previous offenses
would be dispelled if one lived there.
One day Candidasa said, "O mother of Hari, don't speak about
our children any more; don't even think of them. We took birth
in a merchant family because of many previous offenses, and due
to our defective birth we became misers and never rendered any
service to guests or to Vaishnavas. Now if we obtain any wealth here,
we will certainly use it to serve guests, so that we may attain auspiciousness
in our next life. I have been thinking of opening a
grocery shop. I will beg some money from a few gentlemen and begin
Within a short time, Candidasa opened a small store and managed
to make some profit every day. The couple began to serve one
guest daily, in addition to feeding themselves, and thus their life
passed much more pleasantly than before.
Candidasa had previously been educated, and now he sat in his
shop and read Gunaraja Khana's Shri Krishna Vijaya whenever he
found time. He ran his shop honestly and served guests hospitably.
Five or six months passed in this manner, and when the people
of Kuliya came to know of Candidasa's previous history, they began
to develop faith in him.
In this village lived a grhastha-brahmana named Yadava dasa, who
lectured every day on Shri Chaitanya-mangala. Candidasa occasionally
went to hear those lectures, and when he and Damayanti saw
that Yadava dasa and his wife were always engaged in serving the
Vaishnavas, they also became inspired to do the same.
One day, Candidasa inquired from Yadava dasa, "What is this
Yadava dasa said, "Many learned Vaishnavas live on the eastern
bank of the Bhagirathi in Shri Godrumadvipa. Come, let us go there
and inquire from them. I also go there from time to time and receive
many instructions. At present, the Vaishnava scholars of Shri
Godruma are more expert than the brahmana scholars in the conclusions
of the sastras. Some days ago, Shri Vaishnava dasa Babaji defeated
the brahmana-panditas of the area in a debate. A deep question
like yours can be resolved most satisfactorily there."
Yadava dasa and Candidasa prepared to cross the Ganga in the
afternoon. Damayanti now regularly served pure Vaishnavas, and
the miserliness in her heart had become negligible. "I will go with
you to Shri Godruma," she said.
"The Vaishnavas there are not grhasthas," said Yadava dasa. "They
have adopted a life of strict renunciation and are detached from
all relations with women. I am concerned that if you come along
with us they will be displeased."
Damayanti replied, "I will offer dandavat-pranama to them from
a distance, and I will not enter their grove. I am an old lady. They
will never become angry with me."
Yadava dasa agreed, but cautioned, "It is not the custom for ladies
to go there. Anyway, we can take you there to sit in a nearby
place, and we will bring you back with us when we return."
By late afternoon the three of them crossed the Ganga and
reached Pradyumna-kunja. Damayanti offered prostrated dandavatpranama
at the door of the kunja, and sat nearby under an old banyan
tree. Yadava dasa and Candidasa entered the kunja, and with
great devotion offered dandavat-pranama to the assembly of
Vaishnavas who were seated in the malati-madhavi bower.
Paramahamsa Babaji was seated in the midst of the assembly,
surrounded by Shri Vaishnava dasa, Lahiri Mahasaya, Ananta dasa
Babaji and many others. Candidasa sat close to Yadava dasa.
Ananta dasa Babaji looked at Yadava dasa and asked, "Who is
this new man?"
Yadava dasa narrated the whole story of Candidasa. Ananta dasa
Babaji smiled and said, "Yes, this is what is known as material existence.
One who knows material existence is actually wise, and
those who fall into the cycle of material existence are pitiable."
Candidasa's mind was gradually becoming purified, for when
one performs nitya-sukrti - such as hosting Vaishnavas, and reading
and hearing Vaishnava sastras - he certainly attains auspiciousness,
and very easily developes sraddha in ananya-bhakti (exclusive
devotion). When he heard Shri Ananta dasa Babaji's words,
Candidasa said with a softened heart, "My humble prayer is that
you will be merciful to me, and clearly explain what is this material
Ananta dasa Babaji said, "Your question is very deep, and I desire
that Shri Paramahamsa Babaji Mahasaya or Shri Vaishnava dasa
Babaji Mahasaya should answer it."
Paramahamsa Babaji said, "Shri Ananta dasa Babaji Mahasaya is
suitably qualified to answer a question of such gravity. Today we
will all listen to his instructions."
Ananta dasa: When I receive your order, I must certainly say whatever
I know. I shall begin by remembering the lotus feet of my
Gurudeva, Shri Pradyumna Brahmacari, a confidential associate of
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The jivas exist in two states: the liberated state (mukta-dasa)
and the state of material bondage (samsara-baddha-dasa). Those
jivas who are pure bhaktas of Shri Krishna and who have never been
bound by maya, or who were liberated from material existence by
the mercy of Krishna, are known as mukta-jivas. The liberated state
of existence is known as mukta-dasa. The baddha-jivas, on the other
hand, are those who are oblivious to Shri Krishna and have fallen
into the clutches of maya since time without beginning. Their
conditioned state of existence is known as samsara-baddha-dasa.
The jivas who are liberated from maya are chinmaya, fully spiritual,
and their very life is service to Krishna (krishna-dasya). They do not
reside in this material world, but in one of the pure spiritual worlds
such as Goloka, Vaikuntha, or Vrndavana. There are innumerable
jivas who are liberated from maya.
The jivas who are bound by maya are also innumerable. Due to
their krishna-vimukhata, defect of alienation from Krishna, Krishna's
shadow potency, known as chaya-sakti or maya, binds the jiva with
her three-stranded ropes consisting of the three qualities of material
nature, namely sattva-guna (goodness), rajo-guna (passion) and
tamo-guna (ignorance). The conditioned souls appear in a variety
of states of existence, according to the influence of the various gradations
of these gunas. Just consider the varieties in the jivas' bodies,
moods, appearance, natures, living conditions, and movements.
When the jiva enters material existence, he takes on a new type
of egoism. In the pure state of existence, the jiva has the egoism of
being a servant of Krishna, but in the conditioned state, many different
types of egoism arise, making the living entity think, "I am
a human being," "I am a devata," "I am an animal," "I am a king," "I
am a brahmana," "I am an outcaste," "I am diseased," "I am hungry,"
"I am dishonored," "I am charitable," "I am a husband," "I am a wife,"
"I am a father," "I am a son," "I am an enemy," "I am a friend," "I am
a scholar," "I am handsome," "I am wealthy," "I am poor," "I am happy,"
"I am sad," "I am strong," and "I am weak." These attitudes are
known as ahamta, which literally means the sense of 'I-ness', or
Besides this ahamta, another function known as mamata ('possessiveness'
or the sense of 'my-ness') enters the nature of the jiva.
This is exemplified in attitudes such as: "This is my house," "These
are my possessions," "This is my wealth," "This is my body," "These
are my children," "This is my wife," "This is my husband," "This is
my father," "This is my mother," "This is my caste," "This is my race,"
"This is my strength," "This is my beauty," "This is my quality," "This
is my learning," "This is my renunciation," "This is my knowledge,"
"This is my wisdom," "This is my work," "This is my property," and
"These are my servants and dependants." The colossal affair that
brings the conceptions of 'I' and 'mine' into play is known as
samsara (material existence).
Yadava dasa: The conceptions of 'I' and 'mine' are active in the
conditioned state, but do they also exist in the liberated state?
Ananta dasa: They do, but in the liberated state they are spiritual
and free from all defect. In the liberated state in the spiritual
world, the jiva becomes acquainted with his pure nature, exactly
as it was created by Bhagavan. In that spiritual abode there
are many different types of real egoism, each with its own characteristic
sense of 'I,' so there are also many types of cid-rasa, transcendental
exchanges of sentiments. All the different chinmayaupakaranas,
spiritual paraphernalia, which form the constitutional
ingredients of rasa, come under the heading of 'mine.'
Yadava dasa: Then what is the defect in the different conceptions
of 'I' and 'mine' that exist in the conditioned state?
Ananta dasa: The defect is that in the pure state, the conceptions
of 'I' and 'mine' are real, whereas in material existence they are
all imaginary, or imposed upon the living entity. That means that
these conceptions are not actually aspects of the jiva, but are all false
identities and relationships. Consequently, all varieties of material
identification in mundane existence are impermanent and
unreal, and only cause momentary happiness and distress.
Yadava dasa: Is this deceptive material existence false?
Ananta dasa: No, this deceptive world is not false; it is a reality, by
Krishna's will. It is the jiva's conception of 'I' and 'mine' when he
enters the material world that is false. Those who believe that this
world is false are Mayavadis, advocates of the theory of illusion.
Such people are offenders.
Yadava dasa: Why have we fallen into this illusory relationship?
Ananta dasa: Bhagavan is the complete spiritual entity (purna-cidvastu),
and the jivas are particles of spirit (cit-kana). The jiva's first
location is on the boundary line between the material and spiritual
worlds. The jivas who do not forget their relationship with
Krishna are empowered with cit-sakti, and are drawn from that position
into the spiritual realm, where they become His eternal associates
and begin to relish the bliss of His service.
Those jivas who turn away from Krishna desire to enjoy maya, and
maya attracts them towards her by her potency. From that moment,
our material state of existence comes into being and our true spiritual
identity disappears. We therefore think, "I am the enjoyer of
maya". This false egoism covers us with many varieties of false identities.
Yadava dasa: Why is it that our true identity does not become
manifest despite significant endeavor?
Ananta dasa: There are two types of endeavor: appropriate and
inappropriate. Appropriate endeavors will certainly dissipate false
egoism, but how can inappropriate endeavors do so?
Yadava dasa: What are inappropriate endeavors?
Ananta dasa: Some people think that their hearts will be purified
if they follow karma-kanda, and that they will be liberated from
maya when they practice brahma-jnana. This type of endeavor is
inappropriate. Others think that by practicing astanga-yoga, they
will enter a trance of samadhi-yoga and attain perfection. This is
another inappropriate endeavor; there are many other types as well.
Yadava dasa: Why are these endeavors inappropriate?
Ananta dasa: These methods are unsuitable because practicing
them creates many obstacles that impede the attainment of one's
desired goal. In addition, there is only a meager possibility of
attaining that goal. The point is that our material existence has
come about because of an offense, and unless we obtain the mercy
of the person whom we offended, we will not gain release from our
material condition and attain our pure, spiritual condition.
Yadava dasa: What are appropriate endeavors?
Ananta dasa: Sadhu-sanga (association of devotees) and prapatti
(surrender) are proper means. We find the following statement
about sadhu-sanga in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.30):
ata atyantikam ksemam prcchamo bhavato 'naghah
samsare 'smin ksanardho 'pi sat-sangah sevadhir nrnam
O sinless one, we are inquiring from you about the supreme
benefit. In this material world, even half a moment's association
with a suddha-bhakta is the greatest wealth for human
If one asks how jivas who have fallen into this material existence
can attain their supreme benefit, I will reply that it can be
obtained by having sat-sanga, even for half a moment.
Prapatti is described in Gita (7.14) as follows:
daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te
This divine potency of Mine, known as daivi-maya, consists
of the three modes of nature - sattva, rajas and tamas.
Human beings cannot cross over this maya by their own
efforts, and therefore it is very difficult to overcome. Only
those who surrender unto Me can cross beyond this potency
Candidasa: O great soul, I cannot understand your explanation very
well. I have understood that we were pure entities, and that due to
our forgetfulness of Krishna we have fallen into the hands of maya,
and are bound in this world. If we obtain Krishna's mercy, we can be
delivered again; otherwise we will remain in the same condition.
Ananta dasa: Yes, for now it is sufficient for you to believe this
much. Yadava dasa Mahasaya clearly understands all these truths.
Gradually you will come to understand these things from him. Shri
Jagadananda, has written a beautiful description of the variegated
conditions of the jivas in his book Shri Prema-vivarta (6.1-13).
cit-kana - jiva, krishna - chinmaya bhaskara
nitya krsne dekhi - krsne karena adara
krishna-bahirmukha hana bhoga-vancha kare
nikata-stha maya tare japatiya dhare
The jiva is an infinitesimal particle of spiritual consciousness,
like an atomic particle of light emanating from the
sun. Shri Krishna is the complete spiritual consciousness, the
transcendental sun. As long as jivas focus their attention
on Krishna, they maintain reverence for Him. However, when
they turn their attention away from Krishna, they desire
material enjoyment. Krishna's deluding potency, maya, who
is standing near them, then binds them in her embrace.1
1 There are two types of entities: cetana, animate, and jada, inanimate.
Animate entities are those that have desire and the power
to experience, and inanimate entities are those that do not.
There are also two types of animate entities: those who possess
full consciousness (purna-cetana) and those who possess minute
consciousness (ksudra-cetana). Bhagavan possesses full consciousness,
and in His original feature He is Krishna. This is declared
in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.28) by the statement, krishnas tu
bhagavan svayam: "Krishna is the original Bhagavan." The jivas
possess minute consciousness. They are His separated parts,
known as vibhinnamsa-tattva, and they are innumerable.
The sastras have compared the mutual relationship between Shri
Krishna and the jivas to the relationship that exists between the
sun and the infinitesimal glittering particles of light present in
the sun's rays. Bhagavan Shri Krishna is the spiritual sun and the
jivas are infinitesimal particles of spirit. The dharma or sva-bhava
of the infinitesimal jivas is to serve Krishna. When the jivas are
formed, their dharma is born simultaneously, just as in fire the
power to burn is always present. As the existence of fire cannot
be accepted without burning power, the essence of the individual
soul's identity as a jiva is not established without service to Krishna.
A vastu (substance) cannot exist independently of its dharma
(natural characteristic function), and neither can a function
exist independently of its substance. Nonetheless, a substance
and its function can become perverted. The inherent function
of the jiva is certainly to serve Krishna, but when the jiva is indifferent
to Krishna, and covets different types of sensual enjoyment,
Bhagavan's external potency (bahiranga-sakti or maya), which
is situated nearby, seizes him and binds him in her web.
pisaci paile jena mati-cchana haya
maya-grasta jivera haya se bhava udaya
The dharma of the jiva who has turned away from Krishna becomes
covered, just as a person's intelligence becomes covered
when he is haunted by a witch.
ami siddha krishna-dasa, ei katha bhule
mayara naphara hana cira-dina bule
He forgets Bhagavan's identity, and his own identity as a
servant of Hari. Becoming a slave of maya, he wanders here
and there for a long time in this bewildering material existence.
kabhu raja, kabhu praja, kabhu vipra, sudra
kabhu duhkhi, kabhu sukhi, kabhu kita ksudra
Sometimes he is a king and sometimes a subject, sometimes
a brahmana and sometimes a sudra. Sometimes he is happy
and sometimes distressed, and sometimes he is a tiny insect.
kabhu svarge, kabhu martye, narake va kabhu
kabhu deva, kabhu daitya, kabhu dasa, prabhu
Sometimes he is in heaven, sometimes on earth, and sometimes
in hell. Sometimes he is a deva and sometimes a demon.
Sometimes he is a servant and sometimes a master.
ei-rupe samsara bhramite kona jana
sadhu-sange nija-tattva avagata hana
As he is wandering like this throughout material existence,
if by some great fortune he happens to obtain the association
of pure bhaktas, he comes to know of his own identity,
and his life thus becomes meaningful.
nija-tattva jani ara samsara na caya
kena va bhajinu maya kare haya haya
By his association with those bhaktas, he understands his
true identity and becomes indifferent to material enjoyment.
Grieving bitterly for his predicament, he laments,
"Alas! Alas! Why did I serve maya for so long?"
kande bole, ohe krishna! ami tava dasa
tomara carana chadi' haila sarva-nasa
He cries profusely, and prays at the lotus feet of Bhagavan.
"O Krishna! I am Your eternal servant, but I have been ruined
because I disregarded the service of Your feet. Who
knows how long I have been wandering aimlessly as the
slave of maya?
kakuti kariya krsne dake eka-bara
krpa kari krishna tare chadana samsara
"O Patita-pavana! O Dina-natha! Please protect this destitute
soul. Deliver me from Your maya and engage me in
Your service." Shri Krishna is an ocean of mercy, and when He
hears the jiva cry out in such desperation even once, He
quickly transports him across this insurmountable material
mayake pichane rakhi' krishna-pane caya
bhajite bhajite krishna-pada-padma paya
krishna tare dena nija-cic-chaktira bala
maya akarsana chade haiya durbala
Krishna empowers the jiva with His cit-sakti, so that maya's
power to attract the soul gradually wanes. The jiva then
turns his back on maya and desires to attain Krishna. He
worships Krishna again and again, and finally becomes competent
to attain His lotus feet.
'sadhu-sange krishna-nama'-ei-matra cai
samsara jinite ara kona vastu nai
Therefore, the only infallible method to cross this insurmountable
material existence is to chant krishna-nama in the
association of bhaktas.
Yadava dasa: Babaji Mahasaya, the sadhus of whom you are speaking
are also present in this world, and they are also oppressed by the
miseries of material existence, so how can they deliver other jivas?
Ananta dasa: It is a fact that sadhus also live in this world, but there
is a significant difference between the earthly life of sadhus, and
that of the jivas who are bewildered by maya. Although the earthly
lives of both appear to be the same from the outside, internally
there is a vast difference. Moreover, the association of sadhus is
very rare, because even though sadhus are always present, the common
man cannot recognize them.
There are two categories of jivas who have fallen into the clutches
of maya. Some are completely absorbed in insignificant worldly
pleasures and have tremendous regard for this material world;
whereas others are dissatisfied with the insignificant pleasures of
maya and employ finer discrimination in the hope of attaining a
superior quality of happiness. Consequently, the people of this
world may be roughly divided into two groups: those who lack the
power to distinguish between spirit and matter, and those who
possess such spiritual insight.
Some people refer to those who have no such insight as material
sense enjoyers, and to those who have insight as mumuksus,
those who seek liberation. When I use the word mumuksu here, I
am not referring to nirbheda-brahma jnanis, those who seek the
nirvisesa-brahma through the process of monistic knowledge.
Those who are exasperated with the miseries of material existence,
and seek their true spiritual identity are known as mumuksus in
the Vedic sastras. The word mumuksa literally means 'the desire
for mukti (liberation)'. When a mumuksu gives up this desire for
liberation and engages in worshiping Bhagavan, his bhajana is
known as suddha-bhakti. The sastras do not order one to give up
mukti. Rather, when a person who desires liberation gains knowledge
of the truth of Krishna and the jivas, he is liberated at once.
This is confirmed in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (6.14.3-5) as follows:
rajobhih sama-sankhyatah parthivair iha jantavah
tesam ye kecanehante sreyo vai manujadayah
The jivas of this world are as innumerable as particles of
dust. Among all these living entities, very few attain higher
life forms, such as those of the human beings, devas, and
Gandharvas, and very few of those adopt higher religious
prayo mumuksavas tesam kecanaiva dvijottama
mumuksunam sahasresu kascin mucyeta sidhyati
O best of the brahmanas, amongst those who adopt higher
religious principles, very few strive for liberation, and out
of many thousands who strive for liberation, one may actually
attain the perfected or liberated state.
muktanam api siddhanam narayana-parayanah
su-durlabhah prasantatma kotisv api maha-mune
O great sage, among many millions of such liberated and
perfected souls, a devotee who is fully peaceful and exclusively
devoted to Shri Narayana is extremely rare.
Bhaktas of Krishna are even more rare than those of Narayana, for
they have surpassed the desire for liberation and are already situated
in the liberated state. They remain in this world as long as
the body endures, but their earthly existence is categorically different
from that of the materialists. The bhaktas of Krishna live in
this world in two conditions (as householders or as renunciants).
Yadava dasa: The Bhagavatam slokas which you just quoted refer
to four categories of people who possess spiritual insight. Out of
these four, which type of association is considered sadhu-sanga?
Ananta dasa: There are four categories of people who possess spiritual
insight: viveki, those who are conscientious; mumuksu, those
who desire liberation; mukta, those who are liberated; and the
bhakta. Amongst these, the association of vivekis and mumuksus is
beneficial for visayis, gross materialists. Muktas are either liberated
individuals with an insatiable thirst for transcendental rasa,
or impersonalists who pride themselves on being liberated. Only
association with the first type of muktas is beneficial. Nirbheda
Mayavadis are offenders, and association with them is forbidden
for all. Such people have been condemned in Shrimad-Bhagavatam
ye 'nye 'ravindaksa vimukta-maninas
tvayy asta-bhavad avisuddha-buddhayah
aruhya krcchrena param padam tatah
patanty adho 'nadrta-yusmad-anghrayah
O lotus-eyed Lord, those who do not take shelter of Your
lotus feet vainly consider themselves to be liberated. Their
intelligence is impure because they are devoid of affection
and devotion for You, and in reality they are baddha-jivas.
Even though such people attain the platform of liberation
by undergoing severe austerities and spiritual practices,
they fall from that position due to neglecting Your lotus
The fourth category of discriminating souls, the bhaktas, are
attracted either to Bhagavan's opulent and majestic feature
(aisvarya) or to His sweet and intimate feature (madhurya). The
association of Bhagavan's bhaktas is beneficial in all respects. Particularly
if one takes shelter of those bhaktas who are immersed in
His sweetness, visuddha-bhakti-rasa, the transcendental mellows
of bhakti, will manifest in one's heart.
Yadava dasa: You have explained that bhaktas live in two conditions.
Kindly explain this clearly so that people like myself, who
have limited intelligence, may understand easily.
Ananta dasa: Bhaktas are either grhastha-bhaktas, householders, or
tyagi-bhaktas, those who have renounced household life.
Yadava dasa: Please describe the nature of the grhastha-bhaktas'
relationship with this world.
Ananta dasa: One does not become a grhastha simply by building
a house and living in it. The word grha in grhastha refers to the
household that one establishes by accepting a suitable wife in
marriage, according to Vedic rules and regulations. A bhakta who
resides in such a condition and practices bhakti is known as a
The jiva who is bound by maya sees form and color through the
eyes; he hears sound through the ears; he smells fragrance through
the nose; he touches with the skin; and he tastes with the tongue.
The jiva enters the material world through these five senses, and
becomes attached to it. The more attached he is to gross matter,
the more distant he is from his Prananatha (the Lord of his life)
Shri Krishna, and his condition is called bahirmukha-samsara, consciousness
directed outwards towards mundane existence. Those
who are intoxicated with this mundane existence are known are
visayis, those who are attached to worldly sense objects.
When bhaktas live as grhasthas, they are not like the visayis, who
merely seek to gratify their senses. A householder's dharma-patni
(wife, who is one's partner in realizing nitya-dharma) is a dasi, or
maidservant of Krishna, and so are his sons and daughters. The eyes
of all the family members are satisfied to behold the form of the
Deity and objects related to Krishna; their ears become fully satisfied
to hear hari-katha and narrations of the lives of great sadhus;
their noses experience satisfaction by smelling the aroma of tulasi
and the other fragrant objects offered to the lotus feet of Shri Krishna;
their tongues taste the nectar of krishna-nama, and the remnants of
food offered to Krishna; their skin feels delight through touching
the limbs of Shri Hari's bhaktas; their hopes, activities, desires, hospitality
to guests, and service to the Deity are all subordinate to
their service to Krishna. Indeed, their entire life is a great festival
consisting of krishna-nama, mercy to jivas, and service to Vaishnavas.
Only grhastha-bhaktas can possess material objects and utilize
them without becoming attached to them. It is most appropriate
for jivas in the age of Kali to become grhastha Vaishnavas, for then
there is no fear of falling down.2
2 Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated that in the age of Kali it
is recommended that all jivas become grhastha Vaishnavas, for in
this there is no fear of falling down. The meaning of this
statement is that it is the duty of all human beings to live in an
unfallen condition and engage in the service of Vishnu and
Vaishnavas. However, it is not the intention of the author to instruct
that everyone must be a grhastha, or that in the age of Kali
no one should accept any asrama other than the grhastha-asrama.
Those who are heavily influenced by the material qualities of
passion and ignorance, who are excessively attached to material
sense enjoyment, and who have a strong inclination toward the
path of fruitive action (pravrtti-marga) are recommended to
accept marriage and follow the grhastha-dharma in order to
counteract these tendencies. On the other hand, those whose
nature is of the quality of goodness and purity, and who follow
the path of detachment (nivrtti-marga) should not marry and
thus become fallen.
In the Vishnu Purana (3.8.9) we find the following statement
varnasramacaravata purusena parah puman
visnur aradhyate pantha nanyat tat-tosa-karanam
Shri Vishnu is worshiped only by carrying out one's prescribed duties
in varnasrama. There is no other way to please Him.
In this sloka, the word asrama refers not only to the grhasthaasrama,
but to all four asramas. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.17.14) there
is the following statement regarding asrama:
grhasramo janghanato brahmacaryam hrdo mama
vaksah-sthalad vane vasah sannyasah sirasi sthitah
The grhastha-asrama has sprung from the thighs of My universal
form, the brahmacari-asrama from My heart, the vanaprasthaasrama
from My chest, and the sannyasa-asrama from My head.
These are the four asramas described in the sastra. One of the
characteristics of a Vaishnava is engaging in the worship of Shri
Vishnu while remaining in the asrama for which he is eligible. At
present there is no shortage of examples of this. In this very book,
the characters, Prema dasa, Vaishnava dasa, Ananta dasa, and many
other qualified instructors are sannyasis, brahmacaris, or grha-tyagis.
Another point is that not all the followers of the author, Shri
Bhaktivinoda Thakura, are grhastha-bhaktas. Some of them are
brahmacaris and some have given up household life, and are situated
in the highest order, sannyasa, and are thus fit to instruct the
world. In the third chapter, sannyasa is referred to as the topmost
asrama. This same conclusion is expressed in Shrimad-Bhagavatam
(11.17.15), the crest-jewel of all sastras:
varnanam asramanams ca janma-bhumy-anusarinih
asan prakrtayo nrnam nicair nicottamottamah
The varnas and asramas of humanity are possessed of higher and
lower natures in accordance with the higher and lower places on
Shri Bhagavan's universal body from which they appeared.
The conclusion of this statement is that sannyasa is the highest
of the four asramas, and grhastha is the lowest. The brahmacari-
asrama is situated above the grhastha-asrama, and the vanaprasthaasrama
is situated above the brahmacari-asrama. These asramas are
related to the acquired tendency arising from one's temporary
Like varnas, asramas are also divided according to nature, tendency,
and work. Men of lower nature, who are inclined to engage
in fruitive action, are compelled to become grhasthas. Naisthikabrahmacaris,
those who adopt a life-long vow of celibacy, are the
wealth of Shri Krishna's heart. Vanaprastha renunciants have appeared
from Krishna's chest, and sannyasis, who are the reservoirs of
auspicious qualities, have arisen from His head. The brahmacaris,
vanaprasthas, and sannyasis are therefore all superior to the
grhasthas, but one remains ineligible to enter into these three superior
asramas as long as a taste for the path of renunciation is
not awakened in the heart. In the Manu-samhita (5.56) it is said:
na mamsa-bhaksane dose na madye na ca maithune
pravrttir esa bhutanam nivrttis tu mahaphalah
Human beings are naturally inclined to the pleasures of meateating,
intoxication, and sexual indulgence, but abstinence from
such activities yields highly beneficial results.
This is corroborated in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.11):
loke vyavayamisa-madya-seva nitya hi jantor na hi tatra codana
vyavasthitis tesu vivaha-yajna-sura-grahair asu nivrttir ista
In this world it is observed that people have a natural tendency
toward sexual enjoyment, meat-eating, and intoxication. Sastra
cannot sanction engagement in such activities, but special provisions
have been given whereby some association with the opposite
sex is permitted through marriage; some eating of flesh is
permitted through performance of sacrifice; and the drinking of
wine is permitted in the ritual known as sautramani-yajna. The
purpose of such injunctions is to restrain the licentious tendencies
of the general populace and to establish them in moral conduct.
The intrinsic purpose of the Vedas in making such provisions is
to draw people away from such activities altogether.
In many other sastras the superiority of the path of renunciation
has been delineated. At the end of the tenth chapter of this
book, Shri Bhaktivinoda Thakura has cited the above-mentioned
Bhagavatam sloka, and drawn the following conclusion: "It is not
the purpose of sastra to encourage the killing of animals. The Vedas
state, ma himsyat sarvani bhutani: "Do not harm any living entity.'
This statement forbids violence to animals. However, as long as a
person's nature is strongly influenced by passion and ignorance,
he will have a natural inclination toward sexual enjoyment, meateating,
and intoxication. Such a person does not await the sanction
of the Vedas to engage in such activities. The intent of the Vedas
is to provide a means whereby human beings who have not adopted
the quality of goodness - and thus renounced the tendency for violence,
sexual enjoyment, and intoxication - can curb such tendencies
and satisfy these demands through the agency of religion.
"People who are conducted by these lower tendencies may associate
with the opposite sex through religious marriage; they may
kill animals only through certain prescribed methods of sacrifice;
and they may take intoxication only on certain occasions, and by
following certain procedures. By following these methods their
tendency toward these activities will wane and they will gradually
give them up."
Therefore, the grhastha-asrama is necessary in Kali-yuga in order
to draw people away from the path of fruitive action and toward
the path of renunciation. It was never the intention of the
author to suggest that those who are eligible for the highest order
of life should become grhasthas. Later in this same chapter, Shri
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has expressed the purpose of marriage in
the following words:
"One should not enter marriage for the purpose of begetting children
or to worship the forefathers. Rather, one should think, 'I
accept this maidservant of Krishna so that we may be able to assist
each other in the service of Krishna.' This attitude is favorable to
Consequently, those who marry without a desire for children
can actually be true grhastha Vaishnavas. When a man truly regards
his wife as a maidservant of Krishna, there is no scope for regarding
her as an object of his own pleasure; instead his mood will be one
of adoration. It is a fact that there are statements that sanction
the desire for children, such as putrarthe kriyate bharya: "A wife is
accepted for the purpose of having children," but the implication
here is that one should desire to beget servants of Krishna, and not
ordinary mundane children.
The word putra (son) is derived from the word put, which refers
to a particular hellish planet, and tra is derived from the verbal
root meaning 'to deliver'. Thus the traditional significance of the
word putra is to beget a son who can deliver one from hell by offering
oblations after one's demise. However, there is no possibility
that Vaishnavas who regularly chant shri-hari-nama will go to the
hell known as put. Therefore they do not desire putras, but servants
Generally, a man who is bound by material conditioning, and
who pursues the path of fruitive action, indulges in sexual intercourse
with a woman in order to satisfy his lusty propensities.
Children are born only as a by-product of that desire. This is the
reason why people these days are generally of a lustful nature. As it
is commonly said, atmavat jayate putrah: "A son takes after his father."
Although the grhastha-asrama is the lowest of the four asramas,
Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has recommended it with a desire to
benefit everyone in the world. His recommendation is especially
directed toward people whose mentality is similar to that of
Candidasa and Damayanti. Actually, great souls who naturally
follow the path of detachment by the influence of the sukrti they
have acquired in previous lives will never become entangled in
domestic life by accepting marriage. Such elevated people still have
the opportunity to fall, but where is the question of falling for
people who are already fallen?
If a naisthika-brahmacari or a sannyasi were to misunderstand the
underlying meaning of the above-mentioned instruction, and on
the basis of those words were to give up their brahmacarya or
sannyasa and, in contravention to sastra, marry one of their disciples,
a god-sister, or some other woman, or were to advise another
brahmacari or sannyasi to do so, then such a pitiable, base,
and atheistic person would indeed be rare in the history of the
A second point is that it is highly disgraceful for unqualified
people to adopt the dress of brahmacaris, tyagis, or sannyasis, to
imitate their behavior, and to consider themselves equal to great
personalities situated in those asramas. Such people are like Srgala
Vasudeva, the jackal who impersonated Shri Krishna, and whose
narration has been described in Shrimad-Bhagavatam, Harivamsa,
Chaitanya-Bhagavata, and other sastras. People who are situated in
a lower stage, and who are attached to the path of fruitive action,
should first curb the deplorable tendency towards lust by becoming
lawfully married according to religious principles. The purpose
of the sastra is to guide all living beings toward the path of detachment.
The Brahma-vaivarta Purana (Krishna-khanda 115.112-113) states:
asvamedham gavalambham sannyasam palapaitrkam
devarena sutotpattim kalau panca vivarjayet
In Kali-yuga five activities are forbidden: the offering of a horse
in sacrifice, the offering of a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of
sannyasa, offering flesh to the forefathers, and begetting children
through a husband's brother.
Some people try to establish on the basis of this sloka that the
acceptance of sannyasa is forbidden in Kali-yuga. However, this sloka
has a hidden intention. The purpose of this sloka is not to forbid
sannyasa altogether. Indeed, many great personalities who appeared
in Kali-yuga were tyagis or sannyasis, including Shri Ramanuja, Shri
Madhva, Shri Vishnu-svami, and other acaryas who were well acquainted
with all the sastras, as well as the crown jewels of all
acaryas, the Six Gosvamis, who were bhaktas of Shri Gaura.
The pure succession of sannyasa is continuing, even today. The
injunction against accepting sannyasa in Kali-yuga actually means
that it is improper to accept the ekadanda-sannyasa that evolved
from the unauthorized line of thought propagated by Acarya
Sankara, and which is expressed in maxims such as so 'ham (I am
that brahma) and aham brahmasmi (I am brahma). It is this type of
sannyasa that has been forbidden.
Tridanda-sannyasa is the real, perpetual sannyasa, and it is applicable
at all times. Sometimes tridanda-sannyasa externally appears
in the form of ekadanda-sannyasa. Ekadanda-sannyasis of this
type, who are actually great souls, accept the eternality of tridandasannyasa
that symbolizes the three features of sevya (the object of
service), sevaka (the servitor), and seva (service). Such people
consider the ekadanda-sannyasa propagated by Sankara to be completely
unauthorized and not supported by sastra. It is therefore
proven, even on the basis of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana sloka cited
by smarta acaryas, that it is logical for sadhakas who are pursuing
the nivrtti-marga to accept sannyasa.
Bhakti can also be developed fully from this position. Many
grhastha Vaishnavas are gurus who are well versed in the fundamental
truths of the sastra. If the children of such saintly
Vaishnavas are also pure Vaishnavas (Gosvamis), they too are
counted as grhastha-bhaktas. This is why the association of
grhastha-bhaktas is particularly beneficial for the jivas.
Yadava dasa: Grhastha Vaishnavas are obliged to remain under the
jurisdiction of smarta-brahmanas, otherwise they will have to suffer
much harassment in society. Under such circumstances, how
can they practice suddha-bhakti?
Ananta dasa: Grhastha Vaishnavas are certainly obliged to carry out
social conventions, such as getting their sons and daughters married,
performing ceremonial functions for deceased forefathers, and
other similar responsibilities. However, they should not engage
in kamya-karma, ritualistic activities meant only to fulfill material
When it comes to maintaining one's livelihood, everyone - even
one who calls himself nirapeksa (devoid of all needs) - depends
upon other people or things. All embodied beings have needs; they
depend on medicine when they become ill, on foodstuffs when
they are hungry, on clothing to dispel the cold, and on a house for
protection from excessive heat or rain. Nirapeksa really means to
reduce one's necessities as far as possible, for no one can be absolutely
independent as long as he has a material body. Still, it is
best to be as free as possible from material dependency, for that is
more conducive to advancement in bhakti.
All the activities that I mentioned before become free from defect
only when one links them with Krishna. For example, one should
passion and ignorance, who are excessively attached to material
sense enjoyment, and who have a strong inclination toward the
path of fruitive action (pravrtti-marga) are recommended to
accept marriage and follow the grhastha-dharma in order to
counteract these tendencies. On the other hand, those whose
nature is of the quality of goodness and purity, and who follow
the path of detachment (nivrtti-marga) should not marry and
thus become fallen.
not enter marriage with a desire to beget children, or to worship
the forefathers and Prajapatis. It is favorable to bhakti to think, "I
am only accepting this maidservant of Krishna so that we can assist
each other in Krishna's service and establish Krishna-centered family
life together." Whatever one's materially attached relatives or family
priest may say, ultimately one reaps the fruit of one's own determination.
On the occasion of the sraddha ceremony, one should first offer
the forefathers the remnants of food that has been offered to Shri
Krishna, and then feed the brahmanas and Vaishnavas. If grhastha
Vaishnavas observe the sraddha ceremony in this way, it is favorable
for their bhakti.
All the smarta rituals are karma, unless and until one combines
them with bhakti. If one carries out the karma which one is enjoined
to perform by the Vedas in pursuance of suddha-bhakti, that
karma is not unfavorable to bhakti. One should perform ordinary
activities in a renounced spirit and without attachment for the
result, and one should perform spiritual activities in the association
of bhaktas; then there will be no fault.
Consider for a moment that most of Shriman Mahaprabhu's associates
were grhastha-bhaktas, and so were many rajarsis (saintly
kings) and devarsis (great sages) from ancient times. Dhruva,
Prahlada, and the Pandavas were all grhastha-bhaktas. You should
know that grhastha-bhaktas are also highly respected in the world.
Yadava dasa: If grhastha-bhaktas are so highly respected and dear
to everyone, why do some of them renounce household life?
Ananta dasa: Some grhastha-bhaktas are eligible to renounce their
household life, but such Vaishnavas are very few in this world, and
their association is rare.
Yadava dasa: Kindly explain how one becomes eligible to renounce
Ananta dasa: Human beings have two tendencies: bahirmukhapravrtti,
the outward tendency; and antarmukha-pavrtti, the inward
tendency. The Vedas refer to these two tendencies as being focused
outwards towards the external world and focused inwards
towards the soul.
When the pure spiritual soul forgets his true identity, he
falsely identifies the mind as the self, although the mind is really
only a part of the subtle material body. Having identified
with the mind in this way, the soul takes assistance from the
doorways of the senses, and becomes attracted to the external
sense objects. This is the outward tendency. The inward tendency
is exhibited when the stream of consciousness reverts
from gross matter back into the mind, and from there to the
One whose tendency is predominantly outward must conduct
all external tendencies offenselessly with Krishna at the center,
through the strength of sadhu-sanga. If one takes shelter of krishnabhakti,
these outward tendencies are quickly curtailed and converted
to the inward tendency. When the direction of one's tendency
is completely inward, the eligibility to renounce household
life is born, but if one gives up household life before this stage is
reached, there is a significant danger of falling down again. The
grhastha-asrama is a special school where the jivas may receive instructions
regarding atma-tattva, spiritual truth, and be given the
opportunity to develop their realization of such matters. They
may leave the school when their education is complete.
Yadava dasa: What are the symptoms of a bhakta who is eligible
to give up household life?
Ananta dasa: He should be free from the desire to associate with
the opposite sex; he should have unrestricted mercy toward all
living entities; he should be completely indifferent towards endeavors
to accumulate wealth, and he should strive only in times
of need to acquire food and clothing suitable for maintaining
himself. He should have unconditional love for Shri Krishna; should
shun the association of materialists; and should be free from
attachment and aversion in life and death. Shrimad-Bhagavatam
(11.2.45) describes these symptoms as follows:
sarva-bhutesu yah pasyed bhagavad-bhavam atmanah
bhutani bhagavaty atmany esa bhagavatottamah
One who sees his own mood of attraction for Shri Krishnacandra,
the Soul of all souls, in all jivas, and who also sees
all living entities residing within the shelter of Shri Krishna,
is an uttama-bhagavata.
In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (3.25.22), Bhagavan Kapiladeva describes
the primary characteristics of sadhus:
mayy ananyena bhavena bhaktim kurvanti ye drdham
mat-krte tyakta-karmanas tyakta-svajana-bandhavah
Those who worship no one but Me, and who therefore
engage in firm and exclusive devotion unto Me, give up
everything for My sake, including all duties prescribed in
varnasrama-dharma and all relationships with their wives,
children, friends, and relatives.
It is also stated in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.55):
visrjati hrdayam na yasya saksaddharir
avasabhihito 'py aghaugha-nasah
sa bhavati bhagavata-pradhana uktah
If one utters, even without intent, shri-hari-nama in an offenseless
mood, at once heaps of sins accumulated through
many lifetimes, are destroyed. Such a person thereby binds
Shri Hari's lotus feet within his heart with ropes of love and
is considered the best of bhaktas.
When these symptoms are manifest in a grhastha-bhakta, he is
no longer suited for engagement in karma, and he therefore reNITYA-
nounces household life. Such nirapeksa-bhaktas (renunciants) are
rare, and one should consider himself extremely fortunate to attain
Yadava dasa: These days, young men often renounce household
life and adopt the dress of the renounced order. They establish a
place for sadhus to congregate, and begin to worship the Deity of
the Lord. After some time, they fall into association with women
again, but do not give up chanting hari-nama. They maintain their
hermitage by collecting alms from many places. Are such men tyagis
Ananta dasa: Your question raises several issues at once, but I will
answer them one by one. First of all, eligibility to renounce household
life has nothing to do with youth or old age. Some grhasthabhaktas
are qualified by the samskaras acquired in this life and previous
lives to give up household life even while they are young.
For example, Sukadeva's previous samskaras enabled him to renounce
household life from the moment of birth. One should only
see that this eligibility is not artificial. If real detachment awakens,
then youth is not an impediment.
Yadava dasa: What is real renunciation and what is false renunciation?
Ananta dasa: Real renunciation is so firm that it can never be
broken at any time. False renunciation arises from deception,
dishonesty, and the desire for prestige. Some people make a false
show of renunciation to gain the respect that is offered to
nirapeksa-bhaktas who have given up household life, but such false
detachment is futile and completely inauspicious. As soon as such
a person leaves home, the symptoms of his eligibility for detachment
disappear, and depravity sets in.
Yadava dasa: Does a bhakta who has given up household life need
to adopt the external dress of a renunciant?
Ananta dasa: Nirapeksa-akincana-bhaktas who have firmly renounced
the spirit of enjoyment purify the entire world, whether
they live in the forest or remain at home. Some of them accept a
loincloth and worn and torn clothes as external signs to identify
them as members of the renounced order. At the time of accepting
this attire, they strengthen their resolve by taking a firm vow in
the presence of other Vaishnavas who are in the renounced order.
This is called entrance into the renounced order, or the acceptance
of appropriate garments for renunciation. If you refer to this
as bheka-grahana or vesa-grahana, the acceptance of the dress of renunciation,
then what is the harm?
Yadava dasa: What is the purpose of being identified by the signs
of the renounced order?
Ananta dasa: It is very helpful to be identified as a member of the
renounced order. A renunciant's family members will no longer
maintain a relationship with him, and will easily give him up.
He will no longer desire to enter his house, and a natural detachment
will awaken in his heart, with a consequent fear of materialistic
society. It is beneficial for some bhaktas to accept the outward
signs of renunciation, though this may not be necessary if
detachment from household life is fully matured. It is said in the
sa jahati matim loke vede ca parinisthitam,
"A bhakta who has received the mercy of Bhagavan
gives up attachment for all worldly activities, and for all ritualistic
duties prescribed in the Vedas."
There is no injunction for such bhaktas to accept the outward
dress of renunciation. It is necessary only as long as there is some
dependence on public consideration.
Yadava dasa: From whom should one accept the renounced
Ananta dasa: One should accept the renounced order from a
Vaishnava who is situated in the renounced order. Grhastha-bhaktas
have no experience of the behavior of renounced bhaktas, so they
should not initiate anyone into the renounced order. The following
statement of the Brahma-vaivarta Purana confirms this:
apariksyopadistam yat loka-nasaya tad bhavet
One brings ruination to the world if he instructs others in
religious principles that he himself does not follow.
Yadava dasa: What criteria should a guru use to offer initiation
into the renounced order?
Ananta dasa: The guru must first consider wether or not the disciple
is qualified. He should see if the grhastha-bhakta, on the
strength of krishna-bhakti, has acquired a spiritual temperament characterized
by qualities such as full control of the mind and senses.
Has the hankering for wealth and the satisfaction of the tongue
been uprooted or not? The guru should keep the disciple with him
for some time in order to examine him thoroughly, and he may initiate
him into the renounced order when he finds that he is a suitable
candidate. Under no circumstances should he offer initiation
prior to this. If the guru offers initiation to a person who is unqualified,
he will certainly fall down himself.
Yadava dasa: Now I see that it is no light matter to accept the renounced
order; it is a serious undertaking. Unqualified gurus are
turning this practice into a common affair. It has only just begun,
and there is no telling where it will end.
Ananta dasa: Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu severely punished Chota
Haridasa for a completely insignificant fault, just to protect the
sanctity of the renounced order. The followers of our Lord should
always remember the punishment of Chota Haridasa.
Yadava dasa: Is it proper to construct a monastery and establish
the worship of a Deity after one has entered the renounced order?
Ananta dasa: No. A qualified disciple who has entered the renounced
order should maintain his existence by begging every day.
He should not involve himself in constructing a monastery or in
other grand enterprises. He can live anywhere, either in a secluded
hut or in the temple of a householder. He should remain aloof from
all affairs that require money, and he should constantly chant shrihari-
nama without offense.
Yadava dasa: What do you call renunciants who set up a monastery
and then live like householders?
Ananta dasa: They may be called vantasi (those who eat their own
Yadava dasa: Then are they no longer to be considered Vaishnavas?
Ananta dasa: What benefit is there in their association when their
behavior is contrary to sastra and vaishnava-dharma? They have
given up pure bhakti, and have adopted a hypocritical lifestyle.
What relationship could a Vaishnava have with such people?
Yadava dasa: How can one say that they have given up Vaisnavism,
as long as they don't give up the chanting of hari-nama?
Ananta dasa: Hari-nama and nama-aparadha are two different things.
Pure hari-nama is quite distinct from offensive chanting that only
has the external appearance of hari-nama. It is an offense to commit
sins on the strength of chanting shri-nama. If one chants shri-nama
and at the same time commits sinful activities, thinking that the
power of shri-nama will exempt him from sinful reactions, he is
committing nama-aparadha. This is not suddha-hari-nama, and one
should flee far away from such offensive chanting.
Yadava dasa: Then is the domestic life of such people not to be
"Never," Ananta dasa firmly said. "There is no room for hypocrisy
in a Krishna-centered domestic life. There can only be complete
honesty and simplicity, with no trace of offense."
Yadava dasa: Is such a person inferior to a grhastha-bhakta?
Ananta dasa: He is not even a devotee, so there is no question of
comparing him with any bhakta.
Yadava dasa: How may he be rectified?
Ananta dasa: He will be counted amongst the bhaktas again when
he gives up all these offenses, constantly chants shri-nama, and
sheds tears of repentance.
Yadava dasa: Babaji Mahasaya, grhastha-bhaktas are situated under
the rules and regulations of varnasrama-dharma. If a grhastha is
excluded from varnasrama-dharma, is he not barred from becoming
Ananta dasa: Ah! Vaishnava-dharma is very liberal. All jivas have
the right to vaishnava-dharma; that is why it is also known as jaivadharma.
Even outcastes can take up vaishnava-dharma and live as
grhasthas, although they are not part of varnasrama. Moreover,
people who have accepted sannyasa within varnasrama, and have
then fallen from their position, may later adopt pure bhakti by the
influence of sadhu-sanga. Such people can become grhastha-bhaktas,
although they are also outside the jurisdiction of varnasrama regulations.
There are others who abandon varnasrama-dharma due to their
misdeeds. If they and their children take shelter of suddha-bhakti
by the influence of sadhu-sanga, they may become grhastha-bhaktas,
although they are also outside varnasrama. So we see that there
are two kinds of grhastha-bhaktas: one who is part of varnasrama
and one who is excluded from varnasrama.
Yadava dasa: Which is superior of these two?
Ananta dasa: Whoever has the most bhakti is superior. If neither
has any bhakti, then the person who is following varnasrama is superior
from the vyavaharika, or relative, point of view, because at
least he has some religious principles, whereas the other is an
outcaste with no religious principles. However, from the
paramarthika, or absolute, spiritual perspective, both of them are
fallen because they have no bhakti.
Yadava dasa: Does a grhastha have the right to wear the garments
of a mendicant while he is still a householder?
Ananta dasa: No. If he does, he is guilty on two counts: he cheats
himself and he cheats the world. If a grhastha adopts the dress of a
mendicant, he simply affronts and ridicules genuine mendicants
who wear the dress of the renounced order.
Yadava dasa: Babaji Mahasaya, do the sastras describe any system
for accepting the renounced order?
Ananta dasa: It is not clearly described. People of all castes can
become Vaishnavas, but according to sastra, only those who are twice
born can accept sannyasa. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam (7.11.35), Narada
describes the separate characteristics of each of the different
varnas, and then concludes with this statement:
yasya yal-laksanam proktam pumso varnabhivyanjakam
yad anyatrapi drsyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiset
A person should be considered to belong to the varna whose
characteristics he possesses, even if he has appeared in a
The practice of offering sannyasa to men who, although born of
other castes, possess the symptoms of brahmanas, is occurring on
the basis of this verdict of the sastras. If a man born of a different
caste truly possesses the symptoms of a brahmana and is given
sannyasa, then it must be avowed that this system is approved by sastra.
This verdict of the sastras supports the practice of offering
sannyasa to men who possess brahminical symptoms, even though
they are born of other castes, but it only applies to paramarthika
affairs, and not to vyavaharika affairs.
Yadava dasa: Brother Candidasa, do you have the answer to your
Candidasa: Today I have been blessed. Of all the instructions that
have flowed from the mouth of the most revered Babaji Mahasaya,
these are the points I have been able to assimilate. The jiva is an
eternal servant of Krishna, but he forgets this and takes on a material
body. Influenced by the qualities of material nature, he derives
happiness and distress from material objects. For the privilege of
enjoying the fruits of his material activities, he must wear a garland
of birth, old age, and death.
The jiva sometimes takes birth in a high position and sometimes
in a low position, and he is led into innumerable circumstances
by his repeated change of identity. Hunger and thirst spur him to
action in a body that may perish at any instant. He is bereft of the
necessities of this world, and is cast into unlimited varieties of
suffering. Many diseases and ailments appear, which torment his
body. In his home, he quarrels with his wife and children, and sometimes
he goes to the extent of committing suicide. His greed to
accumulate wealth drives him to commit many sins. He is punished
by the government, insulted by others, and thus he suffers untold
He is constantly aggrieved by separation from family members,
loss of wealth, theft by robbers, and countless other causes of suffering.
When a person becomes old, his relatives do not take care
of him, and this causes him great distress. His withered body is
ravaged by mucus, rheumatism and a barrage of other pains, and is
simply a source of misery. After death, he enters another womb
and suffers intolerable pain. Yet despite all this, as long as the body
remains, his discrimination is overpowered by lust, anger, greed,
illusion, pride, and envy. This is samsara.
I now understand the meaning of the word samsara. I repeatedly
offer dandavat-pranama to Babaji Mahasaya. The Vaishnavas
are gurus for the entire world. Today, by the mercy of the Vaishnavas,
I have acquired real knowledge of this material world.
When the Vaishnavas present had heard Ananta dasa Babaji
Mahasaya's profound instructions, they all loudly exclaimed,
"Sadhu! Sadhu!" By this time, many Vaishnavas had assembled there,
and they began to sing a bhajana that Lahiri Mahasaya had composed.
e ghora samsare, padiya manava, na paya duhkhera sesa
sadhu-sanga kori', hari bhaje yadi, tabe anta haya klesa
The jiva who has fallen into this dreadful material existence
finds no end to his distress, but his troubles come to
an end when he is graced by the association of sadhus and
then takes to the worship of Shri Hari.
visaya-anale, jvaliche hrdaya, anale bade anala
aparadha chadi' laya krishna-nama, anale padaye jala
The raging fire of sensual desires scorches his heart, and
when he tries to satisfy those desires, the fire simply flares
up with greater intensity. However, relinquishing offenses
and chanting shri-krishna-nama acts like a cooling shower of
rain, which extinguishes this blazing fire.
nitai-chaitanya-carana-kamale, asraya laila yei
kalidasa bole, jivane marane, amara asraya sei
Kalidasa says, "He who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of
Chaitanya-Nitai is my refuge in life and in death."
As the kirtana was going on, Candidasa danced in great ecstasy.
He took the dust of the feet of the babajis upon his head, and began
to roll on the ground, weeping in intense joy. Everyone declared,
"Candidasa is extremely fortunate!"
After some time, Yadava dasa said, "Let us go, Candidasa; we need
to go to the other side of the river."
Candidasa replied, smiling, "If you take me across (the river of
material existance), I will go."
The two of them offered dandavat-pranama to Pradyumna-kunja
and departed. As they came out of the kunja, they saw Damayanti
offering repeated obeisances, and saying, "Alas! Why did I take
birth as a woman? If I had taken birth as a man, I could easily have
entered this kunja, taken darsana of the great souls, and become
purified by taking their foot dust on my head. May I simply become
the servitor of the Vaishnavas of Shri Navadvipa birth after birth,
and spend my days in their service."
Yadava dasa said, "Ah! This Godruma-dhama is a perfectly sacred
place. Simply by coming here, one obtains suddha-bhakti.
Godruma is a cowherd village, the place where Shachinandana````@P@````PP@P°`° `@```š`@°°`°° @@P` ` P@ °P`0@````@`` P`@ `PPP```@`PP`°°°Ppppppp p````@@@@ppppp````````` P```` ```````````````_8Ȱ_Ȱ_娜粜娈粜が粞〼粞ぜ粞, the
Lord of our life, enacts His divine pastimes. In his heart Shri
Prabodhananda Sarasvati realized this truth and prayed in the following
avisya sanklisyate re vimudhah
hathena sarvam parihrtya gaude
shri-godrume parna-kutim kurudhvam
Shri Navadvipa-sataka (36)
"O fools, although you have taken shelter of worldly society
and the Vedas, and adopted many social and religious
duties, you remain miserable. Now give up these dubious
paths, and quickly build yourself a leaf-hut in Shri Godruma."
In this way, exchanging hari-katha, the three crossed the Ganga
and arrived in Kuliya-grama. Thence forward, both Candidasa and
his wife Damayanti displayed a wonderful Vaishnava demeanor.
Untouched by the world of maya they became adorned with the
qualities of vaishnava-seva, constantly chanting krishna-nama, and
showing mercy to all jivas. Blessed are the merchant couple! Blessed
is the mercy of the Vaishnavas! Blessed is Shri Navadvipa-bhumi!
THUS ENDS THE SEVENTH CHAPTER OF JAIVA-DHARMA,
"NITYA-DHARMA & MATERIAL EXISTENCE"