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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

this work."


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

material existence?"


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

false egoism.


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

of Mine.


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

regarding asrama:


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

of Krishna.


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

household life.


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

soul proper.


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

pranaya-rasanaya dhrtanghri-padmah

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

their association.


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

or grhastha-bhaktas?


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

Shrimad-Bhagavatam (4.29.46):


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

considered Krishna-centered?


"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

a Vaishnava?


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

different caste.


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

bodily afflictions.


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`€@ `P€PP```@`PP`°°°Ppppppp p````@@@@€p€€€€€€€pppp````````` P````    ```````€````````_›8œȰ_Ȱ_粜娈粜が粞〼粞, the

Lord of our life, enacts His divine pastimes. In his heart Shri

Prabodhananda Sarasvati realized this truth and prayed in the following



na loka-vedoddhrta-marga-bhedair

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!