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To renounce or not externally

Post Author: Swami Gaurangapada    Date: 2006-01-14 06:54:29
Title: To renounce or not externally
User: Swami Gaurangapada    Date: 2007-03-13 20:19:19

I have lost all interest in material activities. I want to renounce everything and want to come and serve you personally.

Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:

It is good you have lost interest in material activities but the renunciation of the activities itself is not required neither appropriate for you at this stage in life. What we have to renounce is material consciousness and connect all over activities with Lord Gauranga-Krishna then the activites no longer remain material but are spiritual devotional service to the Lord.

At this point of time, you are ideally situated to practice Nama Bhajana i.e. the chanting of the Holy Names and changing your situation is not required. I appreciate your attachment to the Lord. I would request you not to be hasty in crossing the ocean of the cycle of birth and death but remain situated (sthane sthitah as stated in Shrimad Bhagavatam) in your present situation and cultivate strong internal attachment to the Holy Names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna! Then the Lord will show you the proper time and way to fulfil your desires to serve Him and chant His Holy Names. Please read the follwoing instructions given by Lord Gauranga Himself to our Prayojana acharya Shrila Raghunatha dasa Goswami:

Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya lila Chp16, Translation and Purports by His Divine Grace Shrila Prabhupada copyrighted by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust:

Madhya 16.234

sata dina santipure prabhu-sange rahe
ratri-divase ei manah-katha kahe

For seven days Raghunatha dasa associated with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in Santipura. During those days and nights, he had the following thoughts.

Madhya 16.235

‘raksakera hate muni kemane chutiba!
kemane prabhura sange nilacale yaba?'


Raghunatha dasa thought, "How shall I be able to get free from the hands of the watchmen? How shall I be able to go with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Nilacala?"

Madhya 16.236

sarvajna gauranga-prabhu jani' tanra mana
siksa-rupe kahe tanre asvasa-vacana

Since Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was omniscient, He could understand
Raghunatha dasa's mind. The Lord therefore instructed him with the
following reassuring words.

Madhya 16.237

“sthira hana ghare yao, naa hao vaatula
krame krame paaya loka bhava-sindhu-kula

"Be patient and return home. Don't be a crazy fellow. By and by you will be
able to cross the ocean of material existence.


As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.58):

samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam
mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam
padam padam yad vipadam na tesam

This material world is just like a big ocean. It begins with Brahmaloka and
extends to Patalaloka, and there are many planets, or islands, in this
ocean. Not knowing about devotional service, the living entity wanders
about this ocean, just as a man tries to swim to reach the shore. Our
struggle for existence is similar to this. Everyone is trying to get out
of the ocean of material existence. One cannot immediately reach the
coast, but if one endeavors, he can cross the ocean by Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu's mercy. One may be very eager to cross this ocean, but he
cannot attain success by acting like a madman. He must swim over the ocean very patiently and intelligently under the instructions of Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu or His representative. Then, one day, he will reach the shore
and return home, back to Godhead.

Madhya 16.238

markata-vairagya na kara loka dekhana
yatha-yogya visaya bhunja' anasakta hana

"You should not make yourself a showbottle devotee and become a false
renunciant. For the time being, enjoy the material world in a befitting
way and do not become attached to it."


The word markata-vairagya, indicating false renunciation, is very important
in this verse. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in commenting on
this word, points out that monkeys make an external show of renunciation
by not accepting clothing and by living naked in the forest. In this way
they consider themselves renunciants, but actually they are very busy
enjoying sense gratification with dozens of female monkeys. Such
renunciation is called markata-vairagya -- the renunciation of a monkey.
One cannot be really renounced until one actually becomes disgusted with
material activity and sees it as a stumbling block to spiritual
advancement. Renunciation should not be phalgu, temporary, but should
exist throughout one's life. Temporary renunciation, or monkey
renunciation, is like the renunciation one feels at a cremation ground.
When a man takes a dead body to the crematorium, he sometimes thinks,
"This is the final end of the body. Why am I working so hard day and
night?" Such sentiments naturally arise in the mind of any man who goes to
a crematorial ghata. However, as soon as he returns from the cremation
grounds, he again engages in material activity for sense enjoyment. This
is called smasana-vairagya, or markata-vairagya.

In order to render service to the Lord, one may accept necessary things. If
one lives in this way, he may actually become renounced. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.108), it is said:

yavata syat sva-nirvahah svi-kuryat tavad artha-vit
adhikye nyunatayam ca cyavate paramarthatah

"The bare necessities of life must be accepted, but one should not
superfluously increase his necessities. Nor should they be unnecessarily
decreased. One should simply accept what is necessary to help one advance spiritually."

In his Durgama-sangamani, Sri Jiva Gosvami comments that the word
sva-nirvahah actually means sva-sva-bhakti-nirvahah. The experienced
devotee will accept only those material things that will help him render
service to the Lord. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.256),
markata-vairagya, or phalgu-vairagya, is explained as follows:

prapancikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumuksubhih parityago vairagyam phalgu kathyate

"When persons eager to achieve liberation renounce things related to the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, thinking them to be material, their
renunciation is called incomplete." Whatever is favorable for the
rendering of service to the Lord should be accepted and should not be
rejected as a material thing. Yukta-vairagya, or befitting renunciation,
is thus explained:

anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate

"Things should be accepted for the Lord's service and not for one's
personal sense gratification. If one accepts something without attachment
and accepts it because it is related to Krsna, one's renunciation is
called yukta-vairagya." Since Krsna is the Absolute Truth, whatever is
accepted for His service is also the Absolute Truth.

The word markata-vairagya is used by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to indicate
so-called Vaisnavas who dress themselves in loincloths trying to imitate
Srila Rupa Gosvami. Such people carry a bead bag and chant, but at heart
they are always thinking about getting women and money. Unknown to others,these markata-vairagis maintain women but externally present themselves as renunciants. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very much opposed to the se markata-vairagis, or pseudo Vaisnavas.

Madhya 16.239

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continued, "Within your heart you should keep
yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary
man. Thus Krsna will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the
clutches of maya.

Madhya 16.240

vrndavana dekhi' yabe asiba nilacale
tabe tumi ama-pasa asiha kona chale
"You may see me at Nilacala, Jagannatha Puri, when I return after visiting
Vrndavana. By that time you can think of some trick to escape.

Madhya 16.241

se chala se-kale krsna sphurabe tomare
krsna-krpa yanre, tare ke rakhite pare"

"What kind of means you will have to use at that time will be revealed by
Krsna. If one has Krsna's mercy, no one can check him."


Although Srila Raghunatha dasa was very anxious to join Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu, the Lord advised him to wait for the mercy of Lord Krsna. He
recommended that Raghunatha dasa keep his Krsna consciousness firmly fixed in his heart while externally behaving like an ordinary man. This is a
trick for everyone advanced in Krsna consciousness. One can live in
society like an ordinary human being, but at the same time one's own
business should be to satisfy Krsna and spread His glories. A Krsna
conscious person should not be absorbed in material things, for his only
business is the devotional service of the Lord. If one is engaged in this
way, Krsna will certainly bestow His mercy. As Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
advised Raghunatha dasa, yatha-yogya visaya bhunja' anasakta hana. The
same is repeated, antare nistha kara, bahye loka-vyavahara. This means
that one must have no desire within his heart other than to serve Krsna.
On the basis of such a conviction, one can cultivate Krsna consciousness.
This is confirmed in the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.200):

laukiki vaidiki vapi ya kriya kriyate mune
hari-sevanukulaiva sa karya bhaktim icchata

A devotee may act as an ordinary human being or as a strict follower of
Vedic injunctions. In either case, everything he does is favorable for the
advancement of devotional service because he is in Krsna consciousness.

Madhya 16.242

eta kahi' mahaprabhu tanre vidaya dila
ghare asi' mahaprabhura siksa acarila

In this way, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu bade farewell to Raghunatha dasa, who returned home and did exactly what the Lord told him.

Yours in service, Swami Gaurangapada.

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