Asat-saṅga Parityāga (Abandoning Bad Association)

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Sahajiya Matera HeyatvaSahajiyā Matera Heyatva (The Disgusting Beliefs of the Sahajiyās)

Asat-saṅga Parityāga (Abandoning Bad Association) was published in Sajjana Toṣaṇī, Vol. 4, Issue 5 in 1892. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura writes about the necessity of rejecting bad company, and especially describes  Mahāprabhu’s phrase ’strī-saṅgi’ – being overly attached to one’s wife and not attached to Kṛṣṇa.

Asat-saṅga Parityāga (Abandoning Bad Association)

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Swami B.V. Giri)

There is no better sādhana for the jīva than to give up bad association. One who keeps bad company can never reap good results even after following thousands of sādhanas. Nowadays, many people accept the external form of bhajana and observe all the divisions of sādhana, but after following for a long time, they do not seem to be advancing. After a long time, when you don’t see any improvement in your practice, you becomes despondent; when there is despair, you completely abandon your sādhana-bhajana. Consider deeply as to why there is no improvement in your bhajana! For those who are most fortunate, bad association does not increase so easily. Mahāprabhu has said:

kṛṣṇa-bhakti-janma-mūla haya sādhu-saṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janme teṅho punaḥ mukhya aṅga

(“The fundamental cause of kṛṣṇa-bhakti is sādhu-saṅga. Even after kṛṣṇa-prema manifests, this is still the main principle.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Madhya-līlā 22.83)

strī-saṇgī eka asādhu kṛṣṇābhakta āra

(“One who is attached to women, impious and not a devotee of Kṛṣṇa.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Madhya-līlā 22.87)

Vaiṣṇavism cannot be followed unless one shuns bad company. There are two types of asat (wickedness), namely one who is attached to women (strī-saṅgī) and one who is without devotion to Kṛṣṇa. Who is known as a strī-saṅgī? Is living with one’s wife to be known as strīsaṅga? It cannot be. Before getting married, Mahāprabhu spoke this statement from the Smṛti:

na gṛhaṁ gṛham ityāhur gṛhiṇī gṛham ucyate
tayā hi sahitaṁ sarvān puruṣārthān samaśnute

(“A house alone is not a home – it is said that a wife makes a home. If one lives at home with her, indeed, one can perfect all the goals of human life.” – Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 15.27)

A house cannot be called home. It is called a home because of a wife. One can enjoy all the goals of human life with such a wife. Moreover, amongst the associates of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, many of them were householder Vaiṣṇavas. The jīvas of the age of Kali can be saved by adopting their ideal character. If one establishes a Kṛṣṇa-centred family with one’s wife, then the winds of disturbance for the jīva’s advancement in bhajana will go far away, and he will be helped. Accepting a wife and son as instruments of Kṛṣṇa’s service can be considered to be a part of bhakti. Rather, there is a particular disregard of dry renunciation seen in the bhakti-śāstra. The pleasure of calling one’s married wife a maidservant of Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-dāsī) and the son born of her as a servant of Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-dāsa) is not at all detrimental to a devotee. If strī-saṅga is not applicable when one lives with one’s wife in following the path of yukta-vairāgya (engaging everything in Kṛṣṇa’s service), then what is strī-saṅga? The answer is that the word ‘saṅga’ means attachment. If you are attached to your wife, that is known as strī-saṅga. Attachment is the eternal dharma of the jīva. If that is offered to Kṛṣṇa, then there is no attachment elsewhere. If one is addicted to his wife, attachment to Kṛṣṇa will be less. Attachment to Kṛṣṇa is bhakti. If the wife follows the process of yukta-vairāgya and is attached to Kṛṣṇa, that will not be strīsaṅga. Living with any woman besides one’s wedded wife is also called strīsaṅga. Yukta-vairāgya is not possible without being married to one’s wife. Associating with other women is futile, contemptible and totally immoral. For a gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava, staying with one’s wife without attachment according to the śāstrika method of marriage cannot be called strīsaṅga. Having an illegal wife or a sub-wife is also strīsaṅga. The association of men that do this is asatsaṅga. Therefore, the association of a detached gṛhastha devotee is always more favourable for bhajana than the company of non-devotee mendicant who has given up householder life. Thus, there is no doubt that a sādhaka’s bhajana will improve day by day if he performs sādhana of śrī-hari-nāma in proper association and abandons the company of the strī-saṅgī, the non-devotee householder and the non-devotee renunciant. We have to be especially careful in this regard. On every Ekādaśī, we should consider how much advancement in our bhajana we have made since the last Ekādaśī. If it is seen that we have made no advancement, or there has been some deterioration, we should understand that bad association is the cause and we should endeavour to give that up.

(Asat-saṅga Parityāga – ‘Abandoning Bad Association’ – was published in Sajjana Toṣaṇī Vol 4. Issue 5 and translated into English by Swami B.V. Giri)

LovePrīti (Love)
Sahajiya Matera HeyatvaSahajiyā Matera Heyatva (The Disgusting Beliefs of the Sahajiyās)

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