Sādhu-vṛtti (Following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas)

Sādhu-vṛtti (Following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas)

Saṅga-tyāga (Giving up the association of non-devotees)Saṅga-tyāga (Giving up the association of non-devotees)
Manuṣya Ki? (What is a human?)What is a human? (Manuṣya ki?)


Sādhu-vṛtti (Following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas) is imperative in bhakti. In this article from Vol.10 of Sajjana Toṣaṇī, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura describes the two types of sādhus - the householders and the renunciants - and the qualities that they should cultivate.

I have already written separate essays regarding utsāhā, niścayā, dhairya, tat-tat-karma-pravartana, and saṅga-tyāga. Now I am writing this essay on sādhu-vṛtti. There are two kinds of sādhus – householders and renunciates. I will separately describe the vṛtti, or occupation, of each. Although householders and renunciates have different occupations, there are some they have in common. These will be discussed separately. There are two meanings of the word occupation-propensity and lifestyle. Propensity means one’s nature, or svabhāva. Those natural propensities are the living entity’s dharma. It is said in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.11.31):

prāyaḥ sva-bhāva-vihito
 nṛṇāṁ dharmo yuge yuge
veda-dṛgbhiḥ smṛto rājan
pretya ceha ca śarma-kṛt

“My dear King, brāhmaṇas well conversant in Vedic knowledge have given their verdict that in every age (yuga) the conduct of different sections of people according to their material modes of nature is auspicious both in this life and after death.”

By passing life in one’s natural occupation, one can attain devotional service free from the modes of nature. Otherwise one will fall into irreligion and be unable to make gradual advancement. It is said in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.11.32):

vṛttyā sva-bhāva-kṛtayā
 vartamānaḥ sva-karma-kṛt
hitvā sva-bhāva-jaṁ karma
 śanair nirguṇatām iyāt

“If one acts in his profession according to his position in the modes of nature and gradually gives up these activities, he attains the transcendental position.”

Nirguṇatā, or the transcendental position, means devotion to Kṛṣṇa. As stated in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.25.33):

tasmād deham imaṁ labdhvā
guṇa-saṅgaṁ vinirdhūya
 māṁ bhajantu vicakṣaṇāḥ

“Therefore, having achieved this human form of life, which allows one to develop full knowledge, those who are intelligent should free themselves from all contamination of the modes of nature and engage exclusively in loving service to Me.”

It has been ascertained by the Lord’s use of the two words nirguṇaṁ and mad upāśrayaṁ. These two words are used by the Lord in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.25.29) just previous to the quoted verse. that whatever is performed out of devotion is called nirguṇa, or transcendental. The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.25.34-35) states:

rajas tamaś cābhijayet
 sattva-saṁsevayā muniḥ
sattvaṁ cābhijayed yukto
 nairapekṣyeṇa śānta-dhīḥ

“He should conquer the modes of passion and ignorance by engaging himself only with things in the mode of goodness. Thus pacified within his mind, the spirit soul, freed from the modes of nature, gives up the very cause of his conditioned life and attains Me.”

Therefore, people can become free from the modes of nature if they pass their lives dovetailing everything-sāttvika objects, activities, time, and place-with the devotional service of the Lord. Only human beings are eligible for propensities in the mode of goodness, and remaining in that state they gradually become free from the modes. The general propensities of human beings in the mode of goodness are described in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.11.8-12) as follows: satya-speaking the truth without distortion or deviation; dayā-sympathy to everyone suffering; tapaḥ-austerities (such as observing fasts at least twice in a month on the day of Ekādaśī); śauca-cleanliness (bathing regularly at least twice a day-morning and evening-and remembering to chant the holy name of God); titikṣā-toleration (being unagitated by seasonal changes or inconvenient circumstances); ikṣā-distinguishing between good and bad; śama-control of the mind (not allowing the mind to act whimsically); dama-control of the senses (not allowing the senses to act without control); ahiṁsā-nonviolence (not subjecting any living entity to the threefold miseries); brahmacarya-continence or abstaining from misuse of one’s semen (not indulging in sex with women other than one’s own wife and not having sex with one’s own wife when sex is forbidden, like during the period of menstruation); tyāga-giving in charity at least fifty percent of one’s income; svādhyāya-reading of transcendental literatures like Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata; saralatā-simplicity (freedom from mental duplicity); santoṣa-being satisfied with that which is available without severe endeavour; samadarśi-janera-sevā-rendering service to saintly persons who make no distinctions between one living being and another and who see every living being as a spirit soul; grāmya-ceṣṭā haite nivṛtti-not taking part in so-called philanthropic activities; viparyayehekṣā-distinguishing unnecessary activities; vṛthālāpa-nivṛtti (maunam)-being grave and silent; ātma-vimarśana-research into the self (as to whether one is the body or the soul); annādira-vibhāga-equal distribution of food and drink; sakala-loke bhagavat-sambandha-buddhi-accepting all living entities as related to the Lord; as well as śravaṇa-hearing; kīrtana-chanting; smaraṇa-remembering (His words and activities); sevā-service; ijyā-worship; nati-offering obeisances; dāsya-accepting the service; sakhyam-to consider as a friend; atma-nivedana-surrendering one’s whole self. According to the differentiations of these thirty characteristics, the four varṇas-brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra-and the four āśramas-brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, and sannyāsa-are born. In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.18.42) it is said:

bhikṣor dharmaḥ śamo ‘hiṁsā
 tapa īkṣā vanaukasaḥ
gṛhiṇo bhūta-rakṣejyā

“The main religious duties of a sannyāsī are equanimity and non-violence, whereas for the vānaprastha austerity and philosophical understanding of the difference between the body and soul are prominent. The main duties of a householder are to give shelter to all living entities and perform sacrifices, and the brahmacārī is mainly engaged in serving the spiritual master.”

The life occupations of the four varṇas are stated as follows: Study, teaching, worship, teaching worship, giving charity, and accepting charity-these six are the brāhmaṇas’ occupations; out of these they should maintain their life by teaching, teaching worship, and accepting worship. The kṣatriyas’ occupations are protecting the prajā by punishing miscreants and maintaining the life by taxation. Farming, protecting cows, and business are the vaiśyas’ occupations; only serving brāhmaṇas is the livelihood of the śūdras. The traditional occupation of those who are lower than śūdras are their means of livelihood.

From all these conclusions of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam it should be understood that performing devotional service to Śrī Hari is the only purpose of life, there is no other purpose. Unless one makes the gross and subtle bodies favourable for devotional service, one cannot engage in such. There is a need for some arrangements in order to attain a favourable condition in those two bodies. First in order to maintain the gross body there is a need to accumulate a house, household items, grains, and drinks. For the prosperity of the subtle body one needs proper knowledge and a proper occupation. In order to make the bodies completely favourable for devotional service, there is a need to situate them above the modes of nature. Due to the results of fruitive activities from time immemorial, whatever nature and desires a living entity develops is certainly a mixture of goodness, passion, and ignorance. By first enriching the mode of goodness, one should diminish and defeat passion and ignorance and make goodness prominent. When the mode of goodness is completely under the control of devotional service, then it becomes nirguṇa. By following this gradual process one’s body, mind, and environment become fit for devotional service.

There is a need for varṇāśrama-dharma while a human remains in the stage of piety and impiety that are born of his nature. The main purpose of varṇāśrama-dharma is this: By gradually following varṇāśrama-dharma a human being will become eligible to perform devotional service. Śrīman Mahāprabhu has quoted the following verses from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.5.2-3) to Sanātana Gosvāmī:

śrī-camasa uvāca
 puruṣasyāśramaiḥ saha
catvāro jajñire varṇā
 guṇair viprādayaḥ pṛthak
ya eṣāṁ puruṣaṁ sākṣād
 ātma-prabhavam īśvaram
na bhajanty avajānanti 
sthānād bhraṣṭāḥ patanty adhaḥ

“Śrī Camasa said: Each of the four social orders, headed by the brāhmaṇas, was born through different combinations of the modes of nature, from the face, arms, thighs and feet of the Supreme Lord in His universal form. Thus the four spiritual orders were also generated. If any of the members of the four varṇas and four āśramas fail to worship or intentionally disrespect the Personality of Godhead, who is the source of their own creation, they will fall down from their position into a hellish state of life.”

Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya said that the process for achieving the supreme goal of life is given in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (3.8.9) as follows:

 puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇur ārādhyate panthā
 nānyat tat-toṣa-kāraṇam

“One can worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, by proper discharge of the principles of varṇa and āśrama. There is no alternative to pacifying the Lord by execution of the principles of the varṇāśrama system.”

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, however, rejected this process as external and requested him to give a higher conclusion. The purport of Śrī Caitanya’s statement is this: “O Rāmānanda! Varṇāśrama-dharma is meant to regulate the gross and subtle bodies. If someone is satisfied only in that, without engaging in devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, then what is his gain? Therefore, although the process of varṇāśrama is the only means of purification for a conditioned soul, still it is external.” As stated in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.2.8):

dharmaḥ svanuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsāṁ
 viṣvaksena-kathāsu yaḥ
notpādayed yadi ratiṁ
śrama eva hi kevalam

“The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.”

From this one should not conclude that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has ordered us to discard varṇāśrama-dharma. If that would have been the case, then He would not have instructed all living entities through His pastimes of completely following the orders of gṛhastha and sannyāsa. As long as one has a material body the system of varṇāśrama-dharma must be followed, but it should remain under the full control and domination of bhakti. Varṇāśrama-dharma is like the foundation of one’s supreme occupational duty. When one’s supreme occupational duty is matured and one achieves his goal, then the process is gradually neglected. Again, it is also abandoned at the time of death.

In the last half of the verse quoted by Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya, it says: viṣṇur ārādhyate panthā nānyat tat-toṣa-kāraṇam “One should know that without following the process of varṇāśrama-dharma, a materialist has no alternative to pass his life favourably for the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu.” This is the only way to achieve the life of a devotee.

Human beings are divided according to their nature into the following divisions: brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, saṅkara, and antyaja. Even though the system of varṇāśrama is not clearly present in some countries, still it exists in a seedling form. According to one’s nature, he develops his occupation and, accordingly, his means of livelihood. By accepting the livelihood and occupation of others, one meets with misfortune. What to speak of misfortune, it especially obstructs one’s devotional service. Birth is not the only criteria; the only criteria is one’s nature. In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (7.11.35) it is stated:

yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktaṁ
 puṁso varṇābhivyañjakam
yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta
 tat tenaiva vinirdiśet

“If one shows the symptoms of being a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.”

In his commentary, Śrīdhara Swami has written: śamādibhir eva brāhmaṇādi vyavahāro mukhyaḥ, na jāti mātrād ity āha-yasyeti. yad yadi anyatra varṇāntare ‘pi dṛśyeta tad varṇāntaraṁ tenaiva lakṣaṇa nimittenaiva varṇena vinirddiśet, na tu jāti nimittenety arthaḥ “The brāhmaṇas’ main characteristics are qualities such as peacefulness, not birth. If these main characteristics are seen in persons other than those born as brāhmaṇas, then such persons should be considered brāhmaṇas. They should not be considered according to their caste by birth.” This kind of eternal varṇāśrama-dharma is always to be followed. It is often useful for devotional service. Members of the four varṇas and the lower castes should be eager to progress their sāttvic nature. If an outcaste becomes fortunate due to his pious deeds, then he should progress his cultivation of goodness while following the conduct of a śūdra. Everyone should give prominence to devotional service and progress the cultivation of goodness to the platform of nirguṇa, transcendence, by the mercy of the devotees. These are the stages of sanātana-dharma. With devotion, the member of any varṇa is considered the best of the brāhmaṇas; without devotion, the life of a brāhmaṇa fixed in goodness is useless.

For example, let us consider the statement: Some mahatma has said (Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura from Prema-bhakti-candrikā):

mahājanera yei patha, tā ‘te ha ‘ba anurata, pūrvāpara kariyā vicāra

“I will be attached to the path chalked out by the previous and later mahājanas.”

The ṛṣis and mahatmas who have taught conduct before the appearance of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are counted among the previous mahājanas. The conduct seen in the mahājanas after the appearance of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the conduct of later mahājanas. The conduct of the later mahājanas is superior and should be adopted. The conduct of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His followers is meant to teach people, so that conduct should be followed in all respects.

What is proper occupation? To know this, one should see the behavior of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s followers. As far as possible I will try to briefly compile them in this essay. First I will write about the behavior and occupation of the gṛhastha, as found in the character of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His devotees.

As a support for his devotional service, a householder should find a suitable wife. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 15.26-27) the Lord says:

gṛhastha ha-ilāma, ebe cāhi gṛha-dharma
gṛhiṇī vinā gṛha-dharma nā haya śobhana

“Since I am remaining at home it is My duty to act as a gṛhastha. Without a wife, there is no meaning to householder life.”

While maintaining religious family life with one’s wife, sons and daughters are born in the form of Kṛṣṇa’s servants and maidservants; to nourish them is called maintaining the family. In these activities there is a need for piously accumulating wealth. In this regard Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 5.41) and Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 15.96):

prabhu bale,- parivāra aneka tomāra
nirvāha kemate tabe haibe sabāra?
‘gṛhastha’ hayena iṅho, cāhiye sañcaya
sañcaya nā kaile kuṭumba-bharaṇa nāhi haya

The Lord said, “There are so many members in your family. How will you maintain everyone? Being a householder, one needs to save some money. Because he is not doing so, it is very difficult for him to maintain his family.”

One must be educated at a proper age. But he should not study atheistic literatures. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 12.49 and Madhya 9.241-242) the Lord says:

paḍe kene loka?-kṛṣṇa bhakti jāni
se yadi nahila, tabe vidyāya ki kare?
viṣaya-madāndha saba kichui nā jāne
vidyā-made, dhana-made vaiṣṇava nā cine
bhāgavata paḍiyāo kā ‘ro buddhi nāśa

“Why do people study? Education is only for understanding devotional service of Lord Kṛṣṇa. If you miss this point, then what is the use of your education? Everyone is blinded by pride and sense gratification. Being proud of their education and wealth, they fail to recognize a Vaiṣṇava. If one studies Śrīmad Bhāgavatam improperly his intelligence is

Serving guests is the principle duty of a gṛhastha-this is the Lord’s instruction. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 14.21, 26) it is stated:

gṛhasthere mahāprabhu śikhāyena dharma
atithira sevā-gṛhasthera mūla-karma
akaitave citta-sukhe yā ‘ra yena śakti
tāhā karilei bali atithite bhakti

“In this way the Lord satisfied all His guests and taught the world how to behave as a perfect householder. The foremost duty of a householder is to serve his guests. If a householder happily serves his guests without duplicity and according to his ability, he is considered hospitable.”

A gṛhastha should act with simplicity in his dealings with people; he should not allow any kind of cheating or duplicity in his heart. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 14.142) the Lord says:

ataeva gṛhe tumi kṛṣṇa bhaja giyā
kuṭīnāṭī parihari’ ekānta haiyā

“Therefore, go back to your home and worship Lord Kṛṣṇa with full attention, giving up all duplicity.”

It is the principle duty of a gṛhastha to serve senior persons. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 15.21) the Lord says:

gṛhastha ha-iyā kariba pitā-mātāra sevana
ihāte-i tuṣṭa habena lakṣmī-nārāyaṇa

“Later I shall become a householder and thus serve My parents, for this action will very much satisfy Lord Nārāyaṇa and His wife, the goddess of fortune.”

A householder should take the principles of renunciation to heart; but he should not simply dress as a renunciate. As stated by the Lord in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 16.237-239):

sthira hañā ghare yāo, nā hao vātula
krame krame pāya loka bhava-sindhu-kūla
markaṭa-vairāgya nā kara loka dekhāñā
yathā-yogya viṣaya bhuñja’ anāsakta hañā
antare niṣṭhā kara, bāhye loka-vyavahāra
acirāt kṛṣṇa tomāya karibe uddhāra

“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. 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. Within your heart you should keep yourself very faithful, but externally you may behave like an ordinary man. Thus Kṛṣṇa will soon be very pleased and deliver you from the clutches of māyā.”

A householder is duty-bound to work for the benefit of everyone. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 9.41, 7.92) the Lord said:

bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra
nāca, gāo, bhakta-saṅge kara saṅkīrtana
kṛṣṇa-nāma upadeśi’ tāra’ sarva-jana

“One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India (Bhārata-varṣa) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people. ‘My dear child, continue dancing, chanting and performing saṅkīrtana in association with devotees. Furthermore, go out and preach the value of chanting kṛṣṇanāma, for by this process You will be able to deliver all fallen souls.'”

In this practice of devotional service, duplicitous association has been prohibited. Even in street saṅkīrtana one should chant and dance in the association of pure devotees. One should not chant in the association of non-devotees.

A householder should fully depend on the will of the Lord in all his activities. The Lord says in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 28.55):

śuna mātā, īśvarera adhīna saṁsāra
svatantra haite śakti nāhika kāhāra

“Listen, dear mother, the whole world is under the control of the Lord. No one has the power to become independent.”

A householder should cautiously give up the association of non-devotees, women, and uxorious people. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.87) the Lord said:

asat-saṅga-tyāga,—ei vaiṣṇava-ācāra
strī-saṅgī’—eka asādhu, ‘kṛṣṇābhakta’ āra

“A Vaiṣṇava should always avoid the association of ordinary people. Common people are very much materially attached, especially to women. Vaiṣṇavas should also avoid the company of those who are not devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa.”

By following his prescribed duties, a gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should accumulate wealth for his maintenance. He should not accumulate wealth by sinful means. Lord Nityānanda Prabhu has stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 5.685-688):

śuna dvija, yateka pātaka kaili tui
āra yadi nā karis, saba nimu muñi
parahiṁsā, ḍākā, curi-saba anācāra
chāḍa giyā, ihā tumi nā kariha āra
dharma pathe giyā tumi laha hari-nāma
tabe tumi anyere karibā paritrāṇa
yata saba dasyu, cora ḍākiyā āniyā
dharma-pathe sabāre laoyāo tumi giyā

“Now listen carefully, O brāhmaṇa. I will take responsibility for all your previous misdeeds if you do not repeat them. No more aggression, violence, looting, or murder; give them up forever. Lead a religious life and chant the holy names of the Supreme Lord. Then later you can also save others. Go and meet other dacoits and murderers and bring them to the path of pure religious life.”

A householder should not hanker for another’s wife or prostitutes. This is exhibited in the Lord’s dealings with Kṛṣṇadāsa in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 9.226-227):

gosāñira saṅge rahe kṛṣṇa dāsa brāhmaṇa
bhaṭṭathāri-saha tāhāṅ haila daraśana
strī-dhana dekhāñā tāṅra lobha janmāila
ārya sarala viprera buddhi-nāśa kaila

“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was accompanied by His servant, Kṛṣṇa Dāsa. He was a brāhmaṇa, but he met with the Bhaṭṭathāris there. With women the Bhaṭṭathāris allured the brāhmaṇa Kṛṣṇa Dāsa, who was simple and gentle. By virtue of their bad association, they polluted his intelligence.”

The Lord protected that brāhmaṇa from the women’s clutches by pulling him by the hair. The words sarala vipra mean a weak-hearted young brāhmaṇa.

He is a real householder who chants one hundred thousand names every day. Pure devotees should accept prasāda in the houses of such gṛhasthas. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 9.121-2) the Lord said:

prabhu bale,-jāna, ‘lakṣeśvara’ bali kāre?
prati-dina lakṣa-nāma ye grahaṇa kare
se janera nāma āmi bali ‘lakṣeśvara’
athā bhikṣā āmāra, nā yāi anya ghara

“The Lord replied: Do you know who is a lakṣeśvara? He is someone who chants one lakṣa, or one hundred thousand, holy names everyday. I call such a person a lakṣeśvara. I only take meals in that person’s house, no one else.”

There is no difference between smārtas and Vaiṣṇavas regarding following the codes of religion. The Lord has said in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 9.388-9):

adhama janera ye ācāra, yena dharma
adhikāri vaiṣṇaveo kare sei karma
kṛṣṇa kṛpāye se ihā jānibāre pāre
e saba saṅkaṭe keha mare, keha tare

“Sometimes an exalted Vaiṣṇava exhibits the same activities as a materialistic person. One can understand this by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa; otherwise in this dilemma one may be liberated or destroyed.”

The purport is that the conviction in the heart of a Vaiṣṇava is independent. If one is a Vaiṣṇava, then he can understand the conviction in the heart of another Vaiṣṇava who is engaged in the same activities as those of the smārtas. One who cannot understand this cannot respect Vaiṣṇavas, and he thereby goes to hell.

The Lord has explained the duties of householders in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 15.104):

prabhu kahena,—’kṛṣṇa-sevā’, ‘vaiṣṇava-sevana’
nirantara kara kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana’

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Without cessation continue chanting the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Whenever possible, serve Him and His devotees, the Vaiṣṇavas.”

It is the duty of a gṛhastha to constantly chant the holy names of the Lord and serve the Vaiṣṇavas and the Lord with the help of his relatives and by the wealth he has earned through his pious life. Regarding serving the Vaiṣṇavas, one should know that there are three types of nonduplicitous devotees. Serving such Vaiṣṇavas is called vaiṣṇava-sevā. There is no need to gather many Vaiṣṇavas by invitation. Whenever a Vaiṣṇava comes for any purpose he should be properly served with care. By gathering many Vaiṣṇavas, one may commit offenses. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 15.198):

bahuta sannyāsī yadi āise eka ṭhāñi
sammāna karite nāri, aparādha pāi

“If all the sannyāsīs come together, it would not be possible for me to pay them proper respects. Therefore, I would be an offender.”

It is the duty of a gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava to show mercy on the poor and fallen. As stated in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 3.238):

dīne dayā kare,—ei sādhu-svabhāva haya

“It is a characteristic of all saintly persons to be kind toward the poor and fallen.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should not desire to give up his body merely out of some sentiment or anger. As stated by the Lord in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 4.57):

deha-tyāgādi yata, saba—tamo-dharma
tamo-rajo-dharme kṛṣṇera nā pāiye marma

“Acts such as suicide are influenced by the mode of ignorance, and in ignorance and passion one cannot understand who Kṛṣṇa is.”

There is no consideration of superior or inferior status due to social position in regard to worshiping Kṛṣṇa. In worldly occupations there are different activities according to the different social divisions, which are due to superior and inferior grades of intelligence. There are no such distinctions in the process of devotional service. As confirmed by the Lord in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 4.66-67):

nīca-jāti nahe kṛṣṇa-bhajane ayogya
sat-kula-vipra nahe bhajanera yogya
yei bhaje sei baḍa, abhakta—hīna, chāra
kṛṣṇa-bhajane nāhi jāti-kulādi-vicāra

“A person born in a low family is not unfit for discharging devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, nor is one fit for devotional service simply because he is born in an aristocratic family of brāhmaṇas. Anyone who takes to devotional service is exalted, whereas a non-devotee is always condemned and abominable. Therefore, in the discharge of devotional service to the Lord, there is no consideration of the status of one’s family.”

Also in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 5.84) it is said:

sannyāsī paṇḍita-gaṇera karite garva nāśa
nīca-śūdra-dvārā karena dharmera prakāśa

“To vanquish the false pride of so-called renunciants and learned scholars, He spreads real religious principles, even through a śūdra, or lowborn, fourth-class man.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should feel satisfied with whatever food and clothing he gets without difficulty. As stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 4.293):

sabā’ haite bhāgyavanta-śrī śāka, vyañjana
punaḥ punaḥ yāhā prabhu karena grahaṇa

“The spinach and vegetables are the most fortunate of all, for the Lord accepts them again and again.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should perform devotional service with undeviated attention, knowing Kṛṣṇa as the Lord of all. He should not disrespect the demigods worshiped by the smārta-sampradāya. As stated in Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 2.243):

nā māne’ caitanya-patha, bolāya ‘vaiṣṇava’
śivere amānya kare vyartha tā ‘ra saba

“If one claims to be a Vaiṣṇava, but he disrespects Lord Śiva and does not strictly follow the path exhibited by Lord Caitanya, all his efforts are futile.”

It is the duty of a gṛhastha to work for the benefit of others even by giving up his own self-interest. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 3.365) it is said:

āpanāra bhāla hau yete jana dekhe
sujana āpanā chāḍiyāo para rākhe

“Some people expect only benefits for themselves, but a gentleman cares for others while giving up his own interest.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should respect and worship tulasī. As stated in Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 8.159-160):

saṅkhyā nāma laite ye sthāne prabhu vaise
tathāi rākhena tulasīre prabhu pāśe
tulasīre dekhena, japena saṅkhyā-nāma
e bhakti-yogera tattva ke bujhibe āna?

“Wherever the Lord sits to chant His rounds, He keeps tulasī before Him. He gazes at tulasī while He chants His rounds. Who can understand the science of devotional service?”

A householder with devotion is glorious, while a householder without devotion is insignificant. Whatever social dealings a householder has to perform should be done while taking shelter of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. Regarding the character of the mahājana Śrī Kalidāsa, the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 16.6-7) states:

mahā-bhāgavata teṅho sarala udāra
kṛṣṇa-nāma-‘saṅkete’ cālāya vyavahāra
kautukete teṅho yadi pāśaka khelāya
‘hare kṛṣṇa’ ‘kṛṣṇa’ kari’ pāśaka cālāya

“Kāli Dāsa was a very advanced devotee, yet he was simple and liberal. He would chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa while performing all his ordinary dealings. When he used to throw dice in jest, he would chant Hare Kṛṣṇa while throwing the dice.”

Everyone is prohibited from corrupt earning or spending, and workers are prohibited from accepting bribes. As stated by the Lord in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 9.90, 142-144):

rājāra vartana khāya, āra curi kare
rāja-daṇḍya haya sei śāstrera vicāre
vyaya nā kariha kichu rājāra mūla-dhana’
rājāra mūla-dhana diyā ye kichu labhya haya
sei dhana kariha nānā dharme-karme vyaya
asad-vyaya nā kariha,—yāte dui-loka yāya”

“One who serves the government but misappropriates the government’s revenue is liable to be punished by the king. That is the verdict of all revealed scriptures. Do not spend any of the King’s revenue. First you should pay the revenue due the King, and then you may spend the balance for religious and fruitive activities. Don’t spend a farthing for sinful activities for which you will be the loser both in this life and the next.”

A gṛhastha should accept a spiritual master who is full of devotion and of pure character. As stated in Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 21.65):

guru yathā bhakti-śūnya, tathā śiṣyagaṇa

“As the guru is without devotion, so are the disciples.”

A householder should be particularly careful not to commit offenses against the Vaiṣṇavas. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 22.33) the Lord says:

ye vaiṣṇava-sthāne aparādha haya yā ‘ra
punaḥ sei kṣamile se ghuce, nahe āra

“When someone offends a Vaiṣṇava, he is not relieved until he is forgiven by that same Vaiṣṇava.”

Serving devotees is a householder’s main duty. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 16.57, 60):

vaiṣṇavera śeṣa-bhakṣaṇera eteka mahimā
kālidāse pāoyāila prabhura kṛpā-sīmā
bhakta-pada-dhūli āra bhakta-pada-jala
bhakta-bhukta-avaśeṣa—tina mahā-bala

“Taking the remnants of the Vaiṣṇavas’ food is so valuable that it induced Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to offer Kāli Dāsa His supreme mercy. The dust of the feet of a devotee, the water that has washed the feet of a devotee, and the remnants of food left by a devotee are three very powerful substances.”

In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.20.27-8) Lord Kṛṣṇa describes how a householder should act until his natural propensity for enjoying sense objects is overcome and he fully attains the characteristics of a pure devotee:

jāta-śraddho mat-kathāsu
 nirviṇṇaḥ sarva-karmasu
veda duḥkhātmakān kāmān
 parityāge ‘py anīśvaraḥ
tato bhajeta māṁ prītaḥ
 śraddhālur dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
juṣamāṇaś ca tān kāmān
duḥkhodarkāṁś ca garhayan

“Having awakened faith in the narrations of My glories, being disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense gratification leads to misery, but still being unable to renounce all sense enjoyment, My devotee should remain happy and worship Me with great faith and conviction. Even though he is sometimes engaged in sense enjoyment, My devotee knows that all sense gratification leads to a miserable result, and he sincerely repents such activities.”

When a householder has faith, he should take initiation into the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.64):

śraddhāvān jana haya bhakti-adhikārī
‘uttama’, ‘madhyama’, ‘kaniṣṭha’—śraddhā-anusārī

“A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord. According to one’s faith, one is classified as a topmost devotee, an intermediate devotee or an inferior devotee.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava must gradually acquire all the qualities mentioned in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.78-80):

kṛpālu, akṛta-droha, satya-sāra sama
nidoṣa, vadānya, mṛdu, śuci, akiñcana
sarvopakāraka, śānta, kṛṣṇaika-śaraṇa
akāma, anīha, sthira, vijita-ṣaḍ-guṇa
mita-bhuk, apramatta, mānada, amānī
gambhīra, karuṇa, maitra, kavi, dakṣa, maunī

“Devotees are always merciful, humble, truthful, equal to all, faultless, magnanimous, mild and clean. They are without material possessions, and they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, surrendered to Kṛṣṇa and desireless. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and are fixed in devotional service. They completely control the six bad qualities-lust, anger, greed and so forth. They eat only as much as required, and they are not inebriated. They are respectful, grave, compassionate and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic, expert and silent.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should be eager to associate with advanced devotees. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.83) it is stated:

kṛṣṇa-bhakti-janma-mūla haya ‘sādhu-saṅga’

“The root cause of devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa is association with advanced devotees.”

Out of all the processes of devotional service, one should give earnest attention to the five limbs mentioned in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.128-129) as follows:

sādhu-saṅga, nāma-kīrtana, bhāgavata-śravaṇa
mathurā-vāsa, śrī-mūrtira śraddhāya sevana
sakala-sādhana-śreṣṭha ei pañca aṅga
kṛṣṇa-prema janmāya ei pāṅcera alpa saṅga

“One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, reside at Mathurā and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.”

Gradually one should diminish the following of prescribed rules out of obligation and cultivate spontaneous attachment. When spontaneous attachment to the Lord is awakened, many prescriptions are automatically discarded and atonement becomes needless. The difference is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.140, 142-143) as follows:

kāma tyaji’ kṛṣṇa bhaje śāstra-ājñā māni’
deva-ṛṣi-pitrādikera kabhu nahe ṛṇī
vidhi-dharma chāḍi’ bhaje kṛṣṇera caraṇa
niṣiddha pāpācāre tāra kabhu nahe mana
ajñāne vā haya yadi ‘pāpa’ upasthita
kṛṣṇa tāṅre śuddha kare, nā karāya prāyaścitta

“If a person gives up all material desires and completely engages in the transcendental loving service of Kṛṣṇa, as enjoined in revealed scriptures, he is never indebted to demigods, sages, or forefathers. Although the pure devotee does not follow all the regulative principles of varṇāśrama, he worships the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, he naturally has no tendency to commit sin. If, however, a devotee accidentally becomes involved in a sinful activity, Kṛṣṇa purifies him. He does not have to undergo the regulative form of atonement.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should not endeavour for any knowledge or renunciation other than knowledge of one’s relationship with the Lord in devotional service and renunciation born from devotional service. If one begins the worship of Kṛṣṇa with special care and eagerness, then he achieves all auspiciousness. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.145):

jñāna-vairāgyādi—bhaktira kabhu nahe ‘aṅga’
ahiṁsā-yama-niyamādi bule kṛṣṇa-bhakta-saṅga

“The path of speculative knowledge and renunciation is not essential for devotional service. Indeed, good qualities such as nonviolence and control of the mind and senses automatically accompany a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa.”

The gradations of devotion to Lord Kṛṣṇa are stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 23.10-13). One should cultivate them as follows:

sādhu-saṅga haite haya ‘śravaṇa-kīrtana’
sādhana-bhaktye haya ‘sarvānartha-nivartana’
anartha-nivṛtti haile bhaktye ‘niṣṭhā’ haya
niṣṭhā haite śravaṇādye ‘ruci’ upajaya
ruci haite bhaktye haya ‘āsakti’ pracura
āsakti haite citte janme kṛṣṇe prīty-aṅkura
sei ‘bhāva’ gāḍha haile dhare ‘prema’-nāma
sei premā ‘prayojana’ sarvānanda-dhāma

“When one is encouraged in devotional service by the association of devotees, one becomes free from all unwanted contamination by following the regulative principles and chanting and hearing. When one is freed from all unwanted contamination, he advances with firm faith. When firm faith in devotional service awakens, a taste for hearing and chanting also awakens. After taste is awakened, a deep attachment arises, and from that attachment the seed of love for Kṛṣṇa grows in the heart. When that ecstatic emotional stage intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. Such love is life’s ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should constantly chant the holy names while carefully giving up the ten offenses. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 4.70-71):

bhajanera madhye śreṣṭha nava-vidhā bhakti
‘kṛṣṇa-prema’, ‘kṛṣṇa’ dite dhare mahā-śakti
tāra madhye sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana
niraparādhe nāma laile pāya prema-dhana

“Among the ways of executing devotional service, the nine prescribed methods are the best, for these processes have great potency to deliver Kṛṣṇa and ecstatic love for Him. Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead.”

A householder should accept pure devotional service that is not based simply on religious sentiments. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya khanda 23.41) the Lord states:

mora nṛtya dekhite uhāra kon śakti?
payaḥ pān karile ki mote haya bhakti?

“What qualification does he have to watch My dancing? By drinking milk can one attain devotion for Me?”

The mood of servitude is proper for a living entity, and the mood of being lord is detrimental. As stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya khanda 23.480, 482):

udara-bharaṇa lāgi’ ebe pāpī saba
laoyāya ‘īśvara āmi’-mūle jaradgava
kukkurera bhakṣya deha-ihāre laiyā
balaye ‘īśvara’ viṣṇu-māyā mugdha haiyā

“All sinful persons claim to be God in order to fill their bellies, although factually they are idiots. Accepting the material body, which is meant to be eaten by the dogs, they call themselves God under the influence by Lord Viṣṇu’s external energy.”

A gṛhastha Vaiṣṇava should model his character after that of Lord Caitanya and His followers. A householder should follow the ways of life and obtain his means of livelihood as exhibited by Lord Caitanya and His followers. If one desires Kṛṣṇa in all his activities, then those activities are auspicious. By endeavouring to gratify one’s senses and attain irrelevant fruits, one becomes a materialist. For a devotee, to remain a householder or to become a renunciate is the same thing. Śrīla Rāmānanda Rāya, Śrī Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi, Śrī Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita, Śrī Śivānanda Sena, Śrī Satyarāja Khān, and Śrī Advaita Prabhu were all gṛhasthas and have shown us the way of faultless living. The difference between a householder and a renunciate is due to their different means of livelihood. If the home is favourable for a devotee’s devotional service, then he should not leave. It is his duty to remain a gṛhastha with detachment. But when the home becomes unfavourable for his service, he then becomes eligible to leave home. At that time the detachment he develops for his house through his devotional service is accepted. For this reason, Śrīvasa Paṇḍita did not leave home. For this reason, Svarūpa Dāmodara took sannyāsa. All genuine devotees have remained either at home or in the forest due to this consideration. Whoever has left home due to this consideration is called a genuine renunciate. He is always careful not to commit offenses against the holy name. Now let us consider the occupation of a renunciate. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 6.222-227, 236-237) Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu spoke to the renunciate Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī as follows:

“bhāla kaila, vairāgīra dharma ācarila

“Raghunātha dāsa has done well, he has acted suitably for a person in the renounced order.”

vairāgī karibe sadā nāma-saṅkīrtana
māgiyā khāñā kare jīvana rakṣaṇa

“A person in the renounced order should always chant the holy name of the Lord. He should beg some alms to eat, and he should sustain his life in this way.

vairāgī hañā yebā kare parāpekṣā
kārya-siddhi nahe, kṛṣṇa karena upekṣā

“A vairāgī [a person in the renounced order] should not depend on others. If he does so, he will be unsuccessful, and he will be neglected by Kṛṣṇa.”

vairāgī hañā kare jihvāra lālasa
paramārtha yāya, āra haya rasera vaśa

“If a renunciant is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue.”

vairāgīra kṛtya—sadā nāma-saṅkīrtana
śāka-patra-phala-mūle udara-bharaṇa

“The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits and roots are available.”

jihvāra lālase yei iti-uti dhāya
śiśnodara-parāyaṇa kṛṣṇa nāhi pāya”

“One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Kṛṣṇa.”

grāmya-kathā nā śunibe, grāmya-vārtā nā kahibe
bhāla nā khāibe āra bhāla nā paribe

“Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely.”

amānī mānada hañā kṛṣṇa-nāma sadā la’be
vraje rādhā-kṛṣṇa-sevā mānase karibe

“Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana.”

A sannyāsī or a renunciate should not live in his village with his relatives. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 3.177):

sannyāsīra dharma nahesannyāsa kariñā
nija janma-sthāne rahe kuṭumba lañā

“After accepting sannyāsa, it is not the duty of a sannyāsī to remain at his birthplace, encircled by relatives.”

A renunciate should not meet a king or woman. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 11.7) the Lord said:

virakta sannyāsī āmāra rāja-daraśana
strī-daraśana-sama viṣera bhakṣaṇa

“Since I am in the renounced order, it is as dangerous for Me to meet a king as to meet a woman. To meet either would be just like drinking poison.”

A renunciate should remain faultless. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 12.51, 53):

śukla-vastre masi-bindu yaiche nā lukāya
sannyāsīra alpa chidra sarva-loke gāya
prabhu kahe,-pūrṇa yaiche dugdhera kalasa
surā-bindu-pāte keha nā kare paraśa

“As soon as the general public finds a little fault in the behavior of a sannyāsī, they advertise it like wildfire. A black spot of ink cannot be hidden on a white cloth. It is always very prominent. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then said: There may be much milk in a big pot, but if it is contaminated by a drop of liquor, it is untouchable.”

The behavior of a renunciate is explained in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 17.229):

preme garagara mana rātri-divase
snāna-bhikṣādi-nirvāha karena abhyāse

“His mind was absorbed in great ecstatic love day and night. He ate and bathed simply out of habit.”

The symptoms of a pseudo-renunciate are stated by the Lord in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 2.117-118, 120, 124, 5.35-36):

prabhu kahe,-vairāgī kare prakṛti sambhāṣaṇa
dekhite nā pāroṅ āmi tāhāra vadana
durvāra indriya kare viṣaya-grahaṇa
dāravī prakṛti hare muner api mana
kṣudra-jīva saba markaṭa-vairāgya kariyā
indriya carāñā bule ‘prakṛti’ sambhāṣiyā
prabhu kahe,-mora vaśa nahe mora mana
prakṛti-sambhāṣī vairāgī nā kare darśana
āmi ta’ sannyāsī, āpanāre virakta kari’ māni
darśana rahu dūre, ‘prakṛtira’ nāma yadi śuni
tabahiṅ vikāra pāya mora tanu-mana
prakṛti-darśane sthira haya kon jana?

“The Lord replied: I cannot tolerate seeing the face of a person who has accepted the renounced order of life but who still talks intimately with a woman. So strongly do the senses adhere to the objects of their enjoyment that indeed a wooden statue of a woman attracts the mind of even a great saintly person. There are many persons with little in their possession who accept the renounced order of life like monkeys. They go here and there engaging in sense gratification and speaking intimately with women. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said: My mind is not under My control. It does not like to see anyone in the renounced order who talks intimately with women. I am a sannyāsī, and I certainly consider Myself renounced. But not to speak of seeing a woman, if I even hear the name of a woman, I feel changes in My mind and body. Therefore, who could remain unmoved by the sight of a woman? It is very difficult.”

Again, detachment in the heart of a householder is greatly appreciated. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 5.80) the Lord says:

‘gṛhastha’ hañā nahe rāya ṣaḍ-vargera vaśe
‘viṣayī’ hañā sannyāsīre upadeśe

“Although Rāmānanda Rāya was a householder, he was not under the control of the six kinds of bodily change. Although apparently a pounds-and-shillings man, he advised even persons in the renounced order.”

A renunciate should not eat foods or accept goods from materialistic people, nor should he invite other renunciates to eat foods or accept goods from such people. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 6.274-275) Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī concludes as follows:

viṣayīra dravya lañā kari nimantraṇa
prasanna nā haya ihāya jāni prabhura mana
mora citta dravya la-ite nā haya nirmala
ei nimantraṇe dekhi,—’pratiṣṭhā’-mātra phala

“I invite Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu by accepting goods from materialistic people. I know that the Lord’s mind is not satisfied by this. My consciousness is impure because I accept all these goods from people who are interested only in pounds, shillings, and pence. Therefore, by this kind of invitation I only get some material reputation.”

The Lord replied in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 6.278-279):

“viṣayīra anna khāile malina haya mana
malina mana haile nahe kṛṣṇera smaraṇa
viṣayīra anna haya ‘rājasa’ nimantraṇa
dātā, bhoktā—duṅhāra malina haya mana

“When one eats food offered by a materialistic man, one’s mind becomes contaminated, and when the mind is contaminated, one is unable to think of Kṛṣṇa properly. When one accepts an invitation from a person contaminated by the material mode of passion, the person who offers the food and the person who accepts it are both mentally contaminated.”

It is not proper for a renunciate to expect unasked for charity. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 6.284, 286) it says:

prabhu kahe,—”bhāla kaila, chāḍila siṁha-dvāra
siṁha-dvāre bhikṣā-vṛtti—veśyāra ācāra
chatre yāi yathā-lābha udara-bharaṇa
anya kathā nāhi, sukhe kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtana”

“Hearing this news, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “He has done very well by no longer standing at the Siṁha-dvāra gate. Such begging of alms resembles the behavior of a prostitute. If one goes to the booth where free food is distributed and fills his belly with whatever he obtains, there is no chance of further unwanted talk, and one can very peacefully chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.”

A renunciate should not construct big temples or residences. By doing so, he becomes entangled in household activities. He should meditate on the service of worshiping govardhana-śilā. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 6.296-297) it is stated:

eka kuṅjā jala āra tulasī-mañjarī
sāttvika-sevā ei—śuddha-bhāve kari
dui-patra madhye komala mañjarī
ei-mata aṣṭa-mañjarī dibe śraddhā kari'”

“For such worship, one needs a jug of water and a few flowers from a tulasī tree. This is worship in complete goodness when performed in complete purity. With faith and love, you should offer eight soft tulasī flowers, each with two tulasī leaves, one on each side of each flower.”

Devotees accept the sannyāsa order of life only in special situations; it is not always required. A Vaiṣṇava born in a brāhmaṇa’s family can take such sannyāsa when he leaves home, but he should not accept the limbs that are averse to his devotional service. Regarding the characteristics of Svarūpa Dāmodara Prabhu, it is stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 10.107-108):

‘niścinte kṛṣṇa bhajiba’ ei ta’ kāraṇe
unmāde karila teṅha sannyāsa grahaṇe
sannyāsa karilā śikhā-sūtra-tyāga-rūpa
yoga-paṭṭa nā nila, nāma haila ‘svarūpa’

“He was very enthusiastic to worship Śrī Kṛṣṇa without disturbance; Therefore, it was almost in madness that he accepted the sannyāsa order. Upon accepting sannyāsa, Puruṣottama Ācārya followed the regulative principles by giving up his tuft of hair and sacred thread, but he did not accept the saffron colored dress. Also, he did not accept a sannyāsī title but remained as a naiṣṭhikabrahmacārī.”

Someone may accept sannyāsa in the form of minimizing his needs. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 20.78, 81) there is the following statement regarding the character of Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī:

tabe miśra purātana eka dhuti dila
teṅho dui bahirvāsa-kaupīna karila
sanātana kahe,—”āmi mādhukarī kariba
brāhmaṇera ghare kene ekatra bhikṣā laba?”

“When Tapana Miśra gave Sanātana Gosvami a used dhoti, Sanātana immediately tore it in pieces to make two sets of outer cloth and underwear. Sanātana replied: I shall practice the process of mādhukarī. Why should I accept full meals in the house of a brāhmaṇa?”

The Lord’s response is found in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 20.92):

tina mudrāra bhoṭa gāya, mādhukarī grāsa
dharma-hāni haya, loka kare upahāsa”

“It is contradictory to practice mādhukarī and at the same time wear a valuable blanket. One loses his spiritual strength by doing this, and one will also become an object for jokes.”

Regarding the association of a Vaiṣṇava sannyāsī, the character of Śrī Madhavendra Puri is described in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Antya-khaṇḍa 4.419-421, 423-424, 426, 428):

viṣṇu-māyā vaśe loka kuchui nā jāne
sakala jagat baddha mahā tamo-guṇe

“People were conditioned by the mode of ignorance and had lost all knowledge due to the influence of viṣṇu-māyā.

loka dekhi’ duḥkha bhāve śrī mādhavapurī
hena nāhi, tilārddha sambhāṣā yā’re kari

“Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī was deeply pained by the godlessness of the people, and he found no one to speak to.

sannyāsīra sane vā karena sambhāṣaṇa
seha āpanāre mātra bale ‘nārāyaṇa’

“Sometimes he would speak to the sannyāsīs, but to his dismay he found that they claimed to be Nārāyaṇa.

jñānī, yogī, tapasvī, sannyāsī’ khyāti yā’ra
mukhe nāhi dāsya mahimā pracāra

Jñānīs, yogīs, tapasvīs, and famous sannyāsīs never spoke about the glories of serving the Supreme Lord.

yata adhyāpaka saba tarka se vākhāne
tā’rā saba kṛṣṇera vigraha nāhi māne’

“All the teachers and professors were only interested in logic and argument. They refused to accept the spiritual form of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

loka madhye bhrami kene vaiṣṇava dekhite
kothāo ‘vaiṣṇava’ nāma nā śuni jagate

“Śrīla Mādhavendra Purī thought: Why am I roaming amongst people searching for a Vaiṣṇava? Wherever I go I don’t even hear the word ‘Vaiṣṇava’.

eteke se, vana bhāla e saba haite
vane kathā nahe avaiṣṇavera sahite

“Therefore, he considered it better to stay in the forest where he did not have to speak with non-devotees.”

A Vaiṣṇava sannyāsī should give up the use of māyāvādī markings. Concerning the character of Śrī Brahmananda Bharati, the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 10.154) says:

brahmānanda pariyāche mṛga-carmāmbara
tāhā dekhi’ prabhu duḥkha pāilā antara

“When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and His devotees approached him, they saw that he was covered with a deerskin. Seeing this, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu became very unhappy.”

Regarding the pure gṛhastha Vaiṣṇavīs, the lady devotees, the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 12.42) describes the procedure for seeing a sannyāsī:

pūrvavat prabhu kailā sabāra milana
strī-saba dūra ha-ite kailā prabhura daraśana

“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu received them all, just as He had in previous years. The women, however, saw the Lord from a distance.”

A renunciate Vaiṣṇava is prohibited from all kinds of enjoyment. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 12.108):

prabhu kahe,—”sannyāsīra nāhi taile adhikāra
tāhāte sugandhi taila,—parama dhikkāra!

The Lord replied, “A sannyāsī has no use for oil, especially perfumed oil such as this. Take it out immediately.”

A renunciate Vaiṣṇava is forbidden from hearing the singing of a woman. As described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 13.78, 80, 83-85):

eka-dina prabhu yameśvara-ṭoṭā yāite
sei-kāle deva-dāsī lāgilā gāite
dūre gāna śuni’ prabhura ha-ila āveśa
strī, puruṣa, ke gāya-nā jāne viśeṣa
strī gāya’ bali’ govinda prabhure kailā kole
strī-nāma śuni’ prabhura bāhya ha-ilā
prabhu kahe,-govinda, āji rākhilā jīvana
strī-paraśa haile āmāra ha-ita maraṇa

“One day when the Lord was going to the temple of Yameśvara, a female singer began to sing in the Jagannātha temple. Hearing the song from a distance, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu immediately became ecstatic. He did not know whether it was a man or a woman singing. Just then Govinda caught the Lord in his arms and cried: It is a woman singing! As soon as He heard the word ‘woman,’ the Lord became externally conscious. My dear Govinda, He said, you have saved My life. If I had touched the body of a woman, I would certainly have died.”

Concerning a renunciate’s bedding, the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 13.5-7, 10, 12, 14-15, 17-19) states as follows:

kalāra śaralāte, śayana, ati kṣīṇa kāya
sahite nāre jagadānanda, sṛjilā upāya
sūkṣma vastra āni’ gaurika diyā rāṅgāilā
śimulīra tulā diyā tāhā pūrāilā
tulī-bālisa dekhi’ prabhu krodhāviṣṭa ha-ilā
govindere kahi’ sei tūli dūra kailā
prabhu kahena,-khāṭa eka ānaha pāḍite
jagadānanda cāhe āmāya viṣaya bhuñjāite
sannyāsī mānuṣa āmāra bhūmite śayana
āmāre khāṭa-tūli-bālisa mastaka-muṇḍana
svarūpa-gosāñi tabe sṛjilā prakāra
kadalīra śuṣka-patra ānilā apāra
nakhe ciri’ ciri’ tāhā ati sūkṣma kailā
prabhura bahirvāsa duite se saba bharilā
ei-mata dui kailā oḍana-pāḍane
aṅgīkāra kailā prabhu aneka yatane

“The Lord was very thin, and He would lay down to rest on the dry bark of plantain trees. Jagadānanda could not tolerate this, so he devised a remedy. He acquired some fine cloth and colored it with red oxide. Then he filled it with cotton from a śimula tree. When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu saw the quilt and pillow, He was immediately very angry. The Lord asked Govinda to put aside the quilt and pillow. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said: You should bring a bedstead here for Me to lie on. Jagadānanda wants Me to enjoy material happiness. I am in the renounced order, and Therefore, I must lie on the floor. For Me to use a bedstead, quilt, or pillow would be very shameful. Then Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī devised another method. First he secured a large quantity of dry banana leaves. He then tore the leaves into very fine fibers with his nails and filled two of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s outer garments with the fibers. In this way, Svarūpa Dāmodara made some bedding and a pillow, and after much endeavour by the devotees, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted them.”

Regarding a renunciate’s food, the Lord has said in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 8.84-85):

prabhu kahe,—”sabe kene purīre kara roṣa?
‘sahaja’ dharma kahe teṅho, tāṅra kibā doṣa?
yati hañā jihvā-lāmpaṭya—atyanta anyāya
yatira dharma,—prāṇa rākhite āhāra-mātra khāya”

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Why are all of you angry at Rāmacandra Purī? He is expounding the natural principles of sannyāsa life. Why are you accusing him? For a sannyāsī to indulge in satisfying the tongue is a great offense. The duty of a sannyāsī is to eat only as much as needed to keep body and soul together.”

All the above mentioned items are accepted as the proper occupations of renunciate Vaiṣṇavas.

Now the proper occupations for all Vaiṣṇavas-householders and renunciates-will be explained. There is no duty in the age Kali other than chanting the holy names and mantras of Kṛṣṇa. It is necessary for everyone to take initiation into the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 7.73-74, 97 and 17.30, 75):

kṛṣṇa-mantra haite habe saṁsāra-mocana
kṛṣṇa-nāma haite pābe kṛṣṇera caraṇa

“Simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord.”

nāma vinu kali-kāle nāhi āra dharma
sarva-mantra-sāra nāma, ei śāstra-marma

“In this Age of Kali there is no religious principle other than the chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all Vedic hymns. This is the purport of all scriptures.”

kṛṣṇa-nāme ye ānanda-sindhu-āsvādana
brahmānanda tāra āge khātodaka-sama

“Compared to the ocean of transcendental bliss that is tasted by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, the pleasure derived from impersonal Brahman realization (brahmānanda) is like the shallow water in a canal.

sadā nāma la-iba, yathā-lābhete santoṣa
eita ācāra kare bhakti-dharma-poṣa

“One should strictly follow the principle of always chanting the holy name, and one should be satisfied with whatever he gets easily. Such devotional behavior solidly maintains one’s devotional service.

jñāna-karma-yoga-dharme nahe kṛṣṇa vaśa
kṛṣṇa-vaśa-hetu eka—prema-bhakti-rasa

“By following the paths of speculative philosophical knowledge, fruitive activity, or mystic yoga to control the senses, one cannot satisfy Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord. Unalloyed devotional love for Kṛṣṇa is the only cause for the Lord’s satisfaction.”

The proper procedure and proper instruction for accepting a spiritual master is given in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 8.128, 221, 229) as follows:

kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei ‘guru’ haya
rāgānuga-mārge tāṅre bhaje yei jana
sei-jana pāya vraje vrajendra-nandana
siddha-dehe cinti’ kare tāhāṅñi sevana
sakhī-bhāve pāya rādhā-kṛṣṇera caraṇa

“Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī, or a śūdra – regardless of what he is – he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Kṛṣṇa. If one worships the Lord on the path of spontaneous love and goes to Vṛndāvana, he receives the shelter of Vrajendra-nandana, the son of Nanda Mahārāja. After thinking of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and Their pastimes for a long time and after getting completely free from material contamination, one is transferred to the spiritual world. There the devotee attains an opportunity to serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa as one of the gopīs.”

One needs to always associate with devotees. One should associate with affectionate devotees who are more advanced, yet of the same temperament. As explained in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 8.251):

‘śreyo-madhye kona śreyaḥ jīvera haya sāra?
’kṛṣṇa-bhakta-saṅga vinā śreyaḥ nāhi āra’

Then Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked, “Out of all auspicious and beneficial activities, which is best for the living entity?” Rāmānanda Rāya replied, “The only auspicious activity is association with the devotees of Kṛṣṇa.”

Although a Vaiṣṇava comes from a bona fide sampradāya, his association should be considered according to the Lord’s statements in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 9.276-277):

prabhu kahe,karmī, jñānī,—dui bhakti-hīna
tomāra sampradāye dekhi sei dui cihna
sabe, eka guṇa dekhi tomāra sampradāye
satya-vigraha kari’ īśvare karaha niścaye

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “Both the fruitive worker and the speculative philosopher are considered non-devotees. We see both elements present in your sampradāya. The only qualification that I see in your sampradāya is that you accept the form of the Lord as truth.”

One should not remain in a place where incompatible mixtures of mellows or contradictions in the conclusions of devotional service are presented. The Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 10.113) has the following statement:

bhakti-siddhānta-viruddha, āra rasābhāsa
śunite nā haya prabhura cittera ullāsa

“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was never pleased to hear books or verses opposed to the conclusive statements of devotional service. The Lord did not like hearing rasābhāsa, the overlapping of transcendental mellows.”

One should carefully gather the good qualities needed for devotional service. The nature of a devotee is described in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 7.72) as follows:

mahānubhāvera cittera svabhāva ei haya
puṣpa-sama komala, kaṭhina vajra-maya

“This is the nature of the mind of an uncommon personality. Sometimes it is soft like a flower, but sometimes it is as hard as a thunderbolt.”

The welfare activities of a devotee are described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 8.39) as follows:

mahānta-svabhāva ei tārite pāmara
nija kārya nāhi tabu yāna tāra ghara

“It is the general practice of all saintly people to deliver the fallen. Therefore, they go to people’s houses, although they have no personal business there.”

In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 11.4) the Lord gives an example of how a devotee should pledge:

prabhu kahe,—kaha tumi, nāhi kichu bhaya
yogya haile kariba, ayogya haile naya

“The Lord gave the Bhaṭṭācārya assurance that he could speak without fear, but added that if his statement was suitable He would accept it, and if it were not, He would reject it.”

The benefits of dealing affectionately with a devotee are described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 11.26) as follows:

prabhu kahe,—tumi kṛṣṇa-bhakata-pradhāna
tomāke ye prīti kare, sei bhāgyavān

“Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then said, “My dear Rāmānanda Rāya, you are the foremost of all the devotees of Kṛṣṇa; Therefore, whoever loves you is certainly a very fortunate person.”

Firm determination for one’s attachment is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 12.31) as follows:

kintu anurāgī lokera svabhāva eka haya
iṣṭa nā pāile nija prāṇa se chāḍaya

“Still, isn’t it the nature of an attached man to give up his life if he does not attain his desired object?”

Teaching others by one’s good example is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 12.117) as follows:

tumi bhāla kariyācha, śikhāha anyere
ei-mata bhāla karma seho yena kare

The Lord would say, “You have done well. Please teach this to others so that they may act in the same way.”

The need for care and eagerness in the execution of devotional service is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 24.171) as follows:

yatnāgraha vinā bhakti nā janmāya preme

“Without sincere endeavour in devotional service, one cannot attain love of Godhead.”

The need for giving up the association of logicians is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 12.183) as follows:

tārkika-śṛgāla-saṅge bheu-bheu kari
sei mukhe ebe sadā kahi ‘kṛṣṇa’ ‘hari’

“In the association of the jackals known as logicians, I simply continued to bark a resounding ‘bheu bheu.’ Now, from the same mouth I am chanting the holy names ‘Kṛṣṇa’ and ‘Hari.’

An example of unhappiness by seeing the distress of others is given in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 15.162-163) as follows:

jīvera duḥkha dekhi’ mora hṛdaya bidare
sarva-jīvera pāpa prabhu deha’ mora śire
jīvera pāpa lañā muñi karoṅ naraka bhoga
sakala jīvera, prabhu, ghucāha bhava-roga

“My Lord, my heart breaks to see the sufferings of all the conditioned souls; Therefore, I request You to transfer the karma of their sinful lives upon my head. My dear Lord, let me suffer perpetually in a hellish condition, accepting all the sinful reactions of all living entities. Please finish their diseased material life.”

The need for a pure heart is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 15.274) as follows:

sahaje nirmala ei ‘brāhmaṇa’-hṛdaya
kṛṣṇera vasite ei yogya-sthāna haya

“The heart of a brāhmaṇa is by nature very clean; Therefore, it is a proper place for Kṛṣṇa to sit.”

One must give up envy, or the distress arising from seeing other’s prosperity. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 15.275) this is described as follows:

‘mātsarya’-caṇḍāla kene ihāṅ vasāile
parama pavitra sthāna apavitra kaile

“Why have you allowed the caṇḍāla of jealousy to sit here also? In this way you have contaminated a most purified place, your heart.”

One must be a staunch follower of Lord Caitanya. As described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 16.148):

prabhu lāgi’ dharma-karma chāḍe bhakta-gaṇa
bhakta-dharma-hāni prabhura nā haya sahana

“All the devotees would abandon all kinds of duties for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s sake, yet the Lord did not like the devotees’ giving up their promised duties.”

The need to completely abandon faults is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 20.91) as follows:

se kene rākhibe tomāra śeṣa viṣaya-bhoga?
roga khaṇḍi’ sad-vaidya nā rākhe śeṣa roga

“Why should Kṛṣṇa allow you to maintain a last bit of material attachment? After vanquishing a disease, a good physician does not allow any of the disease to remain.”

The devotee’s faith in the conclusions of devotional service is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.62) as follows:

‘śraddhā’-śabde—viśvāsa kahe sudṛḍha niścaya
kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya

“Śraddhā is confident, firm faith that by rendering transcendental loving service to Kṛṣṇa one automatically performs all subsidiary activities. Such faith is favourable to the discharge of devotional service.”

The need for total surrender is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.102) as follows:

śaraṇa lañā kare kṛṣṇe ātma-samarpaṇa
kṛṣṇa tāre kare tat-kāle ātma-sama

“When a devotee thus fully surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, Kṛṣṇa accepts him as one of His confidential associates.

One must give up atheistic philosophies with repentance as described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 25.43):

paramārtha-vicāra gela, kari mātra ‘vāda’
kāhāṅ mukti pāba, kāhāṅ kṛṣṇera prasāda

“The atheists, headed by the māyāvādī philosophers, do not care for liberation or Kṛṣṇa’s mercy. They simply continue to put forward false arguments and counter-theories to atheistic philosophy, not considering or engaging in spiritual matters.”

A devotee should always be neutral. As described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 3.23):

‘nirapekṣa’ nahile ‘dharma’ nā yāya rakṣaṇe

“Without being neutral one cannot protect religious principles.”

The devotee should be afraid of insulting other Vaiṣṇavas. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 3.164):

mahāntera apamāna ye deśa-grāme haya
eka janāra doṣe saba deśa ujāḍaya

“Wherever an advanced devotee is insulted, for one man’s fault the entire town or place is afflicted.”

The devotees’ duty is to practice forgiveness and show mercy. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 3.213, 237) and the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 13.182):

bhakta-svabhāva,-ajña-doṣa kṣamā kare
dīne dayā kare,-ei sādhu-svabhāva haya

prabhu bole,-vipra saba danta parihari
bhaja giyā kṛṣṇa, sarvabhūte dayā kari’

“A characteristic of a pure devotee is that he excuses any offense by an ignorant rascal. It is a characteristic of all saintly persons to be kind toward the poor and fallen. The Lord said, ‘O brāhmaṇa! Give up all pride and serve Kṛṣṇa by showing mercy to all.'”

The devotee’s duty is to preach by setting a good example. As explained in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 4.103):

‘ācāra’, ‘pracāra’,—nāmera karaha ‘dui’ kārya
tumi—sarva-guru, tumi jagatera ārya

“You simultaneously perform both duties in relation to the holy name by your personal behavior and by your preaching. Therefore, you are the spiritual master of the entire world, for you are the most advanced devotee in the world.”

The devotee’s duty is to follow Vaiṣṇava etiquette. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 4.130):

tathāpi bhakta-svabhāva—maryādā-rakṣaṇa
maryādā-pālana haya sādhura bhūṣaṇa

“It is the characteristic of a devotee to observe and protect the Vaiṣṇava etiquette. Maintenance of the Vaiṣṇava etiquette is the ornament of a devotee.”

One should consider a Vaiṣṇava’s body spiritual. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 4.191) it is said:

prabhu kahe,—”vaiṣṇava-deha ‘prākṛta’ kabhu naya
‘aprākṛta’ deha bhaktera ‘cid-ānanda-maya’

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “The body of a devotee is never material. It is considered to be transcendental, full of spiritual bliss.”

There is a need for worshiping Kṛṣṇa in a solitary place after completing one’s activities of household life and sense gratification. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 4.214-216) it is described:

eka-vatsara rūpa-gosāñira gauḍe vilamba haila
kuṭumbera ‘sthiti’-artha vibhāga kari’ dila
gauḍe ye artha chila, tāhā ānāilā
kuṭumba-brāhmaṇa-devālaye bāṅṭi’ dilā
saba manaḥ-kathā gosāñi kari’ nirvāhaṇa
niścinta hañā śīghra āilā vṛndāvana

“Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī was delayed in Bengal for a year because he was dividing his money among his relatives to situate them in their proper positions. He collected whatever money he had accumulated in Bengal and divided it among his relatives, the brāhmaṇas, and the temples. Thus after finishing all the tasks he had on his mind, he returned to Vṛndāvana fully satisfied.”

The devotee must give up the desire for fame. As stated in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 5.78):

mahānubhavera ei sahaja ‘svabhāva’ haya
āpanāra guṇa nāhi āpane kahaya”

“This is a natural characteristic of those advanced in devotional service. They do not personally speak of their own good qualities.”

A devotee should have no faith in worldly poetry. As described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 5.107):

grāmya-kavira kavitva śunite haya ‘duḥkha’
vidagdha-ātmīya-vākya śunite haya ‘sukha’

“Hearing the poetry of a person who has no transcendental knowledge and who writes about the relationships between man and woman simply causes unhappiness, whereas hearing the words of a devotee fully absorbed in ecstatic love causes great happiness.”

It is an offense to disobey the order of the spiritual master. The result is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 8.99):

guru upekṣā kaile, aiche phala haya
krame īśvara-paryanta aparādhe ṭhekaya

“If one’s spiritual master rejects him, one becomes so fallen that he, like Rāmacandra Purī, commits offenses even to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

A devotee should give up the desire for liberation and pride of learning. As described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 13.109-110):

rāmadāsa yadi prathama prabhure mililā
mahāprabhu adhika tāṅre kṛpā nā karilā
antare mumukṣu teṅho, vidyā-garvavān

“When Rāmadāsa Viśvāsa met Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the Lord did not show him any special mercy, although this was their first meeting. Within his heart, Rāmadāsa Viśvāsa was an impersonalist who desired to merge into the existence of the Lord, and he was very proud of his learning.”

Humility is essential for a devotee. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 20.28) it is described:

premera svabhāva—yāhāṅ premera sambandha
sei māne,—’kṛṣṇe mora nāhi prema-gandha’

“Wherever there is a relationship of love of Godhead, the natural symptoms are that the devotee does not think himself a devotee, but always thinks that he has not even a drop of love for Kṛṣṇa.”

A devotee should give up the desire for conquest. As stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 13.173):

‘dig-vijaya kariba’-vidyāra kārya nahe
īśvare bhajile, sei vidyā ‘satya’ kahe

“Conquering the world by means of material education is not desirable. If one engages himself in devotional service, his education is perfected.”

A devotee should know the Lord is one without a second and understand His relationship with all living entities. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 16.76-78, 80-81) it is said:

śuna, bāpa, sabārai ekai īśvara
nāma-matra bheda kare hinduye yavane
paramārthe ‘eka’ kahe korāṇe purāṇe
eka śuddha nitya-vastu akhaṇḍa avyaya
paripūrṇa hañā vaise sabāra hṛdaya
se prabhura nāma-guṇa sakala jagate
balena sakale mātra nija-śāstra mate
ye īśvara, se punaḥ sabāra bhāva laya
hiṁsā karilei se, tāhāna hiṁsā haya

“My dear Sir, there is only one God for all living entities. The difference between the Moslem God and the Hindu God is in name only. According to all scriptures – Koran or Purāṇa – God is one. He is the nondual, eternal, transcendental Absolute Truth, infallible and perfectly complete, and in that capacity He resides in everyone’s heart. The Supreme Lord’s transcendental name and qualities are glorified throughout the world according to the respective scriptures. The Lord accepts everyone’s individual mood of surrender. By committing violence to others, you commit violence to Him.”

How a devotee should be always firmly fixed on the path of devotional service is seen in the following verse from Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 16.94):

khaṇḍa khaṇḍa hai’ deha yāya yadi prāṇa
tabu āmi vadane nā chāḍi hari-nāma

“Even if my body is cut into pieces and I loose my life, I will never give up chanting the Lord’s holy name.”

How a devotee should deal with an enemy is described in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 16.113):

e saba jīvere kṛṣṇa! karaha prasāda
mora drohe nahu e sabāra aparādha

“O Kṛṣṇa! Be merciful on these living entities! Forgive their offense of torturing me.”

A devotee must give up the symptoms of pride such as desire for fame and cheating. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 16.228-229) it is said:

baḍa loka kari’ loka jānuka āmāre
āpanāre prakaṭāi dharma-karma kare
e sakala dāmbhikera kṛṣṇe prīti nāi
akaitava haile se kṛṣṇa-bhakti pāi

“He is presenting himself as a important person by imitating some religious sentiments. Actually this arrogant and deceitful brāhmaṇa has no love for Kṛṣṇa. To achieve the devotional service of Lord Kṛṣṇa one has to be free from duplicity.”

A devotee must reject caste consciousness in his spiritual life. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 16.238-239) it is stated:

adhama kulete yadi viṣṇu-bhakti haya
tathāpi se-i se pūjya-sarva-śāstre kaya
uttama kulete janmi’ śrī kṛṣṇe nā bhaje
kule tāra ki karibe, narakete maje

“If a devotee of the Lord is born in a low-class family, he is still worthy of worship; that is the injunction of the scriptures. And if someone is born in a high-class family but does not worship the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, then his high birth is useless and he falls to hell.”

The benefits of loud congregational chanting of the holy names is described in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi-khaṇḍa 16.284-286) as follows:

japa karttā haite ucca-saṅkīrtana-kārī
śata-guṇa adhika se purāṇete dhari
śuna vipra! mana diyā ihāra kāraṇa
japi’ āpanāre sabe karaye poṣaṇa
ucca kari’ karile govinda saṅkīrtana
jantu-mātra śuniñāi pāya vimocana

“The Purāṇas say that a person who chants the Lord’s name loudly is a hundred times more pious that the person who chants to himself. O brāhmaṇa, listen carefully to the reason behind this. One who chants softly liberates only himself, but one who loudly chants the names of Govinda liberates himself along with all living entities who hear him.”

A devotee should not carry the burden of the scriptures like an ass; rather, he should understand their purport. The Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 1.158) confirms this in the following words:

śāstrera nā jāne marma, adhyāpanā kare
garddabhera prāya yena śāstra bahi’ mare

“One who teaches the scriptures without knowing their purport is like an ass carrying the load of all the scriptures.”

How a devotee should give up enviousness is explained in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 1.240) as follows:

bhakti-hīna karma kona phala nāhi pāya
sei karma bhakti-hīna-parahiṁsā yāya

“Activities that are devoid of bhakti produce no result. Such activities result in violence to others.”

A devotee should give up sevā-aparādhas, or offenses in serving the Deity. As stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 5.121):

sevā-vigrahera prati anādara yā ‘ra
viṣṇu-sthāne aparādha sarvathā tāhāra

“One who has no respect for the Deity form of the Lord is constantly committing offenses at the lotus feet of Lord Viṣṇu.”

If a person is internally situated as a Vaiṣṇava even though externally he maintains attachment for sense gratification, then he is counted as a devotee. As described in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 7.22, 38):

viṣayīra prāya tāṅ ‘ra paricchada saba
cinite nā pāre keha tiṅho ye vaiṣṇava
āsiyā rahila navadvīpe gūḍharūpe
parama bhogīra prāya sarvaloke dekhe

“Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi dressed like a materialistic. No one was able to recognise that he was a great Vaiṣṇava. He came to Nabadvīpa and remained there incognito. Everyone saw him as a grossly materialistic person.”

A devotee should not maintain false pride due to material education and so on. In the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 9.234) it is explained:

ki karibe vidyā, dhana, rūpa, yaśa, kule
ahaṅkāra bāḍi’ saba paḍaye nirmūle

“What is the use of education, wealth, beauty, fame, and high birth? They only increase one’s pride to the point of his falldown.”

A devotee should remain fixed in the principles of Vaiṣṇavism, he should not support various opinions for social reasons. As stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 10.185, 188, 192):

kṣane dante tṛṇa laya, kṣane jāṭhi māre
o khaḍa jāṭhiyā veṭā nā dekhibe more
prabhu bale,-o veṭā yakhana yathā yāya
sei mata kathā kahi’ tathāi miśāya
bhakti-sthāne uhāra haila aparādha
etake uhāra haila daraśana bādha

“Sometimes he takes straw in his mouth, and sometimes he beats Me with a stick. Therefore, he is not fit to see Me. The Lord continued: Wherever he goes, he mixes with those people and talks like them. He is an offender at the feet of bhakti, that is why he is forbidden to see Me.”

The fault of taking sides against a Vaiṣṇava is described in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.160) as follows:

ye pāpiṣṭha eka vaiṣṇavera pakṣa haya
anya vaiṣṇavere ninde, sei yāya kṣaya

“A sinful person who takes the side of one Vaiṣṇava and condemns another is vanquished.”

A devotee should not commit sinful activities after accepting the holy name of the Lord. As stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.225):

prabhu bale,-torā āra nā karis papa
jagāi mādhāi bale,-āra nāre bāpa

The Lord said, “Do not commit further sins. Jagai and Madhai replied: Never again, O Lord.”

How a devotee should remain aloof from the rules and regulations is explained in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 16.144, 147):

yata vidhi, niṣedha-sakalai bhakti dāsa
ihāte yāhāra duhkha, sei yāya nāśa
viṣaya madāndha saba e marma nā jāne
suta dhana kula-made vaiṣṇava nā cine

“All the rules and regulations are servants of bhakti. One who has trouble accepting this is destroyed. One who is blinded by false pride can never understand this secret. Being proud of his children, wealth, and high birth, he fails to recognize a Vaiṣṇava.”

A devotee should avoid conversing with an atheist. As stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 17.19):

nagare haila kibā pāṣaṇḍi sambhāṣa
ei vā kāraṇe nahe prema parakāśa

“Did I speak with an atheist in town? Is that why love of God is not manifesting today?”

Giving up relationships with non-devotees is most essential; Śrīla Advaita Prabhu gives the following statement in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 19.175):

yadi mora putra haya, haya vā kiṅkara
vaiṣṇavāparādhī muñi nā dekhoṅ gocara

“Even if he is My son or servant, I will never see the face of a person who offends Vaiṣṇavas.”

There is no comparison between bhakti and pious activities. As explained in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Madhya-khaṇḍa 23.54):

prabhu bale,-tapaḥ kari nā karaha bala
viṣṇu-bhakti sarva-śreṣṭha jānaha kevala

The Lord said, “Don’t think you have become powerful by performing austerities. Know for certain that devotion to Lord Viṣṇu is the highest goal.”

The hypocrites and cheaters sometimes advertise themselves as incarnations and thus increase their pride. A devotee should cautiously avoid their company. As stated in the Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi khaṇḍa 14.82-83):

madhye madhye mātra kata pāpi-gaṇa giyā
loka naṣṭa kare āpanāre laoyāiyā
udara bharaṇa lāgi’ pāpiṣṭha sakale
‘raghunātha’ kari’ āpanāre keha bale

“Sometimes a group of evil persons would try to mislead people in general from the spiritual path with wrong advice. These sinners simply cheat people in order to fill their bellies by claiming to be Lord Rāma.”

Devotees should constantly take shelter of the holy names while passing their lives without duplicity or sin. Their is no greater religious principle than this. The Caitanya-bhāgavata (CB Ādi khaṇḍa 14.139-140) gives the following conclusion:

ataeva kali-yuga nāma-yajña sāra
āra kona dharma kaile nāhi haya pāra
rātri dina nāma laya khāite śuite
tāhāra mahimā vede nāhi pāre dite

“Therefore, in Kali-yuga chanting the holy name is the essential religious principle; no other religious practice can help one cross the material ocean of nescience. Even the Vedas are unable to sufficiently glorify one who chants the Lord’s holy name day and night in all situations.”

Human beings should worship Kṛṣṇa by considering the natural qualities and accepting the livelihoods of the previous and later mahājanas. Pure devotional service is proportionately enhanced by following a proper occupation, otherwise it is never achieved.

(‘Sādhu-vṛtti – Following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas’ by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was first published in Vol.10 of Sajjana Toṣaṇī and translated into English by Swami B.V. Giri)

Saṅga-tyāga (Giving up the association of non-devotees)Saṅga-tyāga (Giving up the association of non-devotees)
Manuṣya Ki? (What is a human?)What is a human? (Manuṣya ki?)

Share this article!

More Articles by Bhaktivinoda Thakura

Genuine improvement within Brahmo Dharma (Brāhmo Dharma Prakṛta Unnati)

‘Brāhmo Dharma Prakṛta Unnati' 
(Genuine improvement within Brahmo Dharma) was first published by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura in Sajjana Toṣaṇī Vol.2. issue 3 in 1885. In this article, the Ṭhākura rejoices in the news that the ācārya of the Brāhmos (a sect of impersonalists in Kolkata founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy) is favouring the concept of prema over jñāna.

Sad-guṇa and Bhakti

Sad-guṇa and Bhakti was first published in 1893, in Volume 5 of Sajjana Toṣaṇī, this article describes the many auspicious qualities found in the personality of a Vaiṣṇava, and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura points out how all such qualities naturally appear wherever bhakti is found.

A Question and Answer Concerning Śrī Kṛṣṇa Saṁhitā (Praśnottara)

Praśnottara (A Question and Answer Concerning Śrī Kṛṣṇa Saṁhitā) is an undated article by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura which was republished in the 18th volume of the Gauḍīya Magazine in 1939. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura answers a question concerning the Bhāgavatam’s narration of kṛṣṇa-līlā, as found in his work, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Saṁhitā.

Go to Top