by Bir Krishna das Goswami
IF WE REALLY WANT TO HAVE GOOD FAMILIES
If we really want to have good families, good vaisnava community, we have to give up the enjo-ying spirit. We should not try to enjoy each other. We should try to serve each other. We are servants. Just like a typical statement for someone who is a leader, we call him a servant-leader. If someone takes up a position in the Movement for Krishna consciousness, we should see him as a servant of everyone else. Like me, I am a vaisnava sannyasi, a guru or whatever. I need to see that I am a servant of everyone else. I came here to serve you, not to enjoy you.
IF THEY ARE BRAHMACARIS, WHERE DO THEIR CHILDREN COME FROM?
Some people spent too many years in the brahmacari asrama before they got married, and they cannot get this out of their minds. They think they are still brahmacaris when they get married. They can have five children, and they still think that they are brahmacaris. My question is: If they are really brahmacaris, where did their children come from? Brahmacari means celibate. That means, if they are really householders, they should take responsibility and help the rest of the society; brahmacaris to be brahmacaris, vanaprastas to be vanaprastas and sannyasis to be sannyasis. Srila Prabhupada said that 50 % of his mission is still unfullfilled, because he has not established that system yet.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu had many grihasta disciples who were making money, and he was very pleased. For example, Sivananda Sena was taking care of the devotees every year when they went to Jaganath Puri to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He would pay taxes for everyone and take care of everyone. And what would happen if they had not had Sivananda Sena? He was doing very nice service in this way. This was not maya; it was complete Krishna consciousness. This is the point. To fullfill Srila Prabhupada’s mission we have to establish a very nice, clearly defined social system. This is not material if we really want to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world.
Before leaving this world Srila Prabhupada said that 50% of his mission is still unfullfilled. This means varnasrama. Srila Prabhupada’s concern regarding the social structure is actually part of his desire to please Krishna and spread his movement everywhere. In order to have the movement all over the world, we have to have an organization, varnas and asramas. And to maintain this Movement all over the world, most of the people need to be grihastas. This is their sacrifice. Sacrifice for a brahmacari is to do only what his spiritual master tells him to do, to live very, very simply and surrender everything. He should carry all his belongings in a small bag. If he has more than that than he is not a brahmacari, but a mamachari, a gentleman brahmacari.
Sacrifice for a grihastha is to work and maintain the rest of the society. They are the stomach of the society. Varnasrama means that every part of the varnasrama system makes up a different part of the social body. Brahmacaris are the legs, vanaprastas are hands and sannyasis are the head.
In other words, a bonafide duty of grihastas is to take care of economic development. To please Krishna and to have Vedic society, grihastas must be interested in economic development.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GRIHASTHAS
There are differences between grihastas. Someone is a brahmana grihastha; someone is a ksatriya grihastha; someone is a vaisya grihastha; and someone is a sudra grihastha. Everyone earns his livelihood differently and develops economically in a different way.
A brahmana is dependent on donations. This means that he will live austerely because people, in general, do not give big donations. He can live in a forest … brahmanas love to live austerely. A perfect example of this is Sudama brahmana.
A ksatriya earns his livelihood by collecting taxes or serving the government.
A vaisya earns a living by doing business. He buys something at a low price and sells it at a high price, telling people that he did not make any money. This is a vaisya. Prabhupada said that a vaisya has to lie, that this is part of his dharma.
A sudra makes his livelihood by working for others for a salary.
The point is that we are all Vaishnavas. Ultimately, no one of us is a sudra, a brahmana, a vaisya or a ksatriya. A vaishnava can act to teach by example
without being a sudra.
But the point I am making is that devotees in the householder asrama are responsible for the rest of the society. It is your responsibility to maintain brahmacaris and sannyasis.
EVERY ASRAMA HAS SPECIFIC DUTIES
Everyone of us has specific nature. Some have the nature of a grihastha, some of a brahmacari or sannyasi. This is a very specific thing.
In other words, a brahmacari should not have a girlfriend, because this is not a brahmacari, and a girhastha should not ignore his wife, because this is not a grihastha. A householder has specific duties. He has to support his wife emotionally. He can not think, “O, I am a brahmacari with my brahmacari assistant.” He has specific duties.
Every asrama has to stick to its duties. That means that every one of us has a specific nature which fits into a specific asrama. If you are a brahmacari by nature you never get married. But this is very rare, perhaps one in a million.
What shall we do in a situation when the economic development is very difficult?
In the long run, we must encourage people to get educated. It will be easier for them to maintain themselves in higher social positions, and they will be able to influence the leaders of the society. Devotees and their children need to get educated to be able to have a position in a society. In this way they can be respected and they can preach to other people. This is long-term.
In the short run, it is difficult. If we have a society of devotees, they can help each other to get a job or to do a business together. Basically people have to think in the long run as far as their earnings are concerned.
Devotees should be the top level at everything. They should be the best: the best businessmen, the best scientists. We need to be experts materially, but we need to do that in an honest and responsible way so that people can respect the devotees.
WHY ARE WE PROGRESSING SO SLOWLY AT PRESENT
Because Vaisnavas are fighting amongst each other. When they fight and do not cooperate, they lose the mercy of Lord Caitanya. Srila Prabhupada said that our movement could be stopped only by internal difficulties, not external. If Vaisnavas learn how to cooperate, our movement will expand very fast. This is the reason. As soon as the movement is not expanding, it is obvious that there is some fight amongst the Vaisnavas, or they are making offenses. People have to stop making offenses, stop fighting, and they have to start to cooperate. This movement is so beautiful, and if it is presented purely, everyone will be attracted.
If we commit offenses against Vaishnavas, our taste for hearing and chanting decreases. If we serve the Vaishnavas we a get great taste for hearing and chanting. This is the reason.
Sometimes people think that the movement is not expanding because of a difficult political situation in a country. But this is not the reason because no politician, no policeman is able to stop the movement for Krishna consciousness. In the same way, no one had the power to stop Prahlada Maharaja, not even his father, the most powerful person in the universe. Nobody can stop the devotees when they cooperate with each other.
HOW TO BE A DEVOTEE 24 HOURS A DAY
Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita that if someone who dedicates all aspects of his life to Him, his family, home and his job, this is samadhi. Samadhi is the highest platform of yoga, and the platform of bhakti yoga can be attained immediately only if we do whatever we do for Krishna. In the Nectar of Devotion, in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu it is mentioned that one should live in a holy place like Vrindavan. If someone cannot live in Vrindavan, then he can live in Vrindavan in his mind, and he can follow in the footsteps of the gopis. Even though they are engaged in so many activities during the day, their minds and hearts are firmly fixed on Krishna. The acaryas give the example of how well they perform their external duties since they did not want anybody to suspect that they were thinking of Krishna because the gopis were married ladies. At the same time they had a relationship with Krishna.
You can also do that. You can perfectly perform all your external activities, and nobody will suspect that you are thinking of Krishna. The best way to do that is to always chant Krishna’s names. If someone can’t chant externally, he can chant in his mind and in his heart.
When we chant or think of the Maha mantra, we are with Krishna directly, no matter what else do we do because Krishna is non different from His name. Even if you are engaged in ordinary housework, if you think in your mind Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, you will be with Krishna.
HOW TO IMPROVE OUR CHANTING AND SURRENDERING TO THE SPIRITUAL MASTER?
We will improve chanting if we avoid the ten offenses and chant in the mood that was taught by Lord Caitanya in Siksastaka.
We can increase surrendering to the spiritual master if we hear his instructions carefuly and dedicate our life and soul to following these instructions.
In the same way I dedicated myself to serve Prabhupada’s institution because he wanted that. I am doing this only because he wanted it so. If I were doing what I wanted to do, I would be in Vrindavana, chanting and enjoying life. I would be at Radha Kunda and only chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. But now I am doing what Prabhupada wanted. I also chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, but here, instead of in Vrindavana. But Krishna will take care of me. I do not worry because wherever I may leave my body, I will be serving Krishna and Srila Prabhupada, which is as good as Vrindavan.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF SRILA PRABHUPADA’S STATEMENT THAT IT IS BETTER TO LIVE WITH THE WORST DEVOTEE THEN WITH THE BEST KARMI?
This is actually equal to the statement that it is better to live in a cage with fire and lions then to live with materialists. To live with basically means to live in the same apartment. Whomever we live with, or share a kitchen or apartment with should be a devotee. Also, someone to whom we reveal our minds or make close friendships with should be a devotee. We should associate intimately with the Vaisnavas. With other people we can have a formal or official relationship. And of course, we have to be compassionate to everyone, to go out to preach and distribute prasadam. That means that we do associate with them. We do not take their association, but we give them Krishna’s association.
We should act on the level of a madhyama adhikari, which is a second class devotee. Madhyama adhikari worships Krishna, makes close friends with the devotees, helps innocent people and avoids those who are envious and offensive or blasphemous.
On this basis we can live with someone or not live with them. There is nothing wrong if our neighbors are not devotees. Actually, one who wants to preach has to live where there are people.
EVERYBODY TO VRINDAVANA
Srila Prabhupada left Vrindavan when he was already very old, at an age when most people want to remain there. I was just reading Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati’s book about how a devotee should stay in Vrindavan no matter what happens. Because if you die in Vrindavan, you will go back home back to Godhead. This is true. In the traditional system, if someone was old, he would never leave Vrindavan. Nobody would be able to take him out of Vrindavan. The point is that one who preaches Krishna consciousness carries Vrindavana with him. Therefore, he has never actually left Vrindavan. It only seems externally that he has left it.
That means, if we want to be Krishna conscious, we can also go to Vrindavan and chant Hare Krishna and be happy. However, this was not Srila Prabhupada’s mood. We can at least hope to follow Srila Prabhupada’s mood.