The Standard of Living in Gaudiya Math

by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada

Please preach the kirtana of the Supreme Lord, even if in doing so you have to incur debt; then in order to pay off that debt, you will have to be even more engaged in seva. When your creditors put pressure on you, you will be forced to beg more alms. Again, as the pious householders will not give you alms unless your character and conduct are pure, you will be forced to preserve a pure lifestyle with great determination and care. I will not leave one penny for you, so that in future you won't indulge in laziness and you won't be able to give up your devotional lives full of hari-kirtana and hari-seva.

The math is the center of hari-kirtana, and hari-kirtana is life and consciousness. To ensure that there is no place for laziness, bad conduct, trivial thought, gossip, or vulgar desire in the math, you have to go from door to door, where your hari-kirtana will be tested by the public. When the public will think that they are the givers of alms and you are the receiver of alms—in other words, that their status is higher than yours—they will critizice you in many ways, thinking you are objects of their mercy. Perhaps some of them will also be ready to kick you out. Then, on one hand, you will be able to become trnad api sunicha (humbler than a blade of grass) and manada (respectful to others), and on the other hand, you will take great care to make your lives and characters pure and exemplary. Furthermore, what will be beneficial for you is this: as you will correct the mistakes of the common people by citing the message of sadhu, sastra, and guru-varga, you will not make those same mistakes.

Please do not be upset if someone criticizes you personally. But your guru-varga, sastra, and mahajanas are completely faultless, supremely liberated, and eternal associates of the Lord.

If, due to ignorance, someone criticizes them, then you should correct that person's mistakes by telling them the real truth. This will be very beneficial for both you and the ignorant people. If you become lazy about begging for alms from door to door to collect ingredients for hari-kirtana, and if you indulge in laziness and bad habits, preferring reclusive bhajan so you can escape others' criticism, then your character will not be purified. You will not have the life of devotional practice. I will never give you any opportunity to live in a reclusive place so that you can become undisciplined in your heart, thinking no one will come to see or hear you there. You are my dear-most friends. I will never allow you to give up the path of pleasing the senses of the Lord so you can please the senses of the people of the world, as well as your own, because you received some temporary position or you could not tolerate some temporary criticism.