The conditioned soul is certainly greatly harassed by the agents of material nature, but his intelligence is lost due to undesirable association. In an attempt to gain relief from the disturbances of material existence, he falls victim to so-called yogīs, sādhus and incarnations who can display some magic but who do not understand devotional service. Sometimes the conditioned soul is bereft of all money, and consequently he becomes unkind to his family members. In this material world there is not a pinch of actual happiness, for which the conditioned soul is longing life after life. The government officials are like carnivorous Rākṣasas who exact heavy taxes for the maintenance of the government. The hard-working conditioned soul is very saddened due to these heavy taxes.
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Sadhu (SB cantos 1 - 6)
The present city of Delhi was formerly known as Hastināpura because it was first established by King Hastī. Gosvāmī Śukadeva, after leaving his paternal home, was roaming like a madman, and therefore it was very difficult for the citizens to recognize him in his exalted position. A sage is not, therefore, recognized by sight, but by hearing. One should approach a sādhu or great sage not to see but to hear him. If one is not prepared to hear the words of a sādhu, there is no profit. Śukadeva Gosvāmī was a sādhu who could speak on the transcendental activities of the Lord. He did not satisfy the whims of ordinary citizens. He was recognized when he spoke on the subject of Bhāgavatam, and he never attempted jugglery like a magician. Outwardly he appeared to be a retarded, dumb madman, but in fact he was the most elevated transcendental personality.
They forget their permanent identity and become foolishly active for impermanent occupations, forgetting altogether their prime duty. Saints and sages like Vidura approach such foolish men to awaken them to the real situation, but they take such sādhus and saints as parasites of society, and almost all of them refuse to hear the words of such sādhus and saints, although they welcome show-bottle sādhus and so-called saints who can satisfy their senses. Vidura was not a sādhu to satisfy the ill-gotten sentiment of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. He was correctly pointing out the real situation of life, and how one can save oneself from such catastrophes.
A sādhu should never flatter kings or rich men to live comfortably at their cost. A sādhu is to speak to the householders about the naked truth of life so that they may come to their senses about the precarious life in material existence. Dhṛtarāṣṭra is a typical example of an attached old man in household life. He had become a pauper in the true sense, yet he wanted to live comfortably in the house of the Pāṇḍavas, of whom Bhīma especially is mentioned because personally he killed two prominent sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, namely Duryodhana and Duḥśāsana. These two sons were very much dear to him for their notorious and nefarious activities, and Bhīma is particularly pointed out because he killed these two pet sons. Why was Dhṛtarāṣṭra living there at the house of the Pāṇḍavas?
The foolish man does not know that a particular term of bodily existence is awarded to him to undergo a term of imprisonment, and the human body is awarded, after many, many births and deaths, as a chance for self-realization to go back home, back to Godhead. But persons like Dhṛtarāṣṭra try to make plans to live there in a comfortable position with profit and interest, for they do not see things as they are. Dhṛtarāṣṭra is blind and continues to hope to live comfortably in the midst of all kinds of reverses of life. A sādhu like Vidura is meant to awaken such blind persons and thus help them go back to Godhead, where life is eternal. Once going there, no one wants to come back to this material world of miseries. We can just imagine how responsible a task is entrusted to a sādhu like Mahātmā Vidura.
Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the great preacher of the principles of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, has stressed the importance of association with sādhus, pure devotees of the Lord. He said that even by a moments association with a pure devotee, one can achieve all perfection. We are not ashamed to admit that this fact was experienced in our practical life. Were we not favored by His Divine Grace Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, by our first meeting for a few minutes only, it would have been impossible for us to accept this mighty task of describing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in English. Without seeing him at that opportune moment, we could have become a very great business magnate, but never would we have been able to walk the path of liberation and be engaged in the factual service of the Lord under instructions of His Divine Grace.
And yet, despite his life of failure, he achieved the greatest of all success in self-realization by the forceful instructions of a pure devotee of the Lord, who is the typical emblem of a sādhu. The scriptures enjoin, therefore, that one should associate with sādhus only, rejecting all other kinds of association, and by doing so one will have ample opportunity to hear the sādhus, who can cut to pieces the bonds of illusory affection in the material world. It is a fact that the material world is a great illusion because everything appears to be a tangible reality but at the next moment evaporates like the dashing foam of the sea or a cloud in the sky. A cloud in the sky undoubtedly appears to be a reality because it rains, and due to rains so many temporary green things appear, but in the ultimate issue, everything disappears, namely the cloud, rain and green vegetation, all in due course. But the sky remains, and the varieties of sky or luminaries also remain forever.
One who is not prepared to practice injunctions prescribed in the śāstras cannot be a good man simply by book knowledge. Modern householders are practiced to different modes of life, namely to rise late and then take bed tea without any sort of cleanliness and without any purificatory practices as mentioned above. The household children are taken to practice what the parents practice, and therefore the whole generation glides towards hell. Nothing good can be expected from them unless they associate with sādhus. Like Dhṛtarāṣṭra, the materialistic person may take lessons from a sādhu like Vidura and thus be cleansed of the effects of modern life.
The state will be declared to be secular, or without any particular principle of religion, and as a result there will be total indifference to the principles of religion. The citizens will be free to act as they like, without respect for sādhu, śāstra and guru. The bull standing on one leg indicates that the principles of religion are gradually diminishing. Even the fragmental existence of religious principles will be embarrassed by so many obstacles as if in the trembling condition of falling down at any time.
The next symptom of the age of Kali is the distressed condition of the cow. Milking the cow means drawing the principles of religion in a liquid form. The great ṛṣis and munis would live only on milk. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī would go to a householder while he was milking a cow, and he would simply take a little quantity of it for subsistence. Even fifty years ago, no one would deprive a sādhu of a quart or two of milk, and every householder would give milk like water. For a Sanātanist (a follower of Vedic principles) it is the duty of every householder to have cows and bulls as household paraphernalia, not only for drinking milk, but also for deriving religious principles. The Sanātanist worships cows on religious principles and respects brāhmaṇas. The cow's milk is required for the sacrificial fire, and by performing sacrifices the householder can be happy. The cow's calf not only is beautiful to look at, but also gives satisfaction to the cow, and so she delivers as much milk as possible.
Lord Brahmā said, "O my Lord Kṛṣṇa, a devotee who abandons the path of empiric philosophical speculation aimed at merging in the existence of the Supreme and engages himself in hearing Your glories and activities from a bona fide sādhu, or saint, and who lives an honest life in the occupational engagement of his social life, can conquer Your sympathy and mercy even though You are ajita, or unconquerable." (SB 10.14.3) That is the path of the paramahaṁsas, which was personally followed by Lord Brahmā and later recommended by him for attaining perfect success in life.
If sometimes it is found that he is in error by accident or by some temporary arrangement, that should not be taken very seriously. The cursing of Jaya and Vijaya is here repented. Now the Kumāras are thinking in terms of their position in the modes of passion and ignorance, and they are prepared to accept any kind of punishment from the Lord. In general, when dealing with devotees, we should not try to find faults. In Bhagavad-gītā also it is confirmed that the devotee who faithfully serves the Supreme Lord, even if found to commit a gross mistake, should be considered a sādhu, or saintly person. Due to former habits he may commit some wrong, but because he is engaged in the service of the Lord, that wrong should not be taken very seriously.
Her plea was that even though she did not know the glories of her great husband, because she had taken shelter of him she must be delivered from material entanglement. Association with a great personality is most important. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta Lord Caitanya says that sādhu-saṅga (CC Madhya 22.83), the association of a great saintly person, is very important, because even if one is not advanced in knowledge, simply by association with a great saintly person one can immediately make considerable advancement in spiritual life. As a woman, as an ordinary wife, Devahūti became attached to Kardama Muni in order to satisfy her sense enjoyment and other material necessities, but actually she associated with a great personality. Now she understood this, and she wanted to utilize the advantage of the association of her great husband.
Our attachment for material things perpetuates our conditional state, but the same attachment, when transferred to the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee, is the source of liberation.
Here it is recommended that attachment should be transferred to the self-realized devotees, the sādhus. And who is a sādhu? A sādhu is not just an ordinary man with a saffron robe or long beard. A sādhu is described in Bhagavad-gītā as one who unflinchingly engages in devotional service. Even though one is found not to be following the strict rules and regulations of devotional service, if one simply has unflinching faith in Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Person, he is understood to be a sādhu. Sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ (BG 9.30).
A sādhu is a strict follower of devotional service. It is recommended here that if one at all wants to realize Brahman, or spiritual perfection, his attachment should be transferred to the sādhu, or devotee. Lord Caitanya also confirmed this. Lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya: (CC Madhya 22.54) simply by a moment's association with a sādhu, one can attain perfection.
Mahātmā is a synonym of sādhu. It is said that service to a mahātmā, or elevated devotee of the Lord, is dvāram āhur vimukteḥ, the royal road of liberation. Mahat-sevāṁ dvāram āhur vimuktes tamo-dvāraṁ yoṣitāṁ saṅgi-saṅgam (SB 5.5.2). Rendering service to the materialists has the opposite effect. If anyone offers service to a gross materialist, or a person engaged only in sense enjoyment, then by association with such a person the door to hell is opened.
If anyone offers service to a gross materialist, or a person engaged only in sense enjoyment, then by association with such a person the door to hell is opened. The same principle is confirmed here. Attachment to a devotee is attachment to the service of the Lord because if one associates with a sādhu, the result will be that the sādhu will teach him how to become a devotee, a worshiper and a sincere servitor of the Lord. These are the gifts of a sādhu. If we want to associate with a sādhu, we cannot expect him to give us instructions on how to improve our material condition, but he will give us instructions on how to cut the knot of the contamination of material attraction and how to elevate ourselves in devotional service. That is the result of associating with a sādhu. Kapila Muni first of all instructs that the path of liberation begins with such association.
The symptoms of a sādhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.
A sādhu, as described above, is a devotee of the Lord. His concern, therefore, is to enlighten people in devotional service to the Lord. That is his mercy. He knows that without devotional service to the Lord, human life is spoiled. A devotee travels all over the country, from door to door, preaching, "Be Kṛṣṇa conscious. Be a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Don't spoil your life in simply fulfilling your animal propensities. Human life is meant for self-realization, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness." These are the preachings of a sādhu. He is not satisfied with his own liberation. He always thinks about others. He is the most compassionate personality towards all the fallen souls.
These are the preachings of a sādhu. He is not satisfied with his own liberation. He always thinks about others. He is the most compassionate personality towards all the fallen souls. One of his qualifications, therefore, is kāruṇika, great mercy to the fallen souls. While engaged in preaching work, he has to meet with so many opposing elements, and therefore the sādhu, or devotee of the Lord, has to be very tolerant. Someone may ill-treat him because the conditioned souls are not prepared to receive the transcendental knowledge of devotional service. They do not like it; that is their disease. The sādhu has the thankless task of impressing upon them the importance of devotional service. Sometimes devotees are personally attacked with violence. Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, Haridāsa Ṭhākura was caned in twenty-two marketplaces, and Lord Caitanya's principal assistant, Nityānanda, was violently attacked by Jagāi and Mādhāi. But still they were tolerant because their mission was to deliver the fallen souls. One of the qualifications of a sādhu is that he is very tolerant and is merciful to all fallen souls. He is merciful because he is the well-wisher of all living entities.
The devotee of the Lord is merciful to everyone-the cats, dogs, trees, etc. He treats all living entities in such a way that they can ultimately get salvation from this material entanglement. Śivānanda Sena, one of the disciples of Lord Caitanya, gave liberation to a dog by treating the dog transcendentally. There are many instances where a dog got salvation by association with a sādhu, because a sādhu engages in the highest philanthropic activities for the benediction of all living entities. Yet although a sādhu is not inimical towards anyone, the world is so ungrateful that even a sādhu has many enemies.
What is the difference between an enemy and a friend? It is a difference in behavior. A sādhu behaves with all conditioned souls for their ultimate relief from material entanglement. Therefore, no one can be more friendly than a sādhu in relieving a conditioned soul. A sādhu is calm, and he quietly and peacefully follows the principles of scripture. A sādhu means one who follows the principles of scripture and at the same time is a devotee of the Lord. One who actually follows the principles of scripture must be a devotee of God because all the śāstras instruct us to obey the orders of the Personality of Godhead. Sādhu, therefore, means a follower of the scriptural injunctions and a devotee of the Lord. All these characteristics are prominent in a devotee.
Such a sādhu engages in staunch devotional service to the Lord without deviation. For the sake of the Lord he renounces all other connections, such as family relationships and friendly acquaintances within the world.
A person in the renounced order of life, a sannyāsī, is also called a sādhu because he renounces everything—his home, his comfort, his friends, his relatives, and his duties to friends and to family. He renounces everything for the sake of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A sannyāsī is generally in the renounced order of life, but his renunciation will be successful only when his energy is employed in the service of the Lord with great austerity. It is said here, therefore, bhaktiṁ kurvanti ye dṛḍhām. A person who seriously engages in the service of the Lord and is in the renounced order of life is a sādhu. A sādhu is one who has given up all responsibility to society, family, and worldly humanitarianism, simply for the service of the Lord. As soon as he takes his birth in the world, a person has so many responsibilities and obligations—to the public, to the demigods, to the great sages, to the general living beings, to his parents, to the family forefathers and to many others.
Engaged constantly in chanting and hearing about Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sādhus do not suffer from material miseries because they are always filled with thoughts of My pastimes and activities.
There are multifarious miseries in material existence—those pertaining to the body and the mind, those imposed by other living entities and those imposed by natural disturbances. But a sādhu is not disturbed by such miserable conditions because his mind is always filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and thus he does not like to talk about anything but the activities of the Lord. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa did not speak of anything but the pastimes of the Lord. Vacāṁsi vaikuṇṭha-guṇānuvarṇane (SB 9.4.18). He engaged his words only in glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sādhus are always interested in hearing about the activities of the Lord or His devotees. Since they are filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they are forgetful of the material miseries. Ordinary conditioned souls, being forgetful of the activities of the Lord, are always full of anxieties and material tribulations.
Kapila Muni herein advises His mother, Devahūti, that if she wants to be free from material attachment, she should increase her attachment for the sādhus, or devotees who are completely freed from all material attachment. In Bhagavad-gītā, Fifteenth Chapter, verse 5, it is stated who is qualified to enter into the kingdom of Godhead. It is said there, nirmāna-mohā jita-saṅga-doṣāḥ. This refers to one who is completely freed from the puffed-up condition of material possessiveness. A person may be materially very rich, opulent or respectable, but if he at all wants to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, back home, back to Godhead, then he has to be freed from the puffed-up condition of material possessiveness, because that is a false position.
The words sādhūnāṁ hṛṣīkeśānuvartinām are very significant. Sādhu means "a saintly person." But who is a saintly person? A saintly person is he who follows the path of rendering service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hṛṣīkeśa. In the Nārada Pañcarātra it is said, hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate: (CC Madhya 19.170) the process of rendering favorable service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead with one's senses is called bhakti, or devotional service. Therefore, why should a person who is already engaged in the service of the Lord engage himself in personal sense gratification? Dhruva Mahārāja is advised here by Lord Manu that he is a pure servitor of the Lord. Why should he unnecessarily engage, like the animals, in the bodily concept of life? An animal thinks that the body of another animal is his food; therefore, in the bodily concept of life, one animal attacks another. A human being, especially one who is a devotee of the Lord, should not act like this. A sādhu, a saintly devotee, is not supposed to kill animals unnecessarily.
They could understand this by the instructions given by the great sages and learned brāhmaṇas. We have to understand the incarnations of God by the instructions of authorized persons. We cannot manufacture a God by our own concoctions. As stated by Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, sādhu-śāstra-guru: one has to test all spiritual matters according to the instructions of saintly persons, scriptures and the spiritual master. The spiritual master is one who follows the instructions of his predecessors, namely the sādhus, or saintly persons. A bona fide spiritual master does not mention anything not mentioned in the authorized scriptures. Ordinary people have to follow the instructions of sādhu, śāstra and guru. Those statements made in the śāstras and those made by the bona fide sādhu or guru cannot differ from one another.
Reciters like the sūta and the māgadha were confidentially aware that King Pṛthu was an incarnation of the Personality of Godhead. Although the King denied such praise because he was not at that time exhibiting his godly qualities, the reciters did not stop praising him. Rather, they were very pleased with the King, who, although actually an incarnation of God, was so humble and delightful in his dealings with devotees. In this connection we may note that previously (4.15.21) it was mentioned that King Pṛthu was smiling and was in a pleasant mood while speaking to the reciters. Thus we have to learn from the Lord or His incarnation how to become gentle and humble. The King's behavior was very pleasing to the reciters, and consequently the reciters continued their praise and even foretold the King's future activities, as they had been instructed by the sādhus and sages.
Lord Caitanya has advised all His followers to go everywhere and preach the message of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Since this message is essentially Bhagavad-gītā, the preacher's duty is to study Bhagavad-gītā as it is understood by disciplic succession and explained by great sages and learned devotees. One should speak to the general populace in accordance with one's predecessors—sādhu, guru and śāstras. This simple process is the easiest method by which one can glorify the Lord. Devotional service, however, is the real method, for by devotional service one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead with just a few words. Without devotional service, volumes of books cannot satisfy the Lord. Even though preachers of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement may be unable to describe the glories of the Lord, they can nonetheless go everywhere and request people to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura states that one has to ascertain the right path for his activities by following in the footsteps of great saintly persons and books of knowledge under the guidance of a spiritual master (sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya). A saintly person is one who follows the Vedic injunctions, which are the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The word guru refers to one who gives proper direction under the authority of the Vedic injunctions and according to the examples of the lives of great personalities. The best way to mold one's life is to follow in the footsteps of the authorized personalities like those mentioned herein by Pṛthu Mahārāja, beginning with Svāyambhuva Manu. The safest path in life is to follow such great personalities, especially those mentioned in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
When a person speaks very nicely at a meeting, he is congratulated by the audience, who express their good will with the words sādhu, sādhu. This is called sādhu-vāda. All the saintly persons, Pitās (denizens of Pitṛloka) and demigods who were present at the meeting and heard Pṛthu Mahārāja expressed their good will with the words sādhu, sādhu. They all accepted the good mission of Pṛthu Mahārāja, and they were fully satisfied.
For work in devotional service the first item is ādau gurv-āśrayam: one should accept a bona fide spiritual master, and from the bona fide spiritual master inquire about one's transcendental occupational duties (sad-dharma-pṛcchā) and follow in the footsteps of great saintly persons, devotees (sādhu-mārga-anugamanam). These are the instructions given in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu by Rūpa Gosvāmī.
The conclusion is that to increase attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead one has to accept a bona fide spiritual master and learn from him the methods of devotional service and hear from him about the transcendental message and glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this way one has to increase his conviction about devotional service. Then it will be very easy to increase attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The devotees are actually saintly persons, or sādhus. The first qualification of a sādhu, or devotee, is ahiṁsā, or nonviolence. Persons interested in the path of devotional service, or in going back home, back to Godhead, must first practice ahiṁsā, or nonviolence. A sādhu is described as titikṣavaḥ kāruṇikāḥ (SB 3.25.21). A devotee should be tolerant and should be very much compassionate toward others. For example, if he suffers personal injury, he should tolerate it, but if someone else suffers injury, the devotee need not tolerate it. The whole world is full of violence, and a devotee's first business is to stop this violence, including the unnecessary slaughter of animals. A devotee is the friend not only of human society but of all living entities, for he sees all living entities as sons of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He does not claim himself to be the only son of God and allow all others to be killed, thinking that they have no soul.
Thus the Lord says that even if a devotee commits an abominable act, he should be considered a sādhu, or a pious man, because of his unflinching devotion to the Lord. The devotees of the Lord never willingly commit any sinful act, but sometimes they commit something abominable due to their previous habits. Such acts should not be taken very seriously, however, because the devotees of the Lord are very powerful, whether they are on the heavenly planets or on this planet. If by chance they commit something abominable, it should not be taken into account, but should be overlooked.
In this verse sādhavaḥ (meaning "pious" or "well behaved") is very important, especially at the present moment. It is derived from the word sādhu. A perfect sādhu is one who is always engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Prācīnabarhi's sons are described as sādhavaḥ because of their complete obedience to their father. The father, king and spiritual master are supposed to be representatives of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as such they have to be respected as the Supreme Lord. It is the duty of the father, the spiritual master and the king to regulate their subordinates in such a way that they ultimately become fully unalloyed devotees of the Supreme Lord. That is the duty of the superiors, and it is the duty of the subordinates to obey their orders perfectly and in a disciplined way. The word śirasā ("on their heads") is also significant, for the Pracetās accepted the orders of their father and carried them on their heads, which means they accepted them in complete surrender.
Simply by the association of pure devotees one can understand the transcendental name, fame, quality and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has repeatedly said:
- 'sādhu-saṅga', 'sādhu-saṅga'—sarva-śāstre kaya
- lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
- (CC Madhya 22.54)
Simply by associating with a pure devotee, one becomes wonderfully advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sādhu-saṅga, or association with a devotee, means always engaging in Kṛṣṇa consciousness by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and by acting for Kṛṣṇa.
Just as King Purañjana began to search out his better half, the Queen, one who is decorated with knowledge and instructions from saintly persons should try to search out his original consciousness, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One cannot return to Kṛṣṇa consciousness unless he is favored by the instructions of a saintly person. Therefore Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura sings: sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya, cittete kariyā aikya. If we want to become saintly persons, or if we want to return to our original Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we must associate with sādhu (a saintly person), śāstra (authoritative Vedic literature) and guru (a bona fide spiritual master). This is the process.
Since Kālakanyā, the daughter of Time, was deputed by Nārada Muni to offer herself to Yavana-rāja, the King of the Yavanas could not refuse her. All transactions must be performed in light of the śāstric injunctions. The śāstric injunctions are confirmed by great sages like Nārada Muni. As stated by Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura: sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya, cittete kariyā aikya. One should follow the principles of saintly persons, scriptures and the spiritual master. In this way one is sure to attain success in life. Kālakanyā, the daughter of Time, presented herself before the King of the Yavanas precisely in terms of sādhu, śāstra and guru. Thus there was no reason for not accepting her.
"The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater (outcaste)." (BG 5.18)
A learned person sees everyone equally on a spiritual basis, and a learned person, a devotee, wants to see everyone developed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The place where the Pracetās were residing was perfect for executing spiritual activities, for it is indicated that the great sage Jājali attained mukti (liberation) there. One desiring perfection or liberation should associate with a person who is already liberated. This is called sādhu-saṅga (CC Madhya 22.83), associating with a perfect devotee.
By the association of the Lord's devotee, one no longer desires material opulence. This is confirmed in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC Madhya 22.54):
- "sādhu-saṅga", "sādhu-saṅga" sarva-śāstre kaya
- lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
and (CC Madhya 22.51):
- mahat-kṛpā vinā kona karme 'bhakti' naya
- kṛṣṇa-bhakti dūre rahu, saṁsāra nahe kṣaya
If one is serious about escaping māyā's influence and returning home, back to Godhead, one must associate with a sādhu (devotee). That is the verdict of all scriptures. By the slight association of a devotee, one can be freed from the clutches of māyā. Without the mercy of the pure devotee, one cannot get freedom by any means. Certainly a pure devotee's association is necessary in order to obtain the loving service of the Lord. One cannot be freed from māyā's clutches without sādhu-saṅga (CC Madhya 22.83), the benediction of a great devotee.
When, by associating with sādhus and engaging in devotional service, one is gradually freed from the material conception due to knowledge, practice and detachment, the knot of attachment in the heart is slackened. Thus one can get freed from conditional life and become eligible to return home, back to Godhead.
Such designations were simply coverings of the spirit soul. Everyone must come to this knowledge. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (2.13): dehino 'smin yathā dehe. Everyone is encased within the body. Since the body is never identical with the soul, the bodily activities are simply illusory. In the association of such a sādhu as Jaḍa Bharata, Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa came to the awareness that his activities as a royal authority were simply illusory phenomena. He therefore agreed to receive knowledge from Jaḍa Bharata, and that was the beginning of his perfection. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). A person like Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa, who was very inquisitive to know the value of life and the spiritual science, must approach a personality like Jaḍa Bharata. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21).
Consequently according to the varṇāśrama institution, one has to retire from family life in middle age: pañcāśordhvaṁ vanaṁ vrajet. One should voluntarily retire from family life at the age of fifty and go to Vṛndāvana or a forest. This is recommended by Śrīla Prahlāda Mahārāja (SB 7.5.5):
- tat sādhu manye 'sura-varya dehināṁ
- sadā samudvigna-dhiyām asad-grahāt
- hitvātma-pātaṁ gṛham andha-kūpaṁ
- vanaṁ gato yad dharim āśrayeta
There is no benefit in transferring from one forest to another. One must go to the Vṛndāvana forest and take shelter of Govinda. That will make one happy.
No one accepts the spiritual processes of knowledge and renunciation, which end in bhakti-yoga. Actually human life is meant for jñāna and vairāgya, knowledge and renunciation. Through these one can attain the platform of devotional service. Unfortunately people in this age avoid the association of liberated people (sādhu-saṅga (CC Madhya 22.83)) and continue in their stereotyped way of family life. Thus they are embarrassed by the exchange of money and sex.
The word hari indicates the lion as well as the Supreme Lord. To be saved from the hands of Hari, the lion of death, one must take shelter of the supreme Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. People with a poor fund of knowledge take shelter of nondevotee cheaters and pretenders in order to be saved from the clutches of death. In the forest of the material world, the living entity first of all wants to be very happy by taking shelter of the creeperlike arms of his wife and hearing her sweet voice. Later, he sometimes takes shelter of so-called gurus and sādhus who are like crane, herons and vultures. Thus he is cheated both ways by not taking shelter of the Supreme Lord.
He therefore gives up the company of devotees and goes to associate with simian people who are simply interested in sex and intoxication. Those who are so-called spiritualists are compared to monkeys. Outwardly, monkeys sometimes resemble sādhus because they live naked in the forest and pick fruits, but their only desire is to keep many female monkeys and enjoy sex life. Sometimes so-called spiritualists seeking a spiritual life come to associate with Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees, but they cannot execute the regulative principles or follow the path of spiritual life. Consequently they leave the association of devotees and go to associate with sense gratifiers, who are compared to monkeys. Again they revive their sex and intoxication, and looking at one another's faces, they are thus satisfied. In this way they pass their lives up to the point of death.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.25.21), Kapiladeva describes the symptoms of great personalities: titikṣavaḥ kāruṇikāḥ suhṛdaḥ sarva-dehinām. A saintly devotee is certainly very tolerant. He is the friend of all living entities, and he does not create enemies within the world. A pure devotee has all the qualities of a sādhu. Jaḍa Bharata is an example of this. Due to the material body, his senses were certainly agitated when he was insulted by King Rahūgaṇa, but later, due to the King's humble submission, Jaḍa Bharata excused him. It is the duty of everyone desiring to return to Godhead to become submissive like King Rahūgaṇa and beg pardon of Vaiṣṇavas one may have offended. Vaiṣṇavas are generally very kindhearted; therefore if one immediately submits himself at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, one is immediately cleared of offensive reactions. If one does not do so, the reactions will remain, and the results will not be very palatable.
It is a fact that if one takes shelter of a pure devotee, one attains all perfection, even if the association is a short one. A sādhu is a pure devotee of the Lord. It has been our practical experience that the first instruction of our spiritual master infused us with Kṛṣṇa consciousness so that now we are at least on the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and can understand the philosophy. As a result, there are many devotees engaged in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. The whole world is revolving under the bodily conception; therefore there must be devotees all over the world to deliver people from the false bodily conception and fully engage them in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Sometimes, to mitigate distresses in this forest of the material world, the conditioned soul receives cheap blessings from atheists. He then loses all intelligence in their association. This is exactly like jumping in a shallow river. As a result one simply breaks his head. He is not able to mitigate his sufferings from the heat, and in both ways he suffers. The misguided conditioned soul also approaches so-called sādhus and svāmīs who preach against the principles of the Vedas. He does not receive benefit from them, either in the present or in the future.
Even by a little association with devotees, the conditioned soul can get out of this miserable material condition. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore trying to give everyone a chance to associate with saintly people. Therefore all the members of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness society must themselves be perfect sādhus in order to give a chance to fallen conditioned souls. This is the best humanitarian work.
As stated by Ṛṣabhadeva in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.5.4), nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma: a human being who is mad after sense gratification does not hesitate to act sinfully. Yad indriya-prītaya āpṛṇoti: he performs sinful actions simply for sense gratification. Na sādhu manye: this is not good. Yata ātmano 'yam asann api kleśada āsa dehaḥ: because of such sinful actions, one receives another body in which to suffer as he is suffering in his present body because of his past sinful activities.
It should be understood that a person who does not have Vedic knowledge always acts in ignorance of what he has done in the past, what he is doing at the present and how he will suffer in the future. He is completely in darkness. Therefore the Vedic injunction is, tamasi mā: "Don't remain in darkness." Jyotir gama: "Try to go to the light."
As stated in Caitanya-caritāmṛta (CC Madhya 22.54):
- 'sādhu-saṅga', 'sādhu-saṅga'—sarva-śāstre kaya
- lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya
"Association with devotees is recommended by all the śāstras because by even a moment of such association one can receive the seed for all perfection." In the beginning of his life Ajāmila was certainly very pure, and he associated with devotees and brāhmaṇas; because of that pious activity, even though he was fallen, he was inspired to name his son Nārāyaṇa. Certainly this was due to good counsel given from within by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As the Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca: "I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness."
A sādhu, a devotee, is never angry. Actually the real feature of devotees who undergo tapasya, austerity, is forgiveness. Although a Vaiṣṇava has sufficient power in tapasya, he does not become angry when put into difficulty. If one undergoes tapasya but does not become a Vaiṣṇava, however, one does not develop good qualities. For example, Hiraṇyakaśipu and Rāvaṇa also performed great austerities, but they did so to demonstrate their demoniac tendencies. Vaiṣṇavas must meet many opponents while preaching the glories of the Lord, but Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends that they not become angry while preaching. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu has given this formula: tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā/ amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ (CC Adi 17.31). "One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, sannyāsīra alpa chidra sarva-loke gāya (CC Madhya 12.51). In society one will find many sannyāsīs, vānaprasthas, gṛhasthas and brahmacārīs, but if all of them properly live in accordance with their duties, they are understood to be sādhus. Prajāpati Dakṣa was certainly a sādhu because he had executed such great austerities that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Viṣṇu, had appeared before him. Nevertheless, he had a fault-finding mentality. He improperly thought Nārada Muni to be asādhu, or nonsaintly, because Nārada had foiled his intentions. Desiring to train his sons to become gṛhasthas fully equipped with knowledge, Dakṣa had sent them to execute austerities by Nārāyaṇa-saras. Nārada Muni, however, taking advantage of their highly elevated position in austerity, instructed them to become Vaiṣṇavas in the renounced order. This is the duty of Nārada Muni and his followers.
Dakṣa regarded his sons as innocent boys who had been misled when Nārada showed them the renounced order of life. Because of all these considerations, Prajāpati Dakṣa charged that Nārada Muni was asādhu and should not have adopted the dress of a sādhu.
Sometimes a saintly person is misunderstood by gṛhasthas, especially when he instructs their young sons to accept Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Generally a gṛhastha thinks that unless one enters gṛhastha life he cannot properly enter the renounced order. If a young man immediately adopts the path of the renounced order in accordance with the instructions of Nārada or a member of his disciplic succession, his parents become very angry. This same phenomenon is occurring in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement because we are instructing all the young boys in the Western countries to follow the path of renunciation.
Wanting to prove that he had been magnanimous to Nārada Muni, Prajāpati Dakṣa stressed that when Nārada had misled his first sons, Dakṣa had taken no action; he had been kind and tolerant. He was aggrieved, however, because Nārada Muni had misled his sons for a second time. Therefore he wanted to prove that Nārada Muni, although dressed like a sādhu, was not actually a sādhu; he himself, although a householder, was a greater sādhu than Nārada Muni.
Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear King, since Nārada Muni is an approved saintly person, when cursed by Prajāpati Dakṣa he replied, "tad bāḍham: Yes, what you have said is good. I accept this curse." He could have cursed Prajāpati Dakṣa in return, but because he is a tolerant and merciful sādhu, he took no action.
"The symptoms of a sādhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime." Because Nārada Muni is the most elevated of sādhus, devotees, to deliver Prajāpati Dakṣa he silently tolerated the curse. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has taught this principle to all His devotees:
This has already been explained: nārāyaṇa-parāḥ sarve na kutaścana bibhyati (SB 6.17.28). Citraketu very sportingly felt that since the mother wanted to curse him, he could accept this curse just to please her. This is called sādhu-lakṣaṇam, the characteristic of a sādhu, or a devotee. As explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā. A devotee should always be very humble and meek and should offer all respect to others, especially to superiors. Being protected by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, a devotee is always powerful, but a devotee does not wish to show his power unnecessarily. However, when a less intelligent person has some power, he wants to use it for sense gratification. This is not the behavior of a devotee.