At that time, Lord Kṛṣṇa was sitting on the bedstead of Queen Rukmiṇī. Even from a considerable distance He could see the brāhmaṇa coming to His home, and He could recognize him as His friend. Lord Kṛṣṇa immediately left His seat and came forward to receive His brāhmaṇa friend and, upon reaching him, embraced the brāhmaṇa with His two arms. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the reservoir of all transcendental pleasure, yet He Himself felt great pleasure upon embracing the poor brāhmaṇa because He was meeting His very dear friend. Lord Kṛṣṇa had him seated on His own bedstead and personally brought all kinds of fruits and drinks to offer him, as is proper in receiving a worshipable guest. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the supreme pure, but because He was playing the role of an ordinary human being, He immediately washed the brāhmaṇa's feet and, for His own purification, sprinkled the water onto His head. After this the Lord smeared the body of the brāhmaṇa with different kinds of scented pulp, such as sandalwood, aguru and saffron. He immediately burned several kinds of scented incense and, as is usual, offered him ārati with burning lamps. After thus offering him an adequate welcome and after the brāhmaṇa had taken food and drink, Lord Kṛṣṇa said, "My dear friend, it is a great fortune that you have come here."
The brāhmaṇa, being very poor, was not dressed nicely; his clothing was torn and dirty, and his body was very lean and thin. He appeared not very clean, and because of his weak body, his bones were distinctly visible. The goddess of fortune Rukmiṇīdevī personally began to fan him with the cāmara fan, but the other women in the palace were astonished at Lord Kṛṣṇa's behavior in receiving the brāhmaṇa in that way. They were surprised to see how eager Lord Kṛṣṇa was to welcome this particular brāhmaṇa. They wondered how Lord Kṛṣṇa could personally receive a brāhmaṇa who was poor, not very neat or clean, and poorly dressed; but at the same time they could realize that the brāhmaṇa was not an ordinary living being. They knew that he must have performed great pious activities; otherwise why was Lord Kṛṣṇa, the husband of the goddess of fortune, taking care of him so much? They were still more surprised to see that the brāhmaṇa was seated on the bedstead of Lord Kṛṣṇa. They were especially surprised to see that Lord Kṛṣṇa had embraced him exactly as He embraced His elder brother, Balarāmajī, because Lord Kṛṣṇa used to embrace only Rukmiṇī or Balarāma, and no one else.
After the brāhmaṇa had been received nicely and seated on Lord Kṛṣṇa's own cushioned bed, he and Kṛṣṇa took each other's hands and began to talk about their early life, when they had both lived under the protection of the gurukula (a boarding school). Lord Kṛṣṇa said, “My dear brāhmaṇa friend, you are a most intelligent personality, and you know very well the principles of religious life. I believe that after you finished your education at the house of our teacher and after you sufficiently remunerated him, you must have gone back to your home and accepted a suitable wife. I know very well that from the beginning you were not at all attached to the materialistic way of life, nor did you desire to be very opulent materially, and therefore you are in need of money. In this material world, persons who are not attached to material opulence are very rarely found. Such unattached persons haven’t the least desire to accumulate wealth and prosperity for sense gratification, but sometimes they are found to collect money just to exhibit the exemplary life of a householder. They show how by proper distribution of wealth one can become an ideal householder and at the same time a great devotee. Such ideal householders are to be considered followers of My footsteps. I hope, My dear brāhmaṇa friend, that you remember all those days of our school life when you and I were living together at the boarding school. Actually, whatever knowledge you and I received in life was accumulated in our student life.
“If a man is sufficiently educated in student life under the guidance of a proper teacher, his life becomes successful in the future. He can very easily cross over the ocean of nescience, and he is not subject to the influence of the illusory energy. My dear friend, everyone should consider his father to be his first teacher because by the mercy of one's father one gets this body. The father is therefore the natural spiritual master. Our next spiritual master is he who initiates us into transcendental knowledge, and he is to be worshiped as much as I am. The spiritual master may be more than one. The spiritual master who instructs the disciple about spiritual matters is called the śikṣā-guru, and the spiritual master who initiates the disciple is called the dīkṣā-guru. Both of them are My representatives. There may be many spiritual masters who instruct, but the initiator spiritual master is one. A human being who takes advantage of these spiritual masters and, receiving proper knowledge from them, crosses the ocean of material existence is to be understood as having properly utilized his human form of life. He has practical knowledge that the ultimate interest of life, which is to be gained only in this human form, is to achieve spiritual perfection and thus be transferred back home, back to Godhead.
“My dear friend, I am Paramātmā, the Supersoul present in everyone's heart, and it is My direct order that human society follow the principles of varṇa and āśrama. As I have stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, human society should be divided into four varṇas, according to quality and action. Similarly, everyone should divide his life into four parts. One should utilize the first part of life in becoming a bona fide student, receiving adequate knowledge and keeping oneself in the vow of brahmacarya, so that one may completely devote his life for the service of the spiritual master without indulging in sense gratification. A brahmacārī is meant to lead a life of austerities and penance. The householder is meant to live a regulated life of sense gratification, but no one should remain a householder for the third stage of life. In that stage, one has to return to the austerities and penances formerly practiced in brahmacārī life and thus relieve himself of the attachment to household life. After being relieved of his attachments to the materialistic way of life, one may accept the order of sannyāsa.
“As the Supersoul of the living entities, I sit in everyone's heart and observe everyone's activity in every stage and order of life. Regardless of which stage one is in, when I see that one is engaged seriously and sincerely in discharging the duties ordered by the spiritual master and is thus dedicating his life to the service of the spiritual master, that person becomes most dear to Me. As far as the life of brahmacarya is concerned, if one can continue the life of a brahmacārī under the direction of a spiritual master, that is extremely good; but if in brahmacārī life one feels sex impulses, he should take leave of his spiritual master, satisfying him according to the guru's desire. According to the Vedic system, a gift is offered to the spiritual master, which is called guru-dakṣiṇā. Then the disciple should take to householder life and accept a wife according to religious rites.”
These instructions given by Lord Kṛṣṇa while talking with His friend the learned brāhmaṇa are very good for the guidance of human society. A system of human civilization that does not promote varṇa and āśrama is nothing but a polished animal society. Indulgence in sex life by a man or woman living single is never acceptable in human society. A man should strictly follow the principles of brahmacārī life or, with the permission of the spiritual master, should get married. Single life with illicit sex is animal life, for the animals have no such institution as marriage.
Modern society does not aim at fulfilling the mission of human life, which is to go back home, back to Godhead. To fulfill this mission, the system of varṇa and āśrama must be followed. When the system is followed rigidly and consciously, it fulfills this mission, but when followed indirectly, without the guidance of superior authority, it simply creates a disturbing condition in human society, and there is no peace and prosperity.
Kṛṣṇa continued to talk with His brāhmaṇa friend: “My dear friend, I think you remember our activities during the days when we were living as students. You may remember that once we went to collect fuel from the forest on the order of the guru's wife. While collecting the dried wood, we entered the dense forest and by chance became lost. There was an unexpected dust storm and then clouds and lightning in the sky and the explosive sound of thunder. Then sunset came, and we were lost in the dark jungle. After this, there was severe rainfall; the whole ground was overflooded with water, and we could not trace out the way to return to our guru's āśrama. You may remember that heavy rainfall—it was not actually rainfall but a sort of devastation. On account of the dust storm and the heavy rain, we began to feel greatly pained, and in whichever direction we turned we were bewildered. In that distressed condition, we took each other's hand and tried to find our way out. We passed the whole night in that way, and early in the morning, when our absence became known to our gurudeva, he sent his other disciples to search us out. He also came with them, and when they reached us in the jungle they found us very much distressed.
“With great compassion our gurudeva said, “My dear boys, it is very wonderful that you have suffered so much trouble for me. Everyone likes to take care of his body as the first consideration, but you are so good and faithful to your guru that without caring for bodily comforts you have taken so much trouble for me. I am glad to see that bona fide students like you will undergo any kind of trouble for the satisfaction of the spiritual master. That is the way for a bona fide disciple to become free from his debt to the spiritual master. It is the duty of the disciple to dedicate his life to the service of the spiritual master. My dear best of the twice-born, I am greatly pleased by your acts, and I bless you: May all your desires and ambitions be fulfilled. May the understanding of the Vedas which you have learned from me always continue to remain within your memory, so that at every moment you can remember the teachings of the Vedas and quote their instructions without difficulty. Thus you will never be disappointed in this life or the next.'“
Kṛṣṇa continued: "My dear friend, you may remember that many such incidents occurred while we were in the āśrama of our spiritual master. Both of us can realize that without the blessings of the spiritual master no one can be happy. By the mercy of the spiritual master and by his blessings, one can achieve peace and prosperity and be able to fulfill the mission of human life."
On hearing this, the learned brāhmaṇa replied, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, You are the Supreme Lord and the supreme spiritual master of everyone, and since I was fortunate enough to live with You in the house of our guru, I think I have nothing more to do in the matter of prescribed Vedic duties. My dear Lord, the Vedic hymns, ritualistic ceremonies, religious activities and all other necessities for the perfection of human life, including economic development, sense gratification and liberation, are all derived from one source: Your supreme personality. All the different processes of life are ultimately meant for understanding Your personality. In other words, they are the different parts of Your transcendental form. And yet You played the role of a student and lived with us in the house of the guru. This means that You adopted all these pastimes for Your pleasure only; otherwise there was no need for Your playing the role of a human being."