Being disgusted with family life, one separates from the family by divorce or some other means. If one has to separate, why not separate willingly? Systematic separation (vanaprastha) is better than forced separation
SB Canto 5
Sometimes the merchant in the forest wants to climb the hills and mountains, but due to insufficient footwear, his feet are pricked by small stone fragments and by thorns on the mountain. Being pricked by them, he becomes very aggrieved. Sometimes a person who is very attached to his family becomes overwhelmed with hunger, and due to his miserable condition he becomes furious with his family members.
The ambitious conditioned soul wants to be very happy in this material world with his family, but he is compared to a traveler in the forest who desires to climb a hill full of thorns and small stones. As stated in the previous verse, the happiness derived from society, friendship and love is like a drop of water in the scorching heat of the desert. One may want to become very great and powerful in society, but this is like attempting to climb a hill full of thorns. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura compares one's family to high mountains. Becoming happy in their association is like a hungry man's endeavoring to climb a mountain full of thorns. Almost 99.9 percent of the population is unhappy in family life, despite all the attempts being made to satisfy the family members. In the Western countries, due to the dissatisfaction of the family members, there is actually no family life. There are many cases of divorce, and out of dissatisfaction, the children leave the protection of their parents. Especially in this age of Kali, family life is being reduced. Everyone is becoming self-centered because that is the law of nature. Even if one has sufficient money to maintain a family, the situation is such that no one is happy in family life. 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. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is therefore constructing a Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple to invite its members as well as outsiders to come and live peacefully in a spiritual atmosphere. That will help one become elevated to the transcendental world and return home, back to Godhead. Another sentence in this verse is very significant: kauṭumbikaḥ krudhyati vai janāya. When one's mind is disturbed in so many ways, he satisfies himself by becoming angry with his poor wife and children. The wife and children are naturally dependent on the father, but the father, being unable to maintain the family properly, becomes mentally distressed and therefore chastises the family members unnecessarily. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.2.8): ācchinna-dāra-draviṇā yāsyanti giri-kānanam. Being disgusted with family life, one separates from the family by divorce or some other means. If one has to separate, why not separate willingly? Systematic separation is better than forced separation. Forced separation cannot make anyone happy, but by mutual consent or by the Vedic arrangement one must separate from his family affairs at a certain age and fully depend on Kṛṣṇa. This makes one's life successful.