It was of course very difficult to reach the palaces of the kings of the Yadu dynasty, but brāhmaṇas were allowed to visit. When the brāhmaṇa friend of Lord Kṛṣṇa went there, he, along with other brāhmaṇas, had to pass through three military encampments. In each camp there were very big gates, and he also had to pass through them. After the gates and the camps, there were sixteen thousand big palaces, the residential quarters of the sixteen thousand queens of Lord Kṛṣṇa. The brāhmaṇa entered one palace which was very gorgeously decorated. When he entered this beautiful palace, he felt that he was swimming in the ocean of transcendental pleasure. He felt himself constantly diving and surfacing in that transcendental ocean.
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, .
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.