From 'Sri Bhaktyaloka'
by HDG Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur
The Lord has explained the duties of householders in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 15.104):
prabhu kahena-`krishna-seva', `vaishnava-sevana'
`nirantara kara krishna-nama-sankirtana'
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied: Without cessation continue chanting the holy name of Lord Krishna. Whenever possible, serve Him and His devotees, the Vaishnavas."
cIt is the duty of a grihastha to constantly chant the holy names of the Lord and serve the Vaishnavas and the Lord with the help of his relatives and by the wealth he has earned through his pious life. Regarding serving the Vaishnavas, one should know that there are three types of nonduplicitous devotees. Serving such Vaishnavas is called vaishnava-seva. There is no need to gather many Vaishnavas by invitation. Whenever a Vaishnava comes for any purpose he should be properly served with care. By gathering many Vaishnavas, one may commit offenses. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 15.198):
bahuta sannyasi yadi aise eka thani
sammana karite nari, aparadha pai
"If all the sannyasis come together, it would not be possible for me to pay them proper respects. Therefore I would be an offender."
It is the duty of a grihastha Vaishnava to show mercy on the poor and fallen. As stated in Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 3.238):
dine daya kare,-ei sadhu-svabhava haya
"It is a characteristic of all saintly persons to be kind toward the poor and fallen."
A grihastha Vaishnava should not desire to give up his body merely out of some sentiment or anger. As stated by the Lord in Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 4.57):
deha-tyagadi yata, saba-tamo-dharma
tamo-rajo-dharme krishnera na paiye marma
"Acts such as suicide are influenced by the mode of ignorance, and in ignorance and passion one cannot understand who Krishna is."
There is no consideration of superior or inferior status due to social position in regard to worshiping Krishna. In worldly occupations there are different activities according to the different social divisions, which are due to superior and inferior grades of intelligence. There are no such distinctions in the process of devotional service. As confirmed by the Lord in Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 4.66-67):
nica-jati nahe krishna-bhajane ayogya
sat-kula-vipra nahe bhajanera yogya
yei bhaje sei bada, abhakta-hina, chara
krishna-bhajane nahi jati-kuladi-vicara
"A person born in a low family is not unfit for discharging devotional service to Lord Krishna, nor is one fit for devotional service simply because he is born in an aristocratic family of brahmanas. Anyone who takes to devotional service is exalted, whereas a nondevotee is always condemned and abominable. Therefore in the discharge of devotional service to the Lord, there is no consideration of the status of one's family."
Also in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 5.84) it is said:
sannyasi pandita-ganera karite garva nasa
nica-sudra-dvara karena dharmera prakasa
"To vanquish the false pride of so-called renunciates and learned scholars, He spreads real religious principles, even through a sudra, or lowborn fourth-class man."
A grihastha Vaishnava should feel satisfied with whatever food and clothing he gets without difficulty. As stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Antya 4.293):
saba' haite bhagyavanta-sri saka, vyanjana
punah punah yaha prabhu karena grahana
"The spinach and vegetables are the most fortunate of all, for the Lord accepts them again and again."
A grihastha Vaishnava should perform devotional service with undeviated attention, knowing Krishna as the Lord of all. He should not disrespect the demigods worshiped by the smarta-sampradaya. As stated in Sri Caitanya-bhagavata (Antya 2.243):
na mane' caitanya-patha, bolaya `vaishnava'
sivere amanya kare vyartha ta 'ra saba
"If one claims to be a Vaishnava, but he disrespects Lord Siva and does not strictly follow the path exhibited by Lord Caitanya, all his efforts are futile."
It is the duty of a grihastha to work for the benefit of others even by giving up his own self-interest. In the Caitanya-bhagavata (Antya 3.365) it is said:
apanara bhala hau yete jana dekhe
sujana apana chadiyao para rakhe
"Some people expect only benefits for themselves, but a gentleman cares for others while giving up his own interest."
A grihastha Vaishnava should respect and worship tulasi. As stated in Sri Caitanya-bhagavata (Antya 8.159-160):
sankhya nama laite ye sthane prabhu vaise
tathai rakhena tulasire prabhu pase
tulasire dekhena, japena sankhya-nama
e bhakti-yogera tattva ke bujhibe ana?
"Wherever the Lord sits to chant His rounds, He keeps tulasi before Him. He gazes at tulasi while He chants His rounds. Who can understand the science of devotional service?"
A householder with devotion is glorious, while a householder without devotion is insignificant. Whatever social dealings a householder has to perform should be done while taking shelter of the holy name of Krishna. Regarding the character of the mahajana Sri Kalidasa, the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 16.6-7) states:
maha-bhagavata tenho sarala udara
krishna-nama-`sankete' calaya vyavahara
kautukete tenho yadi pasaka khelaya
`hare krishna' `krishna' kari' pasaka calaya
"Kalidasa was a very advanced devotee, yet he was simple and liberal. He would chant the holy name of Krishna while performing all his ordinary dealings. When he used to throw dice in jest, he would throw the dice while chanting Hare Krishna."
Everyone is prohibited from corrupt earning or spending, and workers are prohibited from accepting bribes. As stated by the Lord in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 9.90, 142-144):
rajara vartana khaya, ara curi kare
raja-dandya haya sei sastrera vicare
`vyaya na kariha kichu rajara mula-dhana'
rajara mula-dhana diya ye kichu labhya haya
sei dhana kariha nana dharme-karme vyaya
asad-vyaya na kariha,-yate dui-loka yaya
"One who serves the government but misappropriates the government's revenue is liable to be punished by the king. That is the verdict of all revealed scriptures. Do not spend any of the King's revenue. First you should pay the revenue due the King, and then you may spend the balance for religious and fruitive activities. Don't spend a farthing for sinful activities for which you will be the loser both in this life and the next."
A grihastha should accept a spiritual master who is full of devotion and of pure character. As stated in Sri Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 21.65):
guru yatha bhakti-sunya, tatha sishyagana "
As the guru is without devotion, so are the disciples."
A householder should be particularly careful not to commit offenses against the Vaishnavas. In the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 22.33) the Lord says:
ye vaishnava-sthane aparadha haya ya 'ra
punah sei kshamile se ghuce, nahe ara
"When someone offends a Vaishnava, he is not relieved until he is forgiven by that same Vaishnava."
Serving devotees is a householder's main duty. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 16.57, 60):
vaishnavera sesha-bhakshanera eteka mahima
kalidase paoyaila prabhura kripa-sima
bhakta-pada-dhuli ara bhakta-pada-jala
"Taking the remnants of the Vaishnavas' food is so valuable that it induced Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to offer Kalidasa His supreme mercy. The dust of the feet of a devotee, the water that has washed the feet of a devotee, and the remnants of food left by a devotee are three very powerful substances."
In the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.20.27-8) Lord Krishna describes how a householder should act until his natural propensity for enjoying sense objects is overcome and he fully attains the characteristics of a pure devotee:
jata-sraddho mat-kathasu nirvinnah sarva-karmasu
veda duhkhatmakan kaman parityage 'py anisvarah
tato bhajeta mam pritah sraddhalur dridha-niscayah
jushamanas ca tan kaman duhkhodarkams ca garhayan
"Having awakened faith in the narrations of My glories, being disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense gratification leads to misery, but still being unable to renounce all sense enjoyment, My devotee remains happy and worships Me with great faith and conviction. Even though he is sometimes engaged in sense enjoyment, My devotee knows that all sense gratification leads to a miserable result, and he sincerely repents such activities."
When a householder has faith, he should take initiation into the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.64):
sraddhavan jana haya bhakti-adhikari
`uttama', `madhyama', `kanishtha'-sraddha-anusari
"A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord. According to one's faith, one is classified as a topmost devotee, an intermediate devotee, or an inferior devotee."
A grihastha Vaishnava must gradually acquire all the qualities mentioned in Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.78-80):
kripalu, akrita-droha, satya-sara sama
nidosha, vadanya, mridu, suci, akincana
sarvopakaraka, santa, krishnaika-sarana
akama, aniha, sthira, vijita-shad-guna
mita-bhuk, apramatta, manada, amani
gambhira, karuna, maitra, kavi, daksha, mauni
"Devotees are always merciful, humble, truthful, equal to all, faultless, magnanimous, mild, and clean. They are without material possessions, and they perform welfare work for everyone. They are peaceful, surrendered to Krishna, and desireless. They are indifferent to material acquisitions and fixed in devotional service. They completely control the six bad qualities-lust, anger, greed, and so forth. They eat only as much as required, and they are not inebriated. They are respectful, grave, compassionate, and without false prestige. They are friendly, poetic, expert, and silent."
A grihastha Vaishnava should be eager to associate with advanced devotees. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.83) it is stated:
krishna-bhakti-janma-mula haya `sadhu-sanga'
"The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krishna is association with advanced devotees."
Out of all the processes of devotional service, one should give earnest attention to the five limbs mentioned in Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.128-129) as follows:
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
sakala-sadhana-sreshtha ei panca anga
krishna-prema janmaya ei pancera alpa sanga
"One should associate with devotees, chant the holy name of the Lord, hear Srimad-Bhagavatam, reside at Mathura, and worship the Deity with faith and veneration. These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Krishna."
Gradually one should diminish the following of prescribed rules out of obligation and cultivate spontaneous attachment. When spontaneous attachment to the Lord is awakened, many prescriptions are automatically discarded and atonement becomes needless. The difference is described in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.140, 142-143) as follows:
kama tyaji' krishna bhaje sastra-ajna mani'
deva-rishi-pitradikera kabhu nahe rini
vidhi-dharma chadi' bhaje krishnera carana
nishiddha papacare tara kabhu nahe mana
ajnane va haya yadi `papa' upasthita
krishna tanre suddha kare, na karaya prayascitta
"If a person gives up all material desires and completely engages in the transcendental loving service of Krishna, as enjoined in revealed scriptures, he is never indebted to demigods, sages, or forefathers. Although the pure devotee does not follow all the regulative principles of varnasrama, he worships the lotus feet of Krishna. Therefore he naturally has no tendency to commit sin. If, however, a devotee accidentally becomes involved in a sinful activity, Krishna purifies him. He does not have to undergo the regulative form of atonement."
A grihastha Vaishnava should not endeavor for any knowledge or renunciation other than knowledge of one's relationship with the Lord in devotional service and renunciation born from devotional service. If one begins the worship of Krishna with special care and eagerness, then he achieves all auspiciousness. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.145):
jnana-vairagyadi-bhaktira kabhu nahe `anga'
ahimsa-yama-niyamadi bule krishna-bhakta-sanga
"The path of speculative knowledge and renunciation is not very essential for devotional service. Indeed, good qualities such as nonviolence and mind and sense control automatically accompany a devotee of Lord Krishna."
The gradations of devotion to Lord Krishna are stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 23.10-13). One should cultivate them as follows:
sadhu-sanga haite haya `sravana-kirtana'
sadhana-bhaktye haya `sarvanartha-nivartana'
anartha-nivritti haile bhaktye `nishtha' haya
nishtha haite sravanadye `ruci' upajaya
ruci haite bhaktye haya `asakti' pracura
asakti haite citte janme krishne prity-ankura
sei `bhava' gadha haile dhare `prema'-nama
sei prema-`prayojana' sarvananda-dhama
"When one is encouraged in devotional service by the association of devotees, one becomes free from all unwanted contamination by following the regulative principles and chanting and hearing. When one is freed from all unwanted contamination, he advances with firm faith. When firm faith in devotional service awakens, a taste for hearing and chanting also awakens. After taste is awakened, a deep attachment arises, and from that attachment the seed of love for Krishna grows in the heart. When that ecstatic emotional stage intensifies, it is called love of Godhead. Such love is life's ultimate goal and the reservoir of all pleasure."
A grihastha Vaishnava should constantly chant the holy names while carefully giving up the ten offenses. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 4.70-71):
bhajanera madhye sreshtha nava-vidha bhakti
`krishna-prema', `krishna' dite dhare maha-sakti
tara madhye sarva-sreshtha nama-sankirtana
niraparadhe nama laile paya prema-dhana
"Among the ways of executing devotional service, the nine prescribed methods are the best, for these processes have great potency to deliver Krishna and ecstatic love for Him. Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead."
A householder should accept pure devotional service that is not based simply on religious sentiments. In the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 23.41) the Lord states:
mora nritya dekhite uhara kon sakti?
payah pan karile ki mote haya bhakti?
"What qualification does he have to watch My dancing? By drinking milk can one attain devotion for Me?"
The mood of servitude is proper for a living entity, and the mood of being lord is detrimental. As stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata (Madhya 23.480, 482):
udara-bharana lagi' ebe papi saba
laoyaya `isvara ami'-mule jaradgava
kukkurera bhakshya deha-ihare laiya
balaye `isvara' vishnu-maya mugdha haiya
"All sinful persons claim to be God in order to fill their bellies, although factually they are idiots. Accepting the material body, which is meant to be eaten by the dogs, they call themselves God under the influence by Lord Vishnu's external energy."
A grihastha Vaishnava should model his character after that of Lord Caitanya and His followers. A householder should follow the ways of life and obtain his means of livelihood as exhibited by Lord Caitanya and His followers. If one desires Krishna in all his activities, then those activities are auspicious. By endeavoring to gratify one's senses and attain irrelevant fruits, one becomes a materialist. For a devotee, to remain a householder or to become a renunciate is the same thing. Srila Ramananda Raya, Sri Pundarika Vidyanidhi, Sri Srivasa Pandita, Sri Sivananda Sena, Sri Satyaraja Khan, and Sri Advaita Prabhu were all grihasthas and have shown us the way of faultless living. The difference between a householder and a renunciate is due to their different means of livelihood.
If the home is favorable for a devotee's devotional service, then he should not leave. It is his duty to remain a grihastha with detachment. But when the home becomes unfavorable for his service, he then becomes eligible to leave home. At tht time the detachment he develops for his house through his devotional service is accepted. For this reason, Srivasa Pandita did not leave home. For this reason, Svarupa Damodara took sannyasa. All genuine devotees have remained either at home or in the forest due to this consideration. Whoever has left home due to this consideration is called a genuine renunciate. He is always careful not to commit offenses against the holy name. Now let us consider the occupation of a renunciate. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Antya 6.222-227, 236-237) Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu spoke to the renunciate Raghunatha dasa Gosvami as follows:
bhala kaila, vairagira dharma acarila
"Raghunatha dasa has done well, he has acted suitably for a person in the renounced order.
vairagi karibe sada nama-sankirtana
magiya khana kare jivana rakshana
"A person in the renounced order should always chant the holy name of the Lord. He should beg some alms to eat, and he should sustain his life in this way.
vairagi hana yeba kare parapeksa
karya-siddhi nahe, krishna karena upeksha
"A vairagi [a person in the renounced order] should not depend on others. If he does so, he will be unsuccessful, and he will be neglected by Krishna.
vairagi hana kare jihvara lalasa
paramartha yaya, ara haya rasera vasa
"If a renunciate is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue.
vairagira kritya-sada nama-sankirtana
"The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits, and roots are available.
jihvara lalase yei iti-uti dhaya
sisnodara-parayana krishna nahi paya"
"One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Krishna.
gramya-katha na sunibe, gramya-varta na kahibe
bhala na khaibe ara bhala na paribe
"Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely.
amani manada hana krishna-nama sada la'be
vraje radha-krishna-seva manase karibe
"Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Krishna, and within your mind render service to Radha and Krishna in Vrindavana.
A sannyasi or a renunciate should not live in his village with his relatives. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 3.177):
sannyasira dharma nahe-sannyasa karina
nija janma-sthane rahe kutumba lana
"After accepting sannyasa, it is not the duty of a sannyasi to remain at his birthplace, encircled by relatives."
A renunciate should not meet a king or woman. In the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 11.7) the Lord said:
virakta sannyasi amara raja-darasana
stri-darasana-sama vishera bhakshana
"Since I am in the renounced order, it is as dangerous for Me to meet a king as to meet a woman. To meet either would be just like drinking poison."
A renunciate should remain faultless. As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 12.51, 53):
sukla-vastre masi-bindu yaiche na lukaya
sannyasira alpa chidra sarva-loke gaya
prabhu kahe,-purna yaiche dugdhera kalasa
sura-bindu-pate keha na kare parasa
"As soon as the general public finds a little fault in the behavior of a sannyasi, they advertise it like wildfire. A black spot of ink cannot be hidden on a white cloth. It is always very prominent. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then said: There may be much milk in a big pot, but if it is contaminated by a drop of liquor, it is untouchable."
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