Lord Caitanya on Renunciation, Part 5


Jan 23, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — An exploration of Sri Caitanya's instructions on renunciation.

In our last segment we referred to the correlation between the principles, asat-sanga-tyaga, ei vaisnava-acara avoiding the association of non-devotees, and nirbanda krishna sambandhe -- using everything in Krsna's service. There is an excellent narrative about Lord Caitanya's teachings on the matter, written by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in his Introduction to the book, Sree Krishna Chaitanya. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta enjoins both the renouncers and the elevationists (asat-sanga) to avoid false renunciation and simply dedicate their actions to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

    "Sree Krishna-Chaitanya has defined the proper use of the Relief that is offered by the non-meddling with mundane affairs in an enjoying mood. He has not asked anybody to adopt the indolent processes of non-co-operating with the phenomenal objects. He has rather instructed to practise accepting mundane things when we can trace the connections of the essence of such things with Sree Krishna, the Manifested Fountain-head of the Absolute. His disclosure has set right the topsy-turvy, hodge-podge situation of this apparently chaotic world. He has further cautioned the renouncers not to summarily reject the association of relative things for fear of their proving to be detrimental to alienating the peaceful soul from the mundane troubles by associating themselves with the purposes of the manifested Absolute.

    The busy people of this world have decided that the gratification of senses should be the essential aim of all our enterprises here as well as in the next world. So they have deemed it fit to adopt the principle of an ethical religion supplying their wants and to fulfil whatever we are in need of. These triple results are the covetable solutions of the enjoying calibre of sentient entities. This sort of mentality is found in the enjoyers. But there is an opposite section who believes that unless such desiring agencies are stopped, no eternal good can be expected. So they have formulated a different goal for their purpose. These men consider that salvation is required from phenomena by practising a non-co-operative mood from all and even the necessaries of life, which [is] tantamount to suicidal commission. By following the high-sounding words of annihilation in the Absolute by dismissing the three respective positions of observer, observation and observed, they covet to be finally rescued from phenomenal troubles.

    The Supreme Lord Sree Krishna-Chaitanya has neither encouraged the enjoying elevationists nor the renouncing Salvationists. He has prescribed the pure theistic thought of spiritual devotion to the Personality of All-love by the loving function of the unalloyed souls instead of plunging into the ocean of miseries which offer extreme troubles to elevationists and to persons who, having bitter worldly experience, desire to terminate their animation by the process of annihilation."

    Sree Krishna-Chaitanya Math, Brindaban, Muttra.
    Camp: Office of the circumambulation of the circle of Braja, Muttra (UP.)
    24th Nov., 1932

False renunciation is also described in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.256):

    prapancikataya buddhya hari-sambandhi-vastunah
    mumuksubhih parityago vairagyam phalgu kathyate

    "When persons eager to achieve liberation renounce things related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, thinking them to be material, their renunciation is called incomplete."

Whatever is found useful in rendering service to Sri Krsna should be accepted, and should not be rejected as a material thing, asat. For example, facility might be provided to the devotee that will further his preaching, but which requires him to be in the presence of non-devotees. By regulating the degree and mood of such relationships, even asat association is employed in Krsna's service -- nirbanda krishna sambandhe.

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu preached against markata-vairagis, or the pseudo-devotees, elevationists and false renunciates. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati used as an example the monkeys, who put on a show of renunciation by not accepting clothing and living naked in the forest. They may consider themselves renunciants, but this is markata-vairagya -- simply the renunciation of a monkey.

As Srila Prabhupada states:

    "Everything should be done in Krsna consciousness. That is our propaganda. Nirbandha-krsna-sambandhe. Whatever you do, it must have some relationship with the satisfaction of Krsna. If Krsna is satisfied, then you act. That is Krsna consciousness."
    (Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Bhagavad-gita, August 6, 1973, London)

The regulative principles serve as fail-safes for the devotees by setting boundaries for action that allow them to interface with the asat, including associating with non-devotees, while maintaining Krsna Consciousness and the principle of nirbandha-krsna-sambandhe.

Even in our own spiritual society markata-vairagis are found those who are falsely renouncing and making a show of spiritual life, enforcing their own standards for austerity in a way that eclipses nirbandha-krsna-sambandhe. For example, when using all things in Krsna's service, like bhoga foodstuffs for offering, if one rejects milk (which Sri Krsna greatly relishes) based on the principle of Veganism, then such false renunciation eclipses the principle of nirbandha-krsna-sambandhe, using all things in Krsna's service, within the guidelines of the regulative principles.

This example is commonly found in ISKCON today, and it goes against the instructions of Lord Caitanya. It is markata-vairagya -- simply the renunciation of monkeys to presume that milk should not be offered to Krsna, or milk-based prasadam should not be taken by devotees based on some mundane determination that it is tainted or not good for one's health. As Srila Prabhupada stated, "If Krsna is satisfied, then you act", and Krsna is clearly satisfied by the offering of nice milk preparations, even in this Kaliyuga.

To falsely renounce anything that Krsna has said can be offered to Him, based on some material consideration, is markata-vairagya, false renunciation. As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta states, such false renunciation is tantamount to suicidal commission.


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