Lord Caitanya on Renunciation, Part 6


Jan 24, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — An exploration of Sri Caitanya's instructions on renunciation.

As we discussed in yesterday's segment, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has warned us about markata-vairagya, false renunciation. An example is given in Prema-vivarta 16 by Jagadananda Pandita: "A false renunciant is a person who is externally renounced, but who is actually always trying to enjoy the material world. He is like a monkey who appears detached due to his natural habits but is excessively attached to sex life."

In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, there are two oft-quoted texts that focus on markata-vairagya. One of these, Madhya lila 16, recounts the pastime of Raghunatha dasa Goswami's wishing to follow Caitanya Mahaprabhu to Nilacala. The Lord cautions him not engage in false renunciation. In his purport on this Madhya verse, Srila Prabhupada again discusses renunciation in a way that is akin to the principle of nirbandhe krsna-sambandhe:

    "If one accepts something without attachment and accepts it because it is related to Krsna, one's renunciation is called yukta-vairagya." Since Krsna is the Absolute Truth, whatever is accepted for His service is also the Absolute Truth."

In the complete verse and purport which follows, Srila Prabhupada makes reference to Srila Jiva Goswami's Durgama-sangamani and Srila Rupa Goswami's Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, both of which are often quoted in connection with Lord Caitanya's instructions on markata-vairagya.

    Madhya lila 16.238:

    markata-vairagya na kara loka dekhana
    yatha-yogya visaya bhunja' anasakta hana

    markata-vairagya -- monkey renunciation; na kara -- do not do; loka -- to the people; dekhana -- showing off; yatha-yogya -- as it is befitting; visaya -- material things; bhunja' -- enjoy; anasakta -- without attachment; hana -- being.

    "'You should not make yourself a showbottle devotee and become a false renunciant. For the time being, enjoy the material world in a befitting way and do not become attached to it.'

    The word markata-vairagya, indicating false renunciation, is very important in this verse. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in commenting on this word, points out that monkeys make an external show of renunciation by not accepting clothing and by living naked in the forest. In this way they consider themselves renunciants, but actually they are very busy enjoying sense gratification with dozens of female monkeys. Such renunciation is called markata-vairagya -- the renunciation of a monkey. One cannot be really renounced until one actually becomes disgusted with material activity and sees it as a stumbling block to spiritual advancement. Renunciation should not be phalgu, temporary, but should exist throughout one's life. Temporary renunciation, or monkey renunciation, is like the renunciation one feels at a cremation ground. When a man takes a dead body to the crematorium, he sometimes thinks, "This is the final end of the body. Why am I working so hard day and night?" Such sentiments naturally arise in the mind of any man who goes to a crematorial ghata. However, as soon as he returns from the cremation grounds, he again engages in material activity for sense enjoyment. This is called smasana-vairagya, or markata-vairagya.

    In order to render service to the Lord, one may accept necessary things. If one lives in this way, he may actually become renounced. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.108), it is said:

    yavata syat sva-nirvahah svi-kuryat tavad artha-vit
    adhikye nyunatayam ca cyavate paramarthatah

    "The bare necessities of life must be accepted, but one should not superfluously increase his necessities. Nor should they be unnecessarily decreased. One should simply accept what is necessary to help one advance spiritually."

    In his Durgama-sangamani, Sri Jiva Gosvami comments that the word sva-nirvahah actually means sva-sva-bhakti-nirvahah. The experienced devotee will accept only those material things that will help him render service to the Lord. In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.256), markata-vairagya, or phalgu-vairagya, is explained as follows:

    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 favorable for the rendering of service to the Lord should be accepted and should not be rejected as a material thing. Yukta-vairagya, or befitting renunciation, is thus explained:

    anasaktasya visayan yatharham upayunjatah
    nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate

    "Things should be accepted for the Lord's service and not for one's personal sense gratification. If one accepts something without attachment and accepts it because it is related to Krsna, one's renunciation is called yukta-vairagya." Since Krsna is the Absolute Truth, whatever is accepted for His service is also the Absolute Truth.

    The word markata-vairagya is used by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to indicate so-called Vaisnavas who dress themselves in loincloths trying to imitate Srila Rupa Gosvami. Such people carry a bead bag and chant, but at heart they are always thinking about getting women and money. Unknown to others, these markata-vairagis maintain women but externally present themselves as renunciants. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was very much opposed to these markata-vairagis, or pseudo Vaisnavas."

In a lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.15, Srila Prabhupada refers to Prahlada Maharaja's instructions on renunciation, and he again mentions avoiding false renunciation and the importance of replacing an asat thing with another more Krsna conscious thing. This instruction is often found in connection with asat-sanga-tyaga, e.g., giving up social life and non-devotee friends for the association of devotees, or giving up illicit sex life for proper married life.

    "So the Prahlada Maharaja advising that "You give up all this nonsense conceptions" Vanam gato yad dharim asrayeta. Just vanam gatah, means just become free from this conception, grham andha-kupam conception of life. Take the broader life of Krsna consciousness. Then you'll be happy. Hitvatma-patam grham andha-kupam vanam gato yad dharim asrayeta. Harim asrayeta. The real business is harim asrayeta. Vanam gatah. Vanam gatah means go to the forest. Formerly, after grhastha life, vanaprastha life, sannyasa life, they used to live in the forest. But going to the forest is not the main purpose of life. Because in the forest there are many animals. Does it mean they are advanced in spiritual life? That is called markata-vairagya. Markata-vairagya means "monkey renunciation." Monkey is naked. Naga-baba. Naked. And eats fruit, monkey, and lives underneath a tree or on the tree. But he has got at least three dozen wives. So this markata-vairagya, this kind of renunciation, has no value.

    Real renunciation. Real renunciation means you have to give up the andha-kupa life and take shelter of Krsna, harim asrayeta. If you take shelter of Krsna, then you can give up this, all this "ism" life. Otherwise, it is not possible; you'll be entrapped by this "ism" life. So hitvatma-patam grham andha-kupam vanam gato yad dharim asrayeta. Not to give up... If you give up something, you must take up something. Otherwise, it will be disturbed. Take up. That is recommendation: param drstva nivartate. You can give up your family life, social life, political life, this life, that life when you take Krsna conscious life. Otherwise, it is not possible. Otherwise, you must have to take some of this life. There is no question of your freedom. There is no question of freedom from anxieties. This is the way."

    (Bhagavad-gita 2.15, November 21, 1972, Hyderabad)

Likewise, Prahlada Maharaja preached to his friends who were born of daitya families -- daitya meaning those who are materially attached, like his father Hiranyakasipu -- that they should give up such asat company. Again, we find mention of the regulative principles in this regard, i.e., the injunction against illicit sex, and the instruction that one must replace one thing with another, better thing replacing illicit sex with proper married life:

    "So Prahlada Maharaja warns his friends that if we become attached to this sense gratification, then vimocitum kama-drsam vihara-krida-mrgo yan-nigado visargah. Nigado, nigado means the root, the root cause of accepting the material body. These things are sense gratification. Tato vidurat, from distant place. Tato vidurat parihrtya daitya. "My dear friends, although you are born of daitya family, I am also born"--his father is also daitya. Daityesu sangam visayatmakesu: "give up their..." Asat-sanga-tyaga ei vaisnava acara. The same thing. Caitanya Mahaprabhu also said. Who is a Vaisnava? Vaisnava, He immediately explained, that Vaisnava, what is the duty of Vaisnava? Some devotee asked Caitanya Mahaprabhu, "Sir, what is the duty of a Vaisnava?" So He immediately replied in two lines, asat-sanga-tyaga ei vaisnava acara: "To give up the company of materialistic persons." Then the next question may be "Who is materialistic?" Asat eka 'stri-sangi: "One who is attached to woman, he is asat." And krsna-bhakta ara, "And one who is not a devotee of Krsna."

    So we have to give up. So there is therefore regulative principle. At least, no illicit sex. Get yourself married, live like a gentleman, take responsibility, then gradually you'll be able to give up this sex desire. Unless we give up this sex desire, completely unagitated, there is no possibility of stopping this repetition of material birth--birth, death, old age and disease. That is not possible. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja advises daityesu sangam visayatmakesu: "Don't associate with..." Asat-sanga, the same thing, as Caitanya Mahaprabhu... Asat-sanga-tyaga ei vaisnava acara. This is Vaisnava's business. Don't take any opportunity of asat, those who are materially attached. It is very difficult association."

    (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.17-18, New Vrindaban, July 1, 1976)

HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust


The Sun News Editorials Features Sun Blogs Classifieds Events Recipes PodCasts

About Submit an Article Contact Us Advertise HareKrsna.com

Copyright 2005, 2011, HareKrsna.com. All rights reserved.