Lord Caitanya on Renunciation, Part 7


Nitai-Gaura worshipped by Srila Sanatana Gosvami

Jan 31, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — An exploration of Sri Caitanya's instructions on renunciation.

In our last three-part segment of this series we focused on markata-vairagya, false renunciation. The markata-vairagi is one who appears externally to be renounced, but is actually always trying to enjoy the material world. He is like the monkey who appears detached because of his natural habits, but is in fact excessively attached to sex life.

Along with the instructions on markata-vairagya found in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya lila 16.238, regarding Raghunatha dasa Goswami's desire to renounce his work and follow Lord Caitanya to Nilacala, another of the primary instructions on this topic is found in Antya lila 2.120, the story of the Lord's chastisement of Junior Haridas. We will explore that pastime in a later segment.

There is another term often used in conjunction with markata-vairagya, and that is phalgu-vairagya, which is insignificant or temporary renunciation. This term is famously known from the First Vasistya of Srila Prabhupada's 'Phalgun Krsna Pancami', his 1961 Vyasa-Puja to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur:

    "One bewildered by ignorance; what kind of renunciate can he be? He will only be a "phalgu-vairagi" renouncing externally."

Some of the examples given to illustrate phalgu-vairagya are slightly different than for markata-vairagya, and the distinction is an interesting one. There are a number of references in Caitanya-caritamrta to the phalgu-vairagya type of false renunciation. In Madhya lila 16.238 markata-vairagya na kara loka dekhana yatha-yogya visaya bhunja' anasakta hana - Srila Prabhupada mentions phalgu-vairagya in his purport:

    "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."

He also cites the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.256), in which markata-vairagya is mentioned synonymously with phalgu-vairagya:

    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."

While markata-vairagya and phalgu-vairagya are sometimes mentioned as being synonymous, we also see a distinction drawn in some references. Markata-vairagya is often mentioned in connection with false renunciation involving women, money, and other material attachments, while phalgu-vairagya is sometimes associated with an element of time, i.e., temporary or incomplete, and thus insignificant renunciation.

    "Phalgu means less valuable, less important. Or there is Phalgu river. Phalgu river, you know, in Gaya there is a Phalgu river. On the bed of the river you'll find all sand, dry, but if you push your hand little below the sand, you will find water. This is practi... Therefore it is called phalgu-vairagya."

    (Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 15.1, Bombay, October 28, 1973)

Lord Caitanya's warnings about avoiding phalgu-vairagis are presented in the form of Sanatana Goswami's instructions on the subject, which have likewise been presented by the recent Sampradaya Acaryas. In his Vaisnava Ke, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur writes:

    Verse 11

    sei du'ti katha, bhula' na sarvatha
    uccaih svare kara "hari nama-rava"
    "phalgu" ara "yukta", "baddha" ara "mukta,"
    kabhu na bhaviha, ekakara saba

    sei-these; duti-two; katha-topics; bhulo-forget; na-do not; sarvatha-in any circumstance; uccaihsvare-in a loud voice; kara-do; hari nama rava-chanting of the holy name; phalgu-false renunciation; ara-even; yukta-linked with Krsna; baddha-bound in material nature; ara-even; mukta-liberated from material entanglement; kabhu na-never; bhaviha-consider; ekakara-one form; saba-all


    My dear mind, you should never, under any circumstances, allow yourself to forget the two instructions of Sanatana Gosvami. Constantly engage yourself in loudly chanting the glories of the holy names of Lord Krsna!

    Never consider dry renunciation and yukta-vairagya (appropriate renunciation) to be equal. Do not confuse actions appropriate for a conditioned soul with the activities of an eternally liberated soul. Never think that everything is one without difference.

    Verse 16

    ye yphalgu-vairagi", kahe nije ytyagi",
    se na pare kabhu haite yvaiioava"
    haripada chasi', ynirjanata basi"
    labhiya ki phula, yphalgu" se vaibhava

    ye-who; phalgu-vairagi-false renunciate; kahe-says; nije-himself; tyagi-renunciate; se-he; na pare kabhu haite-can never be; vaiioava-a Vaisnava; haripada-the lotus feet of the Lord; chasi-rejecting; nirjanata-solitary practices; basi-I increase; labhiya-obtaining; ki phala-some result; phalgu-false; se-this; vaibhava-accumulation.


    Someone, who falsely renounces objects as material, which can actually be utilized in devotional service to Lord Krsna, is known as a phalgu-vairagi. Due to false pride, he claims to be a great renunciate. However, by his practice of dry renunciation, a phalgu-vairagi is never able to become a Vaisnava, a pure devotee of Lord Krsna.

    Discarding the eternal shelter of pure devotional service to the lotus feet of Guru and Lord Krsna, the phalgu-vairagi may practice what may appear to be Krsna consciousness in his separate or solitary "home" away from the Krsna consciousness association of the society of devotees, but what transcendental result does he achieve for all his efforts? Whatever so-called Krsna conscious result he is achieving is simply a form of material illusion with no actual eternal Krsna conscious value!

    (Vaisnava Ke (What Kind of Devotee Are You?), Part 2, by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur)

And in his Gaudiya Kanthahara, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes:

    "O wicked mind! Your so-called solitary worship is preached and practiced by wicked imposters who impersonate devotees for nefarious purposes. With great care you should consider what Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught Sanatana Gosvami. Loudly chant the holy name of Krsna. Never forget the two most valuable things he taught Sanatana: phalgu and yukta, "real and false renunciation;" and baddha and mukta, "freed and enslaved." Never mistake one for the other, or think them to be the same." [ ]

    "O mind, your only prayer is to be the servant of the devotees. Make this prayer your only contemplation. Why do you want to go off and leave the devotees. A phalgu-vairagi does not understand that the true meaning of re- nunciation is devotion. In the dress of a devotee, such an impostor calls himself a tyagi, a great renouncer, but he is only a great pretender. He will never be a true Vaisnava. Giving up the lotus feet of Sri Hari, he leaves the Lord's service behind in order to perform his "worship" in a solitary place. Having left the service of Sri Krsna and the association of devotees, what will he get by becoming famous as a humble man? Those who, in a false spirit of renunciation, give up the service of Krsna, the association of Vaisnavas and the order of the guru to execute solitary bhajana may sit in their hut and chant, but the only fruit they get is false. What is the use of such foolishness?"

    (Third Jewel of the Gaudiya Kanthahara, Vaisnava-tattva, 3.24)


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