Lord Caitanya on Renunciation, Part 16


Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Feb 28, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — An exploration of Sri Caitanya's instructions on renunciation.

Tonight we complete the portion of our discussion in which we're considering verses found in Bhagavad-gita Chapter 18, 'The Perfection of Renunciation', in the context of Lord Caitanya's instructions on renunciation. In particular, we're discussing the ways in which Sri Caitanya, as well as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami exemplify the principles of renunciation in accepting the designation of sannyasa.

In yesterday's segment, we mentioned yukta-vairagya and suddha-sattva. Today, as we talk about Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Bhaktivedanta's sannyasa pastimes, we again wish to emphasize the fact that the Lord and His pure devotees should not be analyzed or looked upon as being in any particular mode -- even the mode of goodness. Even within the mode of goodness there's a degree of material attachment. Through the process of Bhakti, one has to transcend goodness by applying the principle of doing whatever is necessary -- vairagya-vidhya -- renouncing attachment and doing everything required in order to serve Krsna.

As Krsna is preaching to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita, one might misconstrue that Arjuna wanted to be in the mode of goodness, but Krsna wanted him instead to maintain a position of passion by fighting. Throughout the battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna, although he appeared to be very passionate, was really in the state of devotional service to Krsna, and was suddha-sattva, in transcendental goodness, regardless of the fact that he was fighting. In the same way, those who are purely preaching Krsna Consciousness in the mood of the Sampradaya Acaryas may appear to be very fearsome in their preaching; they may appear to be very active, traveling about and managing their preaching organizations. Laymen or foolish neophytes may mistakenly think they are exhibiting the symptoms of the mode of passion, but in reality, they're above all the modes of nature, above goodness, and one cannot perceive them to be under the influence of any of the three gunas.

The theme that we've been promoting here in the Sampradaya Sun over so many years has been that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Thakur should be recognized as being in the category of Sampradaya Acaryas -- nitya-siddhas sent by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu in order to fulfill His prediction of spreading Krsna Consciousness around the world. As such, they are really an expansion of Lord Caitanya's eternal lila. If their pastimes are analyzed from this vantage point, then we can learn so much more from their pastimes than has so far been expounded upon and presented to the followers.

Even though the pastimes of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada accepting sannyasa appear externally or superficially to have been under very different material circumstances, their lifetimes unfolded in such a way as to present the ideal example to be followed by the true followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu in future generations.

In the case of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, even though he didn't officially take sannyasa until he was 43, he never involved himself in householder life or in any type of business endeavors. He projected the image of the renounced scholar essentially his whole life, whereas Srila Prabhupada might appear to be the opposite. In other words, Srila Prabhupada married at a fairly young age, had five children and was involved in business activities before he left his family as a varnaprasta, then became a sannyasi in later life.

But in examining both their lives, we see that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Bhaktivedanta both maintained a perfect life within the context of the circumstances that Krsna put them in. Both absorbed themselves in preaching, and particularly in writing. Their life circumstances, as Krsna orchestrated them, brought them to the point where they were called upon to go out and preach, setting up institutions or mathas which facilitated that preaching. They both had the same intensity of preaching mood.

When considering the principle of renunciation in the mode of goodness, both Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Srila Prabhupada were in goodness, as of course Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was. Srila Prabhupada, who maintained his strict spiritual activities in the context of family life and business, while at the same time writing and performing sadhana in a dedicated manner, is a perfect example for the followers of Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement to try and emulate.

Of course, one has to guard against comparing the two Sampradaya Acaryas in any kind of mundane way, especially in the context of renunciation. From a neophyte's view, Srila Prabhupada may not appear to be as renounced in his early life as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was. Srila Prabhupada himself in some of his confidential lectures and talks projected the impression that he was afraid or reluctant to take up the renounced order. But on the transcendental level, which we are obliged to consider first and foremost, we can understand that his expressions were made in the mood of Vaisnava humility. Srila Prabhupada was always renounced, and his external circumstances did not affect his behaviour, nor did his taking sannyasa indicate some progression from passion to goodness, or from householder life into the renounced order. This did not transform his daily activities or his mood or state of consciousness. This is the proper way to reflect upon Srila Prabhupada's pastimes.

Unfortunately, there is a trend or tendency today even amongst some of Srila Prabhupada's disciples to consider Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's life circumstances and pastimes as a renunciate as being somehow on a higher standard or level than Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's. This is an offensive conclusion, and one that should be avoided. In the same way, one must be very careful in comparing Srila Prabhupada's purports and statements to the writings of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's. They are essentially identical, in that one is not more authoritative or transcendental than the other.

So the whole concept of renunciation being on a higher platform than being involved in what appears to be worldly life or family life and business, as well as the principle of renunciation in the mode of sattva-guna, do not apply to these transcendental personalities. Lord Krsna has orchestrated the life circumstances of his pure devotees for our benefit, and therefore they are perfect. These nitya-siddha Sampradaya Acaryas never exhibited any symptoms of passion or ignorance, nor from the standpoint of conditioned material senses did they exhibit goodness, such as that referred to in Bhagavad-gita 18.9, perfection of renunciation in the mode of goodness.


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