Lord Caitanya on Renunciation, Part 17


Gujarat Mural

Mar 17, 2011 — CANADA (SUN) — An exploration of Sri Caitanya's instructions on renunciation.

Today we continue our discussion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's teachings on renunciation. We begin by again turning to Sri Krsna's instructions to Arjuna on the perfection of renunciation, from Bhagavad-gita Chapter 18:

    Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 18, Texts 1-12
    Conclusion -- The Perfection of Renunciation

    "Arjuna said, O mighty-armed one, I wish to understand the purpose of renunciation [tyaga] and of the renounced order of life [sannyasa], O killer of the Kesi demon, Hrsikesa.

    The Supreme Lord said, To give up the results of all activities is called renunciation [tyaga] by the wise. And that state is called the renounced order of life [sannyasa] by great learned men.

    Some learned men declare that all kinds of fruitive activities should be given up, but there are yet other sages who maintain that acts of sacrifice, charity and penance should never be abandoned.

    O best of the Bharatas, hear from Me now about renunciation. O tiger among men, there are three kinds of renunciation declared in the scriptures.

    Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up but should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls.

    All these activities should be performed without any expectation of result. They should be performed as a matter of duty, O son of Prtha. That is My final opinion.

    Prescribed duties should never be renounced. If, by illusion, one gives up his prescribed duties, such renunciation is said to be in the mode of ignorance.

    Anyone who gives up prescribed duties as troublesome, or out of fear, is said to be in the mode of passion. Such action never leads to the elevation of renunciation.

    But he who performs his prescribed duty only because it ought to be done, and renounces all attachment to the fruit--his renunciation is of the nature of goodness, O Arjuna.

    Those who are situated in the mode of goodness, who neither hate inauspicious work nor are attached to auspicious work, have no doubts about work.

    It is indeed impossible for an embodied being to give up all activities. Therefore it is said that he who renounces the fruits of action is one who has truly renounced.

    For one who is not renounced, the threefold fruits of action--desirable, undesirable and mixed--accrue after death. But those who are in the renounced order of life have no such results to suffer or enjoy."

    Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 1972 original edition, Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

In previous segments we considered the Gita's instructions on renunciation in goodness, in the context of Lord Caitanya and the Sampradaya Acaryas' accepting the renounced order. Today we begin to consider renunciation in passion and ignorance, with a famous pastime from Caitanya-caritamrta.

    "Prescribed duties should never be renounced. If, by illusion, one gives up his prescribed duties, such renunciation is said to be in the mode of ignorance. Anyone who gives up prescribed duties as troublesome, or out of fear, is said to be in the mode of passion. Such action never leads to the elevation of renunciation." (Bg 18.7-8)

The pastime of Lord Caitanya's tirtha-yatra travels in South India with His servant, Kala Krsnadasa, provides an interesting framework for discussing renunciation in both passion and ignorance. Following the narrations below from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta of Krsnadasa's experiences in Mallara-desa, in the Malabar district of Kerala/Karnataka region, tomorrow we'll offer some commentary on the principles of renunciation as they relate to this pastime.

    Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 10.145

    krishnadasa nama suddha kulina brahmana
    yare sange laiya kaila dakshina gamana

    "The twenty-second devotee, Krishnadasa, was born of a pure and respectable brahmana family. While touring southern India, Lord Caitanya took Krishnadasa with Him.

    Krishnadasa is described in the Madhya-lila, chapters Seven and Nine. He went with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to carry His waterpot. In the Malabar state, members of the Bhattathari cult tried to captivate Krishnadasa by supplying a woman to seduce him, but although Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu saved him from being harmed, when they returned to Jagannatha Puri He ordered that Krishnadasa remain separate from Him, for the Lord was never favorably disposed toward an associate who was attracted by a woman. Thus Krishnadasa lost the personal association of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu."

    Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 1.112

    tabe bhattathari haite krishna-dasera uddhara
    rama-japi vipra-mukhe krishna-nama pracara

    "After this, Krishnadasa, the servant of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, was delivered from the clutches of a Bhattathari. Caitanya Mahaprabhu then preached that Lord Krishna's name should also be chanted by brahmanas who were accustomed to chanting Lord Rama's name.

    In the Malabar district, a section of the brahmanas are known as Nambudari brahmanas, and the Bhattatharis are their priests. Bhattatharis know many tantric black arts, such as the art of killing a person, of bringing him under submission, and of destroying or devastating him. They are very expert in these black arts, and one such Bhattathari bewildered the personal servant of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu while the servant accompanied the Lord in His travels through South India. Somehow or other Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu delivered this Krishnadasa from the clutches of the Bhattathari. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is well known as Patita-pavana, the savior of all fallen souls, and He proved this in His behavior toward His personal servant, Krishnadasa, whom He saved. Sometimes the word Bhattathari is misspelled in Bengal as Bhattamari."

    Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 9.224

    amlitalaya dekhi' sri-rama gaurahari
    mallara-desete aila yatha bhattathari

    "After visiting Kanya-kumari, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to Amlitala, where He saw the Deity of Sri Ramacandra. Thereafter He went to a place known as Mallara-desa, where a community of Bhattatharis lived.

    North of Mallara-desa is South Kanara. To the east are Coorg and Mysore, to the south is Cochin, and to the west is the Arabian Sea. As far as the Bhattatharis are concerned, they are a nomadic community. They camp wherever they like and have no fixed place of residence. Outwardly they take up the dress of sannyasis, but their real business is stealing and cheating. They allure others to supply women for their camp, and they cheat many women and keep them within their community. In this way they increase their population. In Bengal also there is a similar community. Actually, all over the world there are nomadic communities whose business is simply to allure, cheat and steal innocent women."

    Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya Lila 9.226-233

    "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was accompanied by His servant, Krishnadasa. He was a brahmana, but he met with the Bhattatharis there. (226)

    With women the Bhattatharis allured the brahmana Krishnadasa, who was simple and gentle. By virtue of their bad association, they polluted his intelligence. (227)

    Allured by the Bhattatharis, Krishnadasa went to their place early in the morning. The Lord also went there very quickly just to find him. (228)

    Upon reaching their community, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked the Bhattatharis, "Why are you keeping My brahmana assistant? (229)

    "I am in the renounced order of life, and so are you. Yet you are purposefully giving Me pain, and I do not see any good logic in this." (230)

    Upon hearing Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, all the Bhattatharis came running from all sides with weapons in their hands, desiring to hurt the Lord. (231)

    However, their weapons fell from their hands and struck their own bodies. When some of the Bhattatharis were thus cut to pieces, the others ran away in the four directions. (232)

    While there was much roaring and crying at the Bhattathari community, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu grabbed Krishnadasa by the hair and took him away." (233)


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