By Hansadutta das
this story to a friend Printer
In boyhood one is attached to
play, in youth one is attached to young women, in old age one is
attached to worrying, but no one is attached to the Supreme Absolute
Even as a young boy Shankaracharya was a brilliant
scholar. He was so renounced that at the age of nine he left home to
take sannyasa. Of course this was very disheartening for his
mother, who was all alone. At first she begged him not to go. After
some time he agreed to stay,
because she was so heartbroken. But one day he happened to be bathing,
a crocodile caught hold of him. He began to shout for help, and his
came there. She was a helpless old woman. She really couldn't do
So Shripada Shankaracharya said, "Mother, please give me permission to
take sannyasa. Then, I think, the crocodile will let me go, if
the Lord desires it." She agreed, and immediately the crocodile
released him. In this way he came to take sannyasa. Thereafter,
as a young boy, he traveled the length and breadth of India and
established his mission. The point is that he was a young boy, but
unlike ordinary boys of his age, he was not interested to play and
waste time in frivolous activities.
Another example is Narada Muni. He was also a
five-year-old boy under the care of his mother. He had no father, and
his mother was
the maidservant of some devotees. But one day his mother was fatally
bitten by a snake, and the boy was left alone. Since the Vaishnavas had
left that place, Narada Muni took it as a blessing and instead of
and crying, as most boys his age would do, he took the opportunity to
travel all over the world. In this way, he learned to become completely
dependent upon the mercy of the Lord.
Yet another example of an extraordinary child is
Prahlada Maharaja, the son of Hiranyakashipu, a powerful demonic
personality who ruled the entire universe in by-gone ages. Naturally,
Prahlada, like all boys, was sent to school to be educated. One day
Hiranyakashipu took his son Prahlada on his lap and very affectionately
inquired from him:
My dear son, please let me know what you think
is the best of all the subjects you have studied from your teachers.
( Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.4)
The father thought that his son would give him some
childish reply, but instead Prahlada Maharaja replied:
O best of the demons, as far as I have learned
from my spiritual master, any person who has accepted a temporary body
and temporary household life is certainly embarrassed by anxieties
because of having fallen in a dark well where there is no water but
only suffering. One should give up this position and go to the forest.
one should go to Vrindavana, where only Krishna consciousness is
prevalent, and should thus take shelter of the Supreme Personality of
Godhead. ( Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.5)
These instructions are very grave, sober and
enlightening. But Prahlada Maharaja's father was a demon. He became
very angry, chastised the boy and sent him back to school to be trained
in materialistic subjects such as politics, economics and material
sciences. The point is: ordinarily, boys are not at all attached to
studying the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. They are attached to
playing with toys, games and friends. Prahlada Maharaja also said that bhagavata-dharma
(Krishna consciousness) should
begin from the age of five. When Prahlada Maharaja was sent back to
he began to teach the other children Krishna consciousness. However,
children objected. They said, "But Prahlada! We are only five years
We can study this later, when we grow up. Now, let us play and enjoy."
But Prahlada said, "No. Bhagavata-dharma (Krishna
consciousness) should be studied and practiced from the age of five." Kaumara
acharet prajño. Kaumara means from childhood, or
the age of five. Krishna consciousness should be studied and practiced
from early childhood.
Everyone thinks, "When we are grown-up, when we are
older, we then can practice spiritual life. Now, let us have a good
time." When we are youths, we think of enjoying with the opposite sex.
We have no time to study bhagavata-dharma. We are under the
grip of sense gratification, especially sex enjoyment. But in old age,
we are full of
anxiety and lamentation. Old men are completely distressed because they
have failed to fulfill their plans for sense gratification, and in that
condition, they also cannot fix their minds on Krishna consciousness.
Shripada Shankaracharya, seeing this situation in human
society, is very unhappy. The devotees of the Lord are never unhappy on
their own personal account, because they actually are liberated from
material entanglement. They are enlightened in Krishna consciousness,
so they have nothing to be sorry about. Their future is very bright
because they are going home, back to Godhead, after this bodily term of
existence comes to an end. But the devotees of the Lord are unhappy
when they see the unfortunate situation of the general mass of people
who, in ignorance, are entangled in sense gratificatory activities.
Thus, a devotee makes
all kinds of arrangements for enlightening the conditioned souls about
the Absolute Truth. Otherwise, a devotee has nothing to do in this
world because for a devotee there is nothing to enjoy, and there is
to be sorry about. His only attraction is Vishnu. Therefore, as long as
a devotee is in this world he will be engaged in preaching Krishna
There are two kinds of devotees: bhajana-anandis
and gosthi-anandis. The bhajana-anandi is concerned
just with his own perfection or salvation. He retires to the forest or
holy place and spends his time chanting and studying shastra.
In this way he remains aloof from the general mass of people and
concentrates on his bhajana (chanting).
Another kind of devotee, having retired from the
world, situates himself in Krishna consciousness. He sees the suffering
of the conditioned souls, and he comes back to the world to teach the
conditioned souls Krishna consciousness. He takes a chance on behalf of
to broadcast the message of Krishna far and wide. He is known as a
gosthi-anandi and is on a higher platform because he knows the real
interest of the Lord. As Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita
(18.68-69): "That person who delivers this divine discourse between
Me and you to the devotees, O Arjuna, I consider to be most dear to Me
in this world. Never will there be one more dear to Me than he."
The Lord Himself descends from time to time to protect
the pious, annihilate the miscreants, and re-establish the principles
of religion. Sometimes Krishna comes as Lord Chaitanya, sometimes as
Rama, Varaha or Buddha. There are so many incarnations and
representatives of the Lord who descend to this material world just to
reclaim the fallen conditioned souls by establishing religious
tu sakshad-bhagavat-pranitam (Srimad-Bhagavatam
Religion is not the creation of ordinary men. Religion
means the orders given by God. The purpose of human civilization is to
abide by the codes of religion and in this way purify our existence,
rectify our sinful life and prepare ourselves to go home, back to
Godhead for an eternal life of knowledge and bliss.
We find scarcely anyone who is interested in real
religion. If someone is religious, it is generally for improving his
material standard of life. No one knows the real purport of religion.
na te viduh svartha-gatim hi vishnum
No one knows that to satisfy Vishnu is
really the only responsibility or duty of a human being. One's
duties are considered perfect when one has satisfied Vishnu. One should
never act for sense gratification. Everything should be done as a
yajñarthat karmano 'nyatraloko'
yam karma-bandhanah(Bhagavad-gita 3.9)
Krishna advises Arjuna:
Work, as a sacrifice for Vishnu, should be
performed. Otherwise, work binds one to this material world. Therefore,
you should always perform your prescribed duty of fighting, and at the
same time, think of Me. In this way you will remain unattached and free
from bondage. (Bhagavad-gita 3.9)
To work is unavoidable, but if we work for
our sense gratification, we shall only prolong our material existence.
work should be performed only for the satisfaction of Vishnu, and that
Because we are all devotees of Krishna--whether we are
boys or girls, youths or old men--we should all follow this scripture.
Do not waste time playing like ordinary boys and girls. Young men
should not waste their time chasing after young women. And those who
should not worry; rather, older people should be determined to become
perfect by giving up their household responsibilities to their grown-up
children and accepting sannyasa, using their last years of life
to become completely detached from material life. There is nothing to
lament about. These are the instructions of text seven. Hare Krishna.