The Hammer - 14
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das

The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"

By Hansadutta das

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Text 14

The ascetic with matted locks, the shaven-headed monk, the renunciate who has pulled out all his hairs one by one, as well as those who wear different styles of saffron robes are all fools because, though seeing, they do not see. Indeed they have adopted these different guises only for the sake of their stomach.

"Professional Spiritualist--Followers Wanted"

Here is a verse describing a particular kind of ascetic (sadhu ) which we especially find today in India. We find them not only in India, but also in Europe and America. The priests, the monks, the sadhus, the yogis--everyone has adopted that lifestyle as a profession or as a way to earn a living and maintain some social status. India, of course, is well known for religion. India is the land of religion, and it is the culture of India to offer all respects to a sadhu. Sadhus are generally dressed in saffron cloth. They are supposed to either shave their head and face clean, or they should not bother with their hair and in this way let it grow long and become matted. A sadhu is also supposed to be without any family connection, social connection or national connection. He is supposed to travel at least every three days to another place with just his loin cloth, his stick and his kamandalu (begging bowl). To this day, all over India there are hundreds and thousands, maybe millions of sadhus . We especially find sadhus in the holy places such as Hrishikesh, Haridwar, Vrindavan, Jagannatha Puri, Kurukshetra and many other places. Unfortunately, because of the influences of Kali-yuga, the sadhus really have nothing to offer the public in exchange for the alms they daily beg.

A Sadhu is Not a Beggar

Actually, a sadhu is not a beggar, but a person who, for the sake of the service of the Lord, has given up all kinds of worldly connection to wife, relatives, friends and countrymen. In the guise or role of a beggar, he actually does the highest type of welfare work for human society. A sadhu is supposed to be enlightened in Krishna consciousness. Because he has this kind of enlightenment and understanding about the futility of material activities, out of compassion he accepts the life of a beggar or renunciate so that he can approach all classes of men and give them an opportunity to understand spiritual knowledge ( atma-tattva ), the higher truth of Krishna consciousness. That is the real position of a sadhu. He is not really poor. He is not really in need. He has no real necessity to beg anything, but with the excuse of begging, he looks for an opportunity to enlighten people about Krishna consciousness.

In Bhagavad-gita (6.32) it is said, "He is a yogi who, by dint of his own experience, can see the real happiness and distress of all living beings." A devotee, or sadhu, knows how people are suffering, because he has suffered similarly in material activities while trying to maintain wife, children, relatives, friends and countrymen. He tries to make others, who are in ignorance, understand about the real purpose of human life, which is to get gradual release from material entanglement and prepare one's self to give up this material body and all its relations and go home, back to Godhead. Unless a sadhu is capable of doing this, unless he himself is actually enlightened and free from material anxiety and material desire, then he cannot really do any good for people in general.

So-called sadhus who have no real enlightenment and renunciation are actually a nuisance. They are nothing more than beggars, like the hippies, hobos, and bums in America who actually cannot contribute anything to the society. They simply beg in order to maintain themselves somehow or other from hand to mouth. Similarly, although one may wear a saffron cloth and shave his head or keep matted hair or practice yoga, he is just a parasite, a beggar or a bum, if he is not capable of giving real knowledge and real enlightenment in Krishna consciousness.

Coming Together to Help Each Other

This is a warning that the devotees of this Krishna consciousness movement should not neglect the real purpose of this movement and the real purpose of life, which is to become free from friendship, society and love. We have not given up our family and friends to come together for starting another arrangement of family, friends, love and society. We have come together just to help each other advance in Krishna consciousness. We are creating a community or society, not for our personal enjoyment, but for those who have no knowledge of Krishna consciousness, to give them an opportunity to associate with devotees and learn the science of Krishna consciousness. This especially is the purpose of our communities: to create some facility where outsiders can come and comfortably associate and participate together with devotees to learn the philosophy and lifestyle of Krishna consciousness. Every devotee should consider himself to be a transient or servant--a keeper of the inn only. The temple and community is like an inn for wayward travelers who have been journeying since time immemorial in the material atmosphere and are looking for shelter. That shelter is this place. We should live in that way, just as keepers of the inn always look forward to giving shelter to those who are not so fortunate.

Don't Become a Professional Spiritualist

We should not become professional monks or priests. In India there are so many professional priests. They become pujaris in the temple and get a salary. Actually, the situation is so much deteriorated in India that people open temples in order to earn money. It is a good way to earn money, because the mass of people still have the sentiment of offering money to the Deity. There are also men who become professional Bhagavatam reciters. They recite Bhagavatam (bhagavata-supta) for seven days, for which they get paid. They maintain themselves in that way. This is not very good.

Our movement has a different character. It is a missionary movement, established just for broadcasting the message of Krishna. As far as personal maintenance is concerned, we must have that much faith in Krishna that He will somehow or other provide our food, clothing and shelter. We should have so much enthusiasm and sincerity that our only concern is how to serve Krishna, how to please Krishna, how to preach the message of Krishna, come what may.

Salaried Spiritualism is Useless

Krishna has guaranteed in the Bhagavad-gita (9.22), "For those who constantly worship Me with love and devotion, I provide what they need and I protect what they have." So maintenance is not really a problem for a devotee. A devotee has that much conviction--"Wherever I go, as long as I'm engaged in service to Krishna, then Krishna will look after me, and I should not waste my time trying to improve my material comfort, prestige or wealth. Krishna will take care of me."

In America also, so many priests in the church get a salary, nice quarters and vacation once a year. That kind of spiritualism is useless. It cannot really help anyone. The whole thing becomes material.

This is not a Hindu movement. Christian, Jew, Mohammedan, and Hindu--all these designations are material. They have nothing to do with the real essence of the scriptures of spiritual life. The real essence is that we are always servants of Krishna. While we are in this human form of life, we should revive that pure devotional service by practicing bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga means to practice service to Krishna while in the material body.

Fast, Fast, Fast--Relief that Does Not Last...

The material body is certainly the source of all sorts of suffering. We suffer from birth, we suffer from old age, we suffer from disease, and we suffer from death. There are also many other kinds of sufferings, such as mental distress, sufferings inflicted by other living creatures, sufferings from the activities of the devas, or demigods--all kinds of suffering. Indeed, material existence is a struggle to avoid this suffering which is being imposed upon us by material nature.

Instead of trying to counteract the inevitable miseries of material life, we should rather try to make a complete solution to the problem by getting out of material life, out of material existence permanently.

That is the difference between material activities and spiritual activities. Material activities aim at temporary solutions, or temporarily trying to get some relief through the application of medicine, politics, science, art, music or poetry. All of these give us some temporary relief. But ultimately, the suffering of birth, death, old age, and disease cannot be avoided by any kind of material activity.

Give Up Hope for Material Enjoyment, Comfort and Prestige

Spiritual activities give us a permanent solution. How? By freeing us altogether from the material existence, the cycle of birth and death. This has to be understood. Unless a person has understood the utter futility of material endeavors, he will not be attracted to Krishna consciousness.

We must be hopeless about material enjoyment, material comfort and prestige. We must be convinced that to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death is the primary duty, the primary goal of our life. That conviction must be in the heart. Then Krishna consciousness becomes very easy. Unless we see the urgency, the necessity of Krishna consciousness, we will be very casual. We will take it as something interesting--"Yes, it is nice, but right now I must do my business," or "I will just have some sense gratification, intoxication, or illicit sex, or whatever. Then tomorrow I can go to the temple, or next week, or next year, when I get older I will take this up, but not now. Now I want to have some comfort and some enjoyment." That is the problem. Everyone has a casual attitude. We must be serious, as if the house were on fire. If the house were burning, we would not think of sleeping another five minutes. We would jump up and run out, scream and get help. We would do everything in our power to extinguish the fire. We would not casually embrace our wife and have some sweet talk. We would be in panic.

"Fire! Fire! Help, I'm On Fire!"

One must come to this panic-stricken awareness, this urgency, that at any moment our life may end. We are sitting in a house on fire. Actually, this body is on fire. The senses are burning us with lust, anger and greed--we have so many things that we want to possess and enjoy. And yet the body has another kind of fire: the fire of old age, disease and ultimately death. Death burns up our very body, and that death may come at any moment. It may come today, it may come tomorrow. It comes to everyone for sure, either today, tomorrow or after some years. No one can be certain when, where or how he will die. The house we are living in is on fire--this body is compared to a house with nine windows--two eyes, two ears, nostrils, mouth, anus, and genital. We are packed up in the house of this material body, and it is on fire, but we are not taking any measure to extinguish this fire, the fire of material existence, the blazing fire of samsara (repeated birth and death). If you do not make any arrangement to get out of this material body in this life, you will get another body in the next life, and again you will be subjected to these sufferings: birth, death, old age and disease.

Fly Your Own Airplane

Whoever or whatever a person may be--rich or poor, learned or foolish, Indian or American, married or single, city-dweller or country-dweller, child or old man--everyone should be very serious about Krishna consciousness. No one can say, "Now I am alone, and no one is looking, so I can do whatever I like." We should all be serious. Everyone is responsible for his own life. No one can really help anyone. The spiritual master can give some instruction, some suggestion, but he cannot and will not enforce. Everyone has to fly his own airplane and swim alone. Don't be diverted. Be always very alert and very determined, dhira (sober) about this life of Krishna consciousness.

The greatest misfortune is to get the opportunity of human life, then to get spiritual life, and then to neglect it. That is the greatest misfortune or tragedy. That is very lamentable. When we see the non-devotees, who have no knowledge, living a casual life of sense enjoyment, we cannot really criticize them. They don't know anything. But when we see a devotee fall back into sense gratification on account of his laziness, we have to be very sorry about it. Hare Krishna.

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Hansadutta das
Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

©2004 - Hansadutta das
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