śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year-2, Issue 3 & Year-15, Issue 3
Posted: 14 April 2009 & 22 April 2022

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Sannyāsa Garb Will Not Make Things Easier

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda

(Portrait of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada)


Question 1: What is the specific necessity of surrender and determination?

Answer: It is essential to have full confidence in Bhagavān. It is equally essential to have similar firm determination to perform hari-bhajana, the process of devotional service. I must receive His grace. I must not go astray. I must always go on chanting His name. God will undoubtedly help me if I am bona fide.

If someone is exclusively surrendered to the lotus feet of śrī gurudeva, he will certainly attain the fulfilment of all his desires. May the mercy of śrī gurudeva, who is non-different from Śrī Rūpa, truly be our sole support. Only then can we attain our spiritual welfare.


Question 2: Can one perform kṛṣṇa-bhajana with-out accepting the shelter and guidance of śrī guru? 

Answer: Never! We will exclusively perform kṛṣṇa-anuśīlana (perpetual, ardent endeavour meant exclusively for Śrī Kṛṣṇa). This kṛṣṇa-anuśīlana is possible only under the guidance, or direction, of Kṛṣṇa’s devotees. Śrī Vārṣabhānavī-devī (Śrī Rādhā) is anukūla – genuinely kind to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, Anukūla is another name for Śrī Rādhā. All of our divine gurus are none other than the dear most associates of Śrī Vārṣabhānavī-devī. We, the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, are worshippers of that Kṛṣṇa who belongs to Anukūla Śrī Rādhā. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas are more inclined to Śrī Rādhā than to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Śrī gurudeva is the non-different manifestation of Śrī Rādhā. Only through the ānugatya, or guidance, of Anukūla can one perform perpetual and ardent endeavour meant exclusively for Śrī Kṛṣṇa (kṛṣṇa-anuśīlana). Wherever the guidance of Anukūla, that is, the guidance of śrī guru, is absent, it will not be possible to ardently endeavour to cause Śrī Kṛṣṇa pleasure out of genuine kindness to Him (anukūla kṛṣṇa-anuśīlana). Instead, all that will exist will be the devastating desire for one’s own happiness.

Only by relinquishing this conceited propensity, which is opposed to bhakti, while performing service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of śrī guru, can everything be achieved. Unfortunately however, instead of seeking to give pleasure to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, we have become busy in the search for our own pleasure. Alas! Denying Kṛṣṇa as the master of our home, we ourselves have assumed that position and thus have become gṛha-vrata(someone who has vowed to enjoy their senses by fulfilling their fantasies). But if we wish to attain our real welfare, we will have to become attentive to it within this very lifetime. Oterwise we will be deprived of it and become the loser, despite receiving such a golden opportunity.


Question 3: Will dressing as a sannyāsī make things easier for me?

Answer: Not at all! Things will not become easier if one merely acquires the garb of a sannyāsī (renunciant). If one becomes gurudevatātmā, that is, if he considers śrī guru to be the devatā (worshipful Lord) and as dear as his very ātmā (soul), and if he thus makes service to śrī guru his life and soul, then he alone can become a true sannyāsī. It is preferable that only a bhakta who has steadfast faith and devotion in the spiritual master (guru-niṣṭhā) and steadfast faith in chanting the holy name (nāma-niṣṭhā) should become a sannyāsī.

However, those who do not engage in service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa under the guidance of guru and instead become involved in bad association, will become completely ruined. They will never be able to understand Bhagavān or attain loving service to Him.

By dressing oneself as a saint it is possible to fool others in this world, but the omniscient Lord, who bestows results according to one’s karma, will never pardon such a person. Those who dress as sādhus but are engaged in asat-saṅga (bad association) are harming their very own interests. By not depending on Bhagavān, by relying on someone else, one only invites grief.


Question 4: Is this world really a prison house for the conditioned souls? 

Answer: Those who do not desire anything from this material world are called niṣkiñcana devotees. In their opinion, there is nothing in this world, no object or being, that can give us perpetual happiness. This earth is a prison house for the conditioned soul. As a result of our aversion to Kṛṣṇa, we have become prisoners here and are thus suffering so much pain and agony. As prisoners we are under the control of the jailor of this prison house – our mind – and consequently we conceive of our sorrow to be happiness. By this we attain our due distress. Every fool who runs after sense enjoyment in this illusory material world will find himself entangled by nescience in the clutches of māyā.

Those who are gṛha-vrata, who have taken a vow to enter into and enjoy worldly life, think, “We must get a servant and, now that we have become gṛha-vrata, we shall easily manage everything and easily understand everything with the help of our very own senses.” The desire to become a politician, a litterateur, a scholar, a wealthy person, an altruist, the leader of a nation, an intellectual or a materialist in general is nothing but the desire to become the master of māyā.

However, Prahlāda Mahārāja says, “Do not let your senses wander toward the external worlds. Do not hold external material objects in esteem.” We have become deha-ātmāvādīs (those who consider the body to be the self) and gṛha-vrata (those who have taken a vow to enter into and enjoy worldly life), and thus we dress ourselves up as masters of this world. We view this world with eyes that seek selfish gratification and enjoyment, and we think that all should be our servants, ever prepared to wait upon us. All elements, like earth, water, fire, air, ether; as well as the moon, the sun, the planets, the constellations; plants, animals, trees and creepers – all are ripe for my enjoyment. We think, “I am the enjoyer of this world; everyone in it is meant to serve me.” But do we ever consider whom this world is actually for? It is an instrument to be used in the service of Jagadīśvara, the Lord of the Universe. If we are not engaged in hari-bhajana then we do not even have the right to take a piece of straw from this world.


Question 5: Who does Kṛṣṇa attract?

Answer: The Being “Kṛṣṇa” attracts all the three worlds. This substantive entity alone is attractive. Just as a magnet only attracts iron, not wood, Bhagavān, who is most worshipful, only attracts those souls who are inclined to serve Him (sevā-unmukha) and those who are already His servants (sevaka). Greed to relish the sweetness of transcendental service to Him attracts both types of souls.

However, if a person who is inclined to serve Him (sevā-unmukha) becomes attracted at some point to something else, he will be deprived of that original attraction. On one side is attraction to the material world, which leads to bondage, and on the other side is that most auspicious attraction to Kṛṣṇa. In this world, attractive forms, tastes, smells, sounds and touches are extremely close by, and due to our feebleness we become attracted to them. But if someone in this condition can incessantly hear hari-kathā from the lips of the sādhu-guru, then he can procure his release from the clutches of those nearby enemies.

If we cannot become attracted to the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa then we are bound to become attracted to māyā. When we become attracted to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s name, beautiful form and so forth, we may be relieved of our present, self-inflicted inconvenience of assuming the position of the enjoyer, a position which in truth belongs to Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone. To the extent that we engage in hearing, chanting and remembering the narrations of Kṛṣṇa, our false notions of being the enjoyer will be dispelled, and then we will surely feel attraction to Kṛṣṇa.


Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team
from Śrīla Prabhupāder Upadeśāmṛta
Questions re-numbered for this on-line presentation


Srila Prabhupadera Upadesamrta is a compilation of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s instructions in question-and-answer form.

Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year 2 & Year 15, Issue 3 “Sannyasa Garb Will Not Make Things Easier” by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada , is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.