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Renunciation or Devotion ?

I heard a nectarean lecture of our beloved Gurudev, HH Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj on Bhagavad Gita verse 5.6 and below mail is humble effort to share Guru Maharaj’s instructions along with what I understood from the same.

In Bhagavad Gita verse 5.6 , Krishna says

sannyaasas tu mahaa-baaho / duhkham aaptum ayogatah
yoga-yukto munir brahma / na cirenaadhigacchati

Merely renouncing all activities yet not engaging in the devotional service of the Lord cannot make one happy. But a thoughtful person engaged in devotional service can achieve the Supreme without delay.”

Srila Prabhupada in his purport says that those who are engaged in Krishna conscious activities are better situated than the sannyasis engaged in simple speculation about what is Brahman and what is not Brahman. We generally have a wrong notion about sannyaas that it has to be the last order of Varnaashram. Yes it is. But in grhasthashram also if you are not following any sense gratificatory activities than that is also sannyas. Merely wearing saffron clothes does not signify Sannyaas. The person will be cheating others as well as himself if he does so. Srila Prabhupada used to call such people’s renunciation as “markat vairaagya“, which means monkey renunciation. Monkey also does not wear clothes and survives on fruit and so do some people just wearing saffron clothes and surviving on bhiksha given by others. As mentioned in above verse if sannyaas is followed by engagement in devotional service then and then only the person’s life is going to be successful. Otherwise as our beloved Gurudev correctly points out in his lecture that such person will go mad after renunciating all sense gratificatory activities and doing nothing. His fall down is for sure.

In our case also, sometimes we do feel that we are better off than people who eat non-veg and indulge in various sense gratifications. We feel that we do not watch TV, we do not enjoy parties, we don’t go to cinemas and we don’t eat outside in restaurants. Thus we are devotees. NO. That is so wrong. Maharaj says that we have not yet even touched devotional service, if we do not renounce these activities from our mind completely. After working for 8 hours a day, as soon as one comes home, the first thought that comes in a person’s mind is – ‘let me relax and watch television so that some of my tiredness will go away. Or at least let me see News channel so that I am updated about happenings in the world.’ If we do not have TV then we will just sit quietly doing nothing, or we will talk with someone at home and do all prajalpas. Is this what a Vaishnav is supposed to do? Srila Prabhupad belonged to a Vaishnav family and his father’s primary business was to do Puja. His secondary business was to maintain his textile business. Prabhupada’s father used to come home after closing his shop at 10 in the night. Even though after coming home so late he used to take bath and then offer bhog to Krishna, do Arati and then read Bhagavatam. This is what an ideal Vaishnava’s behavior is. Gurudev says that our priorities should be fixed. Our top most priority is going back to Krishna. We have to get rid of this birth and death cycle. Rest all is secondary. So Renunciation is must. A devotee cannot be called devotee unless he or she renunciates all the nasty demands of mind. And once we are successful in renunciation, the time that we save should be utilized in proper devotional service. Daily renunciation of 3-4 hours will also help us in achieving our goal. 2 hours of chanting and 2 hours of reading. Waking up everyday early in the morning is renunciation of sleep. Mind will always play games with us, but we need to become the boss of our mind. When I say we, it means soul. We are soul and not this body. This we have heard many times but how many times have we actually implemented this knowledge? When we don’t wake up early in the morning at 4, that itself shows that we are considering ourselves as this body and flattering it with some more rest. Though we know that this body is going to leave us one day in a very miserable condition, still we engage in giving this body as much as comfort as we can. We can’t afford to lose even 5 more minutes of sleep if at all we wake up at 3:55 am in the morning. We think that let me sleep for 5 more minutes and then I’ll wake up. That 5 minutes actually kill your 2 more hours as you tend to fall deep asleep till 6 ‘o clock. This is just a small example of how we have exploited the word renunciation. Maharaj says that “No matter where you are, whether at home or in temple or with devotees or away from devotees, you must wake up at 4am. We don’t want any show off. We don’t want to show others that how early we are waking up. We do it to fulfill our first priority in life and that is to back to Krishna.” These nectarean words of Gurudev help so much to understand and assimilate the importance of renunciation.

There is a very famous saying, “In today’s age, person is of good moral because of lack of opportunity.” I have literally witnessed this in my behavior. I was so much not into watching Television. But once when I was at my in-laws place, I ended up watching television for hours. I never watched television at home because we didn’t buy one. But as soon as I had opportunity I did watch. This happens with most of us. If you go at a place, where you have time and money and also have opportunity we tend to exploit all the time we have. Why does this happen? Because we have not meditated on the first two lines of verse which says “sannyasas tu mahaa-baaho / duhkham aaptum ayogatah“. Merely renouncing all activities yet not engaging in the devotional service of the Lord cannot make one happy. This is very important sentence to remembered throughout our life.

We cannot become happy by no matter how much happiness we try to find without devotional service. Finding happiness in this material world is like going back of the mango’s reflection in water. The mango is on tree but we have seen the mango’s reflection in river. So we dive into the material river and go deep into it to find the mango but we end up in draining into the sufferings. This is the result of sannyas without devotional service. Maharaj said, “We being devotees, we have renounced onion, garlic. We have given up intoxication, gambling and illicit sex. But we need to utilize our renunciation. This can only happen when we give up our first qualification and that is Laziness. We are lazy because we don’t read Srila Prabhupada’s books on daily basis. We are lazy because we do not meditate on verses, and words in verses. Srila Prabhupad said that please free me from all these administrative activities so that I can concentrate and meditate on every word of Verses. This is called concentration and meditation. Unless you give up your laziness and meditate on verses, your devotional service cannot begin.”

I pray at the lotus feet of Gurudev that I remember his nectarean words and do not show off my devotion just by renunciation, but actually utilize my renunciation in devotional service of Lord Krishna.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vinayasheela devi dasi,
Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh