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Serve Krishna without Material Attachment

Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswāmī Mahārāj explains the goal of life at a marriage ceremony.

What is good and what is bad depends on the nature of a person. The same rules and regulations are not applicable for everyone. What is good is what is in particular agreeable to a devotee.

ansaktasya viṣayn yathrham upayuñjataḥ
nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe yukta vairgyam uchyate
(Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: Pūrva-vibhāga, 2.255)

[“The earnestness of detached devotees who utilise objects appropriately in their relationship with Kṛṣṇa is known as yukta-vairāgya (proper renunciation).”]

Śrīla Bhakti Siddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākur quoted this verse in the headline on the front page of every issue of his magazine Gauḍīya, and he himself also gave the  meaning of the verse:

‘āsakti-rahita’ ‘sambandha-sahita’
viṣaya-samūha sakali ‘mādhava’

[“Be free from attachment and in connection (with the Lord). All objects belong to Him.”]

You should try to live in this mundane world without attachment. You are looking at everything in front of you, but you should not see everything as for yourself; you should see everything as for the service of Kṛṣṇa and take for yourself only what is suitable.

yathrham upayuñjataḥ nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe

Without attachment, you can use anything for the service of Kṛṣṇa, but you should take only what is suitable for yourself.

Your duty exclusively is service to Kṛṣṇa, but you can say what is good for you within that. If you take some honey every day, then you will get relief from a cold and your health will be good so that you can happily serve Kṛṣṇa or Guru and Vaiṣṇava. In such a case, taking honey is not a luxury. Everything should be understood in this way. If your stomach cannot digest chapatis or ghee but you eat these things, then your health will be bad, you will suffer as a result, and you will not be able to do service happily. So, what should you take? You should take what is suitable for your health, be it flat rice and curd, or muri, or rice. Take whatever is suitable for your stomach and you will be able to live happily. But why will you live? You will live to serve.

nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe

You will maintain your body and live only for the service of Kṛṣṇa, for that purpose particularly.

Family life must also run in this way. In a family, there are many facilities. We have seen Indian family life and Western family life. In Western family life, a husband and wife may be living somewhere and have a maidservant or servant with them. After they have a child, they both continue to go out working, and a maidservant or someone looks after the child or they put the child in school and then bring the child back after their work when they are returning home. Children grow up in the Western world in this way. We have seen this system in some places.

In the East, in India, if you have a child, then you actually have no responsibility for the child: your grandmother, your sister, your brother’s wife, and your other relatives all live together in a family, and they all look after the child. I have seen this. They are cleaning the child, feeding the child, and giving nourishment to the child. The whole family gives nourishment in this way. So, the same system is not present everywhere, but we can use in our life and for our maintenance whatever is suitable. We should use what we have, but without attachment. That is called yukta-vairāgya.

Whatever comes in front of you is coming as the prasādam of Kṛṣṇa. So, take that and live for the service of Kṛṣṇa. You may be a brahmachārī, you may be a sannyāsī, or you may be gṛhastha. Whichever lifestyle is suitable for your maintenance, follow that and with that  proceed to your destiny. That is Indian philosophy, specially, Vaiṣṇavism. Such yukta-vairāgya is necessary.

Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī said in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu.

yvat syt sva-nirvhaḥ svkuryt tvad artha-vit
dhikye nynatyāṁ cha chyavate paramrthataḥ
(Śrī Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu: Pūrva-vibhāga, 2.108)

[“The sensible accept as much as is necessary for their maintenance. By accepting more or less, one fails to attain the highest goal.”]

This verse is also in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu:

ansaktasya viṣayn yathrham upayuñjataḥ
nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe yukta vairgyam uchyate

Also,

ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ prātikūlya vivarjanam
rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāso goptṛtve varaṇaṁ tathā
ātma-nikṣepa kārpaṇye ṣaḍ-vidhā śaraṇāgatiḥ
(Vaiṣṇava-tantra)

[“Accepting the favourable, rejecting the unfavourable, confidence that Kṛṣṇa will protect you, embracing Kṛṣṇa’s guardianship, offering yourself, and humility are the six limbs of surrender.”]

We shall try to live with a mood of full surrender.

ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ

The world anukūl means ‘favourable to the service of Kṛṣṇa’. We should try to find favourable facilities and proceed to our destiny, and it is possible to proceed anywhere we are by simply accepting whatever favourable facilities are there and proceeding towards Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Our main goal is practising Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is the main goal of our life.

I think you have read this mantra:

yad astu hṛdayaṁ tava tad astu hṛdayaṁ mama

“My heart and your heart are together, and we will try to practise Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” The meaning of this mantra is the same in Bengal or UP or Odissa or anywhere else. We will live together peacefully, we will not be attached to mundane things, and we will try to practise Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the meaning of the mantram. That is, you are my wife, I am taking full responsibility for you, and you will favourably help me to practise Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is our religion. The meaning of the mantra comes to us in this way. Then, we have no problem if we can see the main goal,  the point of life, the light from the point of life. If we can see the light coming from there, then we can try to proceed without disturbances, without giving pain to others and taking things from others illegally. We can happily with a mood of humility and tolerance try to proceed to our destiny. This is best for our life, for the life of a practitioner.

What is suitable for your life you will take and go on. But you must proceed to your destiny, to your life’s goal. Śrīla Guru Mahārāj gave many opportunities to us. Previously, our Indian religion was not like this. Actually, Indian religion in the past followed the Vedic culture, and Vedic culture is very hard. Also, we see that there are many faults around us. Especially in the Kali-yuga, it is not possible to follow the Vedic rules and regulations. But Śrīman Mahāprabhu is very merciful, and Kṛṣṇa is also very merciful: Kṛṣṇa gave us the chance to chant His nondifferent form of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra. Then, chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, reading the auspicious books, the scriptures, serving the sādhu, Guru, and Vaiṣṇava, and earning money in a clean way—these activities mainly are the life of a gṛhastha. You know there are many histories in Mahābhārata about how people live as gṛhasthas. Every day they are doing pūjā and then they are taking breakfast. Every day they are doing some Vaiṣṇava-sevā. Etc. etc. You know the rules and regulations. But if it is not possible always to follow that, that is also not harmful if you chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra without offence. Whatever deficiency you may have will be fulfilled by the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra.

The last mantram the priest told at the wedding must have been this one:

yadāsaṅga kriyā karma jānatā vāpy ajānatā
pūrṇaṁ bhavatu tat sarvaṁ śrī-harer nāma-kīrtanāt

“The sacrifice you have performed and the mantras you have read, with and without understanding, will all be fulfilled and successfully you will get the proper result from them when you chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra.” Śrī Harer Nāma-kīrtanāt: according to someone’s religion they may say this means through the Name of Viṣṇu, the Name of Kṛṣṇa, or the Name of Nārāyaṇ, but the main thing is that all deficiency can be fulfilled by Hari-nām-saṅkīrtan, and Hari-nām-saṅkīrtan is our life’s goal. Mahāprabhu said,

cheto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaṁ
śreyaḥ-kairava-chandrikā-vitaraṇaṁ vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ
sarvātma-snapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam

[“Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtan cleanses the mirror of consciousness, extinguishes the raging forest fire of material existence, shines moonlight on the evening lotus of good fortune, is the life of those enlightened with paramour love for the Lord, expands the ocean of ecstasy, is the taste of full nectar at every moment, and soothes the entire self. May Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtan be supremely victorious!”]

hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare
hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare

Source

Spoken in 1991 in Śrī Govardhan Dhām after a marriage ceremony of two devotees.

Reference

The following mantra referred to above is recited at wedding ceremonies:

yad etad hṛdayaṁ tava tad astu hṛdayaṁ mama
yad idaṁ hṛdayaṁ mama tad astu hṛdayaṁ tava
(Śrī Sat-kriyā-sāra-dīpikā: Bhojanādi-dhṛti-homa, 2)

“May your heart be my heart, and may my heart be your heart.”

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