Srimad Bhagavatam 11.05.11 - Deeper Meaning of Four Regulative Principles (download mp3)
by Braj Mohan Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
nitya hi jantor na hi tatra codana
vyavasthitis tesu vivaha-yajña
sura-grahair asu nivrttir ista
In this material world the conditioned soul is always inclined to sex, meat-eating and intoxication. Therefore religious scriptures never actually encourage such activities. Although the scriptural injunctions provide for sex through sacred marriage, for meat-eating through sacrificial offerings and for intoxication through the acceptance of ritual cups of wine, such ceremonies are meant for the ultimate purpose of renunciation.
Those who are not situated in pure Krsna consciousness are always inclined toward material sense gratification in the form of illicit sex, meat-eating and intoxication. They simply desire a party life of eat, drink and be merry. Such materialistic persons are unwilling to give up such temporary gratification because they are firmly bound up in the bodily concept of life. For such persons there are numerous Vedic injunctions for rituals that bestow material sense pleasure in a regulated manner. The conditioned soul thereby becomes accustomed to indirectly worshiping the Supreme Lord by accepting the austerity of regulated sense gratification in obedience to the Vedic way of life. Through purification the living entity gradually develops a higher taste and becomes directly attracted to the spiritual nature of the Lord.
Sometimes the fallen practitioners of the karma-kanda section of the Vedas assert that the material fruitive results of Vedic ceremonies should never be given up, because they are prescribed by religious scriptures. For example, there is a Vedic injunction that in the proper season a husband must approach his wife at night at least five days after her menstrual period, if the wife has properly bathed and cleansed herself. Thus, a responsible householder should engage in religious sex life.
The injunction that one must approach his wife for sex life is explained by the Vaisnava acaryas as follows. Within the material world almost every man is very lusty and desires passionate sex life with every attractive woman he meets, or with any woman at all. Actually, for an ordinary materialistic man it is an accomplishment if he can restrict himself to relationships with his lawfully wedded wife. But because familiarity breeds contempt, the natural tendency is for the husband to gradually become envious or resentful of the wife and desire illicit connections with other women. Such a mentality is most sinful and abominable, and the Vedic scripture therefore orders that one must approach his actual wife, with a desire to beget children, and thus curtail the tendency toward illicit sexual connection with other women. Were there no such Vedic injunction ordering one to approach his wife, many men would naturally be inclined to neglect their wives and pollute other women by illicit connection.
However, such an injunction for conditioned souls does not apply to great souls who are fixed on the spiritual platform and are transcendental to material sex desire. As stated in this verse, nivrttir ista: the actual purpose of the Vedic scriptures is to bring one back home, back to Godhead, back to the spiritual world. It is clearly stated by Lord Krsna in Bhagavad-gita, yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram: whatever we think of at the time of death will determine our next body.
anta-kale ca mam eva
smaran muktva kalevaram
yah prayati sa mad-bhavam
yati nasty atra samsayah
If one remembers Krsna, he is immediately transferred to the eternal planet of Krsna. Therefore, since all the Vedic scriptures are meant for knowing Krsna (vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah), the ultimate goal of the Vedas cannot be any type of absorption in the material senses, either licit or illicit. The Vedic regulations governing married sex life are actually meant to prevent sinful illicit sex. However, one should not foolishly conclude that a lusty attraction to his wife’s naked body is the perfection of self-realization and Vedic elevation. The actual perfection of spiritual life is to become free from all material desires, nivrtti, and to fix the mind on Krsna.
Similarly there are other injunctions, governing the regulated consumption of liquor and meat. Those who are mad after meat-eating are instructed to perform Vedic ceremonies by which they are permitted to consume five types of five-clawed animals, namely the rhinoceros, turtle, rabbit, porcupine and lizard. Similarly, the consumption of specific liquors is allowed during highly restricted sacrifices performed on specific days of the year at great expense. In this way, other types of drunkenness and cruel animal slaughter are prohibited. One is gradually purified by performing such sacrifices, and he develops a distaste for such foolish activities as meat-eating and the drinking of liquor. The Vedic rules and regulations that gradually restrict sense gratification are called vidhi. The word niyama refers to injunctions governing activities that human beings ordinarily would not be inclined to perform. For example, it is said, ahar ahah sandhyam upasita: “One should chant Gayatri mantra at the three junctions of the day, every day.” It is also stated, magha-snanam prakurvita: “One must take bath daily, even during the coldest months of winter.” Such injunctions prescribe activities that ordinarily would be neglected.
Although it has been mentioned above that there are injunctions against neglecting one’s lawful wife, there is no injunction against totally neglecting meat-eating. In other words, killing of animals is considered most abominable, and although some concession is made for the more violent class of men, one should actually completely give up this cruel activity because even a slight discrepancy in animal sacrifices will cause havoc in one’s life.
It should be understood that those who have become spiritually advanced by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra under the guidelines of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are expected to completely give up material sense gratification. If a devotee of Krsna duplicitously tries to take advantage of the scriptural allowances for meat-eating, intoxication or sex enjoyment, then he commits the tenth offense against chanting. Especially if one has accepted the renounced order of life called tridandi-sannyasa, it is most abominable and reprehensible to become attracted to the Vedic injunctions prescribing regulated sex life for householders. According to Srila Jiva Gosvami there is no such allowance for one in the renounced order of life. The Vaisnava sannyasis should not foolishly become bewildered by statements in the Vedic literature such as the following verse from Manu-samhita:
na mamsa-bhaksane doso
na madye na ca maithune
pravrttir esa bhutanam
nivrttis tu maha-phala
“It may be considered that meat-eating, intoxication and sex indulgence are natural propensities of the conditioned souls, and therefore such persons should not be condemned for these activities. But unless one gives up such sinful activities, there is no possibility of achieving the actual perfection of life.”
In the Kriya-vidhana it is explained that sex is permitted only during the vamadeva sacrifice, or the garbhadhana-samskara for begetting of religious children. It is also stated that sometimes certain types of meat are used in worshiping Lord Hari through sacrifices to the forefathers and demigods. Similarly, there is a form of intoxication available through drinking the soma beverage. But if a so-called brahmana becomes attracted to such offerings, he immediately becomes polluted. Actually, the brahmanas who performed such offerings would not personally accept any type of liquor or meat. These things would be consumed by the ksatriyas, who were not considered at fault in accepting such remnants of sacrifice.
However, in the movement of Caitanya Mahaprabhu it can be observed that those who desire to become advanced devotees of Krsna immediately give up all such fruitive sacrifices. There is no scope in pure devotional service for any type of fruitive sacrifices. Caitanya Mahaprabhu demanded that all of His sincere followers engage twenty-four hours a day in sravanam kirtanam visnoh, hearing and chanting the glories of the Personality of Godhead. Those who claim to be followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and who are seriously planning on going back home, back to Godhead, in the near future should not become mindlessly attracted by Vedic fruitive rituals that are meant to attract those who are hopelessly bound up in the material, bodily concept of life. The followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu always remain aloof from such tainted rituals.