Srimad Bhagavatam 01.06.12-13 - Physical and Mental Sanyas (download mp3)
by Madan Gopal Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
I passed through hills and mountains full of reservoirs of various minerals like gold, silver and copper, and through tracts of land with reservoirs of water filled with beautiful lotus flowers, fit for the denizens of heaven, decorated with bewildered bees and singing birds.
eka evātiyāto ’ham
adrākṣaṁ vipinaṁ mahat
I then passed alone through many forests of rushes, bamboo, reeds, sharp grass, weeds and caves, which were very difficult to go through alone. I visited deep, dark and dangerously fearful forests, which were the play yards of snakes, owls and jackals.
It is the duty of a mendicant (parivrājakācārya) to experience all varieties of God’s creation by traveling alone through all forests, hills, towns, villages, etc., to gain faith in God and strength of mind as well as to enlighten the inhabitants with the message of God. A sannyāsī is duty-bound to take all these risks without fear, and the most typical sannyāsī of the present age is Lord Caitanya, who traveled in the same manner through the central Indian jungles, enlightening even the tigers, bears, snakes, deer, elephants and many other jungle animals. In this Age of Kali, sannyāsa is forbidden for ordinary men. One who changes his dress to make propaganda is a different man from the original ideal sannyāsī. One should, however, take the vow to stop social intercourse completely and devote life exclusively to the service of the Lord. The change of dress is only a formality. Lord Caitanya did not accept the name of a sannyāsī, and in this Age of Kali the so-called sannyāsīs should not change their former names, following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya. In this age, devotional service of hearing and repeating the holy glories of the Lord is strongly recommended, and one who takes the vow of renunciation of family life need not imitate the parivrājakācārya like Nārada or Lord Caitanya, but may sit down at some holy place and devote his whole time and energy to hear and repeatedly chant the holy scriptures left by the great ācāryas like the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana.