Srimad Bhagavatam 02.06.20 - Struggles of a sincere devotee (download mp3)
by Gaur Vilas Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
pādās trayo bahiś cāsann
aprajānāṁ ya āśramāḥ
antas tri-lokyās tv aparo
The spiritual world, which consists of three fourths of the Lord’s energy, is situated beyond this material world, and it is especially meant for those who will never be reborn. Others, who are attached to family life and who do not strictly follow celibacy vows, must live within the three material worlds.
The climax of the system of varṇāśrama-dharma, or sanātana-dharma, is clearly expressed here in this particular verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The highest benefit that can be awarded to a human being is to train him to be detached from sex life, particularly because it is only due to sex indulgence that the conditioned life of material existence continues birth after birth. Human civilization in which there is no control of sex life is a fourth-class civilization because in such an atmosphere there is no liberation of the soul encaged in the material body. Birth, death, old age and disease are related to the material body, and they have nothing to do with the spirit soul. But as long as the bodily attachment for sensual enjoyment is encouraged, the individual spirit soul is forced to continue the repetition of birth and death on account of the material body, which is compared to garments subjected to the law of deterioration.
In order to award the highest benefit of human life, the varṇāśrama system trains the follower to adopt the vow of celibacy beginning from the order of brahmacārī. The brahmacārī life is for students who are educated to follow strictly the vow of celibacy. Youngsters who have had no taste of sex life can easily follow the vow of celibacy, and once fixed in the principle of such a life, one can very easily continue to the highest perfectional stage, attaining the kingdom of the three-fourths energy of the Lord. It is already explained that in the cosmos of three-fourths energy of the Lord there is neither death nor fear, and one is full of the blissful life of happiness and knowledge. A householder attached to family life can easily give up such a life of sex indulgence if he has been trained in the principles of the life of a brahmacārī. A householder is recommended to quit home at the end of fifty years (pañcaśordhvaṁ vanaṁ vrajet) and live a life in the forest; then, being fully detached from family affection, he may accept the order of renunciation as a sannyāsī fully engaged in the service of the Lord. Any form of religious principles in which the followers are trained to pursue the vow of celibacy is good for the human being because only those who are trained in that way can end the miserable life of material existence. The principles of nirvāṇa, as recommended by Lord Buddha, are also meant for ending the miserable life of material existence. And this process, in the highest degree, is recommended here in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, with clear perception of ideal perfection, although basically there is no difference between the process of Buddhists, Śaṅkarites and Vaiṣṇavites. For promotion to the highest status of perfection, namely freedom from birth and death, anxiety and fearfulness, not one of these processes allows the follower to break the vow of celibacy.
The householders and persons who have deliberately broken the vow of celibacy cannot enter into the kingdom of deathlessness. The pious householders or the fallen yogīs or the fallen transcendentalists can be promoted to the higher planets within the material world (one fourth of the energy of the Lord), but they will fail to enter into the kingdom of deathlessness. Abṛhad-vratas are those who have broken the vow of celibacy. The vānaprasthas, or those retired from family life, and the sannyāsīs, or the renounced persons, cannot break the vow of celibacy if they want success in the process. The brahmacārīs, vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs do not intend to take rebirth (apraja), nor are they meant for secretly indulging in sex life. Such a falldown by the spiritualist may be compensated by another chance for human life in good families of learned brāhmaṇas or of rich merchants for another term of elevation, but the best thing is to attain the highest perfection of deathlessness as soon as the human form of life is attained; otherwise the whole policy of human life will prove to be a total failure. Lord Caitanya was very strict in advising His followers in this matter of celibacy. One of His personal attendants, Choṭa Haridāsa, was severely punished by Lord Caitanya because of his failure to observe the vow of celibacy. For a transcendentalist, therefore, who at all wants to be promoted to the kingdom beyond material miseries, it is worse than suicide to deliberately indulge in sex life, especially in the renounced order of life. Sex life in the renounced order of life is the most perverted form of religious life, and such a misguided person can only be saved if, by chance, he meets a pure devotee.