29 November 1981

Srila Sridhar Maharaj discusses tridanda-sannyas, varnasrama-dharma, and Vaisnavism. Following is a very minimally edited transcript.

Download mp3 audio

…every jīva, every soul. The three representatives of Nārāyaṇ are there. They are concerned with the jīva-soul in other words; they are concerned, they are in charge of their fate. So when recruited from here, their consent, their permission, their good will is necessary, and that is represented in tridaṇḍa. And also the free will of jīva, that is free acceptance, free acceptance to represent that, free cooperation, the jīva is also there.

So this is tridaṇḍa, this should be respected. Generally we should not keep it in anywhere and everywhere in the earth, not so. We show some respect and reverence we should do to the daṇḍa. Everything, of course, Vaiṣṇava should see as superior to his own position. And that is the custom, and that is the necessity of our behaviour which is compulsory when we are, we want to enter into Vaikuṇṭha. All should be seen with respect. I am the servant, they are all my master. So tridaṇḍa should also be seen like that. Though my own self is represented there but that is also in its divine character. So I shall give my reverence and respect, and devotion to the daṇḍa. That is, though I take it with me, but it should not be handled as a stick, or something like, not to support me, to help me in my ordinary movement. But I am carrying, just as the sacred thread, and also the daṇḍa of the sannyāsī. Always remembering me that I am sannyāsī, I have, punished, my kāya, mana and vākya, my thought, word and deed. The three phases of my endeavour has been punished, controlled. Not that, that they should not be any longer, they should not have their connection with the world of exploitation. So long as they did, that has been given daṇḍa, punished, punishment has been allotted for that, and from now I have completely withdrawn my thought, word and deed. Not to participate with the world of exploitation and renunciation, but I shall engage them only cent per cent in the service of Viṣṇu and Vaiṣṇava, of my Lord. Henceforth I take this pledge that henceforth I shall engage my thought, word and deed. Three things I shall engage only for the service of the cause of the divinity, for the service of my Lord and His own. It represents that emblem, that no longer I have an interest in this mundane world but I am a dedicated soul in all respects to engage myself in the service of the Lord.

And the permission I have got from the three, in charge of the individual soul, and in charge of the brahmāṇḍa, Garbhodakaśāyī, Kṣīrodakaśāyī, Garbhodakaśāyī, and who is in charge of the whole of all the brahmāṇḍas that are floating in Virajā. He’s above all, Mahā Viṣṇu. With Their permission I have secured the privilege to engage me in the service transcendental to all these phases of life, known as the plane of renunciation and exploitation and only serving, service, dedication. I love that. I want to be a child of that soil. And that is the token I am carrying always, it will remind me. The permission of the, of this mundane world, they are in charge. I have taking permission from them, this license. So, I must be true to my own self. I must dedicate myself for the cause, of the Vaikuṇṭha, Goloka, Kṛṣṇa, Vṛndāvan interest. I represent the interest of Vṛndāvan and Navadwīp, Mahāprabhu, Kṛṣṇa and Vaiṣṇava. With this idea I shall move.

etāṁ sam āsthāya parātma-niṣṭhām,
upāsitam pūrvatamair mahadbhi

ahaṁ tariṣyāmi duranta-pāraṁ,
tamo mukundāṅghri-niṣevayaiva
(Śrīmad- Bhāgavatam, 11.23.57)

[“I shall cross over the insurmountable ocean of nescience by being firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. This was approved by the previous āchāryas, who were fixed in firm devotion to the Lord, Paramātmā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”]

Mahāprabhu took eka-daṇḍa sannyās from Keśava Bhāratī, externally. But internally He says this śloka [of the tri-danda sannyasi], utters this śloka and starts for Vṛndāvan.

Mahāprabhu, He chanted this poem of Bhāgavatam,

etāṁ sam āsthāya parātma-niṣṭhām,
upāsitam pūrvatamair mahadbhi

ahaṁ tariṣyāmi duranta-pāraṁ,
tamo mukundāṅghri-niṣevayaiva

The Bengali verse there in Charitāmṛta.

prabhu kahe—sādhu ei bhikṣura vachana,
mukunda sevana-vrata kaila nirdhāraṇa

parātma-niṣṭhā-mātra veṣa-dhāraṇa,
mukunda-sevāya haya saṁsāra-tāraṇa

sei veṣa kaila, ebe vṛndāvana giyā,
kṛṣṇa-niṣevaṇa kari nibhṛte vasiyā
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, 3.7-9)

[Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu approved the purport of this verse on account of the determination of the mendicant devotee to engage in the service of Lord Mukunda. He gave His approval of this verse, indicating that it was very good.

The real purpose of accepting sannyās is to dedicate oneself to the service of Mukunda. By serving Mukunda, one can actually be liberated from the bondage of material existence.

After accepting the sannyās order, Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu decided to go to Vṛndāvan and engage Himself wholly and solely in the service of Mukunda in a solitary place.”]

Mahāprabhu says, “I have taken this tridaṇḍa veṣa”; outwardly He took this eka-daṇḍa, but internally He says, “I have taken tridaṇḍa sannyās, which is recommended in Bhāgavatam, and now, the veṣa, this outward dress, only niṣṭhā-mātra, only will remind Me about My future duty. But the real thing what is necessary is the service.”

If we take the daṇḍa, carry the daṇḍa but do not do our duty, then it will be fruitless. It is an emblem. But the real thing, service, to do my duty, to do the service of Viṣṇu, Vaiṣṇava, Kṛṣṇa, Vṛndāvan, that is the real purpose of this—

prabhu kahe—sādhu ei bhikṣura vachana

The tridaṇḍī-bhikṣu, this is the story, I shall come to it hereafter, in ekadasa-udhyaya of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. That brāhmaṇ he is chanting this śloka and Mahāprabhu is repeating that and says, prabhu kahe—sādhu ei bhikṣura, “Oh, it is very well and good.” The tridaṇḍī-bhikṣu of Bhāgavatam in ekadasa-udhyaya; Kṛṣṇa Himself is relating this story to Uddhava, of a brāhmaṇ, “It is very well and good.”

sādhu ei bhikṣura vachana, mukunda sevana-vrata kaila nirdhāraṇa

Why? He ultimately came to conclusion that the service of Mukunda, that is Kṛṣṇa—Mukunda means mu, ku, da, something which can make, which can show the salvation, liberation, as awkward. Mere liberation from exploitation, that is awkward. There is such positive thing in the dedicating world. So mu, mukti, mu means the abbreviation of mukti, mukti means liberation. Ku means that makes awkward. Mu ku da, dadati, it can give something which can show the liberation as an awkward thing. That is Mukunda. The meaning of the word Mukunda is such. He is the giver of such a thing which can show the renunciationists as most awkward, such a thing, Mukunda.

prabhu kahe—sādhu ei bhikṣura vachana,
mukunda sevana-vrata kaila nirdhāraṇa

He has come to the conclusion that the service of Mukunda, that is the fulfilment, the highest aim of our life. Parātma-niṣṭhā-mātra veṣa-dhāraṇa, this dress, this garment, this is only to help us externally in the society. Some social position, that if I approach anyone, easily I can get some alms for my food. A social status only I can get with this dress. But the real thing is the service, to discharge our duty to Mukunda and His own.

parātma-niṣṭhā-mātra veṣa-dhāraṇa,
mukunda-sevāya haya saṁsāra-tāraṇa

By serving Mukunda we can get rid very easily, very easily from the troubles of our previous activity and we are taken in the vicinity of Mukunda and His paraphernalia.

Sei veṣa kaila, ebe vṛndāvana giyā. “So I must try to approach Vṛndāvan, the favourable place, and there I shall go on with chanting the Name, and service.”

And now the story as described by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself to Uddhava, it runs like this. There was one brāhmaṇ in Avantī, Gwalior, near U.P. [Uttar Pradesh], perhaps a state in Rajputana. Gwalior, that was formerly Avantī. And where Sandīpanī Ṛṣi used to live, he had his ashram. And Kṛṣṇa went to Sandīpanī Ṛṣi for His training after He came to Mathurā, and got the sacred thread of the kṣatriya. And then went to take some training in Gurukula, He stayed for some time in Gurukula under Sandīpanī as Guru and there He got some education, Vedic education etc. He showed like that, with Sudama and other friends there.

There was one brāhmaṇ, the brāhmaṇ was in the beginning he was substantial, a rich man, but he was very miserly, and social duty he did not attend, discharge in any way. So the reaction came very soon. And the thieves, dacoits, they also took a portion. Then there was some litigation and many was spent there. Then some fire or this that. In this way his accumulated wealth, property was lost. Even, he did not allow his own relatives to feed much, he was so miserly, very miserly, miser of the miser. But anyhow the wealth was finished and he was reduced to a pauper. Then he came to his senses. “Oh, I lived my life in a very awkward way, but now, everything is taken from me. I had such vanity, such pride, that I did not offer even, neither to the gods, nor to the ancestors, nor to the social beggars, nor to even the wife, nor the children, nothing, no relatives. But now everything gone, they have left me. I am a street beggar. It does not matter. Whom should I blame for this?” He began to, “Is it the ill will of the graha, the stars, are the stars responsible for this, or the gods, or the Lord Himself?” In any way he’s taking, considering so many alternatives and dismissing. “No, they are not. It is my own karma,” he made responsible. “It is my own karma, nothing to be blamed, my own karma,” in this way. “But now, perhaps, the Lord is propitiated with me, so He has taken me on the straight. Then what shall I do? Leaving these which were so friendly to me the other day, and now they have cheated me. So I won’t depend on anything else but I start a new life enquiring after the enquiry of the Supreme Master.”

In this way he was, he became indifferent to everything of this world and started and got tridaṇḍa from some sādhu and began to move, taking the Name of Mukunda, Kṛṣṇa. So much so that collecting some food in the bank of a river he’s going to take the prasādam, someone came, someone came and passed urine there. “What is this O Lord?” Moving through the street someone, “What is this in your hand, you old man? Just give it to me and let me see.”

He does not give it, sometimes he takes it. Then, “Please give it, it is my lifelong association, sacred thing, given my Gurudev.” “Take it.” When going to catch, then again taking it back. In this way. Someone, “Oh sādhu where are you going?” He says, “I am going there.” “Oh, why, what for, what do you want?”

In this way the men of the society began to disturb him in the most nasty way in different positions. Then some say, when wants to get something from his mouth, “Say, why do you?” If he does not, “If he says no we don’t believe it. Say something, then also in turn pronounce some filthy thing.” If he does not speak anything, “Oh, it must be a thief or a dacoit, he does not speak anything. Let’s go, bind him down.” In this way, wherever he goes he is meeting this undesirable treatment from the society. Then this came to him, “Why? I was such a wealthy man. I was in that position. I have lost everything and come to live a good life; still I am being treated so harshly, cruelly. Who is responsible for all this?” Now that śloka: “Is it the stars, or the gods, or the Lord Himself?” So many alternatives they came in his mind, then dismissed them, “No, this cannot be, this cannot be, this cannot be. My own karma is responsible for all these things.” Then with this, whatever comes he’s anyhow tolerating, with the spirit of toleration he began his singing about Kṛṣṇa, Mukunda.

So Kṛṣṇa Himself, and the result of the past activities have come to take, to realise their debt, so we must be very forbearing, forbearing. The past accumulated should be cleared and you won’t hesitate, or won’t falter in any way. Nothing can check your progress towards the positive direction, with the help of the… it is very easy when you live in the association of the sādhus, and get some responsible services, then it becomes very easy. The bhajan becomes very easy when we live together with sādhus, in their company, by mutual help. Like Napoleonic chair, do you know that Napoleonic chair?

Once Napoleon in a battle was compelled to pass a chilly night, very cold night, in a marshy ground with his soldiers. They can’t, there’s no place to take any rest, to lie down, even to sit, all standing in a marshy land. Then he evolved a policy of taking rest, at least by sitting in a chair. How it is possible? There is nothing. So he asked his soldiers to stand in a circle, and asked them to take their seat in such a way that everyone will sit on the lap of another. One, he’s sitting on the lap of another, and another one is sitting on his lap: in this way, in a circular way, everyone is sitting, he gets the lap of another. B sits on the lap of A, then C sits on the lap of B, D sits on the lap, in a circular way, then the last man also gives lap to the first, in this way.

And Washington also did one time. He was in a very cold night, in a plain to pass, he and one of his friends perhaps. “Cold, chill, I can’t stand; so chill, cold.” Then they came that, “Let us wrestle against one another.” So the whole night by wrestling the inner warmth came and they could stand that chill. Otherwise they will have to die.

So the company of the sādhu helps us in that way, mutual help we can get from one another and it becomes very easy to go on, on our journey. Many difficult solutions we get, problems are solved if we can keep the company of the sādhus, by mutual help. In any way that is the most comfortable journey if we go in a company towards Kṛṣṇa.

Devotee: Guru Mahārāj.

Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: Yes?

Devotee: This question of Hinduism and Muslim is coming up, so we’re not Hindus but in some way we may speak on behalf of Hindus.

Śrīla Śrīdhar Mahārāj: We are not Hindus in the general sense. We are Vaiṣṇava, we are Kāṛṣṇa. The varṇāśram that is a, that is steps to Vaiṣṇava-dharma, Vaiṣṇavism. And favourable step, it is utilized, and we may begin from varṇāśram-dharma but we are to leave that when we enter the domain of nirguṇ. Varṇāśram is concerned with sattva-guṇa, up to sattva-guṇa, and then, even we are to leave varṇāśram when we enter into nirguṇ, Vaiṣṇavism proper.

Karma, our activities; the yoga, our attention; the jñāna, our dhyan, means our acquisition: when they leave their own colour and surrender into complete dedicated life, then it becomes Vaiṣṇavism. They have to leave their past steps. Karma, if all the karma is done only for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa then it is well and good, it is Vaiṣṇavism. And the jñāna when it ceases all its enquiry, surrendering to the sweet will of Kṛṣṇa, then it is Vaiṣṇavism, it enters the realm of Vaiṣṇavism. And the yoga, the attention, the direction of our energy, internal, fine, subtle energy, when it stops seeking any other achievement but concentrates wholly for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa, then it comes, enters the area of Vaiṣṇavism, leaving: bhakti-mukha-nirīkṣaka karma-yoga-jñāna.

The karma and the jñāna and the yoga, they cannot give their promised result without the help of bhakti, without the support of the wave, of the universal wave or force. If God withdraws all His energy from them, to support, then they are nowhere. But they can give their – just as so many companies, independent companies there may be, insurance company and such, this banking company, but if government is, does not withdraw it from them they can work. But if the government withdraws they cannot exist. But they can thrive, they can work well at the supposed backing of the government, at the passive support of the government. Government withdrawn, they are nowhere. So the power, the potency of Kṛṣṇa, the sympathy withdrawn, the karma, yoga, jñāna nowhere. But the supposed support of the, on the basis of the supposed support of the government, of Kṛṣṇa’s will, they can work on independently, give their own. So karma,

[kṛṣṇa-bhakti haya abhidheya-pradhāna]
bhakti-mukha-nirīkṣaka karma-yoga-jñāna

 (Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, 22.17)

[“Devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is the chief function of the living entity. There are different methods for the liberation of the conditioned soul—karma, jñāna, yoga and bhakti—but all are dependent on bhakti.”]

In Charitāmṛta, they are always looking at the face of bhakti, the service to Kṛṣṇa.

ei saba sādhanera ati tuchchha bala
[kṛṣṇa-bhakti vinā tāhā dite nāre phala]

(Chaitanya-charitāmṛta, Madhya-līlā, 22.18)

[“But for devotional service, all other methods for spiritual self-realization are weak and insignificant. Unless one comes to the devotional service of Lord Kṛṣṇa, jñāna and yoga cannot give the desired results.”]

What they give, that is a very negligible thing. Bhakti, the service, she does not depend on anything else. She can go independently, from any point. From any point of our life, only with the connection of a bona fide agent we can link with bhakti and we can go on independently without taking any help from the energy, from this fine attention, and our inquisitive spirit. Everything may be rejected, and only through service, through a sādhu, one can go on safely towards Vaikuṇṭha.

So varṇāśram generally, the sanātan-dharma means the varṇāśram, brāhmaṇ, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra. That brāhmaṇ, the highest section, their qualification is this, that they seek something which is not mundane, which is conscious, but not having any clear conception of the conscious world: some vague conception of the spiritual world. Not very clear, so,

brāhmaṇānāṁ sahasrebhyaḥ satra-yājī viśiṣyate
[satra-yāji-sahasrebhyaḥ sarvva-vedānta-pāragaḥ
sarvva-vedānta-vit-koṭ yā viṣṇubhakto viśiṣyate
vaiṣṇavānāṁ sahasrebhyaḥ ekāntyeko viśiṣyate]

[“Among many thousands of brāhmaṇas, a yajñika brāhmaṇa is best. Among thousands of yajñika brāhmaṇas, one who fully knows Vedānta is best. Among millions of knowers of Vedānta, one who is a devotee of Viṣṇu is best. And among thousands of devotees of Viṣṇu, one who is an unalloyed Vaiṣṇava is best.”]

Satra-yāji means who is engaged in sacrifice which is meant, the model, the typical, that everything should be done to satisfy Him, the central truth, Kṛṣṇa.

satra-yāji-sahasrebhyaḥ sarvva-vedānta-pāragaḥ

Then it may come to the stage of an enquirer, Vaidantic, who loves to deal with consciousness, fine things, vedānta-pāragaḥ.

sarvva-vedānta-vit-koṭ yā viṣṇubhakto viśiṣyate

There the yogī and the jñānī they are stayed there; like karmī they are not dealing with gross things but they are dealing with – they are busy in their dealing with the very subtle things of consciousness. But mere consciousness does not mean God consciousness, the consciousness of the self, consciousness of the cause of this material world, so many things. So brāhmaṇas who are the head of the varṇāśrama dharma they are more addicted than matter to spirit. But they have not got the real and cosmic idea in the complete idea of this spiritual world, purely spiritual world, not of Vaikuṇṭha, nor of Goloka. So the Vaiṣṇava,

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante, jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
[vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti, sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ]

[“After many, many births and deaths, one who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.”] [Bhagavad-gītā, 7.19]

When the jñānī surrenders to the feet of Vāsudeva then he becomes a Vaiṣṇava. Vaiṣṇava is there. And when the karmī,

yajñārthāt karmaṇo ‘nyatra, loko ‘yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ
[tad-artham karma kaunteya, mukta-saṅgaḥ samāchara]
(Bhagavad-gītā, 3.9)

[“Selfless duty performed as an offering to the Supreme Lord is called yajña, or sacrifice. O Arjuna, all action performed for any other purpose is the cause of bondage in this world of repeated birth and death. Therefore, remaining unattached to the fruits of action, perform all your duties in the spirit of such sacrifice. Such action is the means of entering the path of devotion, and with the awakening of true perception of the Lord, it will enable you to attain to pure, unalloyed devotion, free from all material qualities (nirguṇa-bhakti).”]

When he can come to understand that any work which is not for Viṣṇu will bind me with matter, reaction, then he comes to be Vaiṣṇava. And the yogīs,

yoginām api sarveṣāṁ, mad-gatenāntarātmanā
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ, sa me yuktatamo mataḥ
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā, 6.47)

[“In My opinion, of all types of yogīs, the most elevated of all is he who surrenders his heart to Me and serves Me in devotion with sincere, internal faith.”]

He is following so many mystic practices in body or mind and trying to raise his consciousness into the higher, subtle sphere of the world. But when leaving all those things he comes to make contact with the devotee and begins his bhajan then he is all right. He becomes Vaiṣṇava.

So varṇāśram has been accepted as so many steps; that śūdra mentality, vaiśya mentality, kṣatriya mentality, and brāhmaṇ mentality, then Vaiṣṇava mentality. When they accept Vaiṣṇava mentality, Viṣṇu is all in all, and we are only, our real position is that of a servant of Him, and he begins that life, dismissing all his ambitions in this mundane world whether gross or subtle, then he becomes Vaiṣṇava.

The Vaiṣṇava, as they will preach Hinduism, to a certain [extent], getting the centre, the centre is Kṛṣṇa. And for that you couch in this way: “You may earn money, but spend at least a greater portion for the service of Kṛṣṇa, for the propaganda of His name, be a vaiśya. The kṣatriya, you organise the force and try to help the Vaiṣṇavism, the service of Kṛṣṇa. And with the recognition you as vaiśya, the organising capacity, the fighting capacity, that will be utilised for them, fully accepted, whoever you are. And the brāhmaṇas you explain the Vedic scriptures and Purāṇa etc., but connect you with that Kṛṣṇa is all in all. No other gods are equal or more than Him. So in that way you connect, so we shall accept you. And the śūdra, you can give some, devote some energy, so try to utilise your energy for the service of Kṛṣṇa. Then we shall have some relation with you. Anyone you be, if you come to utilise yourself in the service of Kṛṣṇa we are in your favour. We have got recognition for you.”

chāri varṇāśramī yadi kṛṣṇa nāhi bhaje
svakarma karite se raurave paḍi’ maje

[“The followers of the varṇāśram institution accept the regulative principles of the four social orders (brāhmaṇ, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra) and four spiritual orders (brahmacharya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyās). However, if one carries out the regulative principles of these orders but does not render transcendental service to Kṛṣṇa, he falls into a hellish condition of material life.”]

But if you do not connect with the service of Kṛṣṇa, then doing your own respective duty you will have to be the prey of that reaction, that is to go down. Up and down, up and down. This vicious circle you can’t get out of. Only with the connection of Kṛṣṇa the autocrat, the great repository of love and beauty, connect with Him, you are saved. Otherwise in whatever position you are, if you are apathetic to that you are doomed. That is our position. The Kṛṣṇa conception, that is the real purpose of the varṇāśram but they cannot ascertain that, mostly, and they wander up and down. That is our creed. That is nirguṇ and this is all saguṇ, going up and down.

ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ, punar āvartino ‘rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya, punar janma na vidyate
(Bhagavad-gītā, 8.16)

[“O Arjuna, from the planet of Lord Brahmā downwards, the residents of all planets are naturally subjected to repeated birth and death. But, O Kaunteya, upon reaching Me, there is no rebirth.”]