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Renunciation: The True Renunciate Life


Once a sadhak enters the renunciate life, he has to live under the guidance of his Gurudev and serve his Gurudev according to His instructions. He should not live independently regardless of how knowledgeable he is about the Bhakti path. When he becomes qualified to do bhajan in solitude independently, his Gurudev will Himself instruct him to do so. But before that, if he lives independently without His Gurudev’s (or an enlightened Sadhu’s) guidance, he will go astray due to his materialistic samskaras hidden in his heart.

The kind of Vairagya the sadhak should practice while living in Grihastha is different from the kind of Vairagya he should practice while living in the renunciate life.


Those who are living in Grihastha have to avoid worldly pleasures physically and mentally as much as possible. Physically, they have to avoid the association of materialistic people and live in solitude in their own homes (and not go to the forest) as much as possible. Mentally, they must ensure they do not get attached to worldly possessions or relationships.

Along with that, they have to be careful about Ahara Shuddhi (purity of food) and Sanga Shuddhi (purity of one’s association). Ahara Shuddhi means the sadhak should be careful about Anna Doshas and refrain from eating food that is not cooked by Vaishnavas, not offered to his Lord or the money used for buying the food ingredients is not earned through honest work.

Sanga Shuddhi means the sadhak should carefully avoid the association of materialistic people or any source of unnecessary worldly talk, whether it is in the form of a mobile, books and magazines, a computer or a television. Instead, he must try to associate with Sadhus and Vaishnavas and listen to Hari Katha as much as possible. He must also read scriptures related to Bhakti. In this way, he should lead a life of austerity and discipline while performing duties to their family members along with contemplating Radha Krishna at every moment.


Those sadhaks who have abandoned the householder life and accepted Babaji vesa have to follow a very strict life of austerity and detachment. Since they have abandoned the householder life and worldly pleasures, they must make sure that their senses receive only what is related to Radha Krishna. Their senses should not enjoy worldly pleasures anymore. They should eat only what is necessary for the body to enable it to do bhajan. They should sleep as little as possible because the spiritual power of chanting Harinaam with focus nourishes their body more than what an eight-hour sleep can do.

A renunciate sadhak must not talk, touch or look at the face of the opposite gender. He must go for Bhiksha or Madhukari for his daily needs of the body. He must do bhajan under the guidance of his Gurudev or, in his absence, an enlightened Sadhu. He must try to physically serve his Gurudev or Sadhus as much as possible. When he is not serving his Gurudev, he must chant Harinaam in solitude. He must make a routine of sleeping and waking up in time. He must also eat in time. He must reduce his food intake and sleep as much as possible. His daily life should be very disciplined and focused on giving as much time to chanting Harinaam and serving Sadhus, Guru and Radha Krishna as possible.

Except for Madhukari from Vrajawasis, a renunciate sadhak must not eat food cooked by householders even if they are Vaishnavas. This is because although they are Vaishnavas, they have to engage in worldly pleasures once in a while and eating food cooked by them will cause the materialistic Samskaras buried deep inside the renunciate sadhak’s heart to gradually manifest again. But this Dosha (impurity) does not occur when the sadhak accepts Madhukari from a householder Vrajawasi because the process of Madhukari purifies the food from Anna Doshas (unless it contains a food item that is prohibited by the scriptures like onion and garlic).

The renunciate sadhak must also not live amidst householders or spend a night at a householder’s house. In this way, he must destroy his Samskaras of his previous materialistic life and engage his senses purely in Harinaam, Hari Katha, service to Guru and Radha Krishna and Their contemplation. Only in this way, he can truly submerge himself in the nectar of Bhakti and achieve the ultimate goal of Bhakti path, that is the divine and nectarine Prema Bhakti of Radha Krishna.

Vairāgī karibe sadā nāma-sakīrtana,

māgiyā khāñā kare jīvana rakaa.

Vairāgī hañā yebā kare parāpeksā,

kārya-siddhi nahe, Kṛishṇa karena upekā.

Vairāgī hañā kare jihvāra lālasa,

paramārtha yāya, āra haya rasera vasa.

Vairāgīra kitya--sadā nāma-sakīrtana,

śāka-patra-phala-mūle udara-bharaa.

Jihvāra lālase yei iti-uti dhāya,

śiśnodara-parāyaa Kṛishṇa nāhi pāya."

(Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya Lila 6.223-227)

Meaning: A person in the renounced order should always chant the holy name of the Lord. He should beg some alms to eat, and he should sustain his life in this way. A person in the renounced order should not depend on others. If he does so, he will be unsuccessful in the Bhakti path, and he will be neglected by Krishna. If a renunciant is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue. The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant Harinama always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits and roots are available. One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Krishna.


Although a sadhak can remain truly detached from worldly matters while living in Grihastha Ashram also, it is very difficult to lead such a kind of householder life for most people. The sadhak’s householder life should really adhere to the instructions of the scriptures. An Ashram is a place where people worship their deity together, engage in devotional activities and perform all their actions to please God. The householder sadhak must make his home such an Ashram. Only then it can be called Grihastha Ashram. All the members of the family must engage in devotional activities and actions that please God. The children in the household should be given such education that inspires them to engage in devotion to God. If the sadhak can lead such a householder life while remaining detached from his worldly relationships, doing bhajan in Grihastha Ashram is indeed better than going to the forest as a renunciate.

Sannyāsa karma-yogaśh cha niśhreyasa-karāvubhau
Tayos tu karma-sannyāsāt karma-yogo viśhi

(Bhagavat Geeta 5.2)

Meaning: Both the path of karma sannyāsa (renunciation of actions) and karma yoga (working in devotion) lead to the supreme goal. But karma yoga is superior to karma sannyāsa.

Only this kind of householder sadhak can be called a Karma Yogi. Not every sadhak who is living in householder life, enjoying worldly pleasures and performing all actions to please his senses and family members, and also chanting a few rounds of Harinama can be called a Karma Yogi who is better than the renunciates. But the householder sadhaks should strive to become a Karma yogi.

Many householder devotees come to meet me. Sometimes I am amazed to see their level of progress in the Bhakti path while living in Grihastha Ashram. Many renunciate sadhaks cannot compare to them. Such householder devotees are so engrossed in bhajan and diligently perform all their actions to please God. Their eyes well up with tears while chanting Harinama and their hearts become enraptured by the divine love for Radha Krishna. Such householder sadhaks are truly blessed. It is not easy to reach such a level of Bhakti while living in householder life.

Such devotees are worshipable for all. But it is difficult to do bhajan in Grihastha Ashram. If you sit near a fire, it is inevitable to feel its heat. If the renunciate sadhak experiences some unfavourable situation for his bhajan, he can easily leave the place and move to another. But where will a householder sadhak go? He has to deal with unfavourable situations and fight with his materialistic Samskaras while trying to progress in the Bhakti path. This is only natural. It is not the fault of the householder sadhak. That is why the householder sadhaks are said to be better than renunciates. Radha Krishna and Sadhus bestow mercy upon them easily. It is not as easy for the renunciates to receive Their blessings because they have been given favourable conditions for bhajan and are expected to exhaust their utmost efforts to progress in the Bhakti path. [This is why they have to live by such strict rules of Vairagya as mentioned above.]

But the renunciate sadhaks are also very dear to Radha Krishna.

Mahāprabhura bhakta-gaera vairāgya pradhāna
Yāhā dekhi’ prīta hana gaura-bhagavān.”

(Chaitanya Charitamrita Antya Lila 6.220)

Meaning: Renunciation is the basic principle sustaining the lives of Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu’s devotees. Seeing this renunciation, Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is extremely satisfied.

Although we are not able to follow the instructions of Mahaprabhu and his associates properly, we must speak the truth. (We cannot modify the truth just because we are not able to follow it ourselves). The Truth is Truth for all. If I am not able to follow it, I will have to face the consequences for that. But the Truth shall be spoken. The true renunciate sadhaks are very dear to the Lord.

thā-karagiyā mora kāgāla bhakta-gaa,

Vrindāvane āile tādera kariha pālana.”


(Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya Lila 25.183)

Meaning: Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructs Sri Sanatan Goswami – When my devotees who are absolute renunciates (who possess no material possessions) and are adorned by only a torn quilt and a waterpot go to Vrindavan, you must maintain them.

How should Sanatan Goswami maintain such renunciates? Should he give a renunciate a house with all the comforts and money to enjoy his life? No. Sanatan Goswami should give them the proper instructions on true renunciation and how to solve obstacles in the Bhakti path. He must purify the hearts of the renunciate sadhaks and maintain their progress in the Bhakti path. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu never wants his renunciate devotees to leave the path of renunciation and enjoy worldly comforts. He is very pleased to see the absolute Vairagya of His devotees. Therefore, those who have accepted the Babaji vesa must strive to follow the instructions of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on renunciation.


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