O My mother, O virtuous lady, these are the qualities of great devotees who are free from all attachment. You must seek attachment to such holy men, for this counteracts the pernicious effects of material attachment.
Kapila Muni herein advises His mother, Devahuti, that if she wants to be free from material attachment, she should increase her attachment for the sadhus, or devotees who are completely freed from all material attachment. In Bhagavad-gita (15.5) it is stated, nirmana-moha jita-sanga-dosah. This refers to one who is completely freed from the puffed up condition of material possessiveness. A person may be materially very rich or respectable, but if he at all wants to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, back home, back to Godhead, he has to be freed from material possessiveness because that is a false position.
The word moha used here means the false understanding that one is rich or poor. In this material world, the conception that one is very rich or very poor—or any such consciousness in connection with material existence—is false, because this body itself is temporary. A pure soul who is prepared to be freed from this material entanglement must first be free from the association of the three modes of nature. Our consciousness at the present moment is polluted because of association with the three modes of nature; therefore in Bhagavad-gita the same principle is stated. It is advised, jita-sanga-dosah: one should be freed from the contaminated association of the three modes. Here also, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, this is confirmed: a pure devotee, who is preparing to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, is also freed from the association of the three modes. We have to seek the association of such devotees. For this reason we have begun the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. There are many mercantile and scientific associations in human society established to develop a particular type of education or consciousness, but there is no association which helps one to get free from all material association. If anyone wishes to become free from this material contamination, he has to seek the association of devotees, wherein Krsna consciousness is exclusively cultured.
Because a devotee is freed from all contaminated material association, he is not affected by the miseries of material existence, even though he appears to be in the material world. How is it possible? A cat carries her kittens in her mouth, and when she kills a rat, she also carries the booty in her mouth. Thus both are carried in the mouth of the cat, but they are in different conditions. The kitten feels comfort in the mouth of the mother, whereas when the rat is carried in the mouth of the cat, the rat feels the blows of death. Similarly, those who are sadhus, or devotees engaged in the transcendental service of the Lord, do not feel the contamination of material miseries, whereas those who are not devotees in Krsna consciousness actually feel the miseries of material existence. One should therefore give up the association of materialistic persons and seek the association of those engaged in Krsna consciousness. By such association one will be benefited by spiritual advancement. By their words and instructions, one will be able to cut off his attachment to material existence.
In this Kali-yuga, the present age, the dangerous modes of rajo-guna and tamo-guna, passion and ignorance, are especially prominent. Practically everyone in this age is contaminated by lusty desire, greed and ignorance. It is said in the sastras that in this age of Kali, sattva-guna, the mode of goodness, is practically nonexistent.
The Fourteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita nicely explains how one can free oneself of contamination by the material modes. Now Kapiladeva advises, “Mother, if you want to get rid of the contamination of material nature, you should associate with a sadhu.” Attachment to the material modes brings about our bondage. If we want to be free from this bondage, we have to transfer our attachment to a sadhu.
Actually everyone is attached to something. No one can say that he is free from attachment. The Mayavada and Buddhist philosophies tell us to become detached, but this in itself is not possible. A child is attached to playing in so many ways, but gradually his attachments should be transferred to reading and going to school to acquire an education. It is a question not of stopping attachment but of transferring it. If one simply tries to put an end to attachment, he will become mad. Something must be given in the place of attachment. For instance, we tell our disciples to stop eating meat, but how is this meat-eating stopped? In the place of meat, we are supplying kacauris, rasagulla and many other palatable things. In this way, detachment is possible. First of all, nullify the inferior attachment, and then supply a better attachment. There is no question of forcing a living entity. This must be done gradually. A child may have some attachment, but by the system of replacing attachment, his attachment is overturned. Similarly, our consciousness has somehow or other become contaminated. Now it has to be purified. Then Krsna consciousness will automatically arise and awaken.
Krsna consciousness is our original consciousness, but somehow or other it has become covered by material attachment. The question is how to give up material attachment and become attached to Krsna. The process is sadhu-sanga, association with a sadhu. We have many attachments in this material world, but we cannot make these attachments void. We simply have to purify them. Some say that if the eye is diseased, it should be plucked out, but that is not treatment. Treatment is removing the disease. Somehow or other there is a cataract, and if the cataract is removed, one’s eyesight will be revived. We have many desires, but we have to divert these desires to Krsna’s service. For instance, we may be very attached to making money; therefore Krsna says, “Yes, go ahead and conduct your business. There is no harm. Simply give Me the results.” As stated in Bhagavad-gita (9.27):
“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.”
This is the beginning of bhakti-yoga. If we conduct business and earn money, we should spend it for Krsna. This is a form of bhakti. Another vivid example is Arjuna, who was a fighter. By fighting, he became a devotee. He did not become a devotee by chanting Hare Krsna but by fighting in the Battle of Kuruksetra. Krsna advised him to fight, but because Arjuna was a Vaisnava, in the beginning he was unwilling. A Vaisnava does not like to kill anything, but if Krsna orders him, he must fight. He does not fight out of his own will, because a Vaisnava’s natural instinct is not to do harm to anyone. However, when a Vaisnava knows that Krsna wants a particular thing done, he does not care for his own considerations. In any case, everyone has some particular type of duty, an occupation. If we perform our occupation in the worship of Krsna, our life will be perfect. This is also the instruction given in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.13):
“O best of the twice-born, it is therefore concluded that the highest perfection one can achieve by discharging the duties prescribed for one’s own occupation according to caste divisions and orders of life is to please the Personality of Godhead.”
Formerly, the varnasrama-dharma was prominent, and everyone had a particular duty according to his position in society. Now the occupational duties have expanded, but it doesn’t matter whether one is an engineer, a doctor or whatever. Simply try to serve Krsna by the results of work. That is bhakti. It is not the philosophy of this Krsna consciousness movement to disengage people from their activities. One should engage in his occupation, but one should never forget Krsna. Krsna advises us to always become Krsna conscious, and we should always think that we are acting for Krsna. Of course, we should work by the order of Krsna or His representative, not whimsically. If we perform some nonsensical action and think, “I am doing this for Krsna,” that will not be accepted. The work must be verified by Krsna’s acceptance or by the acceptance of Krsna’s representative. Arjuna did not fight without Krsna’s order; therefore we must receive our orders also. We may say, “I cannot find Krsna. How can I follow His order?” It is the role of the sadhu to impart Krsna’s orders. Since Krsna’s representative is the sadhu, Kapiladeva advises His mother to associate with sadhus.
We have described the symptoms of a sadhu, and we have stated that a sadhu should be accepted by his characteristics. It is not that we accept anyone who comes along and says, “I am a sadhu.” The characteristics of a sadhu have to be present. Similarly, it is not that anyone is accepted who comes along and says, “I am an incarnation of God.” There are characteristics of God given in the sastras. Sadhu-sanga, association with a sadhu, is very essential in Krsna consciousness. People are suffering due to contamination by tamo-guna and rajo-guna. The sadhu teaches one how to remain purely in sattva-guna by truthfulness, cleanliness, mind control, sense control, simplicity, tolerance, and full faith and knowledge. These are some of the characteristics of sattva-guna.
Instead of thinking, “Unless I have a drink, I will go mad,” one should think, “Unless I associate with a sadhu, I will go mad.” When we can think in this way, we will become liberated. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has stated that He wants every village in the entire world to be a center for Krsna consciousness so that people can take advantage of sadhus and in turn become sadhus. This is the mission of this Krsna consciousness movement. We simply have to voluntarily undergo some penance in the beginning. It may be a little painful in the beginning to refrain from illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling, but one has to be tolerant. To be cured of a disease, we may have to agree to undergo some surgical operation. Although the operation may be very painful, we have to tolerate it. This is called titiksavah. At the same time, we have to be karunikahthat is, we have to take compassion upon fallen souls by going from town to town to enlighten others in Krsna consciousness. This is a sadhu’s duty. Those who are preachers are superior to those who go to the Himalayas to meditate. It is good to go to the Himalayas to meditate for one’s personal benefit, but those who undergo many difficulties in order to preach are superior. They are actually fighting for Krsna’s sake, and they are certainly more compassionate. Those sadhus who leave Vrndavana to go fight in the world, to spread Krsna consciousness, are superior sadhus. This is the opinion of Krsna in Bhagavad-gita (18.68–69):
na ca tasman manusyesu
kascin me priya-krttamah
bhavita na ca me tasmad
anyah priyataro bhuvi
“For one who explains the supreme secret to the devotees, devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.”
If we want to be quickly recognized by Krsna, we should become preachers. This is also the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is not that one should remain in India; rather, one should travel all over the world to preach Krsna consciousness. The sadhu is suhrt; he is the well-wisher of everyone. This does not mean that he is a well-wisher for an Indian nationalist or whatever. No, he is a well-wisher even of cats and dogs. A devotee even wishes to benefit cats and dogs by giving them prasada. Once, when devotees from Bengal were going to see Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a dog began to follow them, and the leader of the party, Sivananda Sena, was giving prasada to the dog. When they had to cross a river, the boatman would not take the dog, but Sivananda Sena paid him more money and said, “Please take this dog. He is a Vaisnava, for he has joined our company. How can we leave him behind?” Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself actually threw some of His food to the dog, and in this way the dog attained Vaikuntha.
Not only is a sadhu everyone’s well-wisher, but he is not an enemy of anyone. He is also santa, peaceful. These are the preliminary characteristics of a sadhu. He is also attached to no one but Krsna. Mayy ananyena bhavena. These are the external and internal symptoms of a devotee. A devotee also respects the demigods because he knows their position in relation to Krsna. In Brahma-samhita (5.44), the goddess Durga is worshiped as the external energy, or potency, of Krsna.
“The external potency, maya, who is of the nature of the shadow of the cit, spiritual, potency, is worshiped by all people as Durga, the creating, preserving and destroying agency of this mundane world. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, in accordance with whose will Durga conducts herself.”
The goddess Durga is so powerful that she can create, maintain and annihilate. However, she cannot act independent of Krsna. She is like a shadow of Krsna. A sadhu knows that prakrti, nature, is working under Krsna’s direction. Similarly, a policeman knows that he is not working independently but under government orders. This knowledge is required in order that the policeman, who has some power, will not think that he has become God. No, God is not so cheap. God has multienergies, and one of these energies is Durga. It is not that she is all and all, for there are many millions of Durgas, just as there are many millions of Sivas and millions of universes. Although there are millions of demigods, God is one. It is not that there are a million Gods. Of course, God can expand in millions of forms, but that is different. A devotee offers respects to the demigods as the assistants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, not as the supreme power. One who does not know God as He is considers the demigods to be supreme. Such people are less intelligent. A devotee offers respects to the demigods, but he knows that the Supreme Lord is Krsna. Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. Actually a sadhu, a Vaisnava, offers respects to everyone, and he is ready to give up relatives and everything else for Krsna’s sake. A sadhu simply takes pleasure in hearing about Krsna and talking about Him.
There are many pastimes enacted by Krsna. He fights and kills demons, and He performs His pastimes with the gopis. He plays as a cowherd boy in Vrndavana and as King of Dvaraka. There are many books about Krsna, krsna-katha, and this Krsna consciousness movement has already published many of them. Apart from Bhagavad-gita, which is spoken by Krsna, we can read these other books. In this way, one can learn the art of becoming a sadhu. Simply by hearing about Krsna and speaking about Him, we will be immediately relieved from the suffering of this material condition.
As stated in this verse:
These symptoms are visible when one no longer has material attachment. A sadhu does not think himself Hindu, Muslim, Christian, American, Indian or whatever. A sadhu simply thinks, “I am the servant of Krsna.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said, “I am not a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacari or whatever. I am simply the servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna.” One need only learn this process in order to render the best service to humanity.

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