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Srimad Bhagavatam can'to 4: Chapter Twenty-six, Text 16

kva vartate sa lalana
majjantam vyasanarnave
ya mam uddharate prajnam
dipayanti pade pade

(King Puranjana speaks) Kindly let me know the whereabouts of that beautiful woman who always saves me when I am drowning in the ocean of danger. By giving me good intelligence at every step, she always saves me.


There is no difference between a good wife and good intelligence. One who possesses good intelligence can deliberate properly and save himself from many dangerous conditions. In material existence there is danger at every step. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.58) it is said: padam padam yad vipadam na tesam. This material world is not actually a place of residence for an intelligent person or a devotee because here there is danger at every step. Vaikuntha is the real home for the devotee, for there is no anxiety and no danger. Good intelligence means becoming Krishna-conscious. In the Caitanya-Caritamrita it is said: krsna ye bhaje se bada catura. Unless one is Krishna conscious, he cannot be called an intelligent person.

Herein we see that King Puranjana was searching after his good wife, who always helped him out of the dangerous situations that always occur in material existence. As already explained, a real wife is dharma-patni. That is, a woman accepted in marriage by ritualistic ceremony is called dharma-patni, which signifies that she is accepted in terms of religious principles. Children born of dharma-patni, or a woman married according to religious principles, inherit the property of the father, but children born of a woman who is not properly married do not inherit the fathers property. The word dharma-patni also refers to a chaste wife. A chaste wife is one who never had any connection with men before her marriage. Once a woman is given the freedom to mingle with all kinds of men in her youth, it is very difficult for her to keep chaste. She generally cannot remain chaste. When butter is brought into the proximity of fire, it melts. The woman is like fire, and man is like the butter. But if one gets a chaste wife, accepted through a religious marriage ritual, she can be of great help when one is threatened by the many dangerous situations of life. Actually such a wife can become the source of all good intelligence. With such a good wife, the family's engagement in the devotional service of the Lord actually makes a home a grhastha-asrama, or household dedicated to spiritual cultivation.

Marriage is a sacred vow before God. As one of the samskaras in the human form of life, marriage is a very responsible step of putting into action what we have learned in our brahmachari life. Brahmacari life is very austere, service to the Truth, service to the spiritual master. Brahmacari life is the life of devotional engagement without any entanglement with other affairs plus the study of the vedic scriptures, so that one can become learned and has some good understanding about the interactions in this material world. All this is the foundation, so later a person can live his marriage life with dignity. Marriage life is somehting very similar to living in an ashram, because there are other people in the marriage life who now depend on you, like you were depending on your guru when you were living in his ashram. In other words, you are receiving the charge to be responsible for your wife and for your children. This is a very nice responsibility, even though the scriptures have given several remarks to warn us from the great dangers which are presented in this material world from the attachment to simply sensual pleasures. Our spiritual master, he has even made the remark that it is very difficult to advance spiritually once you have the daily association of a woman. Nevertheless these warnings were spoken, but at the same time the position of a chaste with is glorified, like in this shloka. A chaste wife, or a chaste man who is faithful only to his married wife, or to her married husband, that type of person is actually very wonderful pillar in the spiritual consciousness of society. Dharma-patni is described here as a person who is actually being prepared in her spiritual life and then finally given to the husband in the sacred ceremony by the spiritual master, by the fire-yajna, by the participation of both of the families, and both of them take this relationship so serious that she considers her husband a real representative of her spiritual master, and he considers here like she is one of Krishnas gopis, who has been put under his protection, so he can serve Krishna in that particular way, of protecting his wife and his children. Now this is one thing which is very simply described, the way people contract marriage. But the actual important field here is how they go about, day by day, with their marriage life, what does it mean, grhastha-asram, in a practical frame.

In this material world we see that everything turning around marriage life is usually an intensive search for comforts, an intensive search for sense gratification, for simply entertaining oneself centered around the relationship of enjoying sexual pleasures with the marriage partner, and enjoying the children, at least that used to be the system, nowadays many times unfortunately they don't even want to have children, or they only have 1 or 2 childs and after they have them they go about and just kill any further children out of economical situations, etc. Of course that is such a deviated situation, we cannot even talk about grhastha-asram, but just in the essence we can say that the life together between husband and wife, which is simply centered around material comforts, that is not a grhastha-asram, that is not very auspicious, that will not help them in any way to advance. On the contrary, it will give them further trouble and further trouble because for anything you do there is a karmic reaction, and also if you are in your family life and you don't pay attention to spiritual life, you just engage yourself in searching comforts, making money, buying more items for the household, getting servants to do all the work, so that finally you can just sit there and give orders to others, this type of a position that is not a gentlemans position, that is not what we should search for. According to the principles of bhakti-yoga, the marriage ashram, the grhastha-ashram is actually a very sacred field of service and that service in the company with the wonderful, faithful wife is that even in dangerous circumstances you will not forget Krishna. You will always keep Krishna in the center of your life, that is the idea. Because when you keep Krishna in the center of your life, you can be sure that you will always have the right idea, for the right thing to do, so that you can actually help others in their spiritual life as well. Specifically your children.

Like many times we discuss the principles of authority, who is the authority, well Krishna is the authority, the sweet will of God is the authority, the rules of dharma are the authority, the order and wish of the spiritual master is the authority, and whoever surrenders to those divine principles, well he is the authority, he is the natural authority. He is not the authority because he is imposed by anybody, but the truth is always the truth and the truth is authoritiative, nothing can compare to the truth. The instructions of guru, Krishna and the scriptures they are representing the truth, they withstand the critical study to see wether they really carry validity, if what they say is really beneficial for everybody to follow. In other words, the vedic scriptures, the restrictions, the rules and regulations, they are not invented to give trouble to you and to your senses, to restrict the senses from the wonderful pleasures, to just make you some dried and frustrated person who has no happiness to rejoice in this world, NOT AT ALL. On the contrary, the vedic rules give you the full encouragement to enjoy and participate in all those sane and wholesome engagements which will purify you and also give you great pleasure. Just like when people see a devotional drama, you can see how their eyes are captured, their mind is captured, their ears are captured, sometimes you see the audience with crying tears in their eyes in rapture of the spiritual emotion. Well all their senses are engaged and they are extremely happy by watching this drama, even they may have been crying because their emotion has been so strong in the respective calamity which was shown in that drama.

In that way you can see that it transcendental sense-gratification, the senses are surely gratified. Who will deny the happiness of any father and mother when they see their beautiful children trying to become devotees, trying to understand the philosophy, this is such a wonderful pleasure, obviously, since that it is called pravriti marg, or the spiritual path with enjoyment. Of course even those who are renounced they can enjoy so many things by the grace of Krishna. The very fact to come together everyday with other devotees, to study the transcendental philosophy is an extreme enjoyment. In the material world you don't have any meetings with nice pleasant people in morning. You just run out of the home and have to get to work on time, otherwise you will be threatened to be kicked out and then you have to see the faces of the other unhappy workers there and you have to last through that all the eight hours until you make it home or you go to the second job because you owe so much to your credit card that with one job you cannot pay all your sense-gratification. Then you have to go to the other job and finally when you reach home at 8, 9 or 10 in the night you can practically just fall unconscious in your bed just to be ripped out of there at 6,7 in the morning or 4,5 for some people and immediately you have to understand: "If I don't run out to my job then everything will be spoiled", so again you have to get up, zip your coffee to get some stimulus, and as you are running out you are getting some more gratification by reading some morning news paper of all the misery in the world, worse then your own, and then probably you are going to do all kinds of nonsense like smoking and drinking, or some people take pills just to tolerate their unpleasant existence, because there is no happiness in working for material sense gratification, it is something they call it a necessary ill of our life. But actually when you are engaged in devotional service you don't see things like that, when you have a real grhastha consciousness to make the money to educate the children and to have your house nicely decorated for Krishna and for your different preaching projects, and for making nama-hattas and for getting deities from India and for making an altar and for taking care of the garden and growing nice flowers and fruit's and vegetables to offer to your Thakurji, Oh, all this is surcharged with the happiness of doing things wonderful for Krishna. Just like when we were in the ashram as brahmacharis and we were growing the food for the deities and making the flower-garlands, these same things can be reenacted in the grhastha life to give it a chance of a really meaningful, satisfying approach to life. Of course the philosophy should not be forgotten, every morning you should sit with your wife and with your little elder children and you should read a few verses from the Bhagavatam or from the Bhagavad-gita and you should tell them: "When I was living in Gurudevas ashram, he gave every morning this inspiring class, and you cannot imagine how we were feeling, we were running out for service with great happiness and joy, now Gurudeva has given me the charge to take care of you as you are my family, so let us do something most wonderful, so that when we go on sunday to the temple and we gonna see Gurudeva there and we are going to bring the biggest, biggest garland with the most fantastic jasmin flowers which we are growing in our garden and we gonna offer them to Gurudeva and try to hear some more of his sweet words to encourage us to do things nicely. Also Gurudeva is organizing the printing of transcendental literature, I will make a very good effort so that my business will go little better so I can also give something to that new publication of the Srimad-Bhagavatam in pocket version, so that it can be spread. So like this a grhastha should live by being penetrated by the desire of wanting to become usefull, and of course he has to first take care of his family. It is not that he is first gonna go to the temple and give charity there while his children have nothing to eat or they cannot even dress with anything.

So whatever, poverty or rich, that does not matter, Lord Krishna is only looking at the devotion in the heart of a devotee, thats the only thing which has any importance. Of course, if you are making a lot of money and you are living a lavish lifestyle, and you are forgetting that the spiritual master and the other devotees, they are working hard to do beautiful things, but you are not even going there because you are ashamed that you are not giving anything, because you have been caught by egotism and attachment to your few little things, then of course your spiritual life will be hampered by that. But Krishna surely only cares to see wether you like to be with him, wether you like to serve him, wether you like his devotees, wether you follow what you promised to the spiritual master, wether you really care for your children to become good devotees, wether you teach them by your example, wether you are concerned with Krishnas teachings, wether you keep reading the Bhagavatam and you also invite others to take prasadam at your home, and you actually participate in bhajan and kirtan. Sravanam, kirtanam, in one way or another, at work, at home, as you do travel, whatever you do, are you actually concerned, and are you actually participating with all that what your spiritual master has taught you ? Well that is the crucial point, that is it what makes grhastha-life a really, really wonderful and responsible experience. Of course the husband should not think that the woman belongs to him and he can do anything with her what he wants, neither should the woman thing that I am the owner of this man. You should always think about Krishna and see everybody in relationship with Krishna, and specifically the man should see the female, the energy as the Supreme Lords dear female energy coming down from the great personalities like Maha-Lakshmi who is coming to this world to please the Supreme Lord. Your wife, she is also one of those Lakshmis, and you should take care very nicely of her, and you should talk to her in a very pleasant way and together you should develop the plans for your family. As soon as in family there is no more conversation, no more reading of holy scriptures and everything just becomes a boring routine then family life becomes very difficult. Of course in the end of family life it is also said that we should not be too attached so that we never want to take sannyas, when we think: "Oh I have this wonderful wife, my life-companion, the most incredible beautiful being, which Krishna has given to me by his divine grace, but now, even though the children are big, I don't want to leave her, I don't want to stay without her, we are already living some varnaprastha-life", of course if you do it very seriously, maybe you get Krishnas mercy like that too, but don't forget, our spiritual master Srila Prabhupada said that taking sannyas in the end of the life is a kind of compulsory recommendation, that we should really try to take sannyas in the end of life, we should really try to give everything to Lord Sri Krishna, we should really try to be his pure devotee, we should make every effort possible to come in contact with Lord Sri Krishna in this lifetime by giving our heart and soul to preaching. So taking sannyas in the end of life is very nice, but that only after your family has been taken care nicely of.

Taking care of ones duties in life, one should take that as a very sacred and happy opportunity. Just like when I come here to Vrinda-kunja, and I am looking what has to be done, whats missing, what already has been done, how we are going to make the next plan, I rejoice, I am very happy to be able to do that, and whatever is required to do it actually, to accomplish all these plans, yes, I embrace them as wonderful opportunities, it doesn't matter if it means going in the sun to Agra to buy some casted cement-forms, or if it means to go somewhere and select bamboos for the garden. It doesn't matter, whatever is required to do wonderful things for Krishna, we should happily embrace it, and we should think that to have a wife is also a great mercy. So you should take care for your wife that she is also a nice devotee and you should plan together how to support and help and above all how to organize the education for our little Vaishnava-children, that is something I often see is much insufficient energy spent on that. Parents should get together with other parents and plan sunday-schooling, plan that one person really specializes in making little booklets for the children that they can know the philosophy that they can know how to see all the transcendental forms of Krishna, that they get enthused to also draw pictures, that they get to learn all the devotional sciences, just like Krishna in the ashram of Sandipani muni, he learned all the different sciences, all the different arts. So this is incredible, the different arts in the scriptures, they are all there for increasing the variety of devotional service which can be rendered, everything which is there to be done, it should be done as an loving offering. Actually the essence of loving offerings is what makes life so wonderful and pleasant. So there are so many wonderful things we can learn to make life beautiful and to offer things very wonderful to the deity. Just like when we see the carved walls, the carved doors, we can immediately appreciate how wonderful this is that somebody takes the effort, gets the stone, carves it nicely, makes a wall, makes a door, a gate, makes arches. Well whats the use of all these arches, well they look beautiful, everybody is happy when he sees them and this was an offering to our Thakurji made by those artists. So in this way, in marriage life, there are so many wonderful things we should and we can do and the children should be trained and inspired with all love to participate in such things. Actually a sane marriage, a sane vivaha-yajna (the sacrifice of getting married) and to focus on your wife and husband and children, how to do that nicely, all this is really a part of devotional service which can take you home, back to Godhead. don't think that having a family is an unpleasant thing which you should just get rid of and that your wife is guilty for your stopping to be a brahmachari. Yes, you may remember fondly the days of your brahmacharya, but you cannot say that that was the only real life, because having a family is also a real life and once you have children, you have to take care of them like the guru takes care of his disciples. With all your life and all your attention you have to make sure that your children can also be happy in Krishna-consciousness.

You see, even those who are nondevotees in this world, often take care very nicely of their children, at least try to give them all facilities for education, and for good food and dressing. Actually you can see that in this world that is very common. We can understand that for a devotee who is serious about his family, his wife and his children, he has to provide very wonderful arrangements so that his children can become Krishna-conscious, that they can appreciate the beauty of bhakti-yoga. Of course the children born in a Vaishnava-family from the very beginning, they are very auspicious and they have a very, very good luck, but at the same time they also have their karma from the past, specifically when they are born in the western world and to overcome all these samskaras of the past and to actually become a good devotee it is so important that they see their father and mother very much united in the transcendental purpose. That they see their father and mother as good devotees, teaching by their example and with great kindness and then the chance, that the children also want to enter spiritual life with great enthusiasm, that is there. I have personal experience of it, many of the children of our devotee parents are already temple-presidents, already responsible, and very, very happy in trying to do things for Krishna. That is what we want to see, and it will not happen artificially, it will only happen if the parents really give a permanent good example and always supply that love relationship to guru and vaishnavas, because everybody needs a hero, everybody needs a person, or many persons who are like showing the way back to home, back to Godhead.

Thats one of the duties of the sannyasis and the acharyas, to show the way back to home, back to Godhead, to show the way how to behave properly and to have a loving relationship were you can go and talk to them and they take you into consideration, because you may have a wonderful spiritual master, but if you can never speak to him, then it is very difficult to have this enthusiastic determination to go forward in spiritual life, it will be very difficult. So some people have proposed that you don't need a spiritual master, that you can just follow the books of Srila Prabhupada, but actually we aspire so much for that kind exchange with somebody whom we can trust, and who likes us and who is giving us encouragement. To not have that and feel that this is not Krishnas representative who Krishna has sent to me, that is a sad plight. So we are very happy that by the grace of our guru-varga we have experienced in this life-time not only once the shelter of a divine devotee like Srila Prabhupada, but we have had that feeling with Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhar Maharaja and with Srila Bhakti Pramod Puri Maharaja, so we have had that practical experience that the divine grace descends upon us, it again and again descends upon us to give us some very, very great enthusiasm and it's not automatic and it's not imposed. When we met Srila Bhakti Pramod Puri Maharaja, it was his extreme kindness which charmed us so much that we could understand that by serving him and by learning more from his way of understanding spiritual life, our spiritual service to our guru maharaja will be enhanced. So in this way a disciple can pick a siksha-guru in this world if he meets somebody who enhances his spiritual love for his service, for his appreciation, for what he got previously. Sometimes we even see people who say: "This one is a great shiksha-guru, he is a great devotee, he has great knowledge", but nobody gets encouraged in the faith in their spiritual masters when they hear from that person. Then we can understand that it cannot be so favourable for our spiritual advancement. So we have to be very cautious to see that our association is always favourable, that our children have favourable friends, that we are associating with those who are increasing our desire to become pure devotees of Krishna, that we can go on in the spiritual path and not have difficulties of loosing our chastity, of not loosing our enthusiasm for devotional service.

For example a wife she is faithful to the husband, if she becomes enamoured of the idea of being with another man because he is more pretty, or he has more money, or if the husband is thinking of dropping his wife because he got the chance to be with another younger girl, like it is the fashion in the western world, then they are rascals number one and they will be severely chastised in one way or another. If you don't know what you are having then you will loose it, you will loose the good things you don't care for, you don't appreciate. Everything we have, given to us by Krishnas grace, we have to take care very nicely of it, that is also true. it's a price, if you don't worship your deities, the deities at some point will say: "Hey, we are leaving here, or we are sending you somewhere else because you are not doing anything in the devotional field", so in this way we always have to be very careful to get the grace of Mahaprabhu and to get the grace of Gurudeva and to keep it, and if we get more grace of more Vaishnavas who are in the association of our Gurudeva, then it is also appreciated. But not that I need another Vaishnava and immediately I forget about my connection with my temple president or with my spiritual master, because I met another one who is also very charismatic and nice person. That doesn't make any sense. As a good servant of your guru you are always a good servant of humanity and who ever comes along you should treat him nicely and if another Vaishnava comes along then you will have great respect for him and if another Vaishnava-acarya or sannyasi comes you will feel great awe and reference towards them because they are also such dedicated souls. But you will never allow anybody to challenge your relationship to those who have nutured you, who have brought up your consciousness, who have given their kindness to you, because if you allow that then you will loose something very much. Just you cannot allow to speak anybody bad about your mother, because my mother is the best mother, because she is the only mother I really have who gave this body to me, so it is a natural thing that you know that somebody who is so important to you, you will not entertain any bad thoughts about that person, you will not appreciate if anybody wants to minimize or put down your mother or your well-wisher or your guardian. So as much as you don't like that, never do that with other people, never put down their guardians or their connections because if you do that then naturally the reaction will come and somebody will put down your guardian. So specifically living in Vrindavan or in the holy-dham, where there are so many guardians and so many missions, it is not an easy thing, because the nature of comparing and specifically the western nature of spiritual olympics and trying to evaluate everybody, that is very strong within us. So we should be very cautious, just like in a marriage, once you get married thats your wife, thats your husband, now you please learn how to please him, learn how to do something very wonderful with that person and don't forget it will only be possible if both of you accept that Krishna is the center, as soon as man or wife says: "Krishna is not the center, my ego is the center, my whim is the center and everything has to turn around my whimsical ideas and if you don't like it that I will threaten you, or I will go away, or I will find another person [to torture]". Like in the material world nowadays there is so often that families split up even with several children or sometimes they don't split up, but they are living together in a hostile relationship were one is screaming at the other and it is completely like a battlefield atmoshpere rather than a soothing atmosphere of an grhastha-ashram. So all these things, take them into consideration please, it is something like spiritual chastity. So if you do not want to get entangled in this material world, then you dedicate your life totally to Krishna-consciousness, and you avoid getting married, thats also possible, but than you have to dedicate yourself to spiritual life and to the service of your spiritual master just as much and as strong as if you had 10 children to maintain, because if the reason that you don't get married is because you are lazy, because you don't want to work, because you don't want to take any responsability, then I guarantee you that it is not real brahmacharya and your mind will be so disturbed in this life. So if you do decide to go to the path of spiritual renunciation, I can only tell you: "Congratulations !", but be cautious that you do it in the proper mood, be cautious to not forget that this is something wonderful for the sake of not being born again in this world and those who are married and who have to take care of their children and of their family, please respect them with great affection, they are also having a hard time to maintain that Krishna-consciousness always in their life within the marriage, that is not easy and encourage them, and make friendship with them so that they feel very encouraged to come to the temple and to help the brahmacharis, do not feel yourself superiour to others. Just always teach what your spiritual master has tought you and in this way things will definetely improve. So in this way we are always praying for the mercy of our spiritual master, that he may give us this kindness, that he may give us the permission to be engaged in the service of the brahmacharis, the grhastas, the matajis, the man, the children, the renunciants, the acaryas. We want to be servants of all, this is our goal and we want the woman to feel very secure and protected, which is very difficult nowadays in this world, because they don't want to accept an authority very much either, and then again people are exploiting them. Nowadays if a woman wants to find a men, this is a very difficult job, she don't know what to do. Sometimes in the western world woman have to go out and see if they catch somebody in the discothek or in the beach or in a social club and it is always an insecure system. Practically a system without dharma, without morality and of course many times things simply go wrong and we pray the karma of our previous lifetime when we join together with somebody who is not very serious, who is not ready to give you really the protection you aspire to get. Anyhow this is the age of kali and we have to try to always remember that things have to be done in accordance with the instructions given by the holy scriptures. For example if we want to give nice protection to the little girls and the elder ladys, we always have to train them to take shelter of Krishna. The Vishnupriya ashram concept is that responsible woman should take care for other woman, because that is the best system. We cannot see otherwise that this is going on very nicely.

The spiritual family in our life is very important from every angle of vision. The spiritual family is not only the brahmacharis and the brahmacharinis in their respective ashram, the spiritual family includes all the grhastas and their children as well and they are just as dear to the spiritual master as those living in the temple. On top of that there is always the opportunity to go further, when the grhasta duties have all be fulfilled, then finally one can enter into the renounced order of life and become an intimate servant of the spiritual master in his respective preaching mission. This is in short words the recommendation from the Srimad Bhagavatam as far as concerned accepting a wonderful woman as ones wife and as a woman taking shelter in a family, so that together they can serve Krishna and do very nicely everything so that their children will be highly blessed and all the difficulties of life, all the dangers of life, which surely come in one way or another, this is just the nature of them, will not be the cause for you leaving spiritual life or leaving your family, but everything will a chance for coming closer to Krishna and for becoming more careful. Final words, whoever is your husband or your wife, be very Krishna-conscious and take care very nice for them, make sure that they can be happy every day to see you and don't work with the principles of fear or the principles of violance but always utilize the spiritual system we learned from our own spiritual master, that you teach others by example and by very kind program, were everybody can feel some enthusiasm to participate. Thank you very much for your kind attention, and I hope that this will help you to structure your family life more Krishna-conscious, more dedicated and we all know by the example of Srila Prabhupada what that means.

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