The Perfect Society: Four Spiritual Classes
This chapter particularly describes the brahmacari and the person in the vanaprastha stage, and it also gives a general description of the four asramas--brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa. In the previous chapter, the great saint Narada Muni has described the varna institution of society, and now, in this chapter, he will describe the stages of spiritual advancement in the four asramas, which are known as brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa.
The brahmacari should live under the care of the true spiritual master, giving him sincere respect and obeisances, acting as his menial servant, and always carrying out his order. The brahmacari should engage himself in spiritual activities and study the Vedic literature under the direction of the spiritual master. According to the brahmacarya system, he should dress with a belt, deerskin, and matted hair and should bear a danda, waterpot and sacred thread. He should collect alms daily in the morning, and in the evening whatever alms he has collected he should offer to the spiritual master. A brahmacari should accept prasada upon the order of the spiritual master, and if the spiritual master sometimes forgets to order the disciple to eat, the disciple should not take prasada on his own initiative; rather, he should fast. The brahmacari should be trained to be satisfied with eating what is absolutely necessary, he should be very expert in executing responsibilities, he should be faithful, and he should control his senses and try to avoid the association of women as far as possible. A brahmacari should very strictly abstain from living with women and should not meet with grhasthas and those too addicted to women. Nor should a brahmacari speak in a lonely place with a woman.
After completing one's education as a brahmacari in this way, one should give daksina, an offering of gratitude, to one's guru, and then one may leave for home and accept the next asrama--the grhastha-asrama--or else one may continue in the brahmacarya-asrama without adulteration. The duties for the grhastha-asrama and brahmacarya-asrama, as well as the duties for sannyasis, are prescribed in the sastras. A grhastha is not meant to enjoy sex life without restriction. Indeed, the whole purpose of Vedic life is to become free from sexual indulgence. All the asramas are recognized for spiritual progress, and therefore although the grhastha-asrama gives a kind of license for sex life for a certain time, it does not allow unrestricted sex life. Therefore, in grhastha life also, there is no illicit sex. A grhastha should not accept a woman for sexual enjoyment. Wasting semen is also illicit sex.
After the grhastha-asrama is another asrama, known as vanaprastha, which is midway between grhastha and sannyasa. A person in the vanaprastha order is restricted in eating food grains and forbidden to eat fruits that have not ripened on the tree. Nor should he cook food with fire, although he is allowed to eat caru, grains that have been offered in a sacrificial fire. He may also eat fruits and grains that have grown naturally. Living in a thatched cottage, the vanaprastha should endure all kinds of heat and cold. He should not cut his nails or hair, and he should give up cleaning his body and teeth. He should wear tree bark, accept a danda, and practice life in the forest, taking a vow to live there for twelve years, eight years, four years, two years or at least one year. At last, when because of old age he can no longer perform the activities of a vanaprastha, he should gradually stop everything and in this way give up his body.
vasan danto guror hitam
acaran dasavan nico
sri-naradah uvaca--Sri Narada Muni said; brahmacari--a brahmacari, a student living at the residence of the guru; guru-kule--at the residence of the guru; vasan--by living; dantah--continuously practicing control of the senses; guroh hitam--only for the benefit of the guru (not for one's personal benefit); acaran--practicing; dasa-vat--very humbly, like a slave; nicah--submissive, obedient; gurau--unto the spiritual master; su-drdha--firmly; sauhrdah--in friendship or good will.
Narada Muni said: A student should practice completely controlling his senses. He should be submissive and should have an attitude of firm friendship for the spiritual master. With a great vow, the brahmacari should live at the guru-kula, only for the benefit of the guru.
sayam pratar upasita
sandhye ubhe ca yata-vag
japan brahma samahitah
sayam--in the evening; pratah--in the morning; upasita--he should worship; guru--the spiritual master; agni--the fire (by a fire sacrifice); arka--the sun; sura-uttaman--and Lord Visnu, Purusottama, the best of personalities; sandhye--morning and evening; ubhe--both; ca--also; yata-vak--without talking, being silent; japan--murmuring; brahma--the Gayatri mantra; samahitah--being fully absorbed.
At both junctions of day and night, namely, in the early morning and in the evening, he should be fully absorbed in thoughts of the spiritual master, fire, the sun-god and Lord Visnu and by chanting the Gayatri mantra he should worship them.
chandamsy adhiyita guror
ahutas cet suyantritah
upakrame 'vasane ca
caranau sirasa namet
chandamsi--mantras in the Vedas, like the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and the Gayatri mantra; adhiyita--one should chant or read regularly; guroh--from the spiritual master; ahutah--being addressed or called (by him); cet--if; su-yantritah--faithful, well behaved; upakrame--in the beginning; avasane--at the end (of reading Vedic mantras); ca--also; caranau--at the lotus feet; sirasa--by the head; namet--one should offer obeisances.
Being called by the spiritual master, the student should study the Vedic mantras regularly. Every day, before beginning his studies and at the end of his studies, the disciple should respectfully offer obeisances unto the spiritual master.
bibhryad upavitam ca
mekhala--a belt made of straw; ajina-vasamsi--garments made of deerskin; jata--matted hair; danda--a rod; kamandalun--and a waterpot known as a kamandalu; bibhryat--he (the brahmacari) should regularly carry or wear; upavitam ca--and a sacred thread; darbha-panih--taking purified kusa in his hand; yatha uditam--as recommended in the sastras.
Carrying pure kusa grass in his hand, the brahmacari should dress regularly with a belt of straw and with deerskin garments. He should wear matted hair, carry a rod and waterpot and be decorated with a sacred thread, as recommended in the sastras.
sayam pratas cared bhaiksyam
gurave tan nivedayet
bhunjita yady anujnato
no ced upavaset kvacit
sayam--in the evening; pratah--in the morning; caret--should go out; bhaiksyam--to collect alms; gurave--unto the spiritual master; tat--all that he collects; nivedayet--should offer; bhunjita--he should eat; yadi--if; anujnatah--ordered (by the spiritual master); no--otherwise; cet--if; upavaset--should observe fasting; kvacit--sometimes.
The brahmacari should go out morning and evening to collect alms, and he should offer all that he collects to the spiritual master. He should eat only if ordered to take food by the spiritual master; otherwise, if the spiritual master does not give this order, he may sometimes have to fast.
susilo mita-bhug daksah
strisu stri-nirjitesu ca
su-silah--very polite and well behaved; mita-bhuk--eating only exactly what he needs, neither more nor less; daksah--expert or without laziness, always busy; sraddadhanah--possessing full faith in the instructions of the sastra and the spiritual master; jita-indriyah--having full control over the senses; yavat-artham--as much as necessary; vyavaharet--should behave externally; strisu--unto women; stri-nirjitesu--men who are henpecked, controlled by women; ca--also.
A brahmacari should be quite well behaved and gentle and should not eat or collect more than necessary. He must always be active and expert, fully believing in the instructions of the spiritual master and the sastra. Fully controlling his senses, he should associate only as much as necessary with women or those controlled by women.
A brahmacari should be very careful not to mix with women or with men addicted to women. Although when he goes out to beg alms it is necessary to talk with women and with men very much attached to women, this association should be very short, and he should talk with them only about begging alms, and not more. A brahmacari should be very careful in associating with men who are attached to women.
haranty api yater manah
varjayet--must give up; pramada-gatham--talking with women; agrhasthah--a person who has not accepted the grhastha-asrama (a brahmacari or sannyasi); brhat-vratah--invariably observing the vow of celibacy; indriyani--the senses; pramathini--almost always unconquerable; haranti--take away; api--even; yateh--of the sannyasi; manah--the mind.
A brahmacari, or one who has not accepted the grhastha-asrama [family life], must rigidly avoid talking with women or about women, for the senses are so powerful that they may agitate even the mind of a sannyasi, a member of the renounced order of life.
Brahmacarya essentially means the vow not to marry but to observe strict celibacy (brhad-vrata). A brahmacari or sannyasi should avoid talking with women or reading literature concerning talks between man and woman. The injunction restricting association with women is the basic principle of spiritual life. Associating or talking with women is never advised in any of the Vedic literatures. The entire Vedic system teaches one to avoid sex life so that one may gradually progress from brahmacarya to grhastha, from grhastha to vanaprastha, and from vanaprastha to sannyasa and thus give up material enjoyment, which is the original cause of bondage to this material world. The word brhad-vrata refers to one who has decided not to marry, or in other words, not to indulge in sex life throughout his entire life.
karayen natmano yuva
kesa-prasadhana--brushing the hair; unmarda--massaging the body; snapana--bathing; abhyanjana-adikam--massaging the body with oil and so on; guru-stribhih--by the wife of the spiritual master; yuvatibhih--very young; karayet--should allow to do; na--never; atmanah--for personal service; yuva--if the student is a young man.
If the wife of the spiritual master is young, a young brahmacari should not allow her to care for his hair, massage his body with oil, or bathe him with affection like a mother.
The relationship between the student or disciple and the wife of the spiritual master or teacher is like that between son and mother. A mother sometimes cares for her son by combing his hair, massaging his body with oil, or bathing him. Similarly, the wife of the teacher is also a mother (guru-patni), and therefore she may also care for the disciple in a motherly way. If the wife of the teacher is a young woman, however, a young brahmacari should not allow such a mother to touch him. This is strictly prohibited. There are seven kinds of mothers:
atma-mata guroh patni
dhenur dhatri tatha prthvi
saptaita matarah smrtah
These mothers are the original mother, the wife of the teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a brahmana, the king's wife, the cow, the nurse and the earth. Unnecessary association with women, even with one's mother, sister or daughter, is strictly prohibited. This is human civilization. A civilization that allows men to mix unrestrictedly with women is an animal civilization. In Kali-yuga, people are extremely liberal, but mixing with women and talking with them as equals actually constitutes an uncivilized way of life.
nanv agnih pramada nama
sutam api raho jahyad
nanu--certainly; agnih--the fire; pramada--the woman (one who bewilders the mind of man); nama--the very name; ghrta-kumbha--a pot of butter; samah--like; puman--a man; sutam api--even one's daughter; rahah--in a secluded place; jahyat--one must not associate with; anyada--with other women also; yavat--as much as; artha-krt--required.
Woman is compared to fire, and man is compared to a butter pot. Therefore a man should avoid associating even with his own daughter in a secluded place. Similarly, he should also avoid association with other women. One should associate with women only for important business and not otherwise.
If a butter pot and fire are kept together, the butter within the pot will certainly melt. Woman is compared to fire, and man is compared to a butter pot. However advanced one may be in restraining the senses, it is almost impossible for a man to keep himself controlled in the presence of a woman, even if she is his own daughter, mother or sister. Indeed, his mind is agitated even if one is in the renounced order of life. Therefore, Vedic civilization carefully restricts mingling between men and women. If one cannot understand the basic principle of restraining association between man and woman, he is to be considered an animal. That is the purport of this verse.
abhasam idam isvarah
dvaitam tavan na viramet
tato hy asya viparyayah
kalpayitva--ascertaining positively; atmana--by self-realization; yavat--as long as; abhasam--reflection (of the original body and senses); idam--this (the body and senses); isvarah--completely independent of illusion; dvaitam--duality; tavat--for that long; na--does not; viramet--see; tatah--by such duality; hi--indeed; asya--of the person; viparyayah--counteraction.
As long as a living entity is not completely self-realized--as long as he is not independent of the misconception of identifying with his body, which is nothing but a reflection of the original body and senses--he cannot be relieved of the conception of duality, which is epitomized by the duality between man and woman. Thus there is every chance that he will fall down because his intelligence is bewildered.
Here is another important warning that a man must save himself from attraction to woman. Until one is self-realized, fully independent of the illusory conception of the material body, the duality of man and woman must undoubtedly continue, but when one is actually self-realized this distinction ceases.
brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva svapake ca
"The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]." (Bg. 5.18) On the spiritual platform, the learned person not only gives up the duality of man and woman, but also gives up the duality of man and animal. This is the test of self-realization. One must realize perfectly that the living being is spirit soul but is tasting various types of material bodies. One may theoretically understand this, but when one has practical realization, then he actually becomes a pandita, one who knows. Until that time, the duality continues, and the conception of man and woman also continues. In this stage, one should be extremely careful about mixing with women. No one should think himself perfect and forget the sastric instruction that one should be very careful about associating even with his daughter, mother or sister, not to speak of other women. Srila Madhvacarya cites the following slokas in this regard:
advaita-jnanam ity etad
yatha jnanam tatha vastu
yatha vastus tatha matih
naiva jnanarthayor bhedas
Unity in variety is real knowledge, and therefore giving up variety artificially does not reflect perfect knowledge of monism. According to the acintya-bhedabheda philosophy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, there are varieties, but all of them constitute one unit. Such knowledge is knowledge of perfect oneness.
etat sarvam grhasthasya
samamnatam yater api
etat--this; sarvam--all; grhasthasya--of a householder; samamnatam--described; yateh api--even of the person in the renounced order; guru-vrttih vikalpena--to follow the orders of the spiritual master; grhasthasya--of the householder; rtu-gaminah--accepting sex only during the period favorable for procreation.
All the rules and regulations apply equally to the householder and the sannyasi, the member of the renounced order of life. The grhastha, however, is given permission by the spiritual master to indulge in sex during the period favorable for procreation.
It is sometimes misunderstood that a grhastha, a householder, is permitted to indulge in sex at any time. This is a wrong conception of grhastha life. In spiritual life, whether one is a grhastha, vanaprastha, sannyasi or brahmacari, everyone is under the control of the spiritual master. For brahmacaris and sannyasis there are strong restrictions on sexual indulgence. Similarly, there are strong restrictions for grhasthas. Grhasthas should indulge in sex life only in accordance with the order of the guru. Therefore it is mentioned here that one must follow the orders of the spiritual master (guru-vrttir vikalpena). When the spiritual master orders, the grhastha may accept sex life. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (7.11). Dharmaviruddho bhutesu kamo 'smi: indulgence in sex life without disobedience to the religious rules and regulations constitutes a religious principle. The grhastha is allowed to indulge in sex life during the period favorable for procreation and in accordance with the spiritual master's order. If the spiritual master's orders allow a grhastha to engage in sex life at a particular time, then the grhastha may do so; otherwise, if the spiritual master orders against it, the grhastha should abstain. The grhastha must obtain permission from the spiritual master to observe the ritualistic ceremony of garbhadhana-samskara. Then he may approach his wife to beget children, otherwise not. A brahmana generally remains a brahmacari throughout his entire life, but although some brahmanas become grhasthas and indulge in sex life, they do so under the complete control of the spiritual master. The ksatriya is allowed to marry more than one wife, but this also must be in accordance with the instructions of the spiritual master. It is not that because one is a grhastha he may marry as many times as he likes and indulge in sex life as he likes. This is not spiritual life. In spiritual life, one must conduct one's whole life under the guidance of the guru. Only one who executes his spiritual life under the direction of the spiritual master can achieve the mercy of Krsna. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. If one desires to advance in spiritual life but he acts whimsically, not following the orders of the spiritual master, he has no shelter. Yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto 'pi. Without the spiritual master's order, even the grhastha should not indulge in sex life.
tyajeyur ye brhad-vratah
anjana--ointment or powder for decorating the eyes; abhyanjana--massaging the head; unmarda--massaging the body; stri-avalekha--to glance over a woman or to paint a woman's picture; amisam--meat-eating; madhu--drinking liquor or honey; srak--decorating the body with garlands of flowers; gandha-lepa--smearing the body with scented ointment; alankaran--decorating the body with ornaments; tyajeyuh--must give up; ye--those who; brhat-vratah--have taken the vow of celibacy.
Brahmacaris or grhasthas who have taken the vow of celibacy as described above should not indulge in the following: applying powder or ointment to the eyes, massaging the head with oil, massaging the body with the hands, seeing a woman or painting a woman's picture, eating meat, drinking wine, decorating the body with flower garlands, smearing scented ointment on the body, or decorating the body with ornaments. These they should give up.
dvijo 'dhityavabudhya ca
dattva varam anujnato
guroh kamam yadisvarah
grham vanam va praviset
pravrajet tatra va vaset
usitva--residing; evam--in this way; guru-kule--under the care of the spiritual master; dvi-jah--the twice-born, namely the brahmanas, ksatriyas and vaisyas; adhitya--studying Vedic literature; avabudhya--understanding it properly; ca--and; trayim--the Vedic literatures; sa-anga--along with supplementary parts; upanisadam--as well as the Upanisads; yavat-artham--as far as possible; yatha-balam--as far as one can, according to one's ability; dattva--giving; varam--remuneration; anujnatah--being asked; guroh--of the spiritual master; kamam--desires; yadi--if; isvarah--capable; grham--household life; vanam--retired life; va--either; praviset--one should enter; pravrajet--or get out of; tatra--there; va--either; vaset--should reside.
According to the rules and regulations mentioned above, one who is twice-born, namely a brahmana, ksatriya or vaisya, should reside in the guru-kula under the care of the spiritual master. There he should study and learn all the Vedic literatures along with their supplements and the Upanisads, according to his ability and power to study. If possible, the student or disciple should reward the spiritual master with the remuneration the spiritual master requests, and then, following the master's order, the disciple should leave and accept one of the other asramas, namely the grhastha-asrama, vanaprastha-asrama or sannyasa-asrama, as he desires.
To study the Vedas and understand them, of course, requires some special intelligence, but the members of the three higher sections of society--namely the brahmanas, ksatriyas and vaisyas--must learn the Vedic literatures according to their capability and power to understand. In other words, studying the Vedic literatures is compulsory for everyone but the sudras and antyajas. The Vedic literature gives the knowledge that can lead one to understand the Absolute Truth--Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan. Guru-kula, or the reformatory educational institution, should be used only to understand Vedic knowledge. At the present time there are many educational institutions for training and technology, but such knowledge has nothing to do with understanding of the Absolute Truth. Technology, therefore, is meant for the sudras, whereas the Vedas are meant for the dvijas. Consequently this verse states, dvijo 'dhityavabudhya ca trayim sangopanisadam. At the present time, in the age of Kali, practically everyone is a sudra, and no one is a dvija. Therefore the condition of society has very much deteriorated.
Another point to be observed from this verse is that from the brahmacari-asrama one may accept the sannyasa-asrama, vanaprastha-asrama or grhastha-asrama. It is not compulsory for a brahmacari to become a grhastha. Because the ultimate aim is to understand the Absolute Truth, there is no necessity of going through all the different asramas. Thus one may proceed to the sannyasa-asrama directly from the brahmacari-asrama. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura accepted the sannyasa-asrama directly from the brahmacari-asrama. In other words, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura did not think it compulsory to accept the grhastha-asrama or vanaprastha-asrama.
agnau gurav atmani ca
bhutaih sva-dhamabhih pasyed
agnau--in the fire; gurau--in the spiritual master; atmani--in one's self; ca--also; sarva-bhutesu--in every living entity; adhoksajam--the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who cannot be seen or perceived with the material eyes or other material senses; bhutaih--with all living entities; sva-dhamabhih--along with His Lordship's paraphernalia; pasyet--one should see; apravistam--not entered; pravista-vat--also entered.
One should realize that in the fire, in the spiritual master, in one's self and in all living entities--in all circumstances and conditions--the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, has simultaneously entered and not entered. He is situated externally and internally as the full controller of everything.
Realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead's omnipresence is the perfect realization of the Absolute Truth to be attained through the study of the Vedic literatures. As stated in the Brahma-samhita (5.35), andantara-stha-paramanu-cayantara-stham: the Lord is situated within the universe, within the heart of every living entity and also within the atom. We should understand that whenever the Supreme Personality of Godhead is present, He is present with all His paraphernalia, including His name, form, associates and servants. The living entity is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and thus one should understand that since the Supreme Lord has entered the atom, the living entities are also there. One must accept the inconceivable quality of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for no one can understand from the material point of view how the Lord is all-pervasive and yet is situated in His own abode, Goloka Vrndavana. This realization is possible if one strictly follows the regulative principles of asrama (brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa). Srila Madhvacarya says in this regard:
pravistas tv anurupavan
evam dvi-rupo bhagavan
harir eko janardanah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His original form, has not entered everything (apravistah), but in His impersonal form He has entered (pravistah). Thus He has entered and not entered simultaneously. This is also explained in Bhagavad-gita (9.4), wherein the Lord says:
maya tatam idam sarvam
na caham tesv avasthitah
"By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them." The Lord can defy Himself. Thus there is variety in unity (ekatvam bahutvam).
evam vidho brahmacari
vanaprastho yatir grhi
evam vidhah--in this way; brahmacari--whether one is a brahmacari; vanaprasthah--or one is in the vanaprastha-asrama; yatih--or in the sannyasa-asrama; grhi--or in the grhastha-asrama; caran--by practice of self-realization and understanding of the Absolute Truth; vidita-vijnanah--fully conversant with the science of the Absolute Truth; param--the Supreme; brahma--the Absolute Truth; adhigacchati--one can understand.
By practicing in this way, whether one be in the brahmacari-asrama, grhastha-asrama, vanaprastha-asrama or sannyasa-asrama, one must always realize the all-pervading presence of the Supreme Lord, for in this way it is possible to understand the Absolute Truth.
This is the beginning of self-realization. One must first understand how Brahman is present everywhere and how He is acting. This education is called brahma jijnasa and is the real concern of human life. Without such knowledge, one cannot claim to be a human being; rather, he remains in the animal kingdom. As it is said, sa eva go-kharah: without such knowledge, one is no better than a cow or an ass.
yan asthaya munir gacched
vanaprasthasya--of a person in the vanaprastha-asrama (retired life); vaksyami--I shall now explain; niyaman--the rules and regulations; muni-sammatan--which are recognized by great munis, philosophers and saintly persons; yan--which; asthaya--being situated in, or practicing; munih--a saintly person; gacchet--is promoted; rsi-lokam--to the planetary system where the seers and munis go (Maharloka); uha--O King; anjasa--without difficulty.
O King, I shall now describe the qualifications for a vanaprastha, one who has retired from family life. By rigidly following the rules and regulations for the vanaprastha, one can easily be elevated to the upper planetary system known as Maharloka.
na krsta-pacyam asniyad
akrstam capy akalatah
agni-pakvam athamam va
na--not; krsta-pacyam--grains grown by tilling of the field; asniyat--one should eat; akrstam--grains that have grown without tilling of the field; ca--and; api--also; akalatah--ripened untimely; agni-pakvam--grains prepared by being cooked in fire; atha--as well as; amam--mango; va--either; arka-pakvam--food ripened naturally by the sunshine; uta--it is so enjoined; aharet--the vanaprastha should eat.
A person in vanaprastha life should not eat grains grown by tilling of the fields. He should also not eat grains that have grown without tilling of the field but are not fully ripe. Nor should a vanaprastha eat grains cooked in fire. Indeed, he should eat only fruit ripened by the sunshine.
labdhe nave nave 'nnadye
puranam ca parityajet
vanyaih--by fruits and grains produced in the forest without cultivation; caru--grains to be offered in a fire sacrifice; purodasan--the cakes prepared from caru; nirvapet--one should execute; kala-coditan--that which has grown naturally; labdhe--on obtaining; nave--new; nave anna-adye--newly produced food grains; puranam--the stock of old grains; ca--and; parityajet--one should give up.
A vanaprastha should prepare cakes to be offered in sacrifice from fruits and grains grown naturally in the forest. When he obtains some new grains, he should give up his old stock of grains.
agny-artham eva saranam
agni--the fire; artham--to keep; eva--only; saranam--a cottage; uta-jam--made of grass; va--or; adri-kandaram--a cave in a mountain; srayeta--the vanaprastha should take shelter of; hima--snow; vayu--wind; agni--fire; varsa--rain; arka--of the sun; atapa--shining; sat--enduring; svayam--personally.
A vanaprastha should prepare a thatched cottage or take shelter of a cave in a mountain only to keep the sacred fire, but he should personally practice enduring snowfall, wind, fire, rain and the shining of the sun.
malani jatilo dadhat
kesa--hair on the head; roma--hair on the body; nakha--nails; smasru--moustache; malani--and dirt on the body; jatilah--with matted locks of hair; dadhat--one should keep; kamandalu--a waterpot; ajine--and a deerskin; danda--rod; valkala--the bark of a tree; agni--fire; paricchadan--garments.
The vanaprastha should wear matted locks of hair on his head and let his body hair, nails and moustache grow. He should not cleanse his body of dirt. He should keep a waterpot, deerskin and rod, wear the bark of a tree as a covering, and use garments colored like fire.
cared vane dvadasabdan
astau va caturo munih
dvav ekam va yatha buddhir
na vipadyeta krcchratah
caret--should remain; vane--in the forest; dvadasa-abdan--twelve years; astau--for eight years; va--either; caturah--four years; munih--a saintly, thoughtful man; dvau--two; ekam--one; va--either; yatha--as well as; buddhih--intelligence; na--not; vipadyeta--bewildered; krcchratah--because of hard austerities.
Being very thoughtful, a vanaprastha should remain in the forest for twelve years, eight years, four years, two years or at least one year. He should behave in such a way that he will not be disturbed or troubled by too much austerity.
anviksikyam va vidyayam
yada--when; akalpah--unable to act; sva-kriyayam--in one's own prescribed duties; vyadhibhih--because of disease; jaraya--or because of old age; athava--either; anviksikyam--in spiritual advancement; va--or; vidyayam--in the advancement of knowledge; kuryat--one must do; anasana-adikam--not take sufficient food.
When because of disease or old age one is unable to perform his prescribed duties for advancement in spiritual consciousness or study of the Vedas, he should practice fasting, not taking any food.
atmany agnin samaropya
karanesu nyaset samyak
sanghatam tu yatharhatah
atmani--in one's self; agnin--the fire elements within the body; samaropya--properly placing; sannyasya--giving up; aham--false identity; mama--false conception; atmatam--of the body's being one's self or one's own; karanesu--in the five elements that cause the material body; nyaset--one should merge; samyak--completely; sanghatam--combination; tu--but; yatha-arhatah--as it befits.
He should properly place the fire element in his own self and in this way give up bodily affinity, by which one thinks the body to be one's self or one's own. One should gradually merge the material body into the five elements [earth, water, fire, air and sky].
The body is an effect of a cause, namely the five material elements (earth, water, fire, air and sky). In other words, one should know perfectly well that the material body is nothing but a combination of the five elements. This knowledge constitutes merging of the material body and the five material elements. Merging into Brahman in perfect knowledge means understanding perfectly that one is not the body but a spiritual soul.
khe khani vayau nisvasams
ksitau sesam yathodbhavam
khe--in the sky; khani--all the holes of the body; vayau--in the air; nisvasan--all the different airs moving within the body (prana, apana, etc.); tejahsu--in fire; usmanam--the heat of the body; atma-van--a person who knows the self; apsu--in water; asrk--blood; slesma--mucus; puyani--and urine; ksitau--in the earth; sesam--the remaining (namely skin, bones and the other hard things in the body); yatha-udbhavam--wherefrom all of them grew.
A sober, self-realized person who has full knowledge should merge the various parts of the body in their original sources. The holes in the body are caused by the sky, the process of breathing is caused by the air, the heat of the body is caused by fire, and semen, blood and mucus are caused by water. The hard substances, like skin, muscle and bone, are caused by earth. In this way all the constituents of the body are caused by various elements, and they should be merged again into those elements.
To be self-realized, one must understand the original sources of the various elements of the body. The body is a combination of skin, bone, muscle, blood, semen, urine, stool, heat, breath and so on, which all come from earth, water, fire, air and sky. One must be well conversant with the sources of all the bodily constituents. Then one becomes a self-realized person, or atmavan, one who knows the self.
vacam agnau savaktavyam
indre silpam karav api
padani gatya vayasi
mrtyau payum visargam ca
diksu srotram sa-nadena
rupani caksusa rajan
apsu pracetasa jihvam
ghreyair ghranam ksitau nyaset
vacam--speech; agnau--in the fire-god (the personified god controlling fire); sa-vaktavyam--with the subject matter of speaking; indre--unto King Indra; silpam--craftsmanship or the capacity to work with the hands; karau--as well as the hands; api--indeed; padani--the legs; gatya--with the power to move; vayasi--unto Lord Visnu; ratya--sexual desire; upastham--with the genitals; prajapatau--unto Prajapati; mrtyau--unto the demigod known as Mrtyu; payum--the rectum; visargam--with its activity, evacuation; ca--also; yatha-sthanam--in the proper place; vinirdiset--one should indicate; diksu--unto different directions; srotram--the aural sense; sa-nadena--with sound vibration; sparsena--with touch; adhyatmani--unto the wind-god; tvacam--the sense of touch; rupani--form; caksusa--with eyesight; rajan--O King; jyotisi--in the sun; abhinivesayet--one should endow; apsu--unto water; pracetasa--with the demigod known as Varuna; jihvam--the tongue; ghreyaih--with the object of smell; ghranam--the power to smell; ksitau--in the earth; nyaset--one should give.
Thereafter, the object of speech, along with the sense of speech [the tongue], should be bestowed upon fire. Craftsmanship and the two hands should be given to the demigod Indra. The power of movement and the legs should be given to Lord Visnu. Sensual pleasure, along with the genitals, should be bestowed upon Prajapati. The rectum, with the power of evacuation, should be bestowed, in its proper place, unto Mrtyu. The aural instrument, along with sound vibration, should be given to the deities presiding over the directions. The instrument of touch, along with the sense objects of touch, should be given to Vayu. Form, with the power of sight, should be bestowed upon the sun. The tongue, along with the demigod Varuna, should be bestowed upon water, and the power of smell, along with the two Asvini-kumara demigods, should be bestowed upon the earth.
mano manorathais candre
buddhim bodhyaih kavau pare
karmany adhyatmana rudre
sattvena cittam ksetra-jne
gunair vaikarikam pare
apsu ksitim apo jyotisy
ado vayau nabhasy amum
kutasthe tac ca mahati
tad avyakte 'ksare ca tat
manah--the mind; manorathaih--along with material desires; candre--unto Candra, the mood demigod; buddhim--intelligence; bodhyaih--with the subject matter of intelligence; kavau pare--unto the supreme learned person, Lord Brahma; karmani--material activities; adhyatmana--with false ego; rudre--unto Lord Siva (Rudra); yat--wherein; aham--I am the material body; mamata--everything belonging to the material body is mine; kriya--such activities; sattvena--along with the existential conception; cittam--consciousness; ksetra-jne--unto the individual soul; gunaih--along with the material activities conducted by the material qualities; vaikarikam--the living entities under the influence of the material modes; pare--in the Supreme Being; apsu--in the water; ksitim--the earth; apah--the water; jyotisi--in the luminaries, specifically in the sun; adah--brightness; vayau--in the air; nabhasi--in the sky; amum--that; kutasthe--in the materialistic conception of life; tat--that; ca--also; mahati--in the mahat-tattva, the total material energy; tat--that; avyakte--in the nonmanifested; aksare--in the Supersoul; ca--also; tat--that.
The mind, along with all material desires, should be merged in the moon demigod. All the subject matters of intelligence, along with the intelligence itself, should be placed in Lord Brahma. False ego, which is under the influence of the material modes of nature and which induces one to think, "I am this body, and everything connected with this body is mine," should be merged, along with material activities, in Rudra, the predominating deity of false ego. Material consciousness, along with the goal of thought, should be merged in the individual living being, and the demigods acting under the modes of material nature should be merged, along with the perverted living being, into the Supreme Being. The earth should be merged in water, water in the brightness of the sun, this brightness into the air, the air into the sky, the sky into the false ego, the false ego into the total material energy, the total material energy into the unmanifested ingredients [the pradhana feature of the material energy], and at last the ingredient feature of material manifestation into the Supersoul.
jnatvadvayo 'tha viramed
iti--thus; aksarataya--because of being spiritual; atmanam--oneself (the individual soul); cit-matram--completely spiritual; avasesitam--the remaining balance (after the material elements are merged, one after another, into the original Supersoul); jnatva--understanding; advayah--without differentiation, or of the same quality as the Paramatma; atha--thus; viramet--one should cease from material existence; dagdha-yonih--whose source (the wood) has burnt up; iva--like; analah--flames.
When all the material designations have thus merged into their respective material elements, the living beings, who are all ultimately completely spiritual, being one in quality with the Supreme Being, should cease from material existence, as flames cease when the wood in which they are burning is consumed. When the material body is returned to its various material elements, only the spiritual being remains. This spiritual being is Brahman and is equal in quality with Parabrahman.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Seventh Canto, Twelfth Chapter, of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled "The Perfect Society: Four Spiritual Classes."