Grihasta Ashrama - A Platform for Renunciation?

     Grihasta, or householder life is the second spiritual stage in the Varnasrama parampara. In this phase the grihasta lives along with his wife and children in their house and leads a religious (dharma) and productive (artha) life, which allows some resources of enjoyment (kama). This asrama is the only economically productive asrama and therefore the householders have to support other asramas by giving charity in exchange for spiritual knowledge. Srimad Bhagwatam (11.18.43) states "A householder may approach his wife for sex at the time prescribed for begetting children. Otherwise, the householder should practice celibacy, austerity, satisfaction in his natural position, and friendship toward all living entities. Worship of Me (Krsna) is to be practiced by all human beings, regardless of social or occupational divisions."

Although householders and renunciates have different occupations, there are some they have in common. By leading life in one's natural occupation, one can attain devotional service free from the modes of nature. Otherwise one will fall into irreligion and be unable to make gradual advancement. If one acts in his profession according to his position in the modes of nature and gradually gives up these activities, he attains the transcendental position. Therefore people can become free from the modes of nature if they pass their lives dovetailing everything- sattvika objects, activities, time and place with the devotional service of the Lord.

It should be understood that performing devotional service to Sri Hari is the only purpose of human life, there is no other purpose. For such a goal, grihasta ashrama can also lead one to the pure love of lord Hari. In fact for most people in this age, it is the recommended process. Unless one makes the gross and subtle bodies favourable for devotional service, one cannot engaged in such. Due to fruitive activities, the nature and desires of a living entity are a mixture of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Initially one must enrich the mode of goodness and rein over passion and ignorance to cause the mode of goodness to be the prominent one. Then gradually, as the mode of goodness comes completely under the control of devotional service, one comes to the transendental platform devoid of all material modes.

By following such a gradual process one's body, mind and environment become fit for devotional service. The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are useless labour unless they gradually provoke attraction for the personality of Godhead (SB 1.2.8). This does not mean that one should discard varnashrama dharma. As long as one has material body the system of varnashrama dharma must be followed, but it should remain under the complete control of Bhakti.

To create an ambience favorable for his devotional service, a householder should find a suitable wife. In the Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 15.26.27 the Lord says: Since I am remaining at home it is my duty to act as a grihastha; without a wife there is no meaning to householder life. A householder should take the principles of renunciation to heart; but he should not simply dress as a renunciate. A householder, within his heart, keeps himself faithful to the instructions of guru and Krsna, but externally he may behave like an ordinary man. Krishna soon becomes pleased with such a grihasta and delivers him form the clutches of material illusion.

For a devotee, to remain a householder or to become a renunciate is the same thing. The difference between a householder and a renunciate is due to their different means of livelihood. If the home is favourable for a devotee's devotional service, then he should not leave. It is his duty to remain a grihastha with detachment. But when the home becomes unfavourable for his service, he then becomes eligible to leave home. All genuine devotees remain either at home or in the forest due to this consideration. Whoever leaves home with this consideration is a genuine renunciate.

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Victor Epand is an expert consultant at . offers religious gifts and puja supplies with delivery from India to anywhere in the world. Browse through our selection of handcrafted incense from India here: .

Posted on 2007-05-27, By: *

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