“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.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.27)
यत् करोषि यद् अश्नासि
यज् जुहोषि ददासि यत्
यत् तपस्यसि कौन्तेय
तत् कुरुष्व मद्-अर्पणम्
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
Friend1: You would have to admit that renunciation is a tough sell.
Friend1: Tapasya. Austerity. Limitation.
Friend2: In what field of endeavor, though? Weight loss involves dieting and some sort of exercise. Those aren’t difficult to sell at all. In fact, there is a huge market. It seems that every week a new system comes out.
Friend1: Or a new gadget. Just use this simple machine for five minutes a day and watch your waistline shrink.
Friend2: Yes, so if you are speaking of spiritual life, then I agree with you. Why put limitations on living, especially in these so-called advanced times? God gave us this birth to enjoy. That is what makes Him happy.
Friend1: Seeing us acting in ways that increase our forgetfulness of Him. I know you are being facetious, but especially with the four regulative principles the initial response is bewilderment.
Friend2: They are sure to object.
“How could you give up meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex? What else is there left to enjoy?”
Friend1: Those are exactly the questions in response. I mean I’m sure many full-time practicing devotees felt that way in the beginning.
Friend2: I’m pleased that you mentioned them. If they were able to overcome the difficulties, why can’t others?
Friend1: They are the rare exception. You know of the verse from the Bhagavad-gita:
बहूनां जन्मनाम् अन्ते
ज्ञानवान् मां प्रपद्यते
वासुदेवः सर्वम् इति
स महात्मा सु-दुर्लभः
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
Friend2: Then why are we having a discussion here? What are you worried about if you already admit that only after many births does a person come to understand God the person in truth?
Friend1: Prachara. Popularizing the teachings of shastra. Kripa. Distributing the mercy coming from above. Others sacrificed so much to help me. I want to return the favor.
Friend1: Is there a better way? Should we hide the key facets of renunciation from a person just starting out?
Friend2: In the beginning there is no question of renunciation. Simply hear. Krishna-katha, or discourses about the Supreme Lord. Eat prasadam, which is the Lord’s mercy. Food first offered to Him with love and devotion.
Friend1: Of a certain category.
Friend2: Yes. Food in the mode of goodness.
Friend1: No meat, fish or eggs.
Friend2: Onions, garlic and a few other restrictions, also. Chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Friend1: Dancing, too.
Friend2: There you go. Enjoy to your heart’s content. Don’t you see the amazing aspect?
Friend1: What is that?
Friend2: Renunciation already takes place. Chanting, dancing, feasting. You are already avoiding the four primary sinful activities.
Friend1: Okay, but I know that there is more to go. Most people can’t stay in that environment forever. They have to return home at some point. How do we sell them on renunciation?
Friend2: The purpose of every rule and regulation is enjoyment. Not mere punishment for the sake of taking away fun. Be serious, but also hopeful. Be pessimistic about material life and optimistic about the future in bhakti. Who doesn’t want to enjoy? Understand that following the path of the acharyas is the way to be happy in a host of situations. Married or single, young or old, rich or poor – the conditions in duality won’t matter anymore. Is there any greater gift than this? And all from a little regulation in life coupled with good association. No one else can offer the same. The last consideration is choice. Make the decision and see for yourself.
“Why you’re taking away my fun,
In restriction enjoyment none.
God so kindly this life to me gave,
Not for in fear and pain to behave.”
Truth that with purpose coming,
So that even happier becoming.
Through guru’s guidance receive,
Practice and for yourself believe.