“Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s special mission is the deliverance of all fallen souls in Kali-yuga. Devotees of Krishna must persistently seek the favor and mercy of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to become fit to return home, back to Godhead.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 14.16 Purport)
Kali-yuga is like an ocean of faults. No one has a complete understanding of just how deep the difficulties stretch. There is one problem after another, with forces impeding genuine progress on all sides. The material world itself is like a vast ocean of suffering that is difficult to cross, and in the age of quarrel and hypocrisy the degree of difficulty increases significantly.
Thankfully, someone special once arrived on a full moon night in the month of Phalguna. Soon to be known as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He induced others to chant the holy names right from the beginning. Penetrating through the barriers presented by the age, He showed the way towards transcendence.
Taking the situation of a person who has made the decision to take up spiritual life, the road ahead is not easy. So many problems arise, and the stresses mount to the point that it seems like a higher authority is giving the message to quit, to abandon the pursuit.
I have to care for my spouse and children. There is no one else invested with the responsibility. They may have their own affairs to tend to, but in the isolated case the burden is entirely with me.
I am up to the task, but then sacrifices have to be made. I like to engage in reading scriptural works like Shrimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and Ramayana, but the young children wake me up early in the morning. This is the most ideal reading time for me, since I have the most energy to dedicate.
Yet that is not a possibility in my case. I have to tend to affairs in the home since there are no other hands available to help. This means that should any time free up later in the day, I might be too tired to pick up a book.
Fear of taking to the life of a beggar
Of course, one solution is to take to the renounced order, sannyasa. Maybe not become one in the official sense, but at the very least run away and go live in a temple. Then there are no responsibilities. No family members to demand this and that. No spouse to nag at you over trivial issues.
The problem is that a person may not be willing to become publicly identified in such an occupation. They would rather take up spiritual life gradually, without making a show of it. Wearing a certain dress and living in a house of worship can invite scrutiny at a time when it cannot be properly handled.
Maintaining a steady income
Back to the home life it is. In addition to the daily responsibilities, there is the “umbrella” issue of an income. In other words, how are you going to pay for stuff? The house doesn’t come for free. Food doesn’t put itself on the table.
A professional must stay up to date in their respective field. There is a certain success track, which involves progressing from one job to the next, with hopefully higher incomes along the way. This may mean changing locations, which is another heavy task to complete, uprooting the family and shifting to a new place.
The easy way to spend the day is to sit on the sofa and watch television. There is enough programming available to consume many lifetimes over. If you’re feeling overly tired, lay down in bed and do the same.
As there is the saying that a body at rest tends to stay at rest, success in the difficult endeavor of spiritual life requires motion. That is to say something has to be done. Even the supposedly passive activity of hearing requires that a person be awake and alert. How to fight off lethargy when there are so many forces causing fatigue on a daily basis?
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in this world on the occasion soon to be known as Gaura Purnima. He is an avatara of the Supreme Lord, but with a unique purpose. Instead of actively defending the saintly class from outside attack, He shows the way towards transcendence. He freely gives away Krishna-prema, or love of God.
Even if others are not enthusiastic in the beginning, not ready to make the journey to see Him, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu creates a mechanism whereby the prema comes to them. This is the sankirtana movement, the congregational chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Every person can set aside some time each day to engage in this practice. The most merciful Mahaprabhu, who pays no attention to offenses committed in the process, guarantees a successful result. He unlocks the pathway to liberation in this most degraded age.
Kali’s forces so attacking me,
That no hint of success to see.
Genuine interest inside,
But with responsibilities to reside.
This need and that always pressing,
Situation bleak and depressing.
Thankfully Chaitanya for rescue to dedicate,
The full moon this darkness to eradicate.