“If it is asked, ‘Why don’t the householders go to a saintly person or a brahmana for enlightenment?’ the answer is that householders are very poor-hearted. Generally householders think that their engagement in family affairs is their prime duty and that self-realization or enlightenment in spiritual knowledge is secondary. Out of compassion only, saintly persons and brahmanas go to householders’ homes.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 8)
It is one of the four in the divisions of occupations, descending since the origin of the universe and with a scientific basis. Shri Krishna confirms in the Bhagavad-gita, that He is the origin of the divisions of society in terms of occupation, and also the divisions in terms of spiritual progressive stages of life.
चातुर्-वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं
तस्य कर्तारम् अपि मां
विद्ध्य् अकर्तारम् अव्ययम्
cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ
tasya kartāram api māṁ
viddhy akartāram avyayam
“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)
Of the four, only the householders earn money. This is in the ideal circumstance, where the occupation gets determined by guna and karma. These are material qualities and fruitive work. You are a true brahmana based on the qualities you possess and the subsequent action you take.
The householders are in the grihastha-ashrama. This is typically the second stage of life, following study as a celibate student of the spiritual master. The grihastha produces not only for themselves, but for everyone else, as well.
The brahmanas are known to beg for a living, travelling village to village and door to door. They are compared to tirthas. They are travelling tirthas, or places of pilgrimage that are something like on wheels.
It may be asked why the householders don’t do the travelling. They have sufficient means, after all. They take vacations on expensive cruise-ships. They spend liberally to have the latest automobile and the largest home. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the householders tend to be poor-hearted.
1. Too busy
“I have so much going on, it’s insane. No one ever has enough money. Someone may envy my salary at present, but they don’t understand the expenses. So much gets withdrawn in taxes. I have to save for retirement, along with the education expenses for my children. The wife is never happy; she always wants more. There is only so much my mind can handle on a daily basis.”
2. Too worried about money
“I took this side job for an extra source of income. You can never be too careful. The situation at a company can change overnight. A deadly pandemic can cause communities to shut down and disengage from commerce. This means that you might be out of a job.
“We need money to survive. Winning the lottery is out of the question. Friends and relatives will not provide enough assistance to maintain daily life. I have to think about money. There is no choice.”
3. Too tired
“I would love to read more. In fact, that is one of my favorite pastimes. Sitting in a coffee shop or restaurant, attached to an entertaining book. I don’t mind the philosophical works, either. Anything to increase my knowledge. Active listening. Paying attention, developing counter ideas, and inquiring further in my analytical study.
“The problem is the lack of energy. When I arrive home from work, I want to stay in bed. I am too tired to even keep my eyes open to watch television. Sleep is what I cherish the most. It is sad to say, as I know that equates with the mode of ignorance in Sanskrit teachings, but what can I do?”
4. Too puffed up
“Look at these people. They beg for a living, and it is by choice. They don’t have any idea what us people in the real world have to go through. That is why they can’t relate. They sit in their ashramas and collect donations. Speak for a few minutes on a particular subject, criticizing everyone else in the process.
“Why would I go to visit such people? They should be seeking me out for advice. At least I am self-sustaining. I am not a parasite to society. I don’t squeeze others for money, shaking them down through guilt.”
We see that whatever the reason, the effect is the same: concern over spiritual realization becomes secondary in priority. My life in liberation will come later, down the road, after I have settled my affairs. But as the acharyas warn, nothing is ever settled in this world. There is danger at every step, and no one can fully escape the three principal sources of misery.
Fortunately, the brahmanas are kind enough to visit the householders. They usually don’t ask much in return. A modest donation to maintain the efforts in travel, to eat enough to keep the body fit for serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. The tradition is there to follow from Nanda Maharaja, who invites Garga Muni to visit and decide on the names for the two new children in the family, Balarama and Krishna.
The most benevolent teachers find ways to increase their reach. Beyond the physical limitation of being in one place at a single time, they publish works and distribute on a mass scale. This way every householder can be benefitted. Even those who are in student life get a taste of the real education of this existence: the difference between body and soul.
Because of the mercy of such brahmanas we get the opportunity to relish the transcendental sound vibration of the holy name on a daily basis: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Because of brahmanas benevolent so,
Who from home to home to go.
Where also in books to teach,
So as to extend their reach.
I can cherish the spiritual sound,
Most valuable jewel I have found.
So my ignorance from past is lost,
And not much for welcoming cost.
Categories: the four