“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)
रस-वर्जं रसो ऽप्य् अस्य
परं दृष्ट्वा निवर्तते
rasa-varjaṁ raso ‘py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate
“Does it ever get to be too much? The whole Krishna consciousness thing, where you follow a pretty dedicated and strict routine. I’m not even talking about living in the temple, which is such a big commitment already. Let’s say that you are following a monastic life, but from home.
“At the surface, you look like everyone else. Your home is another in the many connected together in the condominium community. The model of car you drive is pretty popular; nothing out of the ordinary. Wife and children living with you. You visit the same supermarkets as everyone else. You could probably carry on a conversation about sports and politics, if necessary.
“Things are completely different on the inside, though. You are in a select group. Take the diet, for instance. No meat, fish or eggs. You have trouble eating out because there is a restriction on garlic and onions, as well.
“You view everything through the lens of sense gratification. Hardly anyone knows what that term means. I doubt they ever contemplate indulging too much in eating, sleeping, mating and defending. It is like you had the midlife crisis at a much younger age, way before the typical time of onset.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if you followed the life of a non-devotee? No one to fight you on your choices. No criticism for worshiping a false god. If you are an atheist, not many people will bother you; especially in modern times. If you are loud and obnoxious about demanding things from others, they often just cater to you. Rather keep the petulant child quiet than go through a lengthy ordeal to teach a lesson.”
In light of such questions, consider the level of faith and allegiance of those who do remain true to the path of sanatana-dharma, as taught and exemplified by sadhu, shastra and guru. Think about how difficult it must be to turn into something resembling a social outcaste, with barely any friends.
Furthering the complexities is corruption at the highest levels in the institutions supposedly dedicated to promoting the bhakti culture, to worshiping the all-attractive one and teaching society at large about the process. The expectation is shelter. This place is supposed to be different from the rest; a bubble nestled inside of a world otherwise fallen into chaos and madness.
The truth is that the people walking the line, continuing in the path of dharma, remaining loyal to Shri Krishna and the genuine acharyas, already have sufficient experience in both lifestyles. While it may seem easier to live without constant opposition, suspicion, derision, perplexity and so forth from the outside world, the accompanying negatives are too much to bear.
From experience, the aspiring sadhu believes that the life of sense gratification is dull and boring. It is depressing, since everything must end at the time of death. The clock starts ticking from the time of birth. The remaining duration only shrinks; it never renews or resets.
Bhagavad-gita explains that a person is able to abandon the life in sense gratification precisely because they have experienced something better. It is a higher taste. The attachment is so strong that it is something like a magnetic force. No amount of criticism will work. I have found the chanting of the holy names and I will never relinquish that life in bhakti until otherwise completely forced to by nature: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
No friends but so what?
That way bad feeling in gut.
Where misery and despair,
Others not truly to care.
About where going at end,
Life not infinitely to extend.
For me bhakti the way,
My interest firmly to stay.