Once I was in Āsāma with my Gurudeva, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. At that time, there were about forty brahmacārīs and ten sannyāsīs in our group. One day, one of the brahmacārīs gave class and said that all householders are rotten. He told his audience, “Householders have nothing to do with bhakti. We brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs are strong. We can preach and do bhakti, but these rotten householders cannot.”
None of the sannyāsīs were in the class when the brahmacārī spoke in that way, but we heard about it afterwards and informed Śrīla Gurudeva. He at once became furious and told that brahmacārī, “You are rotten. You have no connection with bhakti. You don’t know any siddhānta. Most of our ācāryas were married, and so was Kṛṣṇa Himself, because He married in Dvārakā. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, and all of the gopīs were married. Are they rotten? The Pāṇḍavas were householders. Are they rotten? Oh, you are especially rotten. You are not even a Vaiṣṇava. I don’t think you have taken initiation at all.”
After this incident, everyone became very careful, understanding that advancement in bhakti depends only on bhakti itself.
yei bhaje sei baḍa, abhakta — hīna, chāra
kṛṣṇa-bhajane nāhi jāti-kulādi-vicāra
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā (4.67)
Anyone who takes to devotional service is exalted, but nondevotees are always condemned and abominable. Advancement in bhakti has nothing whatever to do with family prestige and one’s position in society.
kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei ‘guru’ haya
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā (8.128)
One may be a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī, or even a śūdra. In any case, no matter what his status, if he really knows the science of Kṛṣṇa, he is actually guru.
One may be a gṛhastha, a brahmacārī, a sannyāsī, or in any position. If he knows the established philosophical truths – the philosophy of the love and affection that was taught by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu – He is a pure Vaiṣṇava.
Everyone in our line – from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to parama-pūjyāpāda Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Maharaja and myself – takes this view. We do not think, “All the gṛhasthas are rotten, and they have nothing to do with bhakti.”
―Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja (Harmony)
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