The Duties of a Householder-Devotee Part I

IN the holy Geeta and the Srimad Bhagavata it is declared that the God-head Himself created the system of four primary varnas with four stages according to their distinctive qualifications and functions for the people of the world. And yet the very Supreme Lord Sree Krishna Chaitanya exhibited the lila of renouncing the world and taking to Sannyasa-the fourth order of life, for the sake of the world itself in the month of Magha of the Saka year 1432 (1510 A.D), in order to save the ignorance-blind world from the clutches of Maya by bestowing broadcast the holy Name of Krishna and His Love. Shortly after, the Merciful Supreme Lord left Gauda (Bengal) to proceed on His high mission and made a tour throughout the whole of India. He returned to Puri in the first quarter of 1434 Saka after an extensive tour in the whole of Southern India, making people of different sects and beliefs accept His doctrines and the Name and Love of Krishna, just when the pang of separation from and eagerness to see again His Holy Feet in the hearts of His devoted followers of Orissa and Bengal had gone to extreme. The joy of His devotees at Puri knew no bounds, and they all arranged to send, with Lord’s permission, the news of His return to Bengal through Krishnadas- the attendant of the Supreme Lord in His southern tour. The joy of the people at Navadwip on hearing the news was so great that Sree Adwaitacharya made celebrations at his house with great festivity for three days. They all began to make preparations for going to Puri at the feet of the Supreme Lord and started all in a body under the lead of Sri Adwaita Prabhu, from Navadwip with the permission of the Supreme Lord’s mother.

In the month of Asadha, after the great bathing festival ( Snana-yatra-mahotsav ) of Sree Sree Jagannath Deva followed the period of Lord’s seclusion (Anavasara or non-interview), and the feeling of separation from Krishna in the heart of the Supreme Lord Sree Chaitanya becoming very intense, He alone retired to Alalnath. But the news of approaching of the devotees from Gauda was conveyed to Him, and Pandit Vasudeva Sarvabhauma brought the Lord back to Puri. The Supreme Lord sent Swarup-Damodar and Govinda in advance to receive and honour Bengal-devotees with “Prasad and garlands”, and they welcomed first of all Sree Adwaita Prabhu, the leader of the party, with garlands. The Supreme Lord Himself too came forward with His own company to meet them on the way. The meeting was one of intense and inexpressible joy-all lying prostrate before the Lord, and the Lord embracing them all.

All the Gaudiya devotees remained there at the feet of the Supreme Lord for over four months, taking part with the Lord Himself in all the festivals during the period beginning with the Rath-yatra to the Rasa-yatra, and utterly forgetful of their homes in the midst of supreme happiness. The the Supreme Lord in consultation with Lord Sree Nityananda, thought of sending them home back and on the eve of bidding fare-well spoke to them one by one, admired them for their devotional virtues, charged many with different duties, embraced them all, and with a heavy heart bade them farewell. The parting was as touching as the meeting was joyous, and all wept for separation.

It is on this occasion, when the Supreme Lord paid great encomium to the people of Kulinagram 1-particularly Satyaraj Khan and his son Ramananda Basu and honoured them with the charge of annually supplying “Pattadori” (Silk ropes) for the car festival of Sri Sri Jagannath-Deva, that Satyaraj and Ramananda, with due obeisance to the feet of the Lord, put the following question:-

“We are house-holders and worldly (gṛhastha viṣayī) what is our duty (sādhan) May the Lord direct with His own lips,-this we pray at the Holy Feet.

prabhu kahena, — ‘kṛṣṇa-sevā’, ‘vaiṣṇava-sevana’
‘nirantara kara kṛṣṇa-nāma-saṅkīrtana’
‘The Lord replies,-the service of Krishna, the service of Vaishnava; And the constant (un-interrupted) singing of the Name of Krishna.’

Satyaraj and Ramananda, as they were parting from the feet of the Lord, necessarily for a long period-put the question as representative house-holder, and wanted to know their duties clearly and directly from the lips of the Lord. And the Lord too clearly and neatly defined all the duties of an aspirant house-holder devotee under three heads only which are but one-in-three and three-in-one, as we shall presently see.

The service of Krishna, and the singing of the holy Name could however be understood, and performed in a manner. But the service of a Vaishnava was certainly a difficult thing, for how to know a true Vaishnava ? So Satyaraj inquired of the Supreme Lord again.-

‘How shall we recognise a Vaishnava? Who is a true Vaishnava, and what is his general characteristic?’

The Lord replies –‘the man on whose lips the Name of Krishna is to be heard once, is deserving of appreciation as a neophyte Vaishnava and he is superior to all. So he is a Vaishnava on whose lips is only the Name of Krishna, and you are to give him recognition.’

Next year, the Gaudiya devotees came again to the feet of the Supreme Lord, before the Car-festival, and stayed as in the previous year, while parting, Satyaraj put the same question again as in the last year.

prabhu kahe, — “vaiṣṇava-sevā, nāma-saṅkīrtana
dui kara, śīghra pābe śrī-kṛṣṇa-caraṇa”

This time,

The Lord says, “the service of
Vaishnava, the Singing of the Name;
Do these two, and you shall soon get
To the feet of Sree Krishna.”
At this Satyaraj inquired, as before, of the characteristic of a Vaishnava. The Supreme Lord understood his mind, and replied with a smile;-
‘In whose mouth the Name of
Krishna uninterruptedly is;
He is a Superior Vaishnava,-
worship his feet.’
Again in the third year the same question with regard to Vaishnava was put to the Lord Whose reply this time was,
‘At whose (very) sight the Name of
Krishna comes out (of Itself) on the
lips. You ought to know him as of
the highest order of Vaishnavas.’

Thus on three successive occasions the Supreme Lord taught the distinctive characteristics of a Vaishnava in successive stages for the purpose both of service and of attainment in gradation.

1 Kulinagram-a village within two miles from the Jawgram station on the Howrah-Burdwan New Chord Line, E.I. Ry. To the famous Basu family of this village belonged Maladhar Basu who was better known under the title name, Gunaraj Khan as the reputed author of the earliest Bengali Kavya Sree Krishna Vijoya. This kavya is a popular translation in easy verses of the 10th and 11th chapters of the Srimad Bhagavata. The translation was taken up in 1395 Saka and was completed in 1402 Saka. The Supreme Lord Chaitanya Deva used to speak very highly of this book. Satyaraj Khan was the son of Gunaraj Khan.