Narada Muni the great acharya has previously explained to Maharaja Yudhisthira, the story of Prahlada Maharaja who is the perfect example of devotional service. Prahlada Maharaja remained faithful to the words of his spiritual master even in the face of the most impossible difficulties.
Depending on a power beyond his own, the mercy of Krsna, he crossed all obstacles. The Lord himself incarnated with a form that will attract all people’s hearts for all time just to show his love. At the conclusion of this pastime – it is said, “wherever devotees are gathered to discuss the subject matter of life, the matter of Prahalad Maharaja is discussed”. How can people apply these teachings practically in their lives? Narada Muni explains the varnasrama system – the four varnas and four ashramas and duties to be performed by devotees, “mahajano yena gatah sa pantha” so that we can follow in the footsteps of the Mahajanas.
So at the beginning we get a view of a pure devotee, what he speaks, how he walks etc. and then a practical explanation of how we can do it, irrespective of ashram, varna or sex etc. Daivi varnashrama means to follow in the footsteps of great souls. In this particular verse the essence of varnashrama is described: we live for the purpose to only please Krishna. Our success is to be categorized according to how we please Krsna and His devotees. If Krsna is pleased then our life is perfect. If Krsna is not pleased, irrespective of how popular we are, our lives are spoiled.
Catur varna – Krsna has personally created this varnashrama dharma, He has given everyone a chance based on quality, activities or nature, to become perfect and to follow in the footsteps of Prahlad Maharaja and become great souls. In this verse the grhastha ashram is described.
In the 5th canto Rsabhadeva says human life is meant for tapasya. Sense gratification is the purpose of animal life or the dharma of animals. To enjoy the temporary impulses of the senses is animal life, actually human life is meant for tapasya to be willing to have the determination to say no to the mind and senses for the purpose of doing the will of god.. The mind and senses are to be interacted but should say no to certain things. Srila Rupa Goswami said – accept what is favourable for devotional service and reject what is not, that is tapasya. Each ashram has a particular way of explaining this tapasya or duties. For a brahmachari or sannyasi it is to give up attachment for property, money etc., to tolerate sex life. Similary for grhasthas, a husband or wife must tolerate in the same way as a sannyasi has to tolerate sex desire. They have to tolerate each other, you cannot break that vow. We follow the vow according to principle of Krsna Consciousness and we only stop when we take a more difficult vow. How practically is this to be done?
The wife follows the vows of the husband but not the whims or restless nature or abusive nature of the husband. Instead it means the vow of Krsna Consciousness. We take vows to serve the spiritual master and the vaishnavas, these are the vows of the devotees and whatever way the husband is performing his vows, to follow that, is the duty of the wife. The duty of the husband is to be Krsna Conscious, to be a dedicated follower of the spiritual master. Not to go to the cinema house, rather it means the vow of Krsna Consciousness. Husbands in Krsna Consciousness are supposed to be first class men. There are many examples in the scriptures which illustrate that love is not about romance but about austerity. In the purest sense it is dancing with Krsna, but in material life it is about dedication, austerity and being willing to adjust in grhastha life with your partner, even if it is difficult.
Here is an example of a couple that went completely against their nature. Svayambhuva Manu’s daughter was Devahuti she was the princess of the world. Svayambhuva Manu describes the opulence of his palace. He didn’t wake up to an alarm clock he woke up to pure hearted vaishnavas chanting in person for him. Devahuti was his daughter, physically she never endured anything difficult. Then Svayambhuva Manu married her to Kardama Muni who is living in the jungle and wearing tree barks, eating fruits and roots of trees. How many of you would like to marry Kardama Muni and give all that you have and be ready to live in the jungle?
What to speak of the princess of the planet doing so. Kardama Muni’s vow to Krsna’s service was very severe. There were no bazaars shops, Devahuti was wearing bark, living in the forest, no phones to chat with friends, nobody else to talk to and the husband would go into meditation for months at a time. When he came out of meditation her shapely form was going away, she was emaciated, pale almost blackish, just from living in that condition. Her hair was matted but she never complained because this was her husband’s service to Krsna. She endured all those difficulties for him and that was her unbelievable example of chastity for a higher purpose. Kardama Muni’s nature was that he hated sense gratification so his wife was willing to adjust her life for him, that is real love, service and it equals Krsna Consciuosness.
But how was Kardama Muni fulfilling the desires of his wife? He knew she wanted to have a child but he was an ascetic so he had to change his life around in order to properly protect and satisfy Devahuti. In the grhastha ashram to have children is a service, Krsna mentions in Gita – for men and women to perform sacrifice for the service of Krsna is devotional service. So Kardama Muni created a magnificent aerial mansion. He didn’t want it but he did it for his wife. He made major adjustments though it was difficult for him. He performed major austerities in order to accommodate the needs of his wife. Kardama Muni changed his own life around for his wife and Devahuti changed her life around for her husband. What was the result? Nine amazing daughters and they were far from ordinary daughters. They then had a son, not an ordinary son but the supreme personality of Godhead, Kapiladeva.
If husband and wife keep their vows the result is Krsna. Krsna is born of that relation. Prabhupada says Chanakya Pandit gives “valuable” instruction something that is “valuable” should be protected and what is that instruction? “When there are no fights between husband and wife the goddess of fortune automatically enters their house. Prabhupada gave many wedding lectures he said there is no question of divorce, you have to adjust, you can’t give up you have to keep Krsna in the centre.
You have to forgive each other and tolerate each other. Husband and wife are not meant for sense gratification that is for the hogs, husband and wife in Krsna Consciousness is meant for tapasya. Prabhupada said marriage is to facilitate happiness – sarva bhavante sukhino – so how do we understand marriage is for happiness and also for austerity?