When our two brahmacharis, Guru GaurangaPrabhu and ChaitanyaAnandaPrabhu left for Newyork yesterday evening, different emotions began to churn in my heart. I felt sad I am going to miss them. It all happened in twenty four hours; they were given the ticket and told to leave the next afternoon. They emptied their lockers and left for good, at least for one year they won’t be seen in Chowpatty. It appeared like death. Suddenly we were separated, and all our past issues appeared insignificant. The arguments over switching on the fan during winter, or the noise of the alarm clock at night or unwashed clothes lying on the bucket, all of these appeared trivial in face of such a heavy separation.
I also realized the uncertainty in brahmachari life. Anytime we could be told to leave our comfortable situation in the ashram and go to another place for some other service. The reality of the surrendered life of a brahmachari began to sink in. I realized I have a long way to go before I can surrender to guru and Krishna. It’s a war; brahmachari life is war. Anyplace there is a need, a brahmachari is ready to serve and take more responsibility for the mission. Thus he has no independence.
I was contrasting this with my college life where I could do what I want. We have lot of independence in pre-married life. Then some people get married and that responsibility curtails some of the freedom. But in return one gets emotional support and shelter in the grahastha ashram. However a brahmachari means he has no independence of hostel or youthful life and also no emotional shelter of grahastha ashram. He has the worst of both worlds. But he has the best of the spiritual world.
His real opulence is service to guru and attachment to Krishna. He needs to derive emotional succour from spiritual pursuits, otherwise he will be miserable. A brahmachari needs to give up lot of freedom; he has to be careful what he speaks and how he eats or deals in public. The colour of saffron that he adorns his body carries a lot of weight; a saffron wearing brahmachari can’t afford to be frivolous like a college youth. It’s like he’s a mature seasoned householder with lot of heavy responsibilities. However unlike a grahastha, he gets no pleasure and security of the household life. He has to be ready to leave his ashram residenceand serve in another corner of the world. All this can happen at a short notice. That’s the life of a warrior, a commando in the army of Lord ChaitanyaMahaprabhu. The soldier is sent wherever there is a dire need for service to the mission.
Of course on closer observation one realizes that there is no security even in household life. Anytime one’s spouse may cheat on you, and there are so many examples of that. Besides, death can separate you from your loved one any moment. Life is so tough; yet the grass appears greener on the other side. Disease and job insecurity is so rampant even in grahastha ashram. Anytime you could lose all your savings or your business could collapse. Or you could be removed from the job. Or your child may cause you a high blood pressure orescalate your sugar count to an abnormal high.
At both places it’s a war; you have no one except Krishna to depend on. Krishna is our only source of permanent shelter in this temporary material world.
The author is a celibate teacher at ISKCON ashram at Chowpatty, Mumbai