DON’T ARTIFICIALLY IMITATE
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Many people come to us saying, “Swamiji, my position is so troublesome,” but as soon as we suggest the medicine, they will not accept it. This means that people want to manufacture their own medicine. Why do we go to a physician if we want to treat ourselves? People want to accept only what they think is palatable.
Although we are suggesting that this body is useless and is a form of contamination, we are not recommending that it be abused. We may use a car to carry us to work, but this does not mean that we should not take care of the car. We should take care of the car for it to carry us to and fro, but we should not become so attached to it that we are polishing it every day. We must utilize this material body in order to execute Krishna consciousness, and to this end we should keep it fit and healthy, but we should not become too attached to it. That is called yukta-vairāgya. The body should not be neglected. We should bathe regularly, eat regularly, and sleep regularly in order to keep mind and body healthy. Some people say that the body should be renounced and that we should take some drugs and abandon ourselves to intoxication. But this is not a yoga process. Krishna has given us nice food — fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk — and we can prepare hundreds and thousands of nice preparations and offer them to the Lord. Our process is to eat kṛṣṇa-prasāda and to satisfy the tongue in that way. But we should not be greedy and eat dozens of samosās, sweetballs, and rasagullās. No. We should eat and sleep just enough to keep the body fit, and no more.
It is stated,
yuktāhāra-vihārasya yukta-ceṣṭasya karmasu
yukta-svapnāvabodhasya yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā
He who is temperate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working, and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system. (Bg. 6.17) Although we should minimize our eating and sleeping, we should not attempt this too rapidly, at the risk of becoming sick. Because people are accustomed to eating voraciously, there are prescriptions for fasting. We can reduce our sleeping and eating, but we should remain in good health for spiritual purposes. We should not attempt to reduce eating and sleeping too rapidly or artificially; when we advance we will naturally not feel pain due to the reduction of these natural bodily processes.
In this respect, Raghunath Das Goswami offers a good example. Although a very rich man’s son, Raghunath Das left his home to join Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Because he was the only son, Raghunath Das was very beloved by his father. Understanding that his son had gone to Jagannath Puri to join Lord Chaitanya, the father sent four servants with money to attend him. At first, Raghunath accepted the money, thinking, “Oh, since my father has sent all this money, I will accept it and invite all the sannyāsīs to feast.” After some time, however, the feasts came to an end. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu then inquired from His secretary, Swarup Damodar, “Nowadays I don’t receive any invitations from Raghunath. What has happened?” “That is because Raghunath has stopped accepting his father’s money.” “Oh, that is very nice,” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said. “Raghunath was thinking, ‘Although I have renounced everything, I am still enjoying my father’s money. This is hypocritical.’
Therefore he has told the servants to go home and has refused the money.” “So how is he living?” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu inquired. “Oh, he’s standing on the steps of the Jagannath temple, and when the priests pass him on their way home, they offer him some prasāda. In this way, he is satisfied.” “This is very nice,” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu commented. Regularly going to the Jagannath temple, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would see Raghunath standing on the steps. After a few days, however, He no longer saw him there. Therefore the Lord commented to His secretary, “I no longer see Raghunath standing on the temple steps.” “He has given that up,” Swarup Damodar explained. “He was thinking, ‘Oh, I am standing here just like a prostitute, waiting for someone to come and give me food. No. I don’t like this at all.’
“That is very nice,” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “but how is he eating?” “Every day he is collecting some rejected rice from the kitchen and is eating that.” To encourage Raghunath, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu one day visited him. “Raghunath,” the Lord said, “I hear that you are eating very palatable food. Why are you not inviting Me?” Raghunath did not reply, but the Lord quickly found the place where he kept the rice, and the Lord immediately took some and began to eat it. “Dear Lord,” Raghunath implored, “please do not eat this. It is not fit for You.” “Oh, no? Why do you say it’s not fit for Me? It’s Lord Jagannath’s prasāda!” Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu enacted this pastime just to discourage Raghunath from thinking, “I am eating this miserable, rejected rice.” Through the Lord’s encouragement, Raghunath Das Goswami reduced his daily quantity of food until he was finally eating only one pat of butter every other day. And every day he was also bowing down hundreds of times and constantly chanting the holy names — saṅkhyā-pūrvaka-nāma-gānanatibhiḥ kālāvasānī-kṛtau. Although this is an excellent example of minimizing all material necessities, we should not try to imitate it. It is not possible for an ordinary man to imitate Raghunath Das Goswami, who was one of the six Goswamis, a highly elevated associate of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Each one of the six Goswamis displayed a unique example of how one can advance in Krishna consciousness, but it is not our duty to imitate them. We should just try to follow, as far as possible, in their footsteps. If we immediately try to become like Raghunath Das Goswami by imitating him, we are sure to fail, and whatever progress we have made will be defeated. Therefore the Lord says (Bg. 6.16) that there is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogī if one eats too much or too little. The same moderation applies to sleep. Presently I may be sleeping ten hours a day, but if I can keep myself fit by sleeping five hours, why sleep ten? As far as the body is concerned, there are four demands — eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. The problem with modern civilization is that it is trying to increase these demands, but they should be decreased instead. Eat what we need and sleep when we need and our health will be excellent. There is no question of artificial imitation. ·
— Excerpted from chapter 4 of Path of Perfection. Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Los Angeles.
– An expert from Sri Krishna-kathamrta Bindu, a free bi-monthly magazine service provided by Gopal Jiu Publications.