Light of the Bhāgavata

Text 32

The beautiful white clouds, freed from all burdens of water distribution, float in midair, like mendicants freed from all family responsibilities. 

As long as one is attached to the so-called responsibilities of family burdens, he is always full of cares and anxieties about meeting his family expenses. The four orders of social life, as designed in the varṇāśrama system, are very scientific and cooperative. In student life one is taught the primary principles of the human form of life. One who enters the householder’s life can execute the duties of a family man because he has already been trained for this job in the brahmacarya-āśrama. And after fifty years of age the householder retires from family life and prepares for the life of sannyāsa. 

The householder is duty-bound to maintain the members of all three of the other āśramas, namely the brahmacārīs, the vānaprasthas, and sannyāsīs. In this way, every member of society was given a chance to retire for a higher order of spiritual culture, and the householders neglected no one. The brahmacārīs, vānaprasthas, and sannyāsīs all curtailed their necessities to the minimum, and therefore no one would begrudge maintaining them in the bare necessities of life. 

In Kali-yuga, however, the entire system has gone topsy-turvy. The student lives in luxury at the expense of the father or the father-in-law. When the educated, indulgent student becomes a householder by the strength of university degrees, he requires money by all means for all kinds of bodily comfort, and therefore he cannot spare even a penny for the so-called vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs. The vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs nowadays are those who were unsuccessful in family life. Thus the so-called sannyāsīs try to construct another home in the name of the sannyāsa-āśrama and glide down into all sorts of luxury at the expense of others. So all these varṇas and āśramas have now become so many transcendental frauds. 

But that does not mean that there is no reality in them. One should not conclude that there is no good money simply because one has met with counterfeit coins. The sannyāsa-āśrama is meant for complete freedom from all anxieties, and it is meant for uplifting the fallen souls, who are merged in materialism. But unless the sannyāsī is freed from all cares and anxieties, like a white cloud, it is difficult for him to do anything good for society.