(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 28 April 2017, Radhadesh, Belgium, Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.50)
I had a disciple who was living in a small flat – just a one room studio with a bathroom and kitchenette. In the room, there was a sofa which could turn into a bed. There were chairs and every chair had stuff on it. When you would enter, you sort of have to dig through all the stuff to get a place to sit down. This is called a bachelor’s flat!
So I was in his bachelor’s flat and one day I said to him, “Why don’t you choose an ashram?” I said, “Either be a brahmacari and then you do not need this flat, get rid of it. Or get a better flat and keep the chairs clear and invite someone to come and sit there. Get married. But make a choice because bachelorhood is not an ashram.” Bachelorhood does not offer shelter. It is not taking shelter of the process of becoming purified whereas the ashrams are. So we take these ashrams in a spirit like that – in a spirit that we are dedicating ourselves to it and within it, we are following a certain etiquette and a certain standard.
It is very different from the old type of relationships of like, “Shall we get together?”
“Well, why not?” Giggle, giggle, giggle!
Then you know, move into the same apartment, “Well, let us see what is going to happen.” I know what is going to happen. It is always the same thing that happens. There is a big bed. Both want to be the enjoyer so it becomes a competition between who is the centre of attention – who is the enjoyer and who is the enjoyed; who is the servant and who is the master or mistress. These dynamics come and leads to so much tension and big fights. I mean, marriages make Kuruksetra and the Mahabharat look tame! (laughter) You read about all these heroes sending their astras. You get married and then, my God! The things that go on in marriages – it is inconceivable – you would have never thought you would have to go through.
But there is a positive side where two people support each other and have a certain confidentiality with each other of all the things that exist within marriage. So marriage is fine but we are not varnasrama first:
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛha-patir no vanastho yatir vā
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ (Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya 13.80)
We are not anything of the four varnas or the four asramas – not sannyasis, not grhastas not brahmacaris. We are not these things. Not brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, sudras. We are vaisnava. That is it! We are vaisnava and vaisnavis. This is our meditation. Then when we are in an ashram, we make something of the ashram. But vaisnava first, otherwise it is not going to work. If vaisnava is put first, even when problems arise, we will overcome them.
So this is really how it is. Vaisnava means, “I am the servant of the vaisnavas.” I am not a vaisnava. I wish I was a vaisnava, if only I was; I am the servant of the vaisnavas. In this way, I hope to become a vaisnava. In this way, we take shelter and in this way, the ashrams start working.
First, we have to take shelter of an ashram and then we have to remember that actually it is only external. Internally we are vaisnava, servant of the vaisnavas. Then everything starts to fall into place. Then it becomes possible, kamo ‘smi bharatarsabha (Bhagavad-gita 7.11), the ideal – sex life which is not contrary to religious principles. Then we can do it, then no more jantur dehopapattaye (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.31.1), no more embodiment.