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SB 9.19.2

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


śṛṇu bhārgavy amūṁ gāthāṁ
mad-vidhācaritāṁ bhuvi
dhīrā yasyānuśocanti
vane grāma-nivāsinaḥ


śṛṇu—please hear; bhārgavi—O daughter of Śukrācārya; amūm—this; gāthām—history; mat-vidhā—exactly resembling my behavior; ācaritām—behavior; bhuvi—within this world; dhīrāḥ—those who are sober and intelligent; yasya—of whom; anuśocanti—lament very much; vane—in the forest; grāma-nivāsinaḥ—very much attached to materialistic enjoyment.


My dearly beloved wife, daughter of Śukrācārya, in this world there was someone exactly like me. Please listen as I narrate the history of his life. By hearing about the life of such a householder, those who have retired from householder life always lament.


Persons who live in the village or town are called grāma-nivāsī, and those who live in the forest are called vana-vāsī or vānaprastha. The vānaprasthas, who have retired from family life, generally lament about their past family life because it engaged them in trying to fulfill lusty desires. Prahlāda Mahārāja said that one should retire from family life as soon as possible, and he described family life as the darkest well (hitvātma-pātaṁ gṛham andha-kūpam). If one continuously or permanently concentrates on living with his family, he should be understood to be killing himself. In the Vedic civilization, therefore, it is recommended that one retire from family life at the end of his fiftieth year and go to vana, the forest. When he becomes expert or accustomed to forest life, or retired life as a vānaprastha, he should accept sannyāsa. Vanaṁ gato yad dharim āśrayeta (SB 7.5.5). Sannyāsa means accepting unalloyed engagement in the service of the Lord. Vedic civilization therefore recommends four different stages of life-brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa. One should be very much ashamed of remaining a householder and not promoting oneself to the two higher stages, namely vānaprastha and sannyāsa.

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