naivāṅghripāḥ para-bhṛtaḥ sarito ’py aśuṣyan
ruddhā guhāḥ kim ajito ’vati nopasannān
kasmād bhajanti kavayo dhana-durmadāndhān
cīrāṇi — torn clothes; kim — whether; pathi — on the road; na — not; santi — there is; diśanti — give in charity; bhikṣām — alms; na — not; eva — also; aṅghripāḥ — the trees; para-bhṛtaḥ — one who maintains others; saritaḥ — the rivers; api — also; aśuṣyan — have dried up; ruddhāḥ — closed; guhāḥ — caves; kim — whether; ajitaḥ — the Almighty Lord; avati — give protection; na — not; upasannān — the surrendered soul; kasmāt — what for, then; bhajanti — flatters; kavayaḥ — the learned; dhana — wealth; durmada-andhān — too intoxicated by.
Are there no torn clothes lying on the common road? Do the trees, which exist for maintaining others, no longer give alms in charity? Do the rivers, being dried up, no longer supply water to the thirsty? Are the caves of the mountains now closed? Or above all, does the Almighty Lord not protect the fully surrendered souls? Why then do the learned sages go to flatter those who are intoxicated by hard-earned wealth?
The renounced order of life is never meant for begging or living at the cost of others as a parasite. According to the dictionary, a parasite is a sycophant who lives at the cost of society without making any contribution to that society. The renounced order is meant for contributing something substantial to society and not depending on the earnings of the householders. On the contrary, acceptance of alms from the householders by the bona fide mendicant is an opportunity afforded by the saint for the tangible benefit of the donor. In the sanātana-dharma institution, alms-giving to the mendicant is part of a householder’s duty, and it is advised in the scriptures that the householders should treat the mendicants as their family children and should provide them with food, clothing, etc., without being asked. Pseudomendicants, therefore, should not take advantage of the charitable disposition of the faithful householders. The first duty of a person in the renounced order of life is to contribute some literary work for the benefit of the human being in order to give him realized direction toward self-realization. Amongst the other duties in the renounced order of life of Śrīla Sanātana, Śrīla Rūpa and the other Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, the foremost duty discharged by them was to hold learned discourses amongst themselves at Sevākuñja, Vṛndāvana (the spot where Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple was established by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī and where the actual samādhi tombs of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī are laid). For the benefit of all in human society, they left behind them immense literatures of transcendental importance. Similarly, all the ācāryas who voluntarily accepted the renounced order of life aimed at benefiting human society and not at living a comfortable or irresponsible life at the cost of others. However, those who cannot give any contribution should not go to the householders for food, for such mendicants asking bread from the householders are an insult to the highest order. Śukadeva Gosvāmī gave this warning especially for those mendicants who adopt this line of profession to solve their economic problems. Such mendicants are in abundance in the Age of Kali. When a man becomes a mendicant willfully or by circumstances, he must be of firm faith and conviction that the Supreme Lord is the maintainer of all living beings everywhere in the universe. Why, then, would He neglect the maintenance of a surrendered soul who is cent-percent engaged in the service of the Lord? A common master looks to the necessities of his servant, so how much more would the all-powerful, all-opulent Supreme Lord look after the necessities of life for a fully surrendered soul. The general rule is that a mendicant devotee will accept a simple small loincloth without asking anyone to give it in charity. He simply salvages it from the rejected torn cloth thrown in the street. When he is hungry he may go to a magnanimous tree which drops fruits, and when he is thirsty he may drink water from the flowing river. He does not require to live in a comfortable house, but should find a cave in the hills and not be afraid of jungle animals, keeping faith in God, who lives in everyone’s heart. The Lord may dictate to tigers and other jungle animals not to disturb His devotee. Haridāsa Ṭhākura, a great devotee of Lord Śrī Caitanya, used to live in such a cave, and by chance a great venomous snake was a copartner of the cave. Some admirer of Ṭhākura Haridāsa who had to visit the Ṭhākura every day feared the snake and suggested that the Ṭhākura leave that place. Because his devotees were afraid of the snake and they were regularly visiting the cave, Ṭhākura Haridāsa agreed to the proposal on their account. But as soon as this was settled, the snake actually crawled out of its hole in the cave before everyone present and left the cave for good. By the dictation of the Lord, who lived also within the heart of the snake, the snake gave preference to Haridāsa and decided to leave the place and not disturb him. So this is a tangible example of how the Lord gives protection to a bona fide devotee like Ṭhākura Haridāsa. According to the regulations of the sanātana-dharma institution, one is trained from the beginning to depend fully on the protection of the Lord in all circumstances. The path of renunciation is recommended for acceptance by one who is fully accomplished and fully purified in his existence. This stage is described also in the Bhagavad-gītā (16.5) as daivī sampat. A human being is required to accumulate daivī sampat, or spiritual assets; otherwise, the next alternative, āsurī sampat, or material assets, will overcome him disproportionately, and thus one will be forced into the entanglement of different miseries of the material world. A sannyāsī should always live alone, without company, and he must be fearless. He should never be afraid of living alone, although he is never alone. The Lord is residing in everyone’s heart, and unless one is purified by the prescribed process, one will feel that he is alone. But a man in the renounced order of life must be purified by the process; thus he will feel the presence of the Lord everywhere and will have nothing to fear (such as being without any company). Everyone can become a fearless and honest person if his very existence is purified by discharging the prescribed duty for each and every order of life. One can become fixed in one’s prescribed duty by faithful aural reception of Vedic instructions and assimilation of the essence of Vedic knowledge by devotional service to the Lord.