prasaìgam ajaraà päçam

ätmanaù kavayo viduù

sa eva sädhuñu kåto

mokña-dväram apävåtam

(SB 3.25.20)

Every learned man knows very well that attachment for the material is the greatest entanglement of the spirit soul. But that same attachment, when applied to the self-realized devotees, the sadhu, opens the door of liberation.

titikñavaù käruëikäù

suhådaù sarva-dehinäm

ajäta-çatravaù çäntäù

sädhavaù sädhu-bhüñaëäù

(SB 3.25.21)

The symptoms of a sädhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, abides by the scriptures, and all of his characteristics are sublime.

mayy ananyena bhävena

bhaktià kurvanti ye dåòhäm

mat-kåte tyakta-karmäëas


(SB 3.25.22)

Such a sädhu engages in staunch devotional service to the Lord without deviation. For the sake of the Lord he renounces all other connections, such as family relationships and friendly acquaintances within the world.

mad-äçrayäù kathä måñöäù

çåëvanti kathayanti ca

tapanti vividhäs täpä

naitän mad-gata-cetasaù

(SB 3.25.23)

Engaged constantly in chanting and hearing about Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sädhus do not suffer from material miseries because they are always filled with thoughts of My pastimes and activities.

ta ete sädhavaù sädhvi


saìgas teñv atha te prärthyaù

saìga-doña-harä hi te

(SB 3.25.24)

O My mother, O virtuous lady, these are the qualities of great devotees who are free from all material attachment. You must seek attachment to such holy men, for this counteracts the pernicious effects of material attachment.

satäà prasaìgän mama vérya-saàvido

bhavanti håt-karëa-rasäyanäù kathäù

taj-joñaëäd äçv apavarga-vartmani

çraddhä ratir bhaktir anukramiñyati

(SB 3.25.25)

In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.

These verses from the third canto of Bhagavat Puran have been spoken by the Supreme Lord Kapiladeva to His most blessed and fortunate mother, Devahuti. In this chapter, which is entitled the Glories of devotional service, He is explaining how the process of the true path of self-realization is begun.

In this world everyone is very much infatuated by attachments. The attachments which are born of the desires to enjoy the objects of the senses, through the senses. Such attachments are the cause of all bondage and therefore the cause of all suffering. Kapiladeva explains that material attachment is the greatest entanglement of the spirit soul. It is due to this attachment alone, that the soul is degraded into a state of complete forgetfulness of its true spiritual nature and therefore identifies with this phenomenon by which one has to suffer the repetition of birth and death.

Janma, mrtyu, jara vyadhi dukha dosha darshanam.

A wise man sees that birth, old age, disease and death, these are the real problems of life. How to free our self from the repetition of birth and death? How to fix ourselves in our eternal constitutional position?

Jivera Svarupa hoy nityera Krsna das

To be engaged eternally in the loving service of Lord Sri Krsna.

The question that we have just raised – Is the real purpose of spiritual life to seek the answer.

athato brahma jijnasa

Human life begins when we begin to try to answer this question, how to disentangle myself from the causes of all sufferings, material attachment and attach ourselves to the loving service of the Lord.

Kapiladeva explains here and His words are not just someone’s opinion. He is the avatara of Lord Narayan, who represents the Supreme opulence of knowledge, Vidya, jnana. Each of the different avataras of the Lord specifically manifested a particular aishvarya or opulence of the Lord.

Just like Lord Narsingadev, He manifested the supreme opulence of strength. Lord Vamanadev, He represented the supreme opulence of renunciation. The Supreme Lord of Vaikunta, who is the husband of goddess of fortune, He appeared as the beggar and when He asked Bali Maharaj for some donation of just three steps of land, Bali Maharaj was ready to offer Him whatever He wanted. He said no, I am content just with My begging bowl, I am only asking three steps for your sake not for mine. Ramchandra, He revealed the supreme opulence not only of strength but also beauty; how whoever saw Him, was so charmed by His beauty. Even Surpanaka, a great Rakshasi, she could not control herself upon seeing his illustrious, infinite beauty. And when Lord Ramchandra was traveling to Naimisharanya, the great sages there, they all wanted to become His wives and enjoy a loving relationship with Him. They were so attracted to His beauty. So He said, in My next incarnation you can become My wives. In this incarnation, I have only one wife, Sita .

aisvaryasya samagra viryasya

Para Sara muni explains Bhagavan has six opulences – beauty, strength, wealth. The Lord appeared in His incarnation of such great souls as Svayambhuva Manu, Prthu Maharaj, who literally were the proprietors of all of the earth and all of the universe.

The significance of Kapiladeva avatar:

Lord Kapiladeva is especially that avatar that is manifesting the supreme opulence of knowledge. Through his teachings of Sankhya philosophy to His mother Devahuti, everything materially and spiritually is explained in such scientific, analytical terms, that anyone who studies these teachings, all questions of life and every level will be answered and He speaks from the Supreme Authority.

vedähaà samatétäni

vartamänäni cärjuna

bhaviñyäëi ca bhütäni

mäà tu veda na kaçcana

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, He knows everything – past, present and future. He knows every living being. There is nothing unknown to Him.  So when Kapiladeva is explaining, we must hear submissively with complete faith. And then, the path to real knowledge is opened in our life.

And it is explained in the Bhagvatam –

ete cäàça-kaläù puàsaù

kåñëas tu bhagavän svayam

That all of these great avataras have come for specific purposes, but the source of all avataras, who possesses all the six opulence’s simultaneously in its fullest extent, Veda Vyas explains is Krsna. So here, Krsna, in His incarnation as Kapiladeva, is instructing us -That attachment for material sense enjoyment; in fact, attachment to anything temporary in this material world is the cause of entanglement, bondage, suffering and the repetition of birth and death. But that same attachment, when it is applied to a sadhu, a self-realised devotee, opens the door of liberation.

Kapiladeva is not explaining – give up your attachments. There are many philosophers who tell us to do like this. Some philosophers tell us – do not give up your attachments, enjoy like anything and think of Krsna. How you can think of Krsna, when you are enjoying like anything? So, you see, attachments to material sense objects are the greatest cause of entanglement. Therefore such so-called religious people, who teach, just go on doing whatever you want to do and chant this mantra, just go on, you do not need to change your diet, you do not need to change your lifestyle, just have faith, you will be saved. This is kaitava dharma. This is cheating religion. And others say, you must completely cut all attachments. But how is it possible? It is the nature of the soul to be attached to something. It is impossible to cut all our attachment completely.  Temporarily we may be able to do so. Just like, if you have a weed and you cut it, it is going to grow back. It may, you may not see it for some time, but it is going to grow back. So trying to cut our attachments to this material world, is like cutting a weed, its going to grow back. We may feel liberated for the time being as long as we do not see it.  But it is just a matter of time. Therefore, Kapila muni is explaining the true art of disentangling ourselves from the bondage of this world. That whatever attachments you have, just redirect them, become attached to  self realised devotees, become attached to the association of devotees, this is what He is saying, sadhu satsang. To the degree we are attached to the sadhu satsang, the association of the true devotees of the Lord, to that extent we will naturally be immune and detached from the objects of illusion. Therefore, Kapiladeva explains that this is the real beginning of spiritual life to learn how to seek refuge in the association of devotees.

Another great incarnation of Krsna, Rishabdeva he has said

mahat-seväà dväram ähur vimuktes

tamo-dväraà yoñitäà saìgi-saìgam

That by service to mahats, to mahatmas, to sadhus, the doors to liberation are opened wide and by associating with the materialistic people, too much attached to sense enjoyment, the doors to bondage and ignorance are opened wide. Who you associate with, will determine our whole future and life. Everything is dependent according to the Lord’s words and the association we keep and how we associate with those people. So, not to kill attachment, but to transfer it.  This is the real path of bhakti and Kapiladeva is about to explain, who is a real sadhu. A sadhu, nowhere does it say in the shastra, that he is a man with a saffron robe or a long beard or a shaved head. A sadhu is described in the Bhagvad Gita, as one who unflinchingly engages in the devotional service of the Lord.

mahätmänas tu mäà pärtha

daivéà prakåtim äçritäù

bhajanty ananya-manaso

jïätvä bhütädim avyayam

That a real mahatma is one who is always engaged in the service of the Lord.  Such a person is not to be understood to be under the modes of material nature but he is directly protected by the mercy of the Lord Himself.

Symptoms of a sadhu:

And Kapiladeva elaborates

titikñavaù käruëikäù

suhådaù sarva-dehinäm

ajäta-çatravaù çäntäù

sädhavaù sädhu-bhüñaëäù

The symptoms of a sadhu- one is that he is tolerant. We find in the lives of great devotees of the Lord such an extent of tolerance.

Devotees are tolerant:

Haridas Thakur, he was beaten in twenty two market places, into a bloody mess by demoniac people with canes and whips. And the whole time, he was just praying to Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, praying to Lord Sri Krsna, please forgive them.

In fact during the Mahaprakash, many, many years later, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spoke to Haridas in front of all the devotees and He said, Haridas, when you were being beaten between the twenty two market places, I had already petitioned My Sudarshan Chakra, to destroy these demons, who were causing such blasphemies to you. Not only were they beating you, but they were abusing you with the most terrible, terrible, vulgar words of abuse. But within your heart, I could understand your inner desire and you were praying so fervently, as they were beating every part of your body, please My Lord, forgive them, please give them Your mercy, let them become Your devotees and I realized that if I would have killed them, I would cause you more pain than they were causing you. So therefore I had to spare their life, not for them, but for you. Such is the tolerance of the devotees.

Lord Jesus Christ, when he was hanging on crucifix, he was praying to God, please forgive these people they know not what they do. A devotee is willing to bear all sorts of inconveniences in order to help others come closer to Krsna.

Srila Prabhupad, our own Guru Maharaj, you can imagine at the age of seventy years old, having heart attacks on the Atlantic ocean, coming to New York city, suffering terrible cold, freezing weather, no money, utter poverty, abuses, blasphemies, no help from anybody, but he gladly endured all these things to somehow or other try to reach these very ungrateful people with the message of Krsna.

That is tolerance.

A devotee is willing to bear whatever happens to himself, for the sake of illuminating, enlightening and uplifting others.

Devotees are merciful:

He is also merciful titiksva, karunaka . What does it mean to be merciful? Actually, there is only one merciful personality. And that is Krsna. If we think that we have any mercy to give, then we are not merciful, but proud. If we think that I am very advanced and I can enlighten someone in spiritual life, then we are not merciful, we are in complete illusion, completely victimized and defeated by false ego. In order to be merciful you have to be completely humble. You have to realize, that I am nothing, Krsna is everything, my guru Maharaj, who is representing Krsna, His mercy is everything and if I can just empty myself of all of this pride, then I can be an instrument of their mercy. A person who realizes, I am only the instrument, he can actually be really merciful because then God’s mercy without obstruction can flow through that person, his words, his actions, his prayers. A person may, by the mystic process be able to perform many miracles and through cultivation of knowledge he may be able to give us so much direction according to scripture and according to the performance of tapasya, he may be able to really really just perform great great sacrifices, fasting and so on and so forth. Trying to lead people in the right direction But if there is pride in his heart that just see, what I am giving, just see, what I have, then that person cannot really be merciful, but a real sadhu.

trnad api sunicena

taror api sahishuna

amanina mana dena

kirtaniyah sadä harih

A real sadhu simply puts himself in the position of being the servant of the servant of the servant. Simply dedicates his life or her life to being an instrument in the hands of Gurudev and Krsna.  Just I will repeat these words.

Srila Prabhupad used to tell us, I have no qualification.  The only qualification is I am simply with a humble heart, just delivering to you like a postman, the message of my Spiritual Master  through my words and through my life, the mercy is all His. We call upon Guru as His Divine Grace but “His” does not mean guru His divine means Krsna, coming down through the parampara, coming through him. So one who is simply, with all humility, distributing the mercy of God, not thinking that anything belongs to him, simply an instrument of God’s love, that person is merciful.

Devotees are friendly:

suhådaù sarva-dehinäm

He is friendly to all living entities. That means such a person does not discriminate. Prahalad Maharaj, this was a very very major teaching in his instructions to his class-mates.  That materialistic people, they are always discriminating. This person is giving me enjoyment, so he is my friend. This person is causing me suffering, so he is my enemy. But a devotee is the well-wisher of everyone. A devotee sees every living being, as his brother and sister. A devotee recognizes the disease in those persons who are acting sinfully. But he is loving and compassionate towards them, he is their friend.

ajäta-çatravaù çäntäù


means such a devotee, a sadhu is not inimical to anyone. He is the well-wisher of everyone. Sometimes, it is said that sadhu means to cut.  Sometimes the sadhu speaks with very strong words.  Sometimes it appears he is insulting us. Sometimes it appears that he is insulting others. But, if we look deeply into the subject matter, he is actually only trying to protect us and to deliver us from misconceptions.  To deliver us from our own anarthas To deliver us from being misled. Therefore sometimes, he has to speak out. But he is doing it with no inimical towards anyone. He is doing it like a mother, who chastise her child out of love. Of course, a sadhu has no enemies, that means he feels no one to be enemy but unfortunately, if you try to speak the truth in this world of illusion, so many people would consider you to be their enemy.

That is natural. Lord Jesus said, if the society loves you, that means you are not following God. If people hate you, that means you must be following nicely. Why, because you are standing up against everything that they represent – sinful lives, sense gratification and illusion. You will be popular amongst the pious. But most people are impious.  You will not be so popular amongst them. You will be death personified to their whole way of life, which is sense gratification. Therefore great devotees of the Lord, throughout history we see have been persecuted a lot. Even Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself was persecuted, while living in Navadivipa, with His devotees by the Chand Kazi and others. But a devotee, he has no enemies but he will have so many enemies.

Devotees are peaceful:


Despite everything going on, he always remains peaceful.

äpüryamäëam acala-pratiñöhaà

samudram äpaù praviçanti yadvat

tadvat kämä yaà praviçanti sarve

sa çäntim äpnoti na käma-kämé

In Bhagvad Gita, it is explained, that a devotee who has some understanding of Krsna in that realization, in that connection to Krsna, an ocean of peace of happiness is awakened within his heart and this world, due to its nature, dualities everywhere through the person’s mind and senses, there are always happiness, distress, honor, dishonor, pleasure, pain, heat and cold, and physically these things may very much affect him, but in his heart, he is so much submerged in this ocean of transcendental peace, that these things cannot disturb him. Happiness will not elate him, and distress will not depress him.

Krsna says in the Gita

täàs titikñasva bhärata

That the non-permanence of happiness and distress, pleasure and pain, honor, dishonor, all of these things, they are coming like the appearance and disappearance of the winter and summer seasons. An intelligent person tolerates them without being disturbed. What does that mean? That he just goes on with his service to the Lord. No matter what comes upon him. This is the difference between a sincere devotee and a devotee who is not very serious. A devotee, not very serious, if any impediment comes upon him, he gives up his service, I cant do it, I just cannot, it’s too difficult, I cannot do it. May be some other day, but not today. If there is a little disturbance in health, if people are not treating you with honor and respect, if the weather conditions are not pleasing to your senses, we think, how can anyone expect me to do my service in these conditions of life? Too much disturbance, but a sincere devotee, he will tolerate any type of condition. He will tolerate happiness and distress, honor and dishonor, pleasure and pain, and what does it mean – that he is tolerant, it means he will go on with his service; he will go on with his service to the Lord, he will go on with his service to humanity.

And we see, in the life of Srila Prabhupada, he was eighty years old, he was travelling all around the world, constantly facing so many problems, government problems, legal problems, all types of problems of health, all types of problems due to his neophyte disciples. But he never even considered, even for one day, even for one moment, not continuing his service. And we should not be so cold hearted and impersonal to think that such a great soul is not enduring tremendous pain and suffering.  On one level there is tremendous pain and suffering. But the fact that he is willing to endure that for the sake of serving Krsna and helping others is actually his really glory. And in enduring that, the pain and suffering is there, the inner reciprocation of Krsna is He gives on a higher platform an ecstasy and peace that cannot be understood with the material mind. So they are both going on simultaneously.

Devotees abide by the scriptures:

It explains that he abides by the scriptures. That means he never gives his own opinion.

evaà paramparä-präptam

imaà räjarñayo viduù

sa käleneha mahatä

yogo nañöaù parantapa

He receives knowledge of the scriptures through disciplic succession – parampara. And he simply repeats those words, and in his life   abides by those teachings. This one quality itself will expose most so-called religious leaders as not really being sadhus, that they are not giving their own interpretation, they are not giving their own opinion, they are simply following in the footsteps of the previous acharyas,

Mahajanas yena sa gatah panthah.

Devotees’ renunciation:

And then he goes on, that if such a devotee engages a sadhu in staunch devotional service without deviation for the sake of the Lord, he is willing to  renounce  any connection that is unfavorable for his service.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu playing the part the of perfect devotee, when He saw that His being a grhastha, was impeding people from hearing His message, He was going to give up, renounce His most loving, chaiste and faithful wife and His most loving mother. Such a wife and mother, nobody could possibly give up in this world.

Generally, when a person is ready to take sannyas, he is pretty much frustrated with his family life. I have been so long, now I will be liberated from all of these anxieties, all of these demands, all of these entanglements. But Mahaprabhu, His wife, She was the most perfect, loving, beautiful, gentle, She was only, I believe, sixteen years old, and She was helpless without Him. And His mother was an elderly lady, who is a widow, who is willing to do anything and everything for Him at any moment. Whatever He did, as far as she was concerned, was perfect and she will support Him. How to give up such a mother? There is no such thing as mother like this. There is no such thing as wife like this in today’s society and if they have a fraction of these qualities, we cannot give it up, but Mahaprabhu renounced it all for the sake of the Lord’s service.

If a person wants to be a brahmachari, and wants to live in the ashram and be very peaceful in that way, and guru says you can best serve by continuing your business and get married, and he is willing to renounce for the sake of the  Lord, living amongst such sadhus as Tattva and Sanat Kumar and Gaur Gadadhar and Devamrta to live with a wife, imagine, but for the sake of the Lord, He was willing to do that that. This is of course, my perspective. Sannyasis have to be a little partial you know, it’s not a prejudice; it’s just a defense mechanism that is given by God Himself. So He is willing to accept any position, any Varna and any ashram for the sake of service to the Lord. This is real renunciation. He is even willing to renounce connections with friendly acquaintances, within this world if those persons are not helping him in his Krsna consciousness, if they are impeding his service to guru and Krsna.

Devotees are always chanting:

 mad-äçrayäù kathä måñöäù

çåëvanti kathayanti ca

A sadhu, a genuine devotee of the Lord is always engaged, constantly engaged in chanting My holy names.

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Constantly engaged in hearing about Me and speaking about Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are always filled with thoughts of My pastimes and activities.

O My mother, O virtuous lady, these are the qualities of great devotees who are free from all attachments. You must seek attachment to such holy men, for this counteracts the pernicious effects of material attachment.

In this way, children are very fortunate, if a child, even without understanding philosophy, simply becomes attached to a saintly person for any reason, his spiritual life, the doors to liberation are open wide.

And in this way, we must also become like children. We shouldn’t be childish, but we should be child-like. Childish means foolish, child-like means having innocence and faith and if we learn to become attached to the association of sincere devotees and we make that attachment, the focal point of our life and we center all our activities and all of our desires around that attachment, attachment of associating with a sadhus, then Krsna will make every sort of arrangement to bring us back home, back to Godhead. He will open every door, to the higher realizations of pure bhakti. In the association of devotees, Krsna, service to Krsna, service to guru, is always the topic, nothing else; therefore, such association can give us immunization from all of the temptations and contaminations of our life.

How to remain pure in midst of material contamination?

Today, we were speaking to some doctors, at Adikeshav prabhu’s house and one of the doctors, asked the question, that in our daily work we have to meet so many, very materialistic people, people really just greedy and hungry for enjoyment, how could we remain pure in heart?

If we take inoculation regularly, and even if you have to go in various places, where there is disease and contamination, you will be protected, but if you do not take your regular inoculation, you will be infected with disease. By regularly chanting God’s names, in our home, every morning , every evening, by reading the scriptures, by following the four regulative principles: no illicit sex, intoxication, gambling, and meat eating.  And by regularly associating with saintly devotees, sincere devotees of the Lord, this is the inoculation; that will immune us, and if we regularly take shelter of this process and  even if we have to work in this world, we will never be affected, we will never be contaminated, we will never fall prey to these diseases of material attachments. So Krsna explains to Narada muni

yatra gayanti madbhakta

That wherever My devotees, wherever the sadhus are coming together to chant My names, I am there. In this age of kali-yuga, the real association,  that we should become attached to is that association where the glories of the Lord, service of the Lord, and the chanting of the holy name of the Lord is always taking place. So let us take advantage of this rare opportunity. There are so many very, very sincere devotees of the Lord who have come here tonight, simply to hear and chant about Krsna.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.