Lord Caitanya’s Instructions to Raghunātha dāsa

Hare Krsna,

CC Antya 6.222-227 — When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu heard this, He was greatly satisfied. “Raghunātha dāsa has done well,” He said. “He has acted suitably for a person in the renounced order. A person in the renounced order should always chant the holy name of the Lord. He should beg some alms to eat, and he should sustain his life in this way. A vairāgī [a person in the renounced order] should not depend on others. If he does so, he will be unsuccessful, and he will be neglected by Kṛṣṇa. If a renunciant is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue. The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits and roots are available. One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Kṛṣṇa.”

When I read/heard the above verse, two verses from Nectar of Instruction immediately came to my mind.

NOI 1: A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.

NOI 2: One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.

In essence, Lord Caitanya is instructing Raghunath dasa to control his senses. Controlling one’s senses completely is true sign of renunciation. Just wearing a saffron cloth, moving to a temple, and giving up family relationship is not real renunciation. What is the use of all these detachments if the mind is still attached to sense objects? Therefore the first instruction of NOI is to control one’s mind. In fact, real spiritual progress happens after one is able to control the mind.

The meaning of ‘mantra’ is to deliver the mind. What is the magic pill given to us to control the mind? It’s the chanting of the mahamantra. One should chant the holy name as many times as possible to control the mind.

While we practice controlling the mind, we also need to practice controlling the tongue. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur says, “Jive phele visaya sagar e”. The tongue is the one that binds us to the ocean of material nescience. If we observe closely, we will notice how strongly the tongue binds us to sense objects. The taste for good food and drinks drags us to bars and restaurants. The urge to speak nonsense binds us to prajalpa (mundane talk). The actions of lust, anger and greed are manifested through the tongue. We get angry and our tongue curses someone. I compare the tongue to a mad elephant that wants to run loose and trample on our devotional creeper. Two of our regulative principles – no meat eating and no intoxication – is related to the tongue. Thus we see what a spiritual havoc the tongue can create.

 What is the solution to control the tongue? Chanting the holy name and eating prasadam. In NOI 1 purport, Srila Prabhupada writes:

“As for the urges of the tongue, we all experience that the tongue wants to eat palatable dishes. Generally we should not allow the tongue to eat according to its choice, but should control the tongue by supplying prasāda. The devotee’s attitude is that he will eat only when Kṛṣṇa gives him prasāda. That is the way to control the urge of the tongue. One should take prasāda at scheduled times and should not eat in restaurants or sweetmeat shops simply to satisfy the whims of the tongue or belly. If we stick to the principle of taking only prasāda, the urges of the belly and tongue can be controlled.”

Therefore Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Raghunath dasa centers a lot around the need to control the tongue as we can see in the following verses.

CC Antya 6.222-227: “If a renunciant is eager for his tongue to taste different foods, his spiritual life will be lost, and he will be subservient to the tastes of his tongue. The duty of a person in the renounced order is to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra always. He should satisfy his belly with whatever vegetables, leaves, fruits and roots are available. One who is subservient to the tongue and who thus goes here and there, devoted to the genitals and the belly, cannot attain Kṛṣṇa.”

CC Antya 6.233-239: “Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. You should not eat very palatable food, nor should you dress very nicely. Do not expect honor, but offer all respect to others. Always chant the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and within your mind render service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. I have briefly given you My instructions.”

What lessons can I personally draw from Lord Caitanya’s instructions? I need to control my tongue when it comes to eating good food. I have a tendency to eat something every few hours. This is less due to hunger and more to do with bad habit cultivated over the years. Years ago, my fitness trainer recommended that I eat something every couple of hours to keep up the metabolism rate. I guess the habit started with that. What worked well for material life will not work for spiritual life. Therefore I need to control my tongue better when it comes to eating. Due to my reserved introverted nature, the urge to engage in mundane talk is not much of an issue for me. I prefer being quiet than talking. If I can control my urge to eat, I will make great advancement in spiritual life. I am glad that by writing this forum post, I could come to this realization.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

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