Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.12.5
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Bombay, April 16, 1976

Pradyumna: “The brahmacari should go out morning and evening for collecting alms. All the collections should be offered to the spiritual master. The brahmacari is supposed to eat only if he is ordered to take foodstuffs by the spiritual master; otherwise, without being so ordered by the spiritual master, he may sometimes have to observe fasting.”


sayam pratas cared bhaiksyam gurave tan nivedayet bhunjita yady anujnato no ced upavaset kvacit

Very strict life. The brahmacari should go out of the asrama for begging alms: “Mother, we are coming from such and such temple or asrama. Give us some alms.” So every home, grhastha, they will give some little attar. It doesn’t matter he gives so much. A little, that is nice. Little attar or little rice or little dahl, little fruits, or little vegetable—everyone can contribute. And the brahmacari should go to neighboring householders’ place to take something from him. This collection is not for his personal sense gratification. This collection is made from these persons to offer to the Deity. Offer. They are simply eating. Grhinam dina-cetasam, mahad-vicalanam nrnam grhinam dina-cetasam. The householders especially, they have become very cripple-minded. In the sastra it is said that sannyasis, brahmacaris, they are supposed to be maintained by the grhastha as their children. As they are maintaining their own children—there is no disgust—similarly, if a brahmacari or a grhastha comes…, brahmacari or sannyasi, so he should not be refused. Give something. If you give little rice, that is also good, but don’t refuse. This is Vedic system. Bhaiksyam. When this is stopped, that is called durbhiksa. When this alms collection is impossible, that is called durbhiksa. Even brahmacari and sannyasis cannot get any alms. That is the period of durbhiksa.

So in the Kali-yuga there is durbhiksa. Nobody can give even little rice. That is called durbhiksa. Anavrstya durbhiksa kara-piditah. People in this age will be harassed by three things. One thing is anavrsti. There will be scarcity of rainfall or no rainfall. When I first went to Hyderabad they said that for three, four years there was no rain. Is it not? But since Hare Krsna mantra is being chanted, there is rainfall. So they do not know the secret of rainfall. Yajnad bhavanti parjanyah. If you perform yajna, then there will be cloud. Parjanyad anna- sambhavah. Annad bhavanti bhutani parjanyad anna-sambhavah. This prescription is there. As soon as you stop performing yajna—you take pleasure in sporting, no yajna… Now big, big cities, they have got big, big Olympian sporting, but no yajna performance. So why there shall not be scarcity of rain? And as soon as there is scarcity of rain, there is scarcity of food grains. And as soon as there is scarcity of food grain, so many so-called associations will come out, “Give us grain. We have to feed such and such person, such and such village.” So it is not going to the village. It is collected, and they use at their own. And government also raise tax. There will be constant durbhiksa. So to stop durbhiksa, government will tax the people. These are all stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Anavrsti durbhiksa kara-piditah, acchinna-dara-dravina gacchanti giri-kananam. In this Kali-yuga people will be very, very much harassed. First of all there is scarcity of rain, then scarcity of food grain, and then taxation by the government. These things we are expecting. It is already begun.

So durbhiksa means these brahmacaris, sannyasis, they should go to every householder’s house and take some alms. When this is refused, that means we are calling durbhiksa, scarcity of food grain. It should be given. That is… A small collection, it is going to the temple for offering prasadam to the Lord and the prasadam to the Vaisnavas, brahmanas. Therefore something must be given. If we open this guru-kula as we are contemplating, the students should be trained up to go house to house and take little alms. It doesn’t matter one has to give one kilogram. No. Whatever you can, you must give. This is the system all over India still. So here it is said that sayam pratas cared bhaiksyam. Twice in a day the brahmacaris should be trained up to collect alms: in the morning, in the evening. And bhaiksyam, and gurave tan nivedayet. And whatever collection is there, it should be offered to the guru. Not that something kept for my own purpose. No. Everything should be offered, whatever you collect. You cannot keep because everything in the gurukula or in the temple, it is for the interest of the guru. In the beginning it was said, vasan danto guror hitam. Everything, all collection, either in cash or kind, that is for the benefit of guru, not the personal benefit. No. Therefore only the grha, I mean to say, sannyasis and the brahmacaris, they can beg. They can collect, not others. That is prohibited. Sayam pratas cared bhaiksyam gurave tan nivedayet.

Now, as soon as you bring the collection before the guru… It was meant for the guru, so it is guru’s property. It is not your property. “Then what I shall do? Everything is given to guru. Then what shall I do?” That is said: bhunjita yady anujnatah. Now, these things will be prepared. The brahmacari will collect dahl, rice, attar, and everything. It will be prepared, offered to the Deity. That’s a fact. But if by mistake guru forgets to call a particular disciple—“My dear son, please come, take your prasadam”—then he should not take prasadam. “Guru has forgotten, so I shall not go and take, myself, the foodstuff. I shall fast.” This is brahmacari. Here it is said, bhunjita yady anujnato. Everything is there, prasadam is ready, but you can eat if you are ordered by the spiritual master. This is called tapasya. Not that “Guru is not here and so much foodstuff… Let me eat sumptuously and sleep twenty-four hours.” This is not brahmacari. We should be very careful. Without order of guru… Of course, our students are trained up. They ask permission. But here it is said that he should not ask permission even. If guru calls him, then he can take; otherwise guru has forgotten to call him somehow or other, so he should starve, or he should fast on that day.

So this is discipline and hardship, voluntary hardship. The brahmacari may come from the royal house… Just like our Krsna is actually son of Vasudeva, and He was brahmacari. And when Sudama Vipra… Krsna was supposed to be ksatriya and Sudama Vipra was brahmana, so brahmanas and ksatriyas are especially meant for going to the gurukula and live very strictly according to the principle of gurukula. So Krsna and Sudama Vipra went to collect dry fuel from the woods. When Sudama Vipra came to Krsna’s house, He reminded, “My dear Sudama, do you remember that day that both of us, we went to the forest and there was cyclone and rain, we could not come out?” So that means so much painstaking for the matter of guru. One cannot refuse, that “I am coming from very rich family. Why should you ask me to go to collect some… I can purchase it. I have money.” No. If you have to… Here it is said that brahmacari gurukule vasan danto guror hitam, acaran dasavan nicah. Even if you are coming from the royal family, even if you are coming from the very respectable brahmana family, when you are under the control of guru you should act like servant. And what kind of servant? Menial servant, nica. Not that “I am very rich man’s son. You are asking me to do this? No, I cannot do it.” No. This is called tapasya. Tapasa brahmacaryena [SB 6.1.13].

So it is very difficult at the present moment to introduce all these principles because the days are different. If we become very strict, so then… Ordinarily they are not coming. There is no such strict principle, and we are constructing very nice palatial building with attached bathroom and everything complete. Still, people are not coming. This is different days. So it is very difficult to introduce the original way of brahmacarya, vanaprastha, sannyasa, and grhastha. Everything has topsy-turvied. But there is only one way. That is there in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that “Although this age is full of faults…” Kalau dosa- nidhe rajan. The Sukadeva Gosvami said, “My dear King, Pariksit Maharaja, I have described so many faults of this age, and you must be perplexed. It is just like the ocean of faults. But there is one benefit. That is specially for this age.” What is that? Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet: “If simply this system is introduced, Hare Krsna mantra…Kirtanad eva krsnasya. This Hare Krsna… Sometimes they come to fight with us that “Why you say ‘Hare Krsna’? Why you do not say ‘Hare Rama’?” Perhaps you have got experience. But sastra says, kirtanad eva krsnasya. It does not mean that we do not accept Rama as the Supreme Per… That does not mean. Sastra said, kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet. And it is said in the sastra that if you chant Visnu-sahasra-nama, after chanting thousand times Visnu’s name, it is equal to one Rama nama. And after chanting thrice Rama nama, it is equal to one Krsna nama. This is said in the sastra. So this Hare Krsna… Of course, in some Puranas the beginning is Hare Rama, but in many Puranas it is Hare Krsna. So we have no objection. Either you begin with Hare Rama or Hare Krsna, we have no objection. But the sastra says, kirtanad eva krsnasya. The Rama and Krsna, there is no difference, but why in the sastra it is said, kirtanad eva krsnasya? So Hare Krsna is quite to the rulings of the sastra. There is no discrepancies, although we have no objection. Either you chant Hare Krsna or Hare Rama.

So these things as far as possible we shall introduce, but our main principle is chant. If the brahmacaris are trained up to rise early in the morning and chant Hare Krsna, attend mangala-arati, then go to the sea for taking bath and again come and again attend vaidika school… And Veda-Vyasa… So Veda-Vyasa means to study Krsna literature. Because nowadays it is not possible that the students, especially foreign students, they will be very much inclined to read from Sama-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Rg-Veda, Atharva-Veda, or pronounce the Upanisad, Brahma-sutra. The time is changed. As far as possible… But there is essence of all these Vedic literature. Bhasyayam brahma-sutranam vedartha-paribrmhitam. This Bhagavata, this is the essence of Brahma-sutra. Nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam idam [SB 1.1.3]. So we are contemplating to start this brahmacari-asrama, so these things should be followed, that the brahmacari… Sayam pratah. It is begun here, sayam pratar upasita guru-agny-arka-surottaman. This should be practiced. Surottaman. Especially the Deity. So these are the principles to be followed, that a brahmacari should always remain dedicated to the guru. Whatever collection he makes, he should offer to the spiritual master, and spiritual master will ask him, “My dear such and such, my dear son, please come and take your prasadam.” If he forgets, then we should not go personally. And we should wait or we shall fast. These are the some of the rules and regulation as far as possible. But if we follow the principles of Bhagavatam, kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet. If we… (end)