Can sannyasis preach or advise grhastas?

Manidhara Das
22 Mar 2020


A: Once upon a time I had a GBC who used to be Srila Prabhupada's personal servant. When serving Him as brahmacary, Srila Prabhupada spoke to him often about sannyas, its real meaning, etc. (For Srila Prabhupada sannyas meant state of consciousness; change of dress only may not be the final proof of being rightly situated in this asrama.)


And so our later GBC finally took sannyas from Srila Prabhupada. After that, to his amazement, Srila Prabhupada often spoke to him about grhastas. Confused he finally asked Him to find out that Srila Prabhupada TRAINED him how to preach to grhastas.


Sannyasi preaching to grhastas is an absolute necessity. Of course such member of the sannyas order must be truly situated in his asrama, and out of compassion and with true well wishing mentality he tries to assist a grhasta in the complex situations grhasta asrama offers so plentifully. If a sannaysi projects his still dormant desires and traumas into his preaching, such preaching becomes compromised, and often fall down is the result.

From a sannyasi, it is expected that he never deviates from the statements of the sastra however unpleasant they may sound to a sentimentally troubled grhasta.


It is also logical that a sannyasi never addresses women in privacy, and counsels females either in presence of a grhasta witness, or always in coordination with her husband. If the husband proves himself unqualified, it is he who should be counseled first, and not his wife. Only when such a man is so much in maya that he cannot be identified as Krsna Consciouss anymore and defies any counsel, then such struggling lady should receive all the assistance needed. Such assistance should come preferably from some senior vaisnavi in good standing, who then in return verifies her statements with the leading spiritual authority of counseled devotee lady.


Essentialy women should assist women and men should assist men. Such well advised husband can assist his wife in their grhasta situations, and vice versa.

As much it is a farce seeing females counseling men, it is a farce a sannyasi giving private counsel to a women.


Srila Prabhupada did give instructions and He did give advise to His female disciples, but only in written form, and only for the sake of them being potentially engaged in preaching. Otherwise He never involved Himself in private counsel of females in detailed way.


The presence of a real sannyasi is most beneficial for a grhasta. Here he can get not only an uncompromised and impartial advise, but he can also receive an inspiration to lift himself up above the demanding level of grhasta asrama, which always exposes him to mundane situations.

Economic development, piety, some sort of sense gratification are grhastas' needs...all these issues are the concern of pious mundane society.

From a sannyasi in ISKCON one should expect direct advise coming from spiritual platform. If one is lucky, one gets also a realized inside advise from a sannyasi, who was previously grhasta, as was Srila Prabhupada.


There are two kinds of sannyasis (not to mention the third one, which includes the frustrated tyagi who ventilates bitterness to the public, derived from his still dormant material desires).


The first sannyasi will simply deliver the sastric advise, being well versed in this matter and well grounded in his asrama by strict sadhana practice. Such sannyasi will honestly states that no further detailed advise of application of his advises can be expected from him, as he never was in such complex grhasta situation himself.

Be aware of a sannyasi who knows everything everywhere! :-)

One should know what to expect from a devotee whose only concern is to return back home back to Godhead. One cannot expect to get a spiritual answer to materially motivated question.


The second sannyasi will be advisory in the same way plus he will be able to identify some of the problems of a grhasta by dint of his previous experience as a grhasta. Such practical advise of a realized sannyasi is most welcomed.


Anybody who is sincerely concerned with his spiritual life will welcome advise from both types of sannyasis. After all, such a well meant advise is most elevating for a grhasta, whose life is often filled with mundane issues.


A sannyasi obviously in need of private female association ("to whom else than you can I trust in this yatra?!" is a quote from a letter to a mathaji by such a fellow! :-), such a sannyasi, who seeks private service of women in name of mercy, should be rejected.


Even Srila Prabhupada accepted service from so many mathajis, it was never done privately. None of His personal servants was a woman, and as much He liked their cooking and above preaching, He always dealt with them via the media of the husband or a selected grhasta.

The first thing He did with ladies He got them married, even at the risk to be criticized as a "marriage maker". But with zero Vedic culture left, He had no other choice than to start somewhere to established human culture.


Those single ladies who joined in large numbers but were not married yet, He called them „brahmacarinis“, and put them under a guidance of a senior devotee lady, or in worst case (like in my case :-) under the care of a senior devotee. Being still a brahmacary I used to manage out of necessity fifteen mathajis, all for the sake of preaching, book distribution.

After fifteen years of doing this service occasionally, seeing these ladies doing amazing service, I was finally asked to get married as such situation is highly abnormal. And so my marriage was mainly motivated by the need „to be able to manage as sankirtan leader or temple president other women“. All this was organized by my GBC. Was it good or bad for my marriage?


Well, that's for another text to come :-)