ByHis Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: O Mahārāja Parīksit, Yayāti was very much attached to woman. In due course of time, however, when disgusted with sexual enjoyment and its bad effects, he renounced this way of life and narrated the following story to his beloved wife. [SB 9.19.1]
“My dearly beloved wife, daughter of Śukrācārya, in this world there was someone exactly like me. Please listen as I narrate the history of his life. By hearing about the life of such a householder, those who have retired from householder life always lament.” [SB 9.19.2]
Persons who live in the village or town are called grāma-nivāsī, and those who live in the forest are called vana-vāsī or vānaprastha. The vānaprasthas, who have retired from family life, generally lament about their past family life because it engaged them in trying to fulfill lusty desires. Prahlāda Mahārāja said that one should retire from family life as soon as possible, and he described family life as the darkest well (hitvātma-pātam grham andha-kūpam). If one continuously or permanently concentrates on living with his family, he should be understood to be killing himself. In the Vedic civilization, therefore, it is recommended that one retire from family life at the end of his fiftieth year and go to vana, the forest. When he becomes expert or accustomed to forest life, or retired life as a vānaprastha, he should accept sannyāsa. Vanam gato yad dharim āśrayeta [SB 7.5.5]. Sannyāsa means accepting unalloyed engagement in the service of the Lord. Vedic civilization therefore recommends four different stages of life-brahmacarya, grhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa. One should be very much ashamed of remaining a householder and not promoting oneself to the two higher stages, namely vānaprastha and sannyāsa.
While wandering in the forest, eating to satisfy his senses, a he-goat by chance approached a well, in which he saw a she-goat standing helplessly, having fallen into it by the influence of the results of fruitive activities. [SB 9.19.3]
Here Mahārāja Yayāti compares himself to a he-goat and Devayānī to a she-goat and describes the nature of man and woman. Like a he-goat, a man searches for sense gratification, wandering here and there, and a woman without the shelter of a man or husband is like a she-goat that has fallen into a well. Without being cared for by a man, a woman cannot be happy. Indeed, she is just like a she-goat that has fallen into a well and is struggling for existence. Therefore a woman must take shelter of her father, as Devayānī did when under the care of Śukrācārya, and then the father must give the daughter in charity to a suitable man, or a suitable man should help the woman by placing her under the care of a husband. This is shown vividly by the life of Devayānī. When King Yayāti delivered Devayānī from the well, she felt great relief and requested Yayāti to accept her as his wife. But when Mahārāja Yayāti accepted Devayānī, he became too attached and had sex life not only with her but with others, like Śarmisthā. Yet still he was dissatisfied. Therefore one should retire by force from such family life as Yayāti’s. When one is fully convinced of the degrading nature of worldly family life, one should completely renounce this way of life, take sannyāsa, and engage himself fully in the service of the Lord. Then one’s life will be successful.
[Bhaktivedanta Translations and Purports to the Srimad Bhagavatam Canto Nine Chapter 19]