By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
Our material life begins by a knot in the heart. What is that knot? That is sex desire. This is the knot. A man is hankering after a woman, and a woman is hankering after a man. This attachment is the beginning of material life. Everyone, not only human society – in animal society, in bird society, in beast society – you’ll find this sex attachment. This is the hrdaya-granthih.
Therefore, according to Vedic civilization, the first teaching to a student is to give him lesson how to become brahmacārī. “How not to become attached in sex life” – that is called brahmacārī.
Tapasā brahmacaryena [SB 6.1.13]. To become a brahmacārī, to abstain from sex life, it requires tapasya (austerity). It is not so easy thing. One has to practice how to control the mind, how to control the senses. This is brahmacarya. Tapasya.
At the present moment, the students are, what to speak of tapasya, they are given all kinds of luxuries. So how will there be brahmacārīs? It is not possible. Especially in the Western countries, the boys and girls, they are educated in one place, co-education, and they live in the same building, and there are so many things. You know, better than me.
So there is no brahmacārī. There is no brahmacarya. That means the knot in the heart, sex desire, is more and more increased. It is not decreased. But if one takes to Krishna consciousness, by practice, one comes to the point of giving up all these unwanted things. Bhidyate hrdaya-granthih. I have several times explained to you that this knot of the heart is the sex desire. Pumsah striyā mithunī-bhāvam. Sex desire, mithunī-bhāvam etam. Tayor hrdaya-granthim. And when they’re actually united, that knot becomes more and more tight. But if one takes to Krishna consciousness, then gradually, bhidyate hrdaya-granthih, that knot, sex desire diminishes. That is the test – “whether one’s sex desire has diminished.”
Bhidyate hrdaya-granthiś chidyante sarva-samśayāh. Samśayāh. We are now in hazy conclusion, what is our position. We do not know. We do not know what is God, what I am, what is our relationship. Everyone is speculating. There are, therefore, there are so many parties. The jnānī party, the yogi party, the karmī party – and within each and every party there are hundreds and thousands of parties. So when one actually becomes free from the knot, or the knot is cut off, the attachment for material desires is cut off, at that time, he can understand what is his position.
Therefore two things must go on in parallel lines. One side, a person should cultivate Krishna consciousness and, another side, he should try to give up all the unwanted things. That will help him. You cannot continue both the things. Just like when a person is diseased, he’s given medicine. At the same time, he has to act – not to take this, not to take that. That is the way of treatment. Not that whatever you like, you can eat; whatever you like, you can do, at the same time you become spiritually advanced. This is all nonsense.
Tapasā brahmacaryena [SB 6.1.13]. One has to practice tapasya. Tapas means a little inconvenience, voluntarily accepting inconvenience. Just like brahmacārī lies down on the floor. A sannyāsī also, they follow the same practice as far as possible. Taking bath three, thrice daily, and so many rules and regulations are there. But at the present age, it is not possible to follow all the rules and regulations, but at least everyone who is interested in advancing in Krishna consciousness must rise early in the morning, before four. And take his bath and become cleansed, perform mangala-ārātrika and study. These are tapasya. Tapasā brahmacaryena śamena ca damena ca tyāgena [SB 6.1.13]. Tyāgena means renouncement. I like something, but voluntarily I should give it up. That is called tyāga. Of course, one who takes to Krishna consciousness seriously, Krishna helps him to become qualified in these matters.
Now unless one is taken to this Krishna consciousness practice, he has got so many doubts. “Why I shall do this? Why I shall do that?” But when he is raised to the platform of goodness, as it is expressed, mukta-sangasya jāyate, bhagavat-tattva-vijnānam [SB 1.2.20], when he understands the science of God, automatically he becomes disinterested with these unwanted things.
[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.21 in Vrindavana, India on November 1, 1972]