By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
My dear King, woman, who is very attractive in the beginning but in the end very disturbing, is exactly like the flower, which is attractive in the beginning and detestable at the end. With woman, the living entity is entangled with lusty desires, and he enjoys sex, just as one enjoys the aroma of a flower. He thus enjoys a life of sense gratification—from his tongue to his genitals—and in this way the living entity considers himself very happy in family life. United with his wife, he always remains absorbed in such thoughts. He feels great pleasure in hearing the talks of his wife and children, which are like the sweet humming of bumblebees that collect honey from flower to flower. He forgets that before him is time, which is taking away his life-span with the passing of day and night. He does not see the gradual diminishing of his life, nor does he care about the superintendent of death, who is trying to kill him from behind. Just try to understand this. You are in a precarious position and are threatened from all sides.
Materialistic life means forgetting one’s constitutional position as the eternal servant of Krishna, and this forgetfulness is especially enhanced in the grhastha-āśrama (household life). In the grhastha-āśrama a young man accepts a young wife who is very beautiful in the beginning, but in due course of time, after giving birth to many children and becoming older and older, she demands many things from the husband to maintain the entire family. At such a time the wife becomes detestable to the very man who accepted her in her younger days. One becomes attached to the grhastha-āśrama for two reasons only—the wife cooks palatable dishes for the satisfaction of her husband’s tongue, and she gives him sexual pleasure at night. A person attached to the grhastha-āśrama is always thinking of these two things—palatable food and sex enjoyment. The talks of the wife, which are enjoyed as a family recreation, and the talks of the children both attract the living entity. He thus forgets that he has to die someday and has to prepare for the next life if he wants to be put into a congenial body.
The deer in the flower garden is an allegory used by the great sage Nārada to point out to the King that the King himself is similarly entrapped by such surroundings. Actually everyone is surrounded by such a family life, which misleads one. The living entity thus forgets that he has to return home, back to Godhead. He simply becomes entangled in family life. Prahlāda Mahārāja has therefore hinted: hitvātma-pātam grham andha-kūpam vanam gato yad dharim āśrayeta [SB 7.5.5]. Family life is considered a blind well (andha-kūpam) into which a person falls and dies without help. Prahlāda Mahārāja recommends that while one’s senses are there and one is strong enough, he should abandon the grhastha-āśrama and take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord, going to the forest of Vrndāvana. According to Vedic civilization, one has to give up family life at a certain age (the age of fifty), take vānaprastha and eventually remain alone as a sannyāsī. That is the prescribed method of Vedic civilization known as varnāśrama-dharma. When one takes sannyāsa after enjoying family life, he pleases the Supreme Lord Vishnu.
One has to understand one’s position in family or worldly life. That is called intelligence. One should not remain always trapped in family life to satisfy his tongue and genitals in association with a wife. In such a way, one simply spoils his life. According to Vedic civilization, it is imperative to give up the family at a certain stage, by force if necessary. Unfortunately, so-called followers of Vedic life do not give up their family even at the end of life, unless they are forced by death. There should be a thorough overhauling of the social system, and society should revert to the Vedic principles, that is, the four varnas and the four āśramas.