By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
So renouncement – simply giving up something – is not a very good idea. You must have something better. Param drstvā nivartate [Bg. 9.59]. If you get something better, then you give up something inferior. In our Vaishnava philosophy, renouncement means renouncement of sense gratification. The Māyāvāda sannyāsa means karma-tyāga, simply reading Vedānta philosophy, sānkhya philosophy, and everything (else is) given up. But our Vaishnava philosophy is giving up the wrong thing and accepting the right thing. Side by side. Simply if I give up, it will not stay very long time. If I simply, by sentiment, give up… brahma satyam jagan mithyā: “This world is false and Brahman is the reality.” So there are so many sannyāsīs, we see that they give up the so-called mithyā (false) world and come to the Brahman realization by meditation. Then meditation means hospital and school. Because there is no Brahman, there is no reality. So after much meditation, (he) comes to the conclusion that “Now I am a sannyāsī. I must open schools, college and daridra-nārāyana sevā and goat-nārāyana killing.” This kind of sannyāsa (renunciation) has no meaning. Daridra-nārāyana sevā. By killing goat nārāyana. Is the goat not Nārāyana? Simply daridras are Nārāyana? If you accept one as Nārāyana, why should you not accept the other as Nārāyana?
Anyone, who has sacrificed his life for Krishna, is a sannyāsi
So this kind of false sannyāsa is not accepted by the Vaishnavas. Vaishnavas accept sannyāsa for better activities. “For better activities” means dedicated life for satisfying the Supreme Lord. Mām ekam śaranam vraja. Anyone who has sacrificed his life for Krishna, he’s a sannyāsi. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā: anāśritah karma-phalam kāryam karma karoti yah, sa sannyāsī [Bg. 6.1]. Tyāgī (renunciation) means karma-phala tyāga. This is tyāga, real tyāga. Suppose you are working. You are doing some business and getting lakhs of rupees’ profit. If you can give up that profit for Krishna, that is sannyāsa. Otherwise, “I shall enjoy fully the profit and I have become a great devotee”? No. Sannyāsa means, as it is stated, anāśritah karma-phalam. There must be some karma-phala -whatever you do – there must be some result, bad or good. So anāśritah, without taking shelter of the result of activities, kāryam karma karoti… “It is my duty.” Just like Arjuna did. Arjuna understood that Krishna wanted the fight. He took it that “I must do this. This I must do! Krishna wants it. Because my business is to satisfy Krishna! I cannot become nonviolent as I wanted to falsely become. “Krishna, I don’t want to fight with my cousin-brothers, my nephews, my grandfather.” That was my sense gratification.” Krishna immediately said, “What kind of nonsense are you talking – that you won’t fight? This is not good. You have come to fight in the battlefield, and now you are talking that nonviolence. So don’t talk all this nonsense because you are My friend, My cousin-brother. It does not look well.” Anārya-jushtam asvargyam akīrti-karam. [Bg. 2.2] “These things are done by the anāryas, not by a gentleman. This shall be infamous for you. Don’t do like that.” Then He explained him the Bhagavad-gītā. And when he understood, then he took sannyāsa. What is that sannyāsa? karishye vacanam tava [Bg. 18.73] “Yes, I’ll fight.” That’s all.
“Hell or heaven, I don’t care for it,” said Arjuna
So this is sannyāsa. Anāśritah karma-phalam [Bg. 6.1]. He was first of all judging, “If I kill my cousin-brothers, my grandfather, there will be bad result. I’ll go to hell.” Now, later on decided, “Hell or heaven, I don’t care for it.” That is called anāśritah. “I don’t take shelter of hell or heaven. I take shelter of Krishna.” A devotee does not discriminate what is hell or what is heaven. Nārāyana-parāh sarve na kutaścana na bibhyati [SB 6.17.28]. One who is Nārāyana parāh, devotee, he doesn’t care for what is hell or heaven. Svargāpavarga-narakeshu api tulyārtha-darśinah. A devotee… Just like Nārada: he goes to hell, he goes to heaven. He has got freedom to go everywhere. Tulyārtha-darśinah. For him, there is no hell, there is no heaven. He’s preaching Krishna consciousness wherever he goes. That’s all. He has nothing to do. Just like we went to that Sabarmati jail in Ahmedabad, where Gandhi was put into jail. We were received by the jail authorities. There, they made very good arrangement. The prisoners, they received us, they chanted Hare Krishna mantra. So it was a good function. So we went to jail. But what have we got to do with the jail? We have no business with the jail. Similarly sometimes we are invited in a very rich man’s house, governor’s house. We go there. That is heaven. So we have nothing to take, either from this heaven or from that hell. We have to chant Hare Krishna mantra anywhere. That is our business.
[An excerpt from a sannyasa initiation lecture delivered in Calcutta on January 26, 1973]