Here is the difference between Vedic civilization and the modern demoniac civilization. Vedic civilization concerned itself with how to achieve self-realization, and for this purpose one was recommended to have a small income to maintain body and soul together. The society was divided into brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras, and the members of this society would limit their endeavors to meeting their minimum demands. The brāhmaṇas, in particular, would have no material desires. Because the kṣatriyas had to rule the people, it was necessary for them to have money and prestige. But the vaiśyas were satisfied with agricultural produce and milk from the cow, and if by chance there were excess, trade was allowed. The śūdras were also happy, for they would get food and shelter from the three higher classes. In the demoniac civilization of the present day, however, there is no question of brāhmaṇas or kṣatriyas; there are only so-called workers and a flourishing mercantile class who have no goal in life.
According to Vedic civilization, the ultimate perfection of life is to take sannyāsa, but at the present moment people do not know why sannyāsa is accepted. Because of misunderstanding, they think that one accepts sannyāsa to escape social responsibilities. But one does not accept sannyāsa to escape from responsibility to society. Generally one accepts sannyāsa at the fourth stage of spiritual life. One begins as a brahmacārī then becomes a gṛhastha, a vānaprastha and finally a sannyāsī to take advantage of the duration of one's life by engaging oneself fully in self-realization. Sannyāsa does not mean begging from door to door to accumulate money for sense gratification. However, because in Kali-yuga people are more or less prone to sense gratification, immature sannyāsa is not recommended. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī writes in his Nectar of Instruction:
- atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca
- prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ
- jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca
- ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati
- NOI 2
"One's devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) overendeavoring for mundane things that are very difficult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements." A sannyāsī should have an institution meant to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness; he need not accumulate money for himself. We recommend that as soon as money accumulates in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, fifty per cent of it should be invested in printing books, and fifty per cent for expenditures, especially in establishing centers all over the world. The managers of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement should be extremely cautious in regard to this point. Otherwise money will be the cause of lamentation, illusion, fear, anger, material attachment, material poverty, and unnecessary hard work. When I was alone in Vṛndāvana, I never attempted to construct maṭhās or temples; rather, I was fully satisfied with the small amount of money I could gather by selling Back to Godhead, and thus I would provide for myself and also print the literature. When I went to foreign countries, I lived according to the same principle, but when Europeans and Americans began to give money profusely, I started temples and Deity worship. The same principle should still be followed. Whatever money is collected should be spent for Kṛṣṇa, and not a farthing for sense gratification. This is the Bhāgavata principle.