Prahlāda Mahārāja's first proposal was kaumāra ācaret prājño dharmān bhāgavatān iha: (SB 7.6.1) "One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human form of body from the very beginning of life—in other words, from the tender age of childhood—to practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other engagements." Dharmān bhāgavatān means the religious principle of reviving our relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For this purpose Kṛṣṇa personally advises, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: (BG 18.66) "Give up all other duties and surrender unto Me." While in the material world we manufacture so many duties in the name of so many isms, but our actual duty is to free ourselves from the cycle of birth, death, old age and disease. For this purpose, one must first be liberated from material bondage, and especially from household life. Household life is actually a kind of license for a materially attached person by which to enjoy sense gratification under regulative principles. Otherwise there is no need of entering household life.
Before entering household life, one should be trained as a brahmacārī, living under the care of the guru, whose place is known as the guru-kula. Brahmacārī guru-kule vasan dānto guror hitam (SB 7.12.1). From the very beginning, a brahmacārī is trained to sacrifice everything for the benefit of the guru. A brahmacārī is advised to go begging alms door to door, addressing all women as mother, and whatever he collects goes to the benefit of the guru. In this way he learns how to control his senses and sacrifice everything for the guru. When he is fully trained, if he likes he is allowed to marry. Thus he is not an ordinary gṛhastha who has learned only how to satisfy his senses. A trained gṛhastha can gradually give up household life and go to the forest to become increasingly enlightened in spiritual life and at last take sannyāsa. Prahlāda Mahārāja explained to his father that to be freed from all material anxieties one should go to the forest. Hitvātma-pātaṁ gṛham andha-kūpam. One should give up his household, which is a place for going further and further down into the darkest regions of material existence. The first advice, therefore, is that one must give up household life (gṛham andha-kūpam). However, if one prefers to remain in the dark well of household life because of uncontrolled senses, he becomes increasingly entangled by ropes of affection for his wife, children, servants, house, money and so on. Such a person cannot attain liberation from material bondage. Therefore children should be taught from the very beginning of life to be first-class brahmacārīs. Then it will be possible for them to give up household life in the future.
To return home, back to Godhead, one must be completely free from material attachment. Therefore, bhakti-yoga means vairāgya-vidyā, the art that can help one develop a distaste for material enjoyment.
- vāsudeve bhagavati
- bhakti-yogaḥ prayojitaḥ
- janayaty āśu vairāgyaṁ
- jñānaṁ ca yad ahaitukam
"By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world." (SB 1.2.7) If one engages in devotional service from the beginning of life, he easily attains vairāgya-vidyā, or asakti, detachment, and becomes jitendriya, the controller of his senses. One who perfectly engages in devotional service is therefore called gosvāmī or svāmī, master of the senses. Unless one is master of the senses, he should not accept the renounced order of life, sannyāsa. A strong inclination for sense enjoyment is the cause of the material body. Without full knowledge one cannot be unattached to material enjoyment, but as long as one is not in that position one is not fit to return home, back to Godhead.