Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus - Part 23

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna. Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.
In continuation of our discussion on the topic, "Lessons from the Twenty-four Gurus", let us learn from the next spiritual master of the avadhuta brahmana - the honey-bee. From this spiritual master the avadhuta brahmana is learning both "do's and don'ts".  The lessons are as follows

1. Madhukari

2. Learn good from all

3. Do not over-store like greedy honey bee

1. Madhukari :  Let us try to meditate on the first lesson which avadhuta brahmana is telling us in verse 11.8.9

stokaṁ stokaṁ grased grāsaṁ deho varteta yāvatā
gṛhān ahiṁsann ātiṣṭhed vṛttiṁ mādhukarīṁ muniḥ

A saintly person should accept only enough food to keep his body and soul together. He should go from door to door accepting just a little bit of food from each family. Thus he should practice the occupation of the honeybee.

This is a very important lesson to be learnt from honey-bee, especially for devotees who are preaching the glories of the Lord. The natural constitutional position of honey-bee is to go from one flower to another. Similar manner saintly persons travel from door to door and accept just a little bit of food from each family, just to keep their body and soul together. They do not take shelter permanently in any family, because their permanent shelter is Supreme Lord and they know their real purpose of life. The reason for their traveling from door to door is also not for their sustenance, but to spread the message of the Supreme Lord to the suffering souls. They are mercifully giving an opportunity to the grhasthas stuck in materialistic life, to hear about the glories of Krishna and to serve them and there by help the people to advance in spiritual life. In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 1.4.8, Shaunaka Muni while glorifying this quality of Sukadeva Goswami, very nicely mentions that the time he stays in any household is just sa go-dohana maatram - time for milking a cow.  

sa go-dohana-mātraṁ hi gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām
avekṣate mahā-bhāgas tīrthī-kurvaṁs tad āśramam

He [Sukadeva Goswami] was accustomed to stay at the door of a householder only long enough for a cow to be milked. And he did this just to sanctify the residence.

In his wonderful purport to the above verse Srila Prabhupada very nicely writes that Sukadeva Goswami met Emperor Parikshit and explained the text of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He was not accustomed to stay at any householder's residence for more than half an hour (at the time of milking the cow), and he would just take alms from the fortunate householder. That was to sanctify the residence by his auspicious presence. Therefore Sukadeva Goswami is an ideal preacher established in the transcendental position. From his activities, those who are in the renounced order of life and dedicated to the mission of preaching the message of Godhead should learn that they have no business with householders save and except to enlighten them in transcendental knowledge. Such asking for alms from the householder should be for the purpose of sanctifying his home. One who is in the renounced order of life should not be allured by the glamor of the householder's worldly possessions and thus become subservient to worldly men. For one who is in the renounced order of life, this is much more dangerous than drinking poison and committing suicide.

Even the Goswami's of Vrindavan never used to sleep under the shade of same tree for more than one night. To that extent they were careful not to become attached to the temporary shelters. So from the examples of such great souls, we should take the lesson of madhukari from the honey-bee and travel only for exchanging the message of glories of the Lord and leave the place as soon as Krishna katha is over. The negative impacts of lingering around the same place for any service are:

a) We forget the real cause, Krishna and start thinking those temporary instruments (place, people, situations) as the ultimate cause of our service.

b) Our spiritual master HH Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj says that "intimate dealings" will spoil the relationship as familiarity breeds contempt.

This dependence on temporary shelters is explained nicely in the purport to verse 11.8.9,  "Sometimes a honeybee is attracted by the extraordinary aroma of a particular lotus flower and lingers there, neglecting his usual activity of flying from flower to flower. Unfortunately, at sunset the lotus flower closes, and thus the infatuated honeybee is trapped. Similarly, a sannyasi or brahmacaari may discover that excellent foodstuff is available at a particular house, and therefore, instead of wandering from place to place, he may become a veritable resident of such a well-fed household. Thus he will become bewildered by the illusion of family life and fall down from the platform of renunciation. Also, if a mendicant takes unfair advantage of the Vedic custom of charity and takes too often from a single family, the resentment he causes will disturb the social order. An ideal sage should, like the honeybee, travel from place to place, but he must be careful not to become a chubby bee by going to many houses and eating sumptuously at each house. According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, such a chubby bee will undoubtedly become entangled in the network of maya."

On the positive side,

a) When honey-bee collects honey from one flower and travels to another flower, pollination takes place automatically. Similarly when we discuss Krishna katha in one place, we get an opportunity to receive the nectarean honey of Krishna katha from that place and inspired by the same, when we travel and share those inspirations to other places, we shall become Krishna's instrument in spreading His glories everywhere.

b) The vital ingredient for sharing Krishna katha is humility. So when we follow the example of honeybee and move around, we will not  take things for granted and would be grateful to all kinds of people and circumstances that help us, (be it favourable or unfavourable) and see them as instruments of ultimate controller, Sri Krishna. This increases the purity of our shravanam, kirtanam and smaranam of Lord Sri Krishna.

To quote the golden words of Gurudev - "To save ourselves from the pains of old-age, we should move around and preach. Instead if we remain within four-walls, then the four-walls will kill us."

We pray at the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna that we remember this lesson and put it into practice in our life.

Krishna willing, we shall discuss the remaining lessons from honey-bee in the subsequent offerings.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das and Sudarshana devi dasi.