Staying at Home Like a Guest

Dear Vaishnavas,
Hare Krishna! Please accept my most humble obeisances. All Glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev!

After Sri Uddhava inquires from Sri Krishna about the duties of the social and religious orders of the varnashrama society, the Lord describes them all in a very elaborate manner. The verses, especially those pertaining to the householder really strikes us very hard. In Srimad Bhagavatam 11.17.53 and 54, the Lord speaks as follows so strongly.

putra-dārāpta-bandhūnāṁ saṅgamaḥ pāntha-saṅgamaḥ
anu-dehaṁ viyanty ete svapno nidrānugo

itthaṁ parimṛśan mukto gṛheṣv atithi-vad vasan
na gṛhair anubadhyeta nirmamo nirahaṅkṛtaḥ

The association of children, wife, relatives and friends is just like the brief meeting of travelers. With each change of body one is separated from all such associates, just as one loses the objects one possesses in a dream when the dream is over.

Deeply considering the actual situation, a liberated soul should live at home just like a guest, without any sense of proprietorship or false ego. In this way he will not be bound or entangled by domestic affairs.

The actual situation is that we are so much attached to the bodily concept of family and friends. We have the feeling that this is our permanent residence. On the one hand, the Lord refers to the home which is the constructed house and on the other the home refers to this material body in which the soul is encaged. We are very much strongly attached to both the homes . In the case of constructed homes , we engrave our names in stone in order to establish our proprietorship and we are so attached to the family people, whose association is pāntha-saṅgamaḥ - momentary association that to our names we always add the family name, the husband's name or the father's name.This living at home just like a guest is beautifully illustrated in the following story.

Once Lord Indra ordered Vishwakarma, the architect of the demigods, to construct a very big and beautiful palace that should be unequalled in all the fourteen worlds. Vishwakarma accordingly started the construction , but the job was too taxing that even after a considerable number of deva years, he and his associates could not complete the construction and were totally exhausted. At that time Srila Narada muni, came there and Indra asked him as to whether Narada has seen such a palace in all the 14 worlds. Narada replied that he has not seen but may be Lomasha rishi might know better as he has a very long lifespan. At that time sage Lomasha arrived there. Since his entire body is covered with hairs, he is called Lomasha. A piece of loin cloth and a small mat on his head were his only assets. When Indra asked sage Lomasha as to why he is having the mat on his head, the sage replied, "This material body is anyway temporary. To protect something temporary from heat and rains, is this small mat not enough?"

Indra was totally astonished at this reply and asked the sage, "Are you not Chiranjeevi? A person who has an extremely long lifetime? You are telling that this body is temporary!" To this the sage replied " Even though I am a Chiranjeevi, anyway one day this body is going to perish. After all the hairs on my body fall, this body will perish. Don't think that it takes a very long time for the hair on my body to fall. At the end of the lifetime of each Brahma, one hair falls from my body. You must be knowing that the lifetime of Brahma is very insignificant. The lifetime of 16 Indras like you is one day for Brahma. After 365 days like this, is one year for Brahma. 100 years like this is one Brahma's lifetime. That is all! For this insignificant lifetime, do you want me to build a house taking so much pains?" 

Then Indra realized what we all would have realized by this answer as to how short and temporary is his lifetime and immediately stopped the construction of that big palace.

Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Vaijayantimala devi dasi
Abu Dhabi.