Every aspect of Vedic culture helps us in developing detachment from material attachments

kim no rajyena govinda
kim bhogair jivitena va
yesam arthe kanksitam no
rajyam bhogah sukhani ca
ta ime ’vasthita yuddhe
pranams tyaktva dhanani ca
acaryah pitarah putras
tathaiva ca pitamahah
matulah svasurah pautrah
syalah sambandhinas tatha
etan na hantum icchami
ghnato ’pi madhusudana
api trailokya-rajyasya
hetoh kim nu mahi-krte
nihatya dhartarastran nah
ka pritih syaj janardana
[Bhagavad-gita 1.32-35]

O Govinda, of what avail to us are a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? O Madhusudana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me? O maintainer of all living entities, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. What pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhrtarastra?

So Arjuna is thinking in terms of his own sense gratification. He is posing himself as if he does not know what the plan of Krishna is. The material world, or the cosmic manifestation, is there. Although temporary, it has got a purpose: to give a chance to the living entities who are rotting in this material world to revive his Krishna consciousness, or original consciousness, and go back home, back to Godhead. The nature of the material cosmic manifestation is bhutva bhutva praliyate (Gita 8.19): it is sometimes manifested and later dissolved. Just like our body – it is created at a certain date, and it will be annihilated at a certain date. Similarly, this gigantic universe, or the virat body, is the body of the Supreme Lord. Krishna will show His virat-rupa to Arjuna. 

The soul is covered by two bodies, the external and internal. External means these gross elements – earth, water, air, fire, sky. And internal means the mind, intelligence and ego. Just like our body is covered by shirt and coat, so the soul is covered by two kinds of bodies. Death means the end of the gross body. But people do not know that there is no death for the soul. The outward cover is finished, the inward cover is there, and the inward cover will carry the soul to another gross body. That is called transmigration.

Vairagya-vidya The science of detachment

So we have got two kinds of bodies, gross and subtle, and within that, we are living. Dehino ’smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara (Gita 2.13). Asmin dehe, within this body, there is the dehi, the proprietor of the body. So people do not understand that this finishing of this gross body is not actually death or annihilation of the soul. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire (Gita 2.20]. Even annihilation of the subtle body does not mean death of the soul. So when the gross body is annihilated, the subtle body carries me to another gross body, just like the air carries the aroma from one place to another. If the breeze is fragrant, we understand it is coming from a rose garden. Similarly, a bad smell will indicate that the air has passed over a filthy place. So the subtle body carries the mental situation of the soul and puts him into a particular body according to that mental situation. Yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram (Gita 8.6). At the time of death, the mental situation will give me chance for another gross body. If my mind is Krishna conscious, I will get a body by which I can make further progress. That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita: sucinam srimatam gehe yoga-bhrasto ‘bhijayate (Gita 6.41). So when we try to connect with the Supreme, we can understand there is God and I am also there. We have got intimate relationship.

So Arjuna is speaking of trailokya-rajyasya. He is ascertaining that “Even if I get the kingdom of the three worlds, what to speak of only this earthly planet, I am not prepared to fight with my kinsmen.” This is called family attachment. “
What shall I get by killing my cousin-brothers? And along with them, there are so many relatives.”

“My dear Krishna , Madhusudana.” Arjuna addressed Krishna as “Madhusudana.” He is reminding Krishna that “You also killed many people, but they were Your enemies, like Madhu.You are not Nanda-sudana or Yasoda-sudana, the killer of your own relatives. Why are You inducing me to kill my kinsmen?” Etan na hantum icchami: “You may induce me, but I am not going to kill them.” Then Krishna could ask, “This is war. If you do not kill, if you stand still, then they will kill you.” But Arjuna says, ghnato ’pi: “Let them kill me, but I will not kill them.” This is called family attraction. 

So Krishna is preparing the ground for teaching Bhagavadgita. We are so much attached to our bodily conception of life, and expansion of bodily conception of life. syalah bandhuh pitarah pitamahah. Generally, men are attracted to women, and women to men. But when they are united by marriage, the attraction becomes very acute (hrdaya-granthim ahuh). Hrdaya-granthi means “very hard knot.” Then I get attracted to my children, my society, my home. Arjuna then said, kim no rajyena govinda kim bhogair jivitena va (Gita 1.32). Everyone works so hard to acquire money. Why? Family attraction.

While in college, we had to study a book called Marshall’s Economics. Marshall was explaining that economic impetus begins from family affection. Unless one has got a family, he will not try to earn; he will be irresponsible. There was an English firm in India, and before recruiting anyone they would check, Is he a family man?” Because if he has no family, he may give up the job at any moment – because there is no family attraction.

Therefore according to Vedic civilization, it is the duty of the parents to get the sons and daughters married so that they will develop family attraction, they will be established, they will be organized, and things will go on nicely.

So family attraction is required for a regulated life. Unregulated life will not lead to progress. Therefore, in the Vedic civilization, grhastha-asrama is recommended. Everyone should be married. First there is brahmacari-asrama – practicing austerity under the guidance of the spiritual master. A brahmacari has no connection with worldly affairs; he’s simply interested with the order of the spiritual master. So one is trained up as a brahmacari, and he is sufficiently given knowledge: “Don’t be entangled with these material affairs. Try to avoid. But if you are unable to live as a brahmacari, your sex impulse is very strong, then you go and marry.”

The whole Krishna consciousness movement may be called vairagya-vidya. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya , in glorification of Lord Caitanya, has written: vairagya-vidya-nijabhakti- yogam (Cc. Madhya 6.254). This bhakti-yoga is vairagya-vidya, how to teach people to be detached from this material attraction. Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya explained how Caitanya Mahaprabhu took sannyasa at a very early age (when he was 24). He had a young 16-year-old wife at home and a 70-year-old mother. But He took sannyasa in order to teach us vairagya-vidya.

In srimad-Bhagavatam, it is said,

vasudeve bhagavati
bhakti-yogah prayojitah
janayaty asu vairagyam
jsanam ca yad ahaitukam
(Bhagavatam 1.2.7)

In human life, two things are required: jnana and vairagya. Jnana means “I am not this body,” not the so-called scientific knowledge, which means more attachment for this body. Jnana means how to achieve the status of vairagya. The brahmacari is taught vairagya-vidya. So vairagya-vidya is exactly opposite of family attachment. It teaches us how to become detached. This is the whole process of Vedic civilization.

Everyone has got this attachment for the body and expansion of the body. So vairagya-vidya means to be detached. That is called brahmajnana. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kaìksati (Gita 18.54). That is brahma-jnana. As soon as you understand, aham brahmasmi, “I am not this body, I am spirit soul,” this is called brahma-jnana. So long you do not get this knowledge, you are in ignorance.

In this age of Kali, people are so fallen, so degraded, that it is not possible to introduce systematically the whole Vedic principle. It is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy that He has given us mercifully this vairagyavidya, a very short-cut method. What is that? Chant Hare Krishna .