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At Abhay

At Abhay's birth, she had made a vow to eat with her left hand until the day her son would notice and, ask her why she was eating with the wrong hand. One day, when little Abhay actually asked, she immediately stopped. It had been just another prescription for his survival, for she thought that by the strength of her vow he would continue to grow, at least until he asked her about the vow. Had he not asked, she would never again have eaten with her right hand, and according to her superstition he would have gone on living, protected by her vow. (SP Lilamrita Vol 1.ch1)

One day, when Bimala Prasada was still a child of no more than four years, his father mildly rebuked him for eating a mango not yet duly offered to Lord Krsna. Bimala Prasada, although only a child, considered himself an offender to the Lord and vowed never to eat mangoes again. (This was a vow that he would follow throughout his life.) (SP Lilamrita Vol 1.ch3)

In 1905 Siddhanta Sarasvati took a vow to chant the Hare Krsna mantra a billion times. Residing in Mayapur in a grass hut near the birthplace of Lord Caitanya, he chanted the Hare Krsna mantra day and night. He cooked rice once a day in an earthen pot and ate nothing more; he slept on the ground, and when the rainwater leaked through the grass ceiling, he sat beneath an umbrella, chanting. (SP Lilamrita Vol 1.ch3)

Finally, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta called for Abhay to come forward and receive the hari-nama initiation by accepting his beads. After offering prostrated obeisances, Abhay extended his right hand and accepted the strand of japa beads from the hand of his spiritual master. At the same time, he also received the sacred brahminical thread, signifying second initiation. Usually, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta gave the first initiation, hari-nama, and only after some time, when he was satisfied with the progress of the disciple, would he give the second initiation. But he offered Abhay both initiations at the same time. Now Abhay was a full-fledged disciple, a brahmana, who could perform sacrifices, such as this fire yajna for initiation; he could worship the Deity in the temple and would be expected to discourse widely. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta added aravinda, "lotus," to his name; now he was Abhay Charanaravinda.
(SP Lilamrita Vol 1.ch4)

The Mahant was surprised. Although most elderly sadhus who came to Vrndavana stayed put and some even took vows never to leave, this quiet babu was coming and going constantly. (SP Lilamrita Vol 1.ch9)

But Prabhupada never considered taking on Western ways. His advisors cautioned him not to remain an alien but to get into the spirit of American life, even if it meant breaking vows he had held in India; almost all Indian immigrants compromised their old ways. But Prabhupada's idea was different, and he could not be budged. (SP Lilamrita Vol 1.ch15)

Keith was cooking lunch in the kitchen as usual, but today Swamiji was standing by the kitchen stove, watching his pupil. Keith paused and looked up from his cooking: "Swamiji, could I become your disciple?"
"Yes," Prabhupada replied. "Why not? Your name will be Krsna dasa."
This simple exchange was the first request for discipleship and Prabhupada's first granting of initiation. But there was more to it than that. Prabhupada announced that he would soon hold an initiation. "What's initiation, Swamiji?" one of the boys asked, and Prabhupada replied, "I will tell you later."
First they had to have beads. Keith went to Tandy's Leather Company and bought half-inch wooden beads and cord to string them on. It was much better, Swamiji said, to count on beads while chanting-a strand of 108 beads, to be exact. This employed the sense of touch, and like the Vaisnavas of India one could count how many times one chanted the mantra. Some devotees in India had a string of more than a thousand beads, he had said, and they would chant through them again and again. He taught the boys how to tie a double knot between each of the 108 beads. The number 108 had a special significance: there were 108 Upanisads, as well as 108 principal gopis, the chief devotees of Lord Krsna. (SPL Vol2.19)

Swamiji smiled broadly, rose from his seat before the sacrificial fire, the blazing tongue of Visnu, and began clapping his hands and chanting Hare Krsna. Placing one foot before the other and swaying from side to side, he began to dance before the fire. His disciples joined him in dancing and chanting, and the smoke abated. He had each disciple touch his beads to the feet of Lord Caitanya in the Panca-tattva picture on the table, and finally he allowed the windows opened. (SP Lilamrita Vol2.19)

Prabhupada said that Upendra was not living up to his vows, since he was still living with his girl friend. Upendra felt guilty about breaking the principles forbidding illicit sex and intoxication, but he just couldn't follow them. He wanted to tell Swamiji but couldn't bring himself to do it. Besides, he thought, even if he confessed, how could he stop? Upendra's girl friend didn't like Krsna consciousness, didn't want to meet Swamiji, and didn't want to come to the temple. So Prabhupada decided that instead of marrying Upendra to her, he would save Upendra from her.
Prabhupada decided to make Upendra a brahmacari. Although Srila Prabhupada had about twenty-five San Francisco disciples, hardly any were brahmacaris. Practically the only solid one was Jayananda, who was a little older than the res (SPL Vol3.24)

Thereafter, because of being pulled into the water and fighting for many long years, the elephant became diminished in his mental, physical and sensual strength. The crocodile, on the contrary, being an animal of the water, increased in enthusiasm, physical strength and sensual power.

In the fighting between the elephant and the crocodile, the difference was that although the elephant was extremely powerful, he was in a foreign place, in the water. During one thousand years of fighting, he could not get any food, and under the circumstances his bodily strength diminished, and because his bodily strength diminished, his mind also became weak and his senses less powerful. The crocodile, however, being an animal of the water, had no difficulties. He was getting food and was therefore getting mental strength and sensual encouragement. Thus while the elephant became reduced in strength, the crocodile became more and more powerful. Now, from this we may take the lesson that in our fight with maya we should not be in a position in which our strength, enthusiasm and senses will be unable to fight vigorously. Our Krsna consciousness movement has actually declared war against the illusory energy, in which all the living entities are rotting in a false understanding of civilization. The soldiers in this Krsna consciousness movement must always possess physical strength, enthusiasm and sensual power. To keep themselves fit, they must therefore place themselves in a normal condition of life. What constitutes a normal condition will not be the same for everyone, and therefore there are divisions of varnasrama-brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa. Especially in this age, Kali-yuga, it is advised that no one take sannyasa.

asvamedham gavalambham
sannyasam pala-paitrkam
devarena sutotpattim
kalau panca vivarjayet

[Cc. Adi 17.164]

(Brahma-vaivarta Purana)

From this we can understand that in this age the sannyasa-asrama is forbidden because people are not strong. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu showed us an example in taking sannyasa at the age of twenty-four years, but even Sarvabhauma Bhaööacarya advised Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to be extremely careful because He had taken sannyasa at an early age. For preaching we give young boys sannyasa, but actually it is being experienced that they are not fit for sannyasa. There is no harm, however, if one thinks that he is unfit for sannyasa; if he is very much agitated sexually, he should go to the asrama where sex is allowed, namely the grhastha-asrama. That one has been found to be very weak in one place does not mean that he should stop fighting the crocodile of maya. One should take shelter of the lotus feet of Krsna, as we shall see Gajendra do, and at the same time one can be a grhastha if he is satisfied with sexual indulgence. There is no need to give up the fight. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore recommended, sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhih. One may stay in whichever asrama is suitable for him; it is not essential that one take sannyasa. If one is sexually agitated, he can enter the grhastha-asrama. But one must continue fighting. For one who is not in a transcendental position, to take sannyasa artificially is not a very great credit. If sannyasa is not suitable, one may enter the grhastha-asrama and fight maya with great strength. But one should not give up the fighting and go away. SB 8.2.31