If Krishna’s ultimate instruction is to give up all duties for surrendering to him why shouldn’t everyone join the temple?
Question: If Krishna’s ultimate instruction is to give up all duties and surrender to Him then why doesn’t the whole population give up their regular life and join the temple institution for better engagement in the Lord’s service?
Answer: Firstly, did even Arjuna join a temple like that? Arjuna fought a war after hearing the Bhagavad Gita. So a simplistic understanding of renunciation is not the teaching of the Gita. The primary, the conclusive teaching of the Gita is undistracted engagement in devotional service.
Now that can be done in the renounced order or that can be done in the householder order in the world. So the important point is mam ekam sharanam vraja. If the sarva dharman is taken as a literal meaning: all dharma is to be rejected then why is Arjuna continuing to fight after hearing the Bhagavad Gita? Why is he doing a ksatriya dharma even after that? Because the point is: sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja means that accept that dharma which will enable you to do sharanam. So, for Arjuna the way to surrender was through doing his worldly duty. And for Krishna that was the way by which Arjuna could best serve Krishna’s mission.
So, we have to understand that actually all of us are individuals and we have our own natures and we are meant to serve Krishna according to our nature. So some people will serve Krishna by renouncing the world but most people will serve Krishna by staying in the world. So mam ekam sharanam vraja can also be done in Grahastha ashram. mam ekam sharanam can be done in any ashram, any varna. So the point is that we direct the duites of the ashram and the varna towards Krishna and then it becomes a form of mam ekam sharanam vraja.
That’s why we see Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu doesn’t tell all people to renounce the world. The conclusion even in discussions with Ramanand Raya is that sthäne sthitä sruti-gatä tanu-vä-manobhi… be whever you are situated and sruti-gatä… Hear. By that one will be able to conquer the unconquerable Lord. Now those who feel inspired to renounce the world, are they alone doing sarva dharman parityajya? no. If they become …others can also do sarva dharman parityajya if they do mam ekam sharanam vraja according to their varna and ashram dharma. So now in today’s society whatever be our worldly profession and engagement and responsibility in the world, we can devotionalise that by offering it to Krishna.
So now is it that one can engage better in devotional service in temple, by living in temple as a renunciate? Yes and No. Yes in the sense that we may have better time and facility but No in the sense that not everyone is having a nature suitable for that. And that’s not necessarily a disqualification because Krishna’s mission is not just in the temple, it is in the whole world. And His mission cannot be fulfilled if everybody just stays in the temple. The temple has to interface with the world and for that people are required in the world also, who will act as a bridge between the temple and the world. So Krishna’s mission is to lift everyone back towards Him. The temple is the vertex of the mission for Krishna but it is not that Krishna’s mission is to draw people merely from the world to the temple. No it is to draw people towards Krishna and the temple is a very vibrant, potent central means for driving people towards Him at the spiritual level. So by getting the inspiration from the temple we can do whatever duties we … for Krishna and move closer to Him that way also.
So therefore the key thing is to continue serving Krishna and to adopt, to harmonize our material lives so that it becomes anukul, it becomes a facility for us to do mam ekam sharanam vraja. And sometimes when material life is not favourable, that time also we can do mam ekam sharanam vraja by intensely praying to Krishna and taking shelter of Krishna in whatever situation we are. So it’s primary that we practice the limbs of devotional service. Not that we just physically relocate to the temple. That’s not what the essence of surrender is. Essence of surrender is that we redirect our heart towards Krishna and do so according to what is our nature and according to whatever position is best suited for our nature to serve Krishna. Thank you!