Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is an eternal associate of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and also of Krsna, but in the pastimes of Mahaprabhu, he showed the sadhana-bhajana for attaining the elevated devotional stages of bhava and prema. If a sadhaka sincerely desires to engage in bhajana to achieve the direct association of the Supreme Lord without delay – perhaps in only one or two births – then he should engage in bhajana just as Raghunatha dasa Gosvami did.
But doing that type of bhajana is very, very difficult. How he left his home and family, how he engaged in very strict bhajana, how in his final days he went without eating and drinking and just cried day and night in divine separation – all of this would be very difficult for us. For those who really desire prema, it is not so difficult.
This world is a reflection of the spiritual world, and there is some similarity between them. If we see that this world is a place of instruction rather than a place for enjoyment, we will be benefited. But only those who have taken sincere shelter at the feet of a guru will take such instruction; not everyone will be able to accept it.
Dattatreya understood that this world is a place of instruction, and therefore he accepted twenty-four gurus. When we can fully understand the twenty-four gurus which have been mentioned, we will see that the entire world is our guru. Why has it been said that there are twenty-four gurus? Because there is nothing in all of existence from which some instruction cannot be taken. For an intelligent person, all the objects of the world will give some kind of instruction.
Someone may argue that the world is a prison-house which is full of unlimited misery.
tavad ragadayah stenas
tavat kara-grham grham
tavan moho ‘nghri-nigado
yavat krsna na te janah[“For those who are not devotees of Sri Krsna, the bewilderment of material attachment serves as the handcuffs and foot-shackles which bind them in the prison of maya.”
But the material world will not be a prison for those who are not infatuated with it. Here in this verse, the word ‘raga’ means ‘material attachment, which is like a thief and is the cause of our bondage.’ If this attachment is removed, liberation will be attained. In this regard, Mahaprabhu told Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami:
sthira hana ghare yao, na hao vatula
krame krame paya loka bhava-sindhu-kula [“For now, return home and remain in household life. Don’t behave irrationally. Eventually you will be able to cross the ocean of material existence.”
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 16.237)]
If The Supreme Lord could be attained just by leaving home, then so many people would leave their homes because they couldn’t get along with the other members of the household, or because of poverty or some other reason of this type. But would they attain the association of The Supreme Lord just by going to another place? God is not attained merely by abandoning one’s home and family. Especially, if one abandons his home and family in an immature stage, it will be very detrimental to his welfare, and his condition may become even worse than that of an ordinary materialist.
The Supreme Lord is attained only through abandoning material attachments and engaging in real bhajana. Therefore Mahaprabhu told Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, “For now, return home and be patient, and when the right time comes, you will automatically be able to leave everything.” There is nothing in the material world which is inherently bad; it is only a question of their proper or improper utilization.
antare nistha kara, bahye loka-vyavahara
acirat krsna tomaya karibe uddhara[“Externally you should behave in an ordinary fashion with your family members, but internally you should have nistha (strong faith). Then Krsna will deliver you very soon.”
(Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 16.239)]