Living Alone in a Secluded Place?

By Madhudvisa dasa - 31.1 2016

“A transcendentalist should always try to concentrate his mind on the Supreme Self; he should live alone in a secluded place and should always carefully control his mind. He should be free from desires and the feelings of possessiveness.” (Bhagavad-gita 6.10)

Krishna continues to instruct His friend Arjuna on the prerequisites for meditational yoga. He has already established to perform yoga one must control the mind. Now He adds to controlling the mind the necessity of always concentrating the mind on the Supreme Self [Krishna], of living alone in a secluded place and being free from desires and the feelings of possessiveness.

Here Krishna tells Arjuna if he wants to practice yoga he has to live alone in a secluded place. It is not possible to live in a big city and to practice yoga in a group in some fashionable yoga studio. No. He has to do what the sages who are serious about practicing yoga have done for thousands of years. He has to go to some sacred and secluded place like the Himalayan mountains or the bank of the Ganges river and sit down there alone without any distractions and practice yoga.

Of course for us, living in Kali-yuga, this is not a very practical proposal. Not many of us can go and live in the Himalayas or on the banks of the Ganges and even these places are no longer as sanctified as they once were. Now they have 100 channel satellite television and so many other distractions in the ‘sacred places’. So we will discover that for a devotee ‘living alone’ means living in such a way that he has no connection with the non-devotees. We can live in the association of devotees but we can take the instructive example from Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who said that he would rather live in a cage with a wild tiger than live with non-devotees. So as aspiring devotees we have to live in the association of devotees or if we can not find the association of nice devotees we have no alternative but to live alone. However living alone is not very ideal for a devotee because his mission is to execute the Sankirtana movement and Sankirtana means many men chanting Hare Krishna together. So it is of course ideal for devotees to live together in the association of other devotees to facilitate the Sankirtan movement.

The reason a transcendentalist wants to live alone is his first business is to keep his mind always on Krishna and not forget Krishna for even a moment. Concentration of the mind on the Supreme is called samadhi or trance. So in order to concentrate the mind he should always remain in seclusion and avoid disturbance by external objects. The transcendentalist has to be very careful to accept favorable things and to reject unfavorable things that affect his spiritual advancement. And he must be determined not to hanker for unnecessary material things that only entangle him further by creating feelings of possessiveness.

All of these perfections and precautions are perfectly executed when one is directly in Krishna consciousness because direct Krishna consciousness means he has set aside all self-interest and is instead working exclusively for the interest of Krishna, in such a position there is very little chance for material possessiveness. Srila Rupa Gosvami characterizes Krishna consciousness in this way:

“When one is not attached to anything, but at the same time accepts everything in relation to Krishna, one is rightly situated above possessiveness. On the other hand, one who rejects everything without knowing of its relationship to Krishna is not as complete in his renunciation.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu)

A Krishna conscious person knows well that everything belongs to Krishna, and thus he is always free from feelings of personal possession. As such he has no hankering for anything on his own personal account. He knows how to accept things in favor of Krishna consciousness and how to reject things unfavorable to Krishna consciousness. He is always aloof from material things because he is always transcendental and he is always alone, having nothing to do with persons not in Krishna consciousness. Therefore a person in Krishna consciousness is the perfect yogi.