There are four pillars upon which human society rests. These pillars are: mercy, truthfulness, austerity and cleanliness. Everyone appreciates these qualities. By following the four regulative principles, we support these pillars and free ourselves from miseries and from causing pain to others. Along with chanting Hare Krishna, following these principles form the basis of Krishna conscious practice.
1. No eating meat, fish, or eggs
Killing animals destroys the quality of mercy. One turns one’s body into a graveyard by consuming dead animals. These foods are saturated with the modes of passion and ignorance and therefore cannot be offered to the Lord. A person who eats these foods participates in a conspiracy of violence against helpless animals and thus curtails his spiritual progress.
2. No gambling
Truthfulness is destroyed by gambling. This is quite obvious. Gambling turns a person into a liar, a cheat. Gambling invariably puts one into anxiety and fuels greed, envy, and anger.
3. No use of intoxicants
We know many arguments against the use of intoxicants. It is not a very difficult thing to understand because anyone with a sane mind will accept that taking intoxicants is physically, mentally and spiritually detrimental. It destroys the principle of austerity because the reason people take to drugs is that they want to avoid their suffering in the material world- they do not want to face that austerity. Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, as well as any drink or food containing caffeine, cloud the mind, over-stimulate the senses, and make it impossible to follow the principles of bhakti-yoga.
4. No illicit sex
Cleanliness is destroyed by illicit sex. This is sex outside of marriage or any sex for any purpose other than procreation. Sex for pleasure compels one to identify with the body and prevents one from understanding Krsna consciousness. The scriptures teach that sex is the most powerful force binding us to the material world. Anyone serious about advancing in Krsna consciousness should therefore abstain from or regulate sexual activity according to the scriptures. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krsna says that sexual union for conceiving a child to be raised in God consciousness is an act of devotion to Him.
By following these principles, you are not repressing yourself, but are elevating yourself to a superior platform. By chanting Hare Krishna, one gets a higher taste and you leave material desires behind according to the level of your realization.
To continue with an introduction to Krishna consciousness, follow the links below.
- On Chanting Hare Krsna – essay by Srila Prabhupada
- Setting up your altar – How to worship Krsna in your home
- Eating Spiritually: Prasadam – the Karma Free Diet
- Preparing and Offering Prasadam – How to Offer Vegetarian Food to God
- Everyday Living: The Regulative Principles – Moral Principles to Live By
- Practical engagement in Devotional Service – Doing Everything for Krsna