Lecture by Prahladananda Swami on Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 7, Chapter 13, Text 37.
yaih sva-dehah smrito ‘natma
ta enam atmasat kritva
slaghayanti hy asattamah
Sannyasis who first consider that the body is subject to death, when it will be transformed into stool, worms or ashes, but who again give importance to the body and glorify it as the self, are to be considered the greatest rascals.
A sannyasi is one who has clearly understood, through advancement in knowledge, that Brahman — he, the person himself — is the soul, not the body. One who has this understanding may take sannyasa, for he is situated in the “aham brahmasmi” position. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kankshati [Bg. 18.54]. Such a person, who no longer laments or hankers to maintain his body and who can accept all living entities as spirit souls, can then enter the devotional service of the Lord. If one does not enter the devotional service of the Lord but artificially considers himself Brahman or Narayana, not perfectly understanding that the soul and body are different, one certainly falls down (patanty adhah). Such a person again gives importance to the body. There are many sannyasis in India who stress the importance of the body. Some of them give special importance to the body of the poor man, accepting him as daridra-narayana, as if Narayana had a material body. Many other sannyasis stress the importance of the social position of the body as a brahmana, kshatriya, vaisya or sudra. Such sannyasis are considered the greatest rascals (asattamah). They are shameless because they have not yet understood the difference between the body and the soul and instead have accepted the body of a brahmana to be a brahmana. Brahmanism (brahmanya) consists of the knowledge of Brahman. But actually the body of a brahmana is not Brahman. Similarly, the body is neither rich nor poor. If the body of a poor man were daridra-narayana, this would mean that the body of a rich man, on the contrary, must be dhani-narayana. Therefore sannyasis who do not know the meaning of Narayana, those who regard the body as Brahman or as Narayana, are described here as asattamah, the most abominable rascals. Following the bodily concept of life, such sannyasis make various programs to serve the body. They conduct farcical missions consisting of so-called religious activities meant to mislead all of human society. These sannyasis have been described herein as apatrapah and asattamah — shameless and fallen from spiritual life.