In ancient times and even well into the twentieth century many yogis were sanyassins, renunciates. Sanyassins didn’t have jobs, per se, other then doing some seva (service) around the ashram, and also were brahmacharis (celibates). Not having a job or family to attend to left them a lot of time to devote to their sadhana. The thinking was that once a man married, his wife would want certain material things that he would have to provide by working, as well as children to father, and, of course, plenty of quality time to devote to his family. Suddenly the poor yogi is spending much of his time working to provide for his family and the rest of the time trying to fulfill his responsibilities as a husband and father. Now he has very little time and energy for his sadhana and all of his practices begin to suffer as a result. He finds himself more and more entrapped in the world of Bhoga (the material, sensual realm) and less and less immersed in the world of Yoga.
In 1915, Krishnmacharya took a pilgrimage to the Himalayas in search of the legendary yogi, Sri Ramamohan Brahmachari. Kriishnamacharya was fortunate enough to find this extraordinary yogi and spent more than seven years in a cave with him, learning asana and pranayama, yoga philosophy and meditation, and the art of using yoga to diagnose and treat the ill. At the end of his studies with Sri Ramamohan Brahmachari, Krishnamacharya asked what he owed his guru for the education he received. For payment his guru simply said, “Take a wife, raise children, and be a teacher of yoga.” Krishnamacharya was a brilliant scholar and earned the equivalent of 7 Phd’s from various Indian universities. He was considered a master of all the darshanas—the six schools of Indian philosophy and could easily have obtained a prestigious position teaching at a university. But, he was duty bound to his guru to get married, have children, and teach yoga. When Krishnamacharya began teaching yoga, it was neither a well respected nor a well-paid profession. As a result he spent much of his life in relative obscurity and poverty. At the same time, created a unique approach to yoga that was tailored specifically for the grihasta (householder). One of Krishnamacharya’s primary students was Pattabhi Jois, also a householder. Guruji used to say that in modern times there are few who take the path of renunciation, and that, for most of us, the path of the householder is the best. What Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois developed was a very concentrated yoga practice designed for busy householders who don’t necessarily have a lot of time to devote to their sadhana.
From the Bhagavata Purana comes the story of Priyavatra, son of Manu, the progenitor of the human race. Priyavatra was the eldest son of King Manu, but had no aspirations to rule after hearing as a boy tales of the Blue God, Vishnu from the sage Narada. He relinquished his right to the kingdom to his brother Uttanapada and went to Mount Gandhadana to perform tapasya. One day, many years later, Brahma appeared to him and said, “You have been born as Manu’s eldest son so that one day you would become king. That time has come. All of us, even I, are like bullocks in the field with a rope through our noses. We move only as He decides who holds the end of the rope in his hands. The indriyas (senses) are never conquered until a man has lived in grihatasrama, as a husband and father, as a man who has faced and overcome his six enemies in open battle.” The six enemies are Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Moha (delusion), Lobha (greed), Mada (pride), and Matsarya (envy). Brahma continues, “Once they are subdued he can walk freely among other men, for then the Lord is his refuge and wisdom.” God’s great gift to the householder is to allow him to face these “six enemies” in open battle. With yoga we have a slim chance in this battle.