Q. Do krishna consciousness movement require to leave our family and friends?
A. One can become Krishna conscious in any ashram. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said:
grihe thako, vane thako, sada ‘hari’ bole’ dako,
sukhe duhkhe bhulo na’ko, vadane hari-nam koro re
Whether you are a householder or a sannyasi, constantly chant “Hari! Hari!” Do not forget this chanting, whether you are in a happy condition or a distressful one. Just fill your lips with the hari-nama.
So, Krishna consciousness movement does not require one to leave one’s position in the society. However, if there are special circumstances, then one can. This could be due to unfavourable atmosphere for Krishna consciousness or a very sincere and strong desire to leave everything and devote one’s life fully to the service of the mission. Even in this situation, one should do it under the instructions a bonafide spiritual authority. If one does leave the family behind and joins Krishna consciousness out of immaturity or unnecessary over-enthusiasm, then that bliss of association with devotees will not last long. The mind will be always flickering.
One should also try to see in such a situation that the family is taken care and are not left to hell. Of course, in one sense the family will eventually go back home back to Godhead as this person is set to purify himself of all material conditionings. But that does not mean that they should be just dumped mercilessly. One should see that they are also spirit souls and hence one should try to bring them back to their eternal position.
Happily enjoying in the company of devotees is a natural state. But one should try to also bring the family members in the company of devotees so that they also are happy. That is the perfection of Grihasta life.
Also, one should set a good example in the society and see that when we take to Krishna consciousness, it inspires the friends and family members also to take to Krishna consciousness and hence any action that is going to raise lot of criticism should be avoided or done carefully. At the end, if one’s motive is honest, then things will be accepted eventually.