The Four Regulative Principles

The four regulative principles

Spiritual life rests on values of honesty, cleanliness, compassion and austerity (discipline). Although anyone can chant Hare Krishna and participate in devotional activities if he is serious about making tangible progress in Krishna consciousness, he will additionally follow the four regulative principles. All initiated devotees of ISKCON take a vow to follow these principles.

1. No gambling: Gambling (even buying lottery tickets) shows that one is dissatisfied with the results that come naturally from his daily work. A devotee should be peaceful, satisfied and dependent on what the Lord provides for him. Gambling is also associated with lying, cheating and ever increasing greed.

2. No intoxicants: People usually turn to intoxicants because they cannot face the austerities of life. But these austerities are the reality of the material world and keep the one on the spiritual path sober and clear-minded. Intoxicants cloud the mind and over-stimulate the senses. Intoxicants include drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and stimulants containing caffeine, such as coffee and tea. They destroy the discipline needed to practice devotional service.

3. No meat eating: Devotees follow a strictly vegetarian diet and do not eat meat, fish, eggs or any of their derivatives. Nature provides enough variety of vegetarian food to keep a person fit and healthy. Violence against animals is not required.

4. No illicit sex: Illicit sex life destroys the principle of cleanliness, both of the body and the mind. Spiritual life requires control of the mind and senses and therefore one who is serious about advancement controls his senses even within marriage.