Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 4 - Chapter 1 - Verse 12


तमत्रिर्भगवानैक्षत्त्वरमाणं विहायसा ।आमुक्तमिव पाखण्डं योऽधर्मे धर्मविभ्रम: ॥ १२ ॥


tam atrir bhagavān aikṣattvaramāṇaṁ vihāyasāāmuktam iva pākhaṇḍaṁyo ’dharme dharma-vibhramaḥ


When King Indra was taking away the horse, he dressed himself to appear as a liberated person. Actually this dress was a form of cheating, for it falsely created an impression of religion. When Indra went into outer space in this way, the great sage Atri saw him and understood the whole situation.


The word pākhaṇḍa used in this verse is sometimes pronounced pāṣaṇḍa. Both of these words indicate an imposter who presents himself as a very religious person but in actuality is sinful. Indra took up the saffron-colored dress as a way of cheating others. This saffron dress has been misused by many imposters who present themselves as liberated persons or incarnations of God. In this way people are cheated. As we have mentioned many times, the conditioned soul has a tendency to cheat; therefore this quality is also visible in a person like King Indra. It is understood that even King Indra is not liberated from the clutches of material contamination. Thus the words āmuktam iva, meaning “as if he were liberated,” are used. The saffron dress worn by a sannyāsī announces to the world that he has renounced all worldly affairs and is simply engaged in the service of the Lord. Such a devotee is actually a sannyāsī, or liberated person. In Bhagavad-gītā (6.1) it is said: “One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no work.” In other words, one who offers the results of his activities to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is actually a sannyāsī and yogī. Cheating sannyāsīs and yogīs have existed since the time of Pṛthu Mahārāja’s sacrifice. This cheating was very foolishly introduced by King Indra. In some ages such cheating is very prominent, and in other ages not so prominent. It is the duty of a sannyāsī to be very cautious because, as stated by Lord Caitanya, sannyāsīra alpa chidra sarva-loke gāya: “A little spot in a sannyāsī’s character will be magnified by the public.” (Cc. Madhya 12.51) Therefore, unless one is very sincere and serious, he should not take up the order of sannyāsa. One should not use this order as a means to cheat the public. It is better not to take up sannyāsa in this Age of Kali because provocations are very strong in this age. Only a very exalted person advanced in spiritual understanding should attempt to take up sannyāsa. One should not adopt this order as a means of livelihood or for some material purpose.