By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhuapada
Lecture given on March 19, 1971, in Bombay
We can serve everyone, and benefit ourselves, by contributing in some way to the Krishna consciousness movement, “the life-giving movement for human society.”
“It is the duty of every living being to perform welfare activities for the benefit of others with his life, wealth, intelligence, and words.”—Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.22.35
There are many embodied souls in the 8,400,000 of species of life. Out of them, persons who follow the civilized way of life, especially those who are followers of Vedic regulations, are called Aryans. The human form is obtained after an evolutionary process that takes many, many years. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.9.29) says,
nihshreyasaya vishayah khalu sarvatah syat“After many, many births and deaths one achieves the rare human form of life, which, although temporary, affords one the opportunity to attain the highest perfection. Thus a sober human being should quickly endeavor for the ultimate perfection of life as long as his body, which is always subject to death, has not fallen down and died. After all, sense gratification is available even in the most abominable species of life, whereas Krishna consciousness is possible only for a human being.”
Of all the embodied souls, the embodied soul in the human form of life is meant for liberation. We are entangled in the chain of repeated birth and death, old age, and disease, but we are not yet fed up. We think, “All right, let me go on like this.” but that is not advancement of knowledge. That is ignorance.
There is a way to stop the repetition of birth, death, old age, and disease. Therefore in this age, in this life especially, we should try to get out of this entanglement. That is the special function of the human form of life.
Today’s verse speaks of dehi. There are many dehi. Dehi means one who has a material body. In the Bhagavad-gita (2.13), Lord Krishna says,
dhiras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.”
Dehi implies “I am not this body, but I have accepted this body.” just as we accept a kind of dress, similarly, according to our desire, according to our karma, we have accepted a certain type of body, and according to that body, we are subjected to different types of pains and pleasures. This is going on.
Immediate Versus Permanent Benefit
Today’s verse from the Srimad-Bhagavatam says that the duty of everyone in a human body is shreya acharanam: to act for shreya. In the Vedic literature we find the words shreya and preya. Ordinarily everyone is engaged in some sort of duty for sense gratification. Everyone works very hard to satisfy the senses according to his standard of desire. That is called preya, immediate benefit. But there is another department of activities, called shreya. Children like to play. That is preya. But the guardians are anxious that the children may not be spoiled, that they may be educated for their future life. That is shreya. The Bhagavatam says that in this life we should not be after preya, immediate benefit or immediate objects of sense gratification. We should be thoughtful: Who am I? Why am I in the material condition of life? What is the way to get out of it? These questions concern shreya.
In the human form of life, people should be engaged in activities of the ultimate goal of life, and that ultimate goal is Krishna or Vishnu. But people do not know this. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.31), Prahlada Maharaja says,
te ‘pisha-tantryam uru-damni baddhah
“Persons who are strongly entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material life, and who have therefore accepted as their leader or guru a similar blind man attached to external sense objects, cannot understand that the goal of life is to return home, back to Godhead, and engage in the service of Lord Vishnu. As blind men guided by another blind man miss the right path and fall into a ditch, materially attached men led by another materially attached man are bound by the ropes of fruitive labor, which are made of very strong cords, and they continue again and again in materialistic life, suffering the threefold miseries.”
Being captivated by the external energy, maya, we have forgotten our interest. We are working for a different interest—for preya, not shreya. Shreya is Vishnu or Krishna.
How to Help Others
I do not want to take too much of your time. You are all busy men, and I thank you very much for coming here today. We require your cooperation. In today’s verse we find the words pranair arthair dhiya vaca. We can help others by each of these: “life, wealth, intelligence, and words.” Somebody should dedicate his life for this great movement, Krishna consciousness. These young Americans, Europeans, and Indians have dedicated their life for this purpose—to spread Krishna consciousness. If one cannot dedicate his life, then he should dedicate his money as far as possible. According to the program of our predecessor spiritual masters, everyone should sacrifice fifty percent of his income for Krishna. Rupa Goswami showed the example. It doesn’t matter whether your income is five lakhs [500,000 rupees] per month or five rupees per month. You should sacrifice the major portion of your income to the Supreme. If the government has the right to exact income tax from you, has not Krishna the right to exact income tax? He is supplying you so many things. What is the government supplying? Krishna is supplying you sunlight. Krishna is supplying you moonlight. Krishna is supplying you air. Krishna is supplying you food. The Katha Upanishad (2.2.13) says, nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman: “The Supreme Lord is eternal and the living beings are eternal. The Supreme Lord is cognizant and the living beings are cognizant. The difference is that the Supreme Lord is supplying all the necessities of life for the many living entities.” Krishna is fulfilling all your desires, so don’t you like to give Him some tax?
Bali Maharaja’s Example
Not only is Krishna supplying, but He’s also begging. As Vamanadeva, He became a beggar before Bali Maharaja. Bali Maharaja had conquered everywhere, including the heavenly planets, and all the demigods were very much perturbed. So Krishna as Vamanadeva went to Bali Maharaja as a beggar: “Maharaja, you are very charitable. Will you kindly give Me three steps of land?” So Krishna, although He is the maintainer of everyone, sometimes takes the part of a beggar. He’s not a beggar, but He begs to benefit the charitable. Whoever gives in charity is benefited. Bali Maharaja gave everything to Vamanadeva. This is called sarvasvatma-nivedanam: offering everything to the Lord. Different devotees display different types of service to Krishna out of the nine kinds of devotional service listed by Prahlada Maharaja in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.5.23):
“Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia, and pastimes of Lord Vishnu, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one’s best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind, and words)- these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service.”
Bali Maharaja cultivated atmanivedanam, giving everything to Krishna, whatever he had. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.27), Lord Krishna says,
tat kurushva mad-arpanam
“Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform-do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me.” Everyone has some disposition to give in charity. Perhaps you are all businessmen, and you have a separate fund for charity. To give in charity is a natural inclination for everyone. Krishna says, “If you are inclined to give in charity, better to give it to Me.” So here is a chance—the Krishna consciousness movement. Pranair arthair dhiya vaca. Someone should dedicate his life, and someone should give in charity to his best capacity. If he has no possibility of dedicating his life or giving in charity, then he can give his intelligence. And ultimately he can give his words also.
This Krishna consciousness movement is very important. So, somebody should dedicate his life, somebody should dedicate his wealth, somebody should dedicate his intelligence, and somebody should dedicate his words. Suppose someone cannot dedicate his life or has no money, then he can give us some use of his intelligence by suggesting, “If you go to such-and-such person, or if you do like this, if you make your plan like this for pushing your Krishna consciousness . . .” That is also service. Intelligence. And if he has no money, no intelligence, and cannot dedicate his life, then he can give his words. How can he do that? By repeating Krishna’s words. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (18.66),
mokshayishami ma shuchah
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” You can say to someone, “I have come to you, sir, to tell you that you should surrender to Krishna. Please surrender to Krishna.” Words involve no expenditure. Or you can say, “Please chant Hare Krishna.” I think it is very easy. There is no expenditure; there is no loss.
I am so obliged to you that you are trying your best to push this movement, and at the same time I must say that this movement is very, very important. This is the life-giving movement for human society. That’s a fact. It is not a bogus, manufactured, concocted movement. It is authorized. Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja [Bg. 18.66], and we are teaching this philosophy throughout the world. And from all parts of the world, we are getting devotees who are completely surrendered to Krishna.
Thank you very much.