Srila Prabhupada explains why instead of trying to gratify our senses, we should gratify the senses of the Lord.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, lecture given in Calcutta on February 23, 1972
A simple analogy illustrates the basic principle underlying the philosophy of Krishna consciousness.
“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self.” – Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6
We come here to the material world to enjoy – not enjoy, but to satisfy our senses. This is material life. But to try to develop sense enjoyment is not the right process for becoming happy. In modern civilization, people are increasing the sense enjoyment process, making life more and more complicated. The real motive of human life should be to develop devotional service to the Lord. Or in other words, instead of gratifying our senses we should gratify the senses of the Lord. That is required.
We cannot independently gratify our senses. The Ishopanishad therefore says, tena tyaktena bhuñjitha: we should take only what is set aside for us by the Lord. You cannot enjoy directly. The best example is that if you give me a nice foodstuff, a rasagulla sweet, my finger may touch it, but it cannot enjoy it directly. That is not possible. The rasagulla must be given to the stomach. And when it is given to the stomach, the energy produced by eating that sweet is distributed not only to this finger but to the other fingers and the other parts of the body.
The Krishna consciousness movement is based on this principle. We are making Krishna the center. Krishna said,
“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.” (Gita 9.27) That is Krishna consciousness. We do not want to stop anything. People should not misunderstand that we want to stop business, stop industries, stop our general modes of life. No. Engage in your occupational duties, but offer the result of those duties to Krishna. He says,
“You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” (Gita 2.47) Don’t take the result of your work.
The same example: This hand picks up a very nice rasagulla, but it does not take it for itself; it gives it to the stomach. Then the hand enjoys. That is the process. This spirit of giving to Krishna is now forgotten. Therefore people are suffering, because they are not trying to follow the process. This is the process. You take a rasagulla and give it to the stomach. This is the process. Similarly, whatever you possess, give it to Krishna and take prasadam. Then you will be happy. Otherwise your action will not bring happiness, because that is not the process.
But people are following a wrong process, trying to enjoy directly. The result is that they are implicated in the law of karma. In the Bhagavad-gita (3.9) it is said, yajñarthat karmanah: you can work, but work for Krishna. Anyatra karma-bandhanah: otherwise you’ll be entangled. Whether the result is good or bad, you have to accept it.
Our Happiness Is Destined to Come
The shastric process, the process described in the scriptures, is that whatever you’re destined to get, you’ll get. Prahlada Maharaja said,
“My dear friends born of demoniac families, the happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be obtained in any form of life, according to one’s past fruitive activities. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor, just as we obtain distress.” (Bhagavatam 7.6.3) You are destined to a certain standard of sukha, happiness, according to your body. One man is born in a millionaire’s family, so he has a type of body where enjoyment is there. And at the same time, another man is born in a cobbler’s family. He cannot expect the enjoyment of the millionaire’s family. That is not possible, because the millionaire has got one type of body and the cobbler has got a different type of body.
Sastra says that your happiness is destined according to your body. It is already made up, set up. You cannot change it. So shastra says don’t try to increase your so-called happiness by laboring so hard. Whatever body you have got, you will get a certain type of happiness. A hog has got a certain type of body; he feels pleasure by eating stool. He cannot improve it, because he has got a body like that. So according to our body, we get our happiness.
Our time should be saved for improving Krishna consciousness. That is the law of nature. Don’t try to improve your material condition. Whatever material happiness is destined according to your body, which is already given to you, you’ll have it without any endeavor. You have to suffer also; that is also according to the body. You don’t endeavor for distress, but you get it. Similarly, don’t endeavor for happiness; you’ll get it.
This is the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. We should save our time to develop our Krishna consciousness. You should simply endeavor in that way. Then yenatma samprasidati: you’ll be happy. Otherwise you’ll never be happy. This is the sum and substance of the philosophy of Krishna.
The whole summary is that this human form of life is very, very important and it is meant for developing Krishna consciousness. If you neglect this business and simply engage in sense gratification, that is spoiling time. Srama eva hi kevalam.
Karma means that whatever happiness one has to enjoy, that will come automatically. If one is destined to have something, that will come. So our only point is that human life is very valuable. We should not waste it for nothing. The modern method of civilization is to develop economic development to live very comfortably. That’s all right. Do it. Everyone can do his own business. But don’t forget Krishna. That is not good.
The point is that our real business is to understand Krishna. But people do not try to understand Krishna; they simply try for economic development. Their first business should be to understand Krishna. Other business should be secondary. At the present moment, to convince people of this is a very difficult task.
Syamasundara Dasa: Srila Prabhupada, isn’t it true that when people developed Krishna consciousness, they had even better economic development, higher economic development, when they were Krishna conscious?
Prabhupada: [laughs] But we don’t take to Krishna consciousness for developing a higher economic position.
Syamasundara Dasa: No, but I mean it goes to show that even though no matter how much we try to develop . . .
Prabhupada: But that is Krishna’s mercy. Those who are engaged in Krishna’s service, they are never put into distress. Krishna’s devotees are never vanquished, even if they are artificially put into distresses.
The Pandavas were put into distress artificially. Prahlada Maharaja was put into distress by his father, but ultimately he came out victorious. So we should not be disturbed even if superficially we see that a devotee is in distress. A real devotee does not take anything as distress. He takes everything as Krishna’s mercy. Otherwise, that is not pure devotion.
Actually a devotee is never in distress even if people may see that he is in distress. There is a very good example. During Lord Chaitanya’s time there was a devotee in Mayapur named Kolaveca Sridhara. He was very poor. At night he would chant the Hare Krishna mantra very loudly: “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna . . .” His neighboring friends would say, “This man has no income, and because he is hungry, now he is chanting ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.’ He’s hungry.”
In a loving exchange, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to take away his possessions, his flowers. His business was making and selling cups made of flowers. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would take away some of his fruits and cups, as a friend.
One day Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Sridhara, take a benediction from Me.”
So he asked, “What benediction, sir?” “Well, you are so poor that your house is not even properly repaired. There are so many holes in the roof.”
Sridhara replied, “Still, I have got a nice house, because it is better than the bird’s nest. They have no roof. [laughter] They have no roof, and they live on the tree. I have got a shelter. What is the difficulty? There is no difficulty.”
In this way Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to offer him so many thing, and Sridhara said, “No, I have no trouble for this. If You want to benedict me, please give me pure devotion to Your lotus feet.”
That is pure devotion – that we should hanker after how to fix up our mind always in the service of the Lord. That we are trying to teach, that’s all.
Thank you very much.