Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.
There is a general misconception among people that if we do too much of devotional service, it will take away all our material opulences. Infact there are a lot of mistaken ideas especially in India that worshiping Krishna will take away our wealth, opulence etc. These misconceptions seem to have arisen from a few instances in the shastras where the Lord's devotees seem to be suffering and impoverished from an external point of view. One of the instances is when Bali Maharaj is transcendentally cheated and deprived of his wealth by Vamanadev. At that time the Lord, to begin with, says to Lord Brahma (SB 8.22.24) that "Because of material opulence a foolish person becomes dull-witted and mad. Thus he has no respect for anyone within the three worlds and defies even My authority. To such a person I show special favor by first taking away all his possessions."
One may immediately question from this statement of the Lord that why should we spend so much time and energy in devotional service just to get rid of our hard earned wealth and opulences? But we should see that the Lord is not worried about our wealth, name and fame, but the pride (damba) arising out of it. So in order to vanquish that pride, He takes away the source of that pride from us. But as soon as we become humble, He bestows more opulence than what we deserve, as He showed in the case of Bali Maharaj by giving him the Bila svarga and Himself becoming his security guard. Hence in SB 8.22.26, He qualifies His above statement further, "If a human being is born in an aristocratic family or a higher status of life, if he performs wonderful activities, if he is youthful, if he has personal beauty, a good education and good wealth, and if he is nonetheless not proud of his opulences, it is to be understood that he is especially favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
So Krishna is not bothered about our wealth and opulence if we are not claiming proprietorship over it. That is why He says that if a devotee continues to enjoy his opulences or gets them back after losing, it is His very special mercy. Infact being the husband of the Goddess of fortune, He would be able to bestow upon us both material and spiritual benedictions beyond our imagination. As practising devotees we are always challenged with this question by materialists that why Krishna is not keeping His devotees in good condition? Infact this question is not a modern day one but rather an age old question. Hence through the shastras we can understand the answer to this question.
There is another incident in Mahabharata: When Yudhishtira Maharaj became the king of Indraprastha and decided to perform the Rajasuya yajna, he requested the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna to become the chief of the yajna and accept the agra-puja, the first worship. One may wonder, why should Yudhishtira Maharaj being a devotee of Lord Krishna perform an yajna which is meant for mundane opulence and even ask Lord Krishna to preside over it? Foreseeing that this question will be asked, Yudhishtira Maharaj himself gives two reasons as to why he would like to perform the yajna. He says in SB 10.72.4-5:
tvat paaduke aviratam pari ye caranti
dhyaayanti abhadra nashane shuchayo grnanti
vindanti te kamala naabha bhavaapavargam
aashaasate yadi ta aashisha isha naanye
"Purified persons who constantly serve, meditate upon and glorify Your shoes, which destroy everything inauspicious, are sure to obtain freedom from material existence, O lotus-naveled one. Even if they desire something in this world, they obtain it, whereas others—those who do not take shelter of You—are never satisfied, O Lord."
tad deva-deva bhavatas caranaaravinda
sevaanubhaavam oha pashyatu loka eshah
ye tvaam bhajanti na bhajanty uta vobhayeshaam
nishthaam pradarshaya vibho kuru-srnjayaanaam
"Therefore, O Lord of lords, let the people of this world see the power of devotional service rendered to Your lotus feet. Please show them, O almighty one, the position of those Kurus and Srnjayas who worship You, and the position of those who do not."
We hear a beautiful explanation of Yudhishtira Maharaj's first reason paraphrased by Srila Vishwanatha Chakravarthi Thakura: "We feel no great urgency to perform the Rajasuya sacrifice, nor do we have any personal interest, since we are already seeing Your lotus feet and by Your boundless mercy have been taken into Your personal association. But in this world there are some whose hearts are contaminated and who thus think You are not the Supreme Personality of Godhead but an ordinary man. Or else they find fault with You and even criticize You. This is an arrow piercing our hearts. Therefore, to extract this arrow from our heart, we must call to this place—on the pretext of the Rajasuya—Brahma, Rudra and other wise brahmacharis and demigods who reside in each of the fourteen planetary systems. When such an exalted congregation has assembled, it will be incumbent upon them to first arrange for the agra-puja, or the first worship for the most worthy person present. And when they are directly shown that You, Lord Krsna, are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the arrow piercing our heart will be removed."
Srila Prabhupada then paraphrases the second reason for Yudhishtira Maharaj's decision: "I also want to show the world the difference between accepting You as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and accepting You as an ordinary powerful historical person. I wish to show the world that one can attain the highest perfection of life simply by taking shelter at Your lotus feet, exactly as one can satisfy the branches, twigs, leaves and flowers of an entire tree simply by watering the root. Thus, if one takes to Krsna consciousness, his life becomes fulfilled both materially and spiritually."
The conclusions of the acaryas are very powerful and brings to us the right understanding of the mood of a pure devotee of the Lord. They don't want to do anything for themselves. But at the same time they cannot tolerate any offence or disrespect at the lotus feet of the Lord. The general mass of people avoid devotional service stating all kinds of useless reasons. Unless they are given the assurance that their material opulence will be intact (and grow more and more) by doing devotional service, they won't be convinced to take up devotional service. Therefore, to bring them to the path of bhakti somehow or other, great mahatmas like Yudhishtira Maharaj and Srila Prabhupada want to show them practical proofs.
Let us try to see the shastras through the transcendental eyes of acaryas like Srila Vishwanatha Chakravarthi Thakura, Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev and show the practical solution to the general public, by preaching devotional service through practice.
Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das
Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved.