Harih Sarvatra Sarvada

Dear Vaishnavas,
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev. 

I seen many times devotees complaining that the current place, situation, job etc are not suitable for their spiritual growth and that they would be better off if they were in some other place where the facilities are better say like US, Europe, etc. Nowadays, this is a very common complaint among the devotees in India as it is quite an austerity to live with so many difficulties even for the basic necessities of life. But every time my reply to such complaints would invariably be what my spiritual master had taught me from the 11th canto of Srimad Bhagavatam,

SB 11.23.42,
dvija uvāca
nāyaṁ jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetur
na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ
manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam āmananti
saṁsāra-cakraṁ parivartayed yat

The brāhmaṇa said: These people are not the cause of my happiness and distress. Neither are the demigods, my own body, the planets, my past work, or time. Rather, it is the mind alone that causes happiness and distress and perpetuates the rotation of material life.

This above verse says in a nutshell what is the real effect of the different object and entities of this material world. In reality they cannot do anything. It is only the mind that is suggesting all these non-sense justifications and if we are honest enough to see the reality, then we will accept that ultimately it is only the mind that is the root cause of all the problems. If our mind is alright, then we can chant, read and do all other devotional services even in the midst of the most calamitous situation. My words are not pure as I do not have any practical realizations and experience, but I would like to quote an answer by Srila Prabhupada to a very similar question by an Indian guest in a room conversation in Chicago on July 5th 1975. He is asking this question for the Indians who have left India and settled in the West, but I feel that Srila Prabhupada's answer is universal. 

Guest (Indian man): How do you advise Indians who are here and who have fallen to some extent in the materialistic world? They do not leave... Basically, they left their homes, most of them, to educate themselves. When they came here (to the West), they educated themselves, and they don't want to go back. Basically, they have fallen into the materialistic world. What advice you render them so that they get out of these clutches and go back and serve here or in the country but they should be devotional to the Almighty God?

Prabhupada: So there is no question of here and there. You can become advanced in spiritual life anywhere if you follow the principles. That we are teaching. We are opening centers all over the world. You take the advantage of our teaching, our books, our center. Then it will be all right. These Europeans and American boys.., they are following. They are young boys. They are giving up meat-eating. Do you give up meat-eating? Why Indians, you should learn meat-eating? They are giving up, and you are learning to eat meat. This is the lesson, that these foreigners, they were accustomed to eat meat from the childhood, they are giving up, and you are eating meat. This is the instruction. Indians are drinking. They are giving up drinking. The lessons are already there. There is no question why. The lessons are already there, books are already there, the centers are already there. You learn and make your life purified. Where is the difficulty? There is no difficulty. When we say, "No meat-eating," it is meant for everyone. Anyone who wants to become first-class man, it is necessary for him. And there is no question of Indian, European, American. You are committing so many sinful lives, and you want to become happy that is not possible. (end). 

In a beautiful verse in SB 2.2.36 Sri Sukadeva Goswami says the same point that for glorification of the Lord there should not be any restriction in time and space.

tasmāt sarvātmanā rājan hariḥ sarvatra sarvadā
śrotavyaḥ kīrtitavyaś ca smartavyo bhagavān nṛṇām

O King, it is therefore essential that every human being hear about, glorify and remember the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, always and everywhere.

In his emphatic purport, Srila Prabhupada says thus: "All the great ācāryas, like Rāmānuja, Madhva, Caitanya, Sarasvatī Ṭhākura or even, in other countries, Muhammad, Christ and others, have all extensively glorified the Lord by chanting always and in every place. Because the Lord is all-pervading, it is essential to glorify Him always and everywhere. In the process of glorifying the Lord there should be no restriction of time and space. This is called sanātana-dharma or bhāgavata-dharma. Sanātana means eternal, always and everywhere. Bhāgavata  means pertaining to Bhagavān, the Lord. The Lord is the master of all time and all space, and therefore the Lord’s holy name must be heard, glorified and remembered everywhere in the world.

As Srila Prabhupada says, "Sanatana means eternal, always and everywhere". So if we proclaim ourselves to be followers of Sanatana-dharma, isn't it common sense to practice the principles irrespective of the situation or place? One may question, "How can I practice in a foreign country where other religious practices are condemned?", or "I am working all day and then I have to take care of my family, children etc, how can I practice devotional service?" To answer such questions only, Srila Prabhupada had very carefully used the word "Principles". There are two things - Principle and Detail. Principle is what you do.., the principle stated in the above verse is harih sarvatra sarvada. And the detail is how you do it, that we have to work out based on time, place and circumstances. Like for example in Russia, the devotees were put in jail and they did not have beads with them to chant. They did not think, "Oh, I do not have beads, how can I chant?" They soaked the bread given to them in water and made small beads out of it and chanted their rounds. Another time one Prabhupada disciple told me that in the early days it was so difficult for the devotees to get chanting beads in the West. So he made small balls out of wheat flour, baked it and made chanting beads out of it! He was chanting in that beads for years, before it was lost.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Kalacakra Krsna das.