om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
[Gurudeva chants three times and devotees repeat]
Sankarshan das Adhikari: Tonight we are reading from the Srimad Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Translation and Purport by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Tridandi Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, otherwise known as ISKCON, Chapter number 17, Text number 20.
datavyam iti yad danam
datavyam — worth giving; iti — thus; yat — that which; danam — charity; diyate — is given; anupakarine — irrespective of return; dese — in a proper place; kale — at a proper time; ca — also; patre — to a suitable person; ca — and; tat — that; danam — charity; sattvikam — in the mode of goodness; smrtam — is considered.
Charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness.
In the Vedic literature, charity given to a person engaged in spiritual activities is recommended. There is no recommendation for giving charity indiscriminately. Spiritual perfection is always a consideration. Therefore charity is recommended to be given at a place of pilgrimage and at lunar or solar eclipses or at the end of the month or to a qualified brahmana or a Vaisnava (devotee) or in temples. Such charities should be given without any consideration of return. Charity to the poor is sometimes given out of compassion, but if a poor man is not worth giving charity to, then there is no spiritual advancement. In other words, indiscriminate charity is not recommended in the Vedic literature. [End of purport]
SDA: In this material world, giving charity is very much glorified. But unfortunately most of the charity that is being given is not being properly given. And the person who is giving charity is implicated in the law of karma by his act of charity. In other words his act of charity does not actually advance him spiritually. A philanthropist may build a hospital to give free medical care to the poor. And so many people get free medical care because of his charity. So that is called good karma. So, can you understand how he can be rewarded in the future for giving so many people free medical care? His wonderful reward will be that he will get free medical care in the future. How do you qualify to get free medical care? You get sick and you get diseased. Isn't that a wonderful reward for all of his charity? He becomes diseased and he becomes sick. For each and every one of the people who were helped by his charity hospital, he gets to come back birth after birth and be rewarded again and again by all those people that he helped in his charity hospital. That is called good karma. In other words, good karma always has something bad mixed in with it. So would you like bad karma or would you like good karma that has something bad mixed in with it? Or would you like karma that has nothing bad with it at all? What would you prefer? There are three types of karma. There is vikarma which is sinful activities for which you are punished. There is good karma for which you are rewarded. But along with that reward you have to accept so many bad things. And then there is akarma which is devotional service. By performing devotional activities, there is no material reaction, either good or bad. The only thing you get is a transcendental reaction. And what is that transcendental reaction? You will get the mercy of Krishna, showering upon your head, like torrents of rain in the monsoon season. So you have your choice when you give charity. You can give it in a material way or you can give it in a spiritual way. Spiritual, means we have to give it in the service of Prabhupada's mission. That is giving charity in the spiritual way. Give that charity to Srila Prabhupada. So there are four ways that we can serve Srila Prabhupada's mission. And they are all acts of charity.
The first thing is you can give your whole life to Prabhupada. That is the ideal thing. You simply say “I will give my whole life to Srila Prabhupada”. That is the best thing. If you can't do that, what is the next thing that is practically as dear as life? Money. So, if you can't give your life for Prabhupada's mission then you give as much money as possible for Prabhupada's mission. Just like that Kolavecha Sridhara. He was a very poor man. But he gave 50% of his income in the worship of Mother Ganges. He was making bowls out of plantain leaves and selling them. The plantain leaves are growing everywhere. So how you can attract a lot of customers? Anyone can take a plantain leaf and make a bowl out of it. That was his income. And he was very poor. But actually he was a great devotee. When he would be crying in ecstasy, the neighbors thought he was crying out of hunger. So actually he was a very great devotee, Kolavecha Sridhara. Whatever wealth he had he gave it in the service of the Lord. So someone may say "Well, I don't have any money". Then you have some intelligence, you can use your intelligence. You may have some friends who have some money. You can convince them to give something. What if you don't have any intelligence or you don't have any money. What will you do then? You can give your words. You can tell people “Chant Hare Krishna". You can tell them to come to the temple. You can tell them to take one book. In this way you can use your words.
This is a very important thing that we can learn how to give charity properly. To perform devotional service is the ultimate act of charity. Because when you water the root of the tree, all the leaves and branches are nourished. When you give service to Krishna, you are doing the highest welfare work for all living beings. But that service has to be without any thought of material reward. Of course we can ask for some spiritual benediction. That has been explained by one of our acaryas that whenever you pray to the Lord you can always ask for some benediction. But that is spiritual benediction. By praying that we can always remember the Lord, “Please bless me that I can always remember you". That is asking Krishna for benediction. "My dear Lord, now I am your fully surrendered devotee at Your lotus feet. I will do whatever You want me to. Now please bless me that I can always remember You and love You". But we have no material motive. It is not like a business deal that "My dear Lord Krishna, if I serve You, You have to do this for me". The devotee simply serves for the sake of serving Krishna. Prabhupada said, “Krishna consciousness means nothing to purchase except Krishna”. He is not coming to Krishna for money. He is not coming to Krishna for sex life. He is not coming to Krishna in exchange for material power. He is not coming to Krishna to become famous. He is simply approaching Krishna for the sake of loving Krishna. That is all. So this is the perfection of Krishna consciousness. And this is the stage we have to come to. And do you know what will happen if we don't come to that stage? We will not be satisfied. So do you want to be satisfied or do you want not to be satisfied? Is anyone here who would like to be dissatisfied? Raise your hand. I don't see anyone who wants to be dissatisfied. Here is one who wants to be dissatisfied. Why is that?
[Devotee speaks in Latvian]
Translator: Due to dissatisfaction we can serve again and again.
SDA: She is asking a question?
Translator: No. No. She is making statement if I feel dissatisfaction I can serve again and again.
SDA: Serve again and again?
Other devotee: It makes you want to continue till you are satisfied.
SDA: You want to serve so you can become satisfied.
[Devotee speaks in Latvian]
SDA: Do you want to be satisfied? [Devotee speaks in Latvian] Do you want to be happy or not? Do you want to be miserable?
[Devotee speaks in Latvian]
SDA: She wants to be miserable?
Translator: No, she wants to be happy.
SDA: Ok. That is right. That is the whole point. Everybody wants to be happy and satisfied. The only way we can become happy and satisfied is to engage in Krishna's service without asking anything in return, ahaituki apratihata yayatma suprasidati. Devotional service must be performed without any thoughts of something in return. It must be performed without any interruption and then it fully satisfies the self.
Sometimes people ask, “Are you a full time devotee or a part time devotee”? But actually, the real thing is “Are you a devotee or are you not a devotee?” There is no such thing as a part time devotee. If someone is a devotee they would come to the morning program and then they go to their job. Do they become a non-devotee at their job? They eat some meat, they smoke some cigarette. They are devotees at the mangala arati, but at work they become a karmi or a non-devotee? So we have to understand that you are either a devotee or you are not a devotee. There is no such thing as a part-time devotee. Devotee means someone who is fully engaged in Krishna consciousness 24 hours a day, whether they are at the temple, whether they are at business, whether they are at their job, whether they are on the commute, whether they are in line at the grocery store. Wherever they may be, a devotee is Krishna conscious 24 hours a day. That is the meaning of a devotee. So when the Bhagavatam says apratihata, without any interruption, that means you must always be Krishna conscious, in all times, in all places in all circumstances. Otherwise you will not be happy. So if we do take Krishna consciousness very nicely, we will taste the sweetest pleasure, the sweetest happiness. The word 'Krishna' literally means the 'greatest pleasure’: Krish-na.
So we can ask any one of you to speak. Would you like the greatest pleasure? And see what they say. They say “No, I do not want the greatest pleasure". Then you can tell them "My dear sir, if you do not want the greatest pleasure then please do not chant Hare Krishna. And if you do want the greatest pleasure, then you must chant Hare Krishna because Krishna is the greatest pleasure. If you chant His name you will have the greatest pleasure. And if you don't chant His name then you will not have the greatest pleasure. So you choose whether you want to have the greatest pleasure or whether you do not want to have the greatest pleasure. This is Krishna consciousness. There is no shortcut. There is only one way to get Krishna consciousness. You have to give up your false ego and fully surrender to Krishna. You have to give up your false pride, your false sense of identity, your false sense of being the enjoyer, your false sense of being the proprietor. All these false ideas have to be given up. You have to simply, humbly submit yourself at the feet of Lord Sri Krishna and His representative, the bona fide spiritual master. Otherwise you will not get Krishna. Janma mrtyu jara vyadi, you will get the cycle of birth, death, old age and disease. You have been experiencing birth, death, old age and disease for millions of lifetimes. Isn't it great? How do you like it? Getting sick, getting old, dying. Isn't it wonderful? Isn’t it fun? You don't look very enlivened about it.
The fact is that it is not very fun. But Krishna consciousness is unlimitedly fun. The nature of the soul is described in the Vedanta Sutra, 'anandamayo ‘bhyasat'. The nature of the living being is enjoyment. So if you want to actually regain your original nature, then you must take this Krishna conscious movement. Otherwise you will remain in an artificial position. Janma mrtyu jara vyadi - birth, death, old age and disease. So, come out of the sleep of maya. Come to the enlightened platform. Throw off the lethargy of material consciousness. Take shelter of guru. Take shelter of Krishna. And make your life perfect. You will be happy, you will make your family happy, you will make your friends happy, you will make your countrymen happy, you will make the whole world happy if you would simply take this Krishna consciousness very, very, very seriously as your only business.
Why should we have any other business? Can you give me one good reason why we should have any other business besides surrendering to Krishna? We have no other business. But Maya gives us so many ideas, this business, that business, this business, that business. Maya tricks us. She diverts us in so many ways. So we have to become very expert in ignoring that Mayadevi. And she is playing with our minds. We have to become very, very expert in ignoring her tricks. Maya is very, very sneaky. We have to become very, very expert to avoid her alluring charms. Very, very, very expert we must become so that Srimati Mayadevi cannot divert us away.
We have to know the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. We have to think the philosophy of Krishna consciousness; we have to speak the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. And we must live the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. You must not live in this material world. You must live in the pages of Bhagavad-gita and then in the pages of Srimad Bhagavatam not in this material world. Make your life Bhagavatam and Gita. Not simply some book you hear about it here and then. You must live and breathe Gita, Bhagavatam. Make your entire existence Gita, Bhagavatam. And then your happiness will know no bounds. You will taste inconceivable sweetness at every minute. You will enjoy happiness beyond your wildest imagination which you will never taste it unless you become very, very, very humble.
Are you ready to become truly humble, with no false pride, humble at the lotus feet of Guru and Krishna? Are you actually ready to do it? Or do you want to hang on to your ahankara. The choice is yours. And you will reap the result of your choice for better or for worse. No one is going to force you. All we can do is give you a nice invitation to the party. You can attend the party or you can remain in misery. It is up to you. Lord Caitanya's eternal sankirtana party is happening at every minute. It is the most ecstatic party that is ever been thrown in the history of the universe. And that party is going on at every second. Either you are in the party or you are out of the party. It is your choice.
Gauranga is inviting you: jiv jago, jiv jago, gauracandra bole / kota nidra jao maya-pisacira kole, Gauranga is inviting you, "Wake up, you sleeping souls, get out of Maya". He is giving you a very nice invitation. You can take that invitation or you can throw it in the trash can. The choice is yours. Gauranga will not grab you and pull you. He will simply attract you with His sweet voice. But it is up to you whether you go or not to join His eternal sankirtana party. If you want to remain asleep in the lap of Maya, you can do so. But I have to give you a very stringent warning. Mayadevi has a very sharp razor blade. She will cut your throat. So if you want to remain in Maya's lap you can do so. If you think it is very nice, you can stay. But Lord Gauranga is calling, "Come now and join My eternal sankirtana party”. We are chanting and dancing all over the universe. We are chanting and dancing in Riga. We are chanting and dancing in Tartu. We are chanting and dancing in Tallin. We are chanting and dancing in Vilnius. We are chanting and dancing in Kaunas. We are chanting and dancing in Moscow. We are chanting and dancing all over the universe. All the way to Goloka Vrindavana we are chanting and dancing. So you come and join My dancing and chanting party. And all of your troubles forever will be forgotten." So why aren't we joining? Why are we holding on to this false material identification? "I am a man, I am a woman". Why are we holding on to these designations? "I am American”, “I am Latvian”, “I am Russian". Why are we holding on to these designations? Because we are stupid that is why. We are just stupid. We are thinking that somehow or other if I worship this material body, if I dedicate myself to satisfy all of its desires that it will give me very, very nice enjoyment. But what is the body giving you? It is simply giving you sickness, death; that is all. So we have to learn how to actually come out of this sleep of Maya and come to the fully enlightened platform of Krishna consciousness. That is where we have to come.
Devotee: What should we do right now in order to conquer Maya?
SDA: Yes. [Sings] "bhajahu re mana sri-nanda-nandana abhaya-caranaravinda re”. Govinda das he has answered your question. If you want to conquer that mind, you must talk to your own mind. And you say, "My dear mind, you must simply engage yourself in the devotional service of the divine son of Nanda Maharaja".
Devotee: What are the main qualities of a brahmana and what kind of occupation should a brahmana do?
samo damas tapah saucam
The brahmana is very expert in controlling his mind, controlling his senses, he is very austere, he is very clean, he is very peaceful, he is very honest, he has very good Vedic knowledge. And he puts that knowledge into practice by surrendering unto the lotus feet of Krishna. The occupation of the brahmana is to learn the Vedic wisdom and to teach the Vedic wisdom. That is his occupation. If there is an emergency, the brahmana can take occupation as a ksatriya or as a vaisya. The brahmana is not meant to become a sudra. However Prabhupada has given a concession. That a brahmana can also work in that category in this time if it is necessary and he will not lose his brahminical status. So whatever means of occupation you are forced to adopt by practical circumstances, you must use all of your spare time to study the Vedas and teach the Vedic wisdom to others. That will make you a brahmana.
Devotee: What should the proper answer be if a devotee is approached by a karmi to explain what the ISKCON is, in understandable terms, especially in comparison to the persons from other religions?
SDA: Hmm. [To the translator]. You want to give the question to everybody.
SDA: ISKCON is not a religion. So ISKCON is not presenting another religion. There are so many religions, there is Christian, there is Jew, there is Hindu, and there is Buddhist. Krishna consciousness movement or ISKCON is not presenting another religious sect. We are teaching the essence of religion.For example, one of the students on my Internet training course, he is a Baptist minister. So he is learning from me and from Srila Prabhupada's books how to be a better Baptist minister. We are not trying to convert people from one religion to another. We simply want to convert them from being irreligious into being religious. We don’t mind what designation they may have. If they are Christian, they can remain Christian. If they are Jew, they can remain Jew. Let them simply become a perfect Christian, a perfect Jew, a perfect Buddhist, a perfect Muslim, etc. So we are an educational institution, teaching the science of God. We are not a religion in the sense of a sectarian religion. Another way of saying it, it is a subtlety in English; I do not know if it translates well into Latvian or Russian. We are not a religion. We are religion. Religion is one, to love God. It is man who has divided that one pure thing called religion into so many so-called religions. Religion cannot be plural. Religion is one. God has given one religion. Man has invented so many religions. God did not give different religions. "dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam"- religious principles are directly given by God. They are one. So we are not presenting another man-made concoction to compete with some other man-made concoctions. [Aside: Sri Sri Radha Damodara ki jaya!, Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai ki jaya!] We are presenting the pure essence of what is given by God Himself. Do you think in the spiritual world, there are different camps and they are fighting with one another? No, everyone is one family in the spiritual world. It is called isavasyam, god-centered conception.
Translator: She would like you to chant 'jiv jago' bhajan if you can.
SDA: Some other time. Not right now. Maybe let us see if there are any questions. We might do it at the end. I will have to have the song book here. I only know the first line [Chuckles] I am looking if there are some more questions? What is that?
Devotee: You have said we shouldn’t expect some service from devotees. Is that meant for ordinary devotees and not meant for managers?
SDA: I don't follow the question.
Translator: You were speaking that we should perform ahaituki bhakti, without expectation. But should we consider this only for ordinary devotees but not for the managers.
SDA: No. Everyone has to practice ahaituki bhakti. Otherwise they will not be satisfied whether they are managers or whether they are followers. Everyone has to practice ahaituki bhakti or they will not be happy.
Devotee: In the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam it is said that Krishna tries to understand Himself because He is so wonderful He couldn’t understand the whole idea about Himself. The question is whether He could understand Himself or not.
SDA: Oh, Krishna can fully understand Himself. That is not a problem for Him. He knows everything. He is sarvajña. But as soon as He has done that, His glories have expanded exponentially beyond His conception. His understanding that He is always trying to catch up with His ever-expanding glories. And He is always falling behind because His glories are expanding at every second. So Krishna is becoming ever-increasingly Krishna conscious. He never gets bored with Himself. In fact it is described, in Dvaraka he would get up in the morning and meditate on Himself. But you cannot do that because you are not Krishna.
Questions more? So everybody already knows everything about Krishna bhakti now? You are fully realized, uttama adhikari devotees? You have no obstacles blocking your path of bhakti?
Devotee asks a question in Latvian
Translator: The question is about pride.
Translator: Sometimes we feel we are doing everything. No pride at all. After sometime we can see it started to grow something. Is it appearing from somewhere or is it there all the time we are having this pride and just manifesting in different circumstances?
SDA: Yes. Pride is a cancer and when you take Krishna consciousness very seriously then that cancer, of pride goes into remission. And if you follow the process of Krishna consciousness very carefully, gradually, gradually the cancer of pride in your heart will be completely destroyed. But if you become lackadaisical in your practice of Krishna consciousness that pride which has been put into a state of remission, which is not yet fully destroyed, can have a comeback and overtake your consciousness once again. So you have to be very, very careful at every minute. Practicing Krishna consciousness in this material world is like shaving with a straight-edge razor. One little slip, and immediately there is blood. So you have to be very, very cautious. By taking shelter of Guru and Krishna, we put that pride into a state of remission. So we have to carefully keep ourselves always under the directions of Guru and Krishna. Never become proud thinking that “I am great”. You must always feel that you are greatly in need of being rectified because your heart is an ocean of faults. You should understand that “I am very much a rascal. I need tremendous amount of correction and chastisement to bring me to my senses, so that I give up this false illusion that I have.”
Devotee: What is the principle difference between ISKCON and other movements that follow Lord Caitanya's teachings? And what is the difference between ISKCON Gurus and Gurus from other movements?
SDA: Are they two different questions or are they the same question in your mind?
Devotee: Same question.
SDA: Same question. Okay.
Devotee: The question appears because some senior devotees have suggested to me paying attention or reading something from Gurus representing others. I know nothing about that.
SDA: So the question is that Srila Prabhupada established this Krishna conscious movement all over the world and he had other Godbrothers who were also told to spread Krishna consciousness. We see practically the only disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati who actually understood his vision and his mission in full was His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. After Prabhupada successfully established a worldwide Krishna conscious movement, these other Godbrothers who had criticized him very, very much for giving shelter to fallen Westerners, they were thinking, "Wow, maybe we can do it too, what Prabhupada did it". None of them were able to do what Prabhupada did. But some of them have been able to grab ISKCON members who weren't fully dedicated to ISKCON and attract them away from ISKCON. In the beginning Prabhupada was thinking that his Godbrothers would fully co-operate in a loving and trusting way with his attempt to educate the Westerners. So he sent one of his early disciples to one of his Godbrothers in Vrindavana for training. But what this Godbrother did was he re-initiated Prabhupada's disciple as his own disciple. Just imagine what that means. Let us say that there are two brothers and the first brother has a wife and he has to go out of town on a business trip. So he sends his wife to stay at his brother's house because he is going to be out of town for a while. And when he gets back he finds out that his brother convinced his brother’s wife to divorce him and then married her. What kind of brother would that be? So this is what Prabhupada's Godbrothers did. This is what one Godbrother did and even now there are other Gaudiya devotees, sannyasis, preachers who are doing the same thing to Prabhupada's movement. I have personal experiences. It is not hearsay, I know one boy. He is a disciple of our Tamal Krishna Gosvami. I met him two years ago in Vrindavana. And he had been re-initiated by another Gaudiya sannyasi. If you re-initiate somebody as your disciple when they are already someone else's disciple, then what you are saying is the first guru is not a guru at all. He is bogus. So my experience of what I have seen that they are saying that “ISKCON is bogus”. They are taking that position that we are bogus, that we are not genuine. We do not say that “They are not genuine”. We respect them as bona fide devotees. But because we are a big successful movement, much bigger and more successful than they are, they make propaganda that we are bogus. And they try to take as many members out of ISKCON into their own camp. Even one of these sannyasis, he went so far as to say that Prabhupada did not start ISKCON. And he said "I am ISKCON". This particular sannyasi has a motive, to take over this movement and be the leader of ISKCON. We have no objection if he preaches Krishna consciousness, travels all over the world and makes disciples. That is wonderful. But if he wants to take Prabhupada off of the Vyasasana and put himself in Prabhupada's seat then we would rather him not give lectures in our temples. I was giving a lecture in Exeter, England last year in 2004. It was a Sunday feast lecture. And some followers of this Gaudiya sannyasi attended the meeting. We welcomed them with an open heart; we gave them prasadam and treated them with love. But then, this boy he attacked me in front of everyone. He said, "You have so many students taking your training on the Internet. Why you are not bringing them to this Gaudiya sannyasi?" As if I had some duty to tell all of my students to go to this Gaudiya sannyasi. He was attacking me in front of everyone. I never attacked him for taking people to his guru. So why is he attacking me for taking students to Prabhupada? This is not Vaisnava etiquette. We have to understand there are devotees of the Lord in different levels. Kanistha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari and uttama-adhikari. Devotees who do not know how to respect properly other Vaisnavas, they are called kanistha-adhikaris or materialistic devotees. We offer them all respect because they are chanting the glories of the Lord. But we do not intimately mix with them. We are not interested to read their books because they don't have the realization that makes their books worth studying. We are interested to find out those devotees that are uttama-adhikaris, who are completely free from the tendency to criticize others, who’s every thought word and deed is how to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world, to bless all the fallen souls. In other words there are devotees who are "political" and there are devotees who are “apolitical”, who simply want to promote pure love of God all over the world. Prabhupada is the master of the masters. He is absolutely, completely beyond any politics in his preaching. No one has accomplished what Prabhupada has accomplished. What other Gaudiya guru has done what Prabhupada has done? No one even came close. They didn't even do 1/1000th of what Prabhupada did. I know when I was in Mayapura in 1982; many ISKCON devotees were going to hear some Gaudiya sannyasi. He had an asrama across the River Ganges. I was thinking why I should go? So many ISKCON leaders were going, sannyasis, gurus, brahmacaris, householders, they were all going to hear this Gaudiya sannyasi. And I was thinking that Prabhupada was with me at every minute. If I think that Prabhupada is dead and he is no longer with me then I will think that maybe I have to go, but because my Prabhupada is with me at every minute, why I need to hear from anyone else who doesn't have the realization that Prabhupada has. I have the best guru in the whole universe who is guiding me at every second. And if I go to take shelter of someone else it means I think that Prabhupada is dead. So for me there has never been any question of going to some lesser guru who doesn't have the sakti of Prabhupada. No one has anywhere near the realization that Prabhupada has about Krishna, of the pastimes of Krishna, the activities of the spiritual world and how to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. Just like a chaste wife does not want to associate with any man except for her husband, I have no desire to associate with any other. I respect them but I have no desire to go and hear from them. It is an offense against Prabhupada. [Aside: Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki jaya, Sri Sri Radha Damodara ki jaya, Sri Gaura aroti ki jaya]
Someone wanted to sing 'jiv jago'. Where is the kirtana, they also want to add 'jiv jago' in the kirtana tonight. We have one request for 'jiv jago' in kirtana tonight.
Thank you very much!
[Transcribed by Her Grace Bhaktin Priya]