Stories shared by Srila Prabhupada during conversations and lectures.
There is a story about a king and his prime minister. Once the king's salaried workers complained, "We are actually working, and this minister is doing nothing, yet you are paying him such a large salary. Why is that?" The king then called his minister in and also had someone bring in an elephant. "Please take this elephant and weigh it," the king said to his workers. The workers took the elephant to all the markets, but they could not find a scale large enough to weigh the animal. When they returned to the palace the king asked, "What happened?" One of the workers answered, "Sir, we could not find a scale large enough to weigh the elephant."
Then the king addressed his prime minister, "Will you please weigh this elephant?" "Yes, sir," said the prime minister, and he took the elephant away. He returned within a few minutes and said, "It weighs 11,650 pounds." All the workers were astonished. "How did you weigh the elephant so quickly?" one of them asked. "Did you find some very large scale?" The minister replied, "No. It is impossible to weigh an elephant on a scale. I went to the river, took the elephant on a boat, and noted the watermark. After taking the elephant off the boat, I put weights in the boat until the same watermark was reached. Then I had the elephant's weight."
The king said to his workers, "Now do you see the difference?" One who has intelligence has strength, not the fools and the rascals. Marx and his followers are simply fools and rascals. We don't take advice from them; we take advice from Krishna or His representative.
Reference: Journey of Self-Discovery
Rasagra rasena grhyate vasi kriyate. Krishna vasi kriyate. Vasi kriyate means hypnotized. It is so nice that one becomes hypnotized. Otherwise, why the boys are working so hard? (laughter) They're all qualified. They can earn money outside. In your country sufficient money is paid for work, but they are hypnotized here. (laughter)
So Krishna is so nice. Yes. He's the all-attractive. He hypnotizes His devotee in spite of... Just like the Pandavas. The Pandavas, they were Krishna's friends. Arjuna was friend. All the brother... Arjuna was very intimate friend, but other brothers, four brothers, they were also Krishna's friend. And Kunti, the Pandavas' mother, she happened to be the aunt of Krishna. So they were well, mean, established in relation with Krishna. But as a result, they were banished for twelve years. They lost the game, so they were banished. And their wife, Draupadi, was insulted. They could not insult her, but they tried to insult her. They tried to make her naked in the assembly. And they lost their kingdom, and they were banished for twelve years.
So Narada met Krishna. His devotee, he could speak Krishna with little criticism, "My dear Sir, Krishna, by becoming Your devotee the Pandavas are very happy. They have lost their kingdom. Their wife is insulted. And now they are banished for twelve years. So it is very good thing. (laughter) But the wonderful thing I see, now, in spite of all these inconveniences, they have increased their love for You." So Narada, he is astonished, "What kind of hypnotism you do, I do not know. (laughter) In spite of being placed in so much inconveniences, their love for You has increased." That is the position of Pandavas. This is Krishna consciousness.
Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.18 - New Vrindaban, June 22, 1969
Brahmananda: Brahmana is not to accept any employment.
Prabhupada: No. He'll die of starvation, he'll not accept any employment. That is brahmana. Kshatriya also that, and vaisya also. Only sudra. A vaisya will find out some business. So there is a practical story. One Mr. Nandi, long, long ago, in Calcutta, he went to some friend that, "If you can give me a little capital, I can start some business." So he said, "You are vaisya? Mercantile?" "Yes." "Oh, you are asking money from me? Money's on the street. You can find out." So he said, "I don't find." "You don't find? What is that?" "That, that is a dead mouse." "That is your capital." Just see.
So in those days, plague in Calcutta, plague was going on. So Municipal declaration was any dead mouse brought to the Municipal office, he'll be paid two annas. So he took that dead body of the mouse and took to the Municipal office; he was paid two annas. So he purchased some rotten betel nuts with two annas, and washed it and sold it at four annas or five annas. In this way, again, again, again, that man became so rich man. One of their family member was our godbrother. Nandi family. That Nandi family still, they have got four hundred, five hundred men to eat daily. A big, aristocratic family. And their family's regulation is as soon as one son or daughter is born, five thousand rupees deposited in the bank, and at the time of his marriage, that five thousand rupees with interest, he can take it. Otherwise there is no more share in the capital. And everyone who lives in the family, he gets eating and shelter. This is their... But the original, I mean to say, establisher of this family, Nandi, he started his business with a dead rat, or mouse.
That is actually fact that if one wants to live independently... In Calcutta I have seen, even poor class vaisyas, and in the morning they'll take some dal, bag of dal, and go door to door. Dal is required everywhere. So in morning he makes dal business, and in evening he takes one canister of kerosene oil. So in the evening everyone will require. Still you'll find in India. Nobody was seeking for employment. A little, whatever he has got, selling some ground nuts or that peanuts. Something he's doing. After all, Krishna is giving maintenance to everyone. It is a mistake to think that, "This man is giving me maintenance." No. Sastra says, eko yo bahunam vidadhati kaman. It is confidence in Krishna that, "Krishna has given me life, Krishna has sent me here. So He'll give me my maintenance. So according to my capacity, let me do something, and through that source, Krishna's maintenance will come." Just like we are maintaining so many people in the Krishna consciousness movement. So what business we are doing? But we are confident that Krishna will send us our maintenance. That confidence is required.
A sudra means he becomes disturbed, "Oh, I have no employment. How shall I eat? Where shall I go? Where shall I live?" He has no faith in Krishna. The brahmana has got full faith, the kshatriya has got little less faith, the vaisya, little less faith, and the sudra has no faith. This is the difference.
Reference: Conversation on Bhagavad-gita 4.13 - Vrindavana, August 5, 1974
First of all technology of the senses, and then, next higher technology is of the mind, which is known as psychology. Thinking, feeling, willing. They are trying to understand how they are working. And above this mind, mental science, there is the science of intelligence. And above the science of intelligence, the background is the soul. Unfortunately, we have got technology for the bodily senses, we have got technology for psychology, but we have neither any technology for intelligence nor for any technology in the science of the soul. The Krishna consciousness movement is the technology of the science of soul.
There is a nice story. You'll appreciate it. In India, especially in Bengal, there are many rivers. The land is full of rivers. Because it is on the bank of the Bay of Bengal, all rivers are falling. Especially the East Bengal, is full of rivers. One student of technology was going home, and he was on the boat. So the student was asking the boatman, "Do you know what are the stars?" The boatman said, "Sir, we are ordinary boatman. What do we know about these stars?" "Oh. Then your fifty percent of life is wasted, useless." Then he was asking, "Do you know what are these trees? Do you know any science of botany?" He said, "Sir, we are ordinary laborer. What do we know about botany?" "Oh. Then seventy-five percent of your life is useless." In this way the student of technology was asking the boatman, "Do you know this? Do you know that?" And he said that, "I am ordinary man. What do I know all these things?" Then all of a sudden there was a black cloud, and there was storm, and the river began to be inflated, and the boatman said, "My dear sir, do you know swimming?" "Oh," he said, "no." Then he said, "Then your cent per cent knowledge is spoiled. Now you have to go down to the river. Your life is finished." In this way they dropped in the river, and the technological student, because he did not know how to swim, so the storm and the waves grabbed him.
The idea is that we are making progress, certainly, in technology, in economics, in so many other departments of human necessities. But Bhagavad-gita says that real problem of this world, or real problem of our life, it is said in the Bhagavad-gita, janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-doshanudarsanam [Bg 13.9]. If you are intelligent enough, then you should see the real problem is birth, death, old age and disease. Janma means birth, and mrityu means death. Janma-mrityu-jara. Jara means old age, and vyadhi means disease. So actual material problem is this, janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi. We have forgotten that, "In the abdomen of my mother, how precarious condition I was living in." Of course, we can know from the description of medical science or any other science how the child is packed up there and how much suffering is there. The worms bite the child and he cannot express; he suffers the suffering. Similarly, the mother eats something, and the pungent taste also gives him suffering. So these descriptions are there in the sastras, in the scriptures and authentic Vedic literature, how the child suffers within the abdomen of his mother.
So these are the sufferings of birth. At least, one child has to remain in that air-packed condition at least for ten months. Now just imagine if you are put into that air-packed condition for three minutes now, you will immediately die. But actually, we had that experience to remain in the mother's womb in that air-packed condition for ten months. So suffering was there, but because the child was incapable of expressing, or his consciousness was not so elevated, he could not cry, but the suffering was there. Similarly, at the time of death there is suffering. Old man, just like us, we have got so many complaints, bodily complaints. Because now everything, the anatomical or physiological condition, is deteriorating. The stomach is not digesting foodstuff so nicely as when I was young I could digest. So the sufferings are there. Similarly, disease. Who wants disease? So modern technology, they have advanced undoubtedly, but there is no remedy for, I mean to say, to stop birth, death, old age and disease. This is real problem. But because these problems cannot be solved by the modern scientific advancement of knowledge, they have practically set aside or neglected because they cannot solve it.
Reference: Lecture to Technology Students [M.I.T.] - Boston, May 8, 1968
When you take the animal to the slaughterhouse for killing, he cries. Why? Because he's feeling pain. He knows that, "I'm going to be killed." So there is soul. Soul is there. You don't think that soul is not there. Soul is there. Therefore, a Krishna conscious person who has realized God, he is samah sarveshu bhuteshu, he's equal to all living entities. He'll feel pain even for cutting a tree. He'll feel pain, he'll feel pain even he traverses over an ant.
There is a story that one hunter, he was killing in the forest all kinds of animals, and he was killing them half. So they were suffering too much severe pain. So Narada Muni was going in that way. He saw that these animals have been half killed, and they are so much suffering. Who is doing that? So he searched out the hunter. He requested, "Sir, you are killing the animals. Why don't you kill them all at a time? Why you are killing half? They are suffering. You'll have to suffer in that way." The hunter did not know that killing animals is sinful and he has to suffer again. So he said, "Sir, I am trained like this by my father. This is my profession. I do not know what is sin. But this is the first time I am hearing from you that killing this animal, especially in this way, is very much sinful."
So because he saw a saintly person, he got his sense. He asked him that, "How I can get rid of this sinful life?" So Narada Muni suggested that, "I shall give you the way how you can become free from this sinful life." So he made him a disciple and asked him to chant this Hare Krishna mantra and sit down on the bank of the Ganges, and the hunter said, "Sir, where shall I get my food?" Narada Muni said, "I'll send you, don't bother. I'll send you food." So the village people, when they understood that the hunter has become a saintly person, so everyone used to come and see him. Somebody was bringing some rice, somebody wheat, somebody some sweets, some fruits, some flower. So huge quantity of foodstuff was coming. So in this way, he became a perfect saintly Vaishnava.
Later on, when Narada Muni came to see him, he was coming to receive the spiritual master, jumping over the road. So when the hunter, now he became Vaishnava, Narada Muni and his friend Parvata Muni asked, "Why you are jumping?" He said, "Sir, there are so many ants, so I was trying to save their life." The same hunter who was killing animals one time half-dead and was enjoying, is no more interested to kill even an ant. This is called saintly life. Samah sarveshu bhuteshu. Samah, equal to all living entities. Not that simply protection should be given to the human being.
Reference: Bhagavad-gita 18.41 - Stockholm, September 7, 1973