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Srila Prabhupada Stories

Stories shared by Srila Prabhupada during conversations and lectures.

Foodstuff to the Stomach

Just like you supply foodstuff to the stomach. That will be distributed. Suppose I have got very good cake. Now, the fingers holding the cake. Now, if the fingers think, "All right, it is a good cake. Why shall I supply to the stomach? Let us eat it," oh, the fingers cannot eat. That is improper.

There is a story in Sanskrit, udarendriyanam. Udarendriyanam. There was a meeting of all the parts of the senses, that, "We are working, and the stomach is sitting idly, and he is simply eating. So let us get into strike. We shall not work." Just like there is strike system now. Now, all the hands and legs and all parts of the body they, "No, no more we are going to work for the stomach." Now, what happened? Gradually the hand become weak, the fingers become, the eye could not see, the ear... Oh, they thought that, "What is happening this? We are becoming weaker, weaker, weaker." Then they decided, "It was a mistake not to supply foodstuff to the stomach. It was good for us."

Similarly, by establishing a godless civilization we are not happy. We are not happy, just like the same way, not supplying foodstuff to the stomach, we are thinking of becoming happy. No, that cannot be. If the senses of the body, parts of the body want to become happy, then he, the senses and the parts of the body, they have to supply foodstuff to the stomach. Similarly, if you want to be happy in this world, there is no alternative without, I mean to say, performing sacrifices. That is recommended here. Evam pravartitam cakram. The circle is described in the previous verses, that annad bhavanti bhutani [Bg 3.14].

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 3.16-17 - New York, May 25, 1966

Intelligence Has Strength

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

Satisfy Krishna to Satisfy Everyone

Once Duryodhana satisfied Durvasa Muni very nicely, and Durvasa Muni wanted to give him some benediction, "Now you take some benediction, whatever you like." So Duryodhana was very cunning. His only aim was how to cheat the Pandavas. So he said, "My dear sir, I shall ask you some day. Not now." So, "All right."

So when the Pandavas were in the forest and Duryodhana's plan was how to tease them, so he approached Durvasa Muni, "My dear sir, you wanted to give me some benediction. I have come for it." "Yes." "Now, you go to the Pandavas with your all disciples, sixty thousand disciples, and you go when Draupadi has taken her food."

So Durvasa Muni one day... Because he wanted to give that benediction, he approached the Pandavas in the forest. And it is the duty of the kshatriya to receive the brahmanas. So they had finished their lunch, and Durvasa Muni came. So how they can deny? They are kshatriyas. "Yes, my lord. You can, you are welcome. Just take your bath, and we are making arrangement..." What arrangement they will make, in the forest? So they were perplexed.

So Krishna... Kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati [Bg 9.31]. Krishna's vow is that He will see always His devotees are protected. So when they were perplexed, Krishna came. Krishna came that, "What is the problem?" They explained, "This is the problem." Then He asked Draupadi that, "You have already finished..." Because Draupadi had a benediction that so long she does not take her lunch, any number of men come, she will be able to feed. That was her... But she had finished her lunch.

Then Krishna said, "Just go, find out some foodstuff, any little in the kitchen." They said, "No, everything is finished. There is no food." "No, just try to see." Then in one pot they saw a little sak, a vegetable, was stuck up. So they brought it and Krishna took it, immediately. So as soon as Krishna took, all the Durvasa Muni and company, they felt that their belly is filled up. Tasmin tushto jagat tushtah. So they were feeling ashamed that, "How we shall go? We cannot take any food." So they fled away from the Ganges.

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.13 - Vrindavana, October 24, 1972

Krishna Hypnotizes His Devotee

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

Krishna Consciousness - The Ultimate Purifier

There is a story how habit is the second nature. There was a thief, and he went to pilgrimage with some other friends. So at night, when other friends were sleeping... Because his habit was to steal at night, so he got up at night and he was taking one body's baggage and tried to pickpocket or take something. But he was thinking, "Oh, I have come to this holy place of pilgrimage. Still, shall I do that, committing theft, my habit? No, no. I shall not do it." So he was taking the bag of one person and was keeping in another place. So in the whole night the poor fellow did like that. But due to his conscience that, "I have come to this holy place. At least, during my stay here, I shall not do this stealing business."

So in the morning, when all other friends got up, everyone said, "Oh, where is my bag? I don't see!" Another man says, "Oh, I don't see my bag." Then somebody says, "Oh, here is your bag!" So there was some row. So they thought, "What is the matter? How it so happened?" Then the thief rose up and told all friends, "My dear gentlemen, I am a thief by occupation, but because I have that habit to steal at night, so I wanted to steal something from your bag, but I thought that, 'I have come to this holy place. I shall not do it.' So I placed, I might have placed one man's bag in another man's place. So excuse me." So this is the habit. He does not want to commit theft, but he has got the habit of doing that. So similarly, here he has decided not to commit theft anymore, but because he's habituated, sometimes he does.

So therefore Krishna says, "In that condition, one who has decided to stop all bad or immoral habits and just to make his progress in Krishna consciousness, even by chance, if he does something which is immoral in the face of the society, that should not be taken account of." Of course, that is by chance. And in the next verse, you'll find, kshipram bhavati dharmatma: "Because he has dovetailed himself in Krishna consciousness, it is sure that he will become a saintly, I mean to say, a pure saint very soon. Very soon."

The example is... Just like the electric fan is going on, and if you put off the switch, you'll see the fan is still going on. But that going on will stop because the switch is already off. Similarly, if one dovetails himself in Krishna consciousness, then automatically he'll become a saintly person. Automatically. Because his switch is made off. Just like the fan, when the switch is made off, the current supply is stopped. Now... There was a force of running. You may see that it is running for few minutes. But it will stop. Similarly, anyone, it doesn't matter what he is, if he puts himself, dovetails himself in Krishna consciousness, then all his material contamination will be washed off. Washed off.

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 4.7-9 - New York, July 18, 1966

Confidence in Krishna

Brahmananda: Brahmana is not to accept any employment.

Prabhupada: No. He'll die of starvation, he'll not accept any employment. That is brahmanaKshatriya 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

Chewing the Chewed

One who does not know what is real happiness, they are seeking happiness in this material world. There is a nice story. A man, a friend, was advised by his friend that, "If you chew sugarcane, oh, it is very nice, sweet." The friend who was advised to chew sugarcane, he had no experience what is sugarcane. So he asked his friend, "Oh, what is the sugarcane?" The friend suggested, "It is just like a bamboo log." So the foolish man began to chew all kinds of bamboo log. Now, how he can get the sweetness of the sugarcane? Similarly, we are trying to have happiness and pleasure, but we are trying to derive happiness, pleasure, eschewing enjoying this material body.

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 6.21-27 - New York, September 14, 1966

Real Progress

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

Krishna Bears Witness

I'll cite one story. It is a very interesting story. If you go to India, you'll find one nice temple in Orissa. It is called the temple of "Witness Gopala,Sakshi-Gopala, Witness Gopala. This Gopala was situated in a temple at Vrindavana. Now, two brahmanas, one young and one old, they went to visit Vrindavana, the place of pilgrimage. Because at that time there was no railway, the journey was very hardship. The old man felt very obliged, and he began to say to the young man, "My dear boy, you have done so much nice service to me. I am obliged to you. So I must return that service. I must give you some reward." So the young man said, "Oh, my dear sir, you are old man. You are just like my father. So it is my duty to serve you, to give you all comforts. I don't require any reward." Formerly, the boys were so gentle. And still, there are many boys like that. So the old man also thought that, "No, I am obliged to you. I must reward you." So he promised that, "I shall get you married with my youngest daughter."

Now, the old man was very rich man, and the young man was not rich. He was poor, although he was brahmana, learned. So he said that, "You are promising. You don't promise this, because your kinsmen, your family men, will not agree. I am poor man, and you are rich man. You are aristocratic. So it will be not, this marriage will not take place. Don't promise in that way before the Deity. It is not good, because Deity is there." But he was firm faith that, "Krishna is hearing," because the talks were going on in the temple. "So it will not be fulfilled." "No." The old man became still more persistent, "No, my daughter I shall offer you. Who can forbid me?"

So in this way, when they came back, one day the old man proposed to his eldest son that, "Your youngest sister should be married with that boy. That I have promised." Oh, the eldest son of that old man become very angry, "Oh, how you have selected that boy to be husband of my sister? He's unfit. He's poor man. He's not so educated. Oh, this cannot take place." He did not agree. Then the mother of the girl, she came to the old man, "Oh, if you get my daughter married with that boy, then I shall commit suicide." Now the old man is perplexed.

Then, one day, the boy was anxious that, "The old man promised before the Deity. Now he is not coming." So one day he came to his house, "Well, my dear sir, you promised before the Lord, Krishna, and you are not fulfilling your promise? How is that?" The old man was silent, because he was praying to Krishna that, "I am now perplexed. If I persist in offering this daughter to this boy, now there will be great trouble in my family." So he was silent. So, in the meantime, the eldest son came out and he began to quarrel with, "Oh, you, you plundered my father in the place of pilgrimage. You gave him some LSD or something, [laughter] intoxication. You took all the money from my father. Now you say that he has promised to offer you my youngest sister. You fool!" He began to say like that.

Then all the neighboring gentlemen, they, "Oh, what is the trouble? Here there is so much howling." "Do you think, sir, that this boy is fit for my sister? We are aristocratic family and this and that...," so on. So the young man could understand the old man is still agreeable, but his sons and family members, as he suggested, they are not agreeable. So he explained the whole thing before all the gentlemen who came, that, "This is the fact. Now, he promised. Now, for the sake of his son and wife, he cannot fulfill his promise. This was a promise before the Lord." In the meantime, the old man's eldest son - he was atheist - he voluntarily says, "Well, if your God comes and gives witness, then I shall offer my sister to you."

But he was confident that God will come. He said, "Yes. I shall ask God. I shall ask Krishna to come and give witness." Now, before all gentlemen this was done. Then the young man said, "All right, let us now come to agreement that I shall call Krishna from Vrindavana to give witness in this matter, and when He comes, you'll have to." All the other gentlemen, they also persisted. So there was some agreement. So this boy went again to Vrindavana to his Gopala, and he prayed that, "Sir, You have to go with me." He was so staunch devotee, just like talking with friend. He did not think that He's a statue, it is image. He knew God. That was his conviction. So God said, "How do you think that a statue can go with you? I am a statue. I cannot go." Then this boy replied, "Well, if a statue can speak, He can go also." [laughter] Then Krishna said, "All right, I shall go with you."

Then there was some arrangement that, "You will not see Me, but I will go with you. I'll go with you, and you hear, you'll hear the sound of My nupura." A nupura is an instrument which is fixed up in the leg of Krishna. It sounds like "ching, ching, ching, ching," just like that. So He was going with him, and daily he was offering some foodstuff, taking alms from the village. In this way he was coming, but when he came in the precincts of the village, of his own village, he could not hear the sound of the nupura. So he saw back, "Oh, where is Krishna?" He saw that statue there, the statue standing. So he informed all the villagers that Lord has come to be witness. It is about some thousands years before, this thing happened. People were convinced, "Yes. Such a big statue, this boy could not bring." So they believed, and there was a temple constructed by the king of that country.

And still that temple is there, and it is named, the Lord is named, as Sakshi-Gopala. Sakshi-Gopala. Gopala is the name of Krishna's boyhood. So because He came to give witness in that controversy, so that temple is still there. So the whole idea is the statue. Because God is everywhere. So He's also in statue. God is everywhere. How can you say that He's not in statue? He's also in statue. So it is my devotion, it is my qualification, that I can induce that statue to speak with me. Just like the same way - if I am electrician, then I can fit any electrical instrument or machine or light from the electric energy which is all over - similarly, God's energy, He is present everywhere...

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 9.4-7 - New York, November 18, 1966

A Devotee Has Equal Vision

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