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Srila Prabhupada Stories

Stories shared by Srila Prabhupada during conversations and lectures.

Waste of Time

Prabhupada: Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is quoting one verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam in which it is said that simply for understanding but if you do not practically apply yourself, then it is simply a waste of time. There is a very nice story. In our college days in logic class of Professor Purnachandra Sen, he cited a very nice example, that a student approached his teacher, and the contract was that he wanted to become a law student, lawyer, and the contracts were that when the student will appear in the court after being duly qualified as lawyer, then he will pay the remuneration of the teacher, so that the teacher may very quickly make him qualified. So teacher agreed, "Yes. I shall make you qualified within one year. So you have to pay me five million dollars," like that.

So when he was qualified, passed his law examination, he said, "Now you come. You practice in the court." So he said, "No. I am not going to practice." "Then pay me." "How can I pay? If I practice, then I'll pay, but I am not going to practice." So this kind of law student, that he has learned all laws and he has become lawyer officially by his degree, but he's not going to practice. So similarly, if we simply know what is Brahman and what is not Brahman but do not practice, it is just like that. It is useless waste of time. If you become a medical man but if you don't practice as a medical man, then why should you take so much trouble? Similarly, those jnanis and yogis, they do not take to the devotional service, or Krishna consciousness, which is practical.

So far we are trying to be practically employed in Krishna's service. That is our business. We may not be hatha-yogi or dhyana-yogi or this yogi or that yogi or a very learned scholar that we can distinguish and interpret that, "Not to Krishna but to myself." In this way I can waste my time. But if I do not apply myself to the purpose, then what is the use of? That is stated: ye 'nye 'ravindaksha vimukta-maninas / tvayy asta-bhavad avisuddha-buddhayah / aruhya kricchrena param padam tatah / anadrita-yushmad... [SB 10.2.32]

Such class of men simply trying to understand what is Brahman, what is not Brahman, but practically, he will simply be engaged in material sense enjoyment. He'll not give up anything, even not smoking. Anything he will not give up. Everything he'll keep in contact, but he'll discuss very scholarly, "This is not Brahman, this is Brahman." This is simply waste of time. Tesham klesala eva sishyate. Therefore such persons who are simply wasting their time in that way, if they think that, "I have become liberated," so Bhagavata says that their intelligence is not purified. They are less intelligent still, because the result of his being qualified is not being utilized. He's not engaged in Krishna consciousness.

Reference: Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila 25.31-38 - San Francisco, January 22, 1967

Krishna Delivers Personally

Now this Arjunacarya...that's a very nice story. When he was writing commentaries, oh, he thought, "How is that Lord will come Himself and deliver the goods? Oh, it is not possible. He might be sending through some agents." So he wanted to cut vahamy aham, "I bear the burden and deliver." He wrote in a way that, "I send some agent who delivers."

So that Arjunacarya went to take bath, and in the meantime two boys, very beautiful boys, they brought some very nice foodstuff in large quantity. And in India there is a process to taking two sides burden on the bamboo. Just like a scale it is balanced. So these two boys brought some very highly valuable foodstuff and grains and ghee, and his wife was there. And the boys said, "My dear mother, Arjunacarya has sent these goods to you. Please take delivery." "Oh, you are so nice boy, you are so beautiful boys, and he has given. And Acarya is not so cruel. How is that? He has given so much burden to you, and he is not kind...?" "Oh, I was not taking, just see, he has beaten me. Here is cane mark. Oh, see." His wife became very much astonished that, "Acarya is not so cruel. How he has become so cruel?" So she was thinking in that way. Then, "All right, my dear boys. You come on." And gave him shelter. And, "No. I shall go because Arjunacarya again comes. He will chastise us." "No, no. You sit down, take foodstuff." She prepared foodstuff, and then they went away.

And when Arjunacarya came back, the wife said, "Acarya, you have become so much cruel nowadays?" "Oh, what is that?" "Two boys, very nice boys, they have brought so many foodstuff. You loaded on their head, and they denied to take it, and you have beaten them, chastised?" He said, "No. I have never done this. Why shall I do it?" Then she described, "Oh, such a nice beautiful boy." Then Arjunacarya understood that, "Because I wanted that God does not deliver, so He has delivered these goods, and because I cut these alphabets that He does not give personally, so He has shown that beating mark."

There is an incident in southern India of Yamunacarya. That story is there. Of course, you may believe or not believe. That's a different thing. But here the Lord says that, "I personally deliver." So those who are in Krishna consciousness, those who are actually busy in the matter of discharging their duties as a Krishna conscious person, they may be assured that so far their living condition is concerned or their comforts of life is concerned, that is assured by the Lord. There will be no hampering.

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 9.20-22 - New York, December 6, 1966

Serving the Greatest Person

In this connection, Srila Prabhupada tells the story of a man whose burning desire was to serve the greatest person. The man was born into a small village, where he became attracted to serving the village chief. He was very happy in this capacity and tried to please the chief in many ways. But one day a district governor visited the village, and the servant came to understand that his local chief was also a servant - of the governor. He then asked to be transferred to the service of the greater master. The governor accepted him into his service, and the man was again satisfied trying to please his new master.

But then he saw that the governor was paying taxes and offering obeisances to the king. The man who wanted to serve the greatest managed to transfer himself into the king's direct service. Now he was completely satisfied, and the king treated him as a favorite servant. But one day the man saw that the king went off alone into the woods to worship and serve an ascetic. The king's servant later approached that guru and addressed him, "You must be the greatest person of all, because even the king serves you. Please let me be your servant."

The ascetic replied that he himself was the lowly servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. The perpetual servant then asked where he could find Krishna, and the guru directed him to the nearest Krishna temple. With an ardent desire the servant went to the temple and received a direct indication from the Deity that he was indeed accepted as His servant. Finally, the aspiring servant of the greatest reached his goal, a position as the servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Reference: Mukunda-mala-stotra 17 Purport

Money and Prasadam Stocking

Prabhupada: So a grihastha, of course, required to accumulate some money because he's living with family, but so far brahmacari, vanaprastha and sannyasi is concerned, they should not keep any money.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu was so strict that His personal servant, one day he was taking after eating a little, what is called, myrobalan, haritaki. So one day he was giving myrobalan and Caitanya Mahaprabhu inquired, "Where you got this myrobalan?" So he said, "I kept it from yesterday." "Oh, you are stocking?" He immediately criticized him. "You are stocking? This is not good." So this principle...

Of course, even if we do not stock, don't think that we'll starve. Krishna has provided. But we should be depending on Krishna. There is no anxiety. Actually, there is no anxiety. We have experienced this. I was alone for many years, but not a single day I was starving.

Reference: Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.15 - New Vrindaban, June 29, 1976

A Sparrow's Determination

As for determination, one should follow the example of the sparrow who lost her eggs in the waves of the ocean. A sparrow laid her eggs on the shore of the ocean, but the big ocean carried away the eggs on its waves. The sparrow became very upset and asked the ocean to return her eggs. The ocean did not even consider her appeal. So the sparrow decided to dry up the ocean. She began to pick out the water in her small beak, and everyone laughed at her for her impossible determination. 

The news of her activity spread, and at last Garuda, the gigantic bird carrier of Lord Vishnu, heard it. He became compassionate toward his small sister bird, and so he came to see the sparrow. Garuda was very pleased by the determination of the small sparrow, and he promised to help. Thus Garuda at once asked the ocean to return her eggs lest he himself take up the work of the sparrow. The ocean was frightened at this, and returned the eggs. Thus the sparrow became happy by the grace of Garuda. 

Similarly, the practice of yoga, especially bhakti-yoga in Krishna consciousness, may appear to be a very difficult job. But if anyone follows the principles with great determination, the Lord will surely help, for God helps those who help themselves.

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 6.24 Purport

Krishna's Protection

Everyone was determined, "I must kill." Duryodhana was determined to kill Bhima, and Bhima was determined to kill. So when they did not listen to the instruction of Baladeva, then Baladeva left the place. He went to Dvaraka, back. Of course, Krishna was there, because Krishna was to give hint to Bhima how to kill Duryodhana. So Duryodhana, by the blessings of his mother, his whole body became iron-like solid. So by beating by the Bhima, it was not easy. 

So the story is that Gandhari, the mother of Duryodhana, she was great chaste woman. Because her husband was blind, she used to remain as blind woman covering the eyes. But she had some power. Chaste woman, anyone who sticks to the regulative principles, he gets a power, spiritual or material. He gets power. A brahmacari gets power if he follows brahmacarya. Everyone, if we follow the prescribed rules and regulations, automatically you become powerful. 

So Gandhari had some power. So her eldest son, Duryodhana, was advised to see the mother naked. She advised, "My dear son, tomorrow morning when you come to offer your obeisances to me, you come naked. I shall see you and you will be solidified just like iron." So he was going naked and Krishna saw. So He asked him, "Where you are going?" "I am going to see my mother." "How is that? You are going naked? At least you have some langota. This is not good." So he took the instruction of Krishna and covered the private part with a langota

And when Gandhari saw, she saw that he was not fully naked, so she regretted, "O my dear son, I asked you to come before me naked. Why you have got this...?" "No, Krishna advised." Then she began to smile, that, "My attempt is failure." So Krishna knew it, that part which was covered, that was not turned iron. The other parts turned into iron on account of seeing by Gandhari. 

So in this fight Krishna hinted Bhima that, "You strike here. That part is not ironized." Although it is against the regulative principle to strike the opponent party below this waist, Krishna advised that, "Unless you transgress this law, you cannot kill him." So he was stroken below the waist, and he was not killed, but his waist was broken. Therefore it is said vrikodaraviddha-gadabhimarsa. Then he died.

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.13-14 - Vrindavana, September 12, 1976

Krishna Considers Devotion

It is described there that one brahmana - he was a great devotee - he wanted to offer very brilliant service, arcana, in the temple worship. But he had no money. But some day he was sitting in a Bhagavataclass and he heard that Krishna can be worshiped even within the mind. So he took this opportunity because he was thinking since a long time how to worship Krishna very gorgeously, but he had no money. 

So he, when he got this point, that one can worship Krishna within the mind, so after taking bath in the Godavari River, he was sitting underneath a tree and within his mind he was constructing very gorgeous simhasana, throne, bedecked with jewels and keeping the Deity on the throne, he was bathing the Deity with water of Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Narmada, Kaveri. Then he was dressing the Deity very nicely, then offering worship with flower, garland. 

Then he was cooking very nicely, and he was cooking paramanna,sweet rice. So he wanted to taste it, whether it was very hot. Because paramanna is taken cold. Paramanna is not taken very hot. So he put his finger on the paramanna and his finger burned down. Then his meditation broken, because there was nothing. Simply within his mind he was doing everything. So... But he saw that his finger is burned. So he was astonished. 

In this way, Narayana from Vaikuntha, He was smiling. Lakshmiji asked, "Why you are smiling?" "One of My devotee is worshiping like this. So send My men to bring him immediately to Vaikuntha.

So the bhakti-yoga is so nice that even if you have no means to offer the Deity gorgeous worship, you can do it within the mind. That is also possible.

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 4.28 - Bombay, April 17, 1974

Anything for Krishna’s Pleasure

So the point is that superficially it may appear sometimes against the social and religious rules and regulation, but if it is done for Krishna. Bhakti means anukulyena krishnanu-silanam [Cc Madhya 19.167]. Krishna should be satisfied. That is... It doesn't matter. Krishna should be satisfied. Just like Krishna pretended that He was sick, and many physicians came. He said, "No physician cured Me. If some devotee gives Me the dust of his feet on My head, then I can be cured." So all devotees were asked, and nobody... "Oh! How can I give? My dust on the head of Krishna? How it is possible?" Nobody prepared.

Then Krishna asked that, "Go to Vrindavana. Just ask the gopis if they can give. They are My best friends. If they are prepared? Oh, I am very much suffering from headache." So nobody was prepared to go... As soon as gopis were approached, "Oh, Krishna is sick. They want, oh, dust of...?"

Immediately, "Please take. Please take." She did not care that, "We are going to hell by offering our dust of feet on the head of Krishna. Never mind. We shall go. Krishna will be happy. That's all. Krishna will be happy." This is gopi.

It doesn't matter the whole world is going to hell, but if Krishna is satisfied, a devotee's prepared to do that. That is, that is called uttama-bhakti. Anukulyena krishnanu-silanam bhaktir uttama [Cc Madhya 19.167].

Reference: The Nectar of Devotion – Bombay, December 26, 1972

Author Knows the Best

Vedanta-sutra was compiled by Vyasadeva. He is incarnation of Krishna, Dvaipayana Vyasa. So therefore, it is compiled by His incarnation, so it is compiled by Him. Because His incarnation, He is the same. So vedanta-krit means Veda..., compiler of the Vedanta, and the compiler of the compiler of the Vedanta is vedanta-vit, one who knows Vedanta. Because I have written some book, so I know what is the purpose of writing my book. You cannot know. My purpose you cannot know. 

There is a small instructive story in this - not story, fact - in this connection. In Calcutta there was a great dramatist. He was very well known, government officer. He wrote one book, Shah Jahan. That is very famous book for theatrical play. So in that Shah Jahan, means the king, Emperor Shah Jahan. Practically, the name which is given on the book, the hero title, he's the hero. So one of the friends of Mr. D. L. Raya, he inquired from Mr. Raya that, "In your book Shah Jahan, the actual hero is Aurangzeb. Why you have given the title Shah Jahan?" He could not understand it. So I'm just trying to explain that the purpose of the book must be known to the author, not others. 

So the author replied, "My dear friend, the actual hero is Shah Jahan, not Aurangzeb." Although the Shah Jahan book is full of the activities of Aurangzeb, the fact is that Shah Jahan was the emperor. He had many, four or five sons, and his wife died, Mumtaz, at an early age. You have seen, those who have gone to India, you have seen the Taj Mahal building. That building was constructed in the memory of that Mumtaz by Shah Jahan. He spent all his money for constructing that building. So it is one of the seven wonders of the world. So that Shah Jahan lost his wife at an early age. He was very fond of his wife. 

And because, affectionate father, he did not very much chastise his sons, and he spent all his money in constructing the memory of his wife, so when the sons grew up, the third son, Aurangzeb, came out very crooked. And he made a plan how to usurp the empire. He killed his elder brother and other brothers. He arrested his father, Shah Jahan. So this is the book subject matter, Shah Jahan. So whole activities. But the author says that, "Aurangzeb is not the hero; hero is Shah Jahan." Then he explained why. "Now, because Shah Jahan was living, sitting in the Agra Fort as a prisoner, and all the reactions of Aurangzeb's activities, killing of his other sons, usurping the empire, that was beating on his heart; therefore he was suffering. He is the hero.

So this is an example. The author of a book knows very well what is the purpose of that book. That is my statement. Similarly, this Vedanta-sutra was compiled by Vyasadeva, or Krishna's incarnation, or Krishna Himself. So He knows what is Vedanta-sutra. So if you want to understand Vedanta-sutra, then you must understand Krishna.

Reference: Sunday Feast Lecture - Los Angeles, May 21, 1972

Mahabharata for the Nawab

Prabhupada : Yes, there is a nice story in this connection. There was one Gopal Ban. So he was very cunning fellow, in the Muhammadan period in Bengal. So the Muhammadan Nawab asked him, "Gopal Ban, can you prepare a Mahabharata in my name?" "Oh, yes!" So, "I'll engage so many panditas, and they will make a Mahabharata, your activities, your glories, everything. So give me one hundred thousand rupees, just begin." He was taking money, taking money, "Yes, it is going on, going on." "Then when it will be published?" "Yes, just last few days more.

"Now, sir, everything is prepared. So the one thing is, you have to give me information how many husbands you have got, your wife, huh? How many husbands your wife has got?" "That is very insulting. What, you nonsense! You take..." "No, that is the main feature of Mahabharata. Draupadi had five husbands, so how many husbands your wife has got? Tell me that." Then, "No, no, I don't want that. I am the only husband." "Then how can you write Mahabharata?[laughter] "I don't want." "All right. If you want Mahabharatayou must tell how many your wife has got husbands." That he cannot say. So Mahabharata finished.

Reference: Morning Walk - June 4, 1976, Los Angeles