How can we dedicate more of our wealth and time to serve Krishna when those are needed for our family responsibilities?

by Chaitanya CharanJanuary 21, 2024

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Transcription
Question: How can we dedicate more of our Lakshmi __ for the service of Krishna or time or resources in general when we also need them, we have a family to take care of and we have our responsibilities?

Answer: First thing is that we needn’t bifurcate Bhakti like this, that taking care of family is mundane and serving Krishna is spiritual. Taking care of our family is also a part of our service to Krishna. There is direct service and there is indirect service.

So, in 12.8-12 in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives multiple levels at which we can practice Bhakti. So, 12.8 is just absorb yourself in me and live in me, Krishna says. 12.9, he says if you can’t do that, then just try to fix your mind on me. 12.10, he says that if you can’t do that, then work for me, and the acharyas have explained that working for me can be at two levels. One is that you work directly, do some voluntary service for Krishna, and then indirectly we work and offer the fruits of our work to Krishna. So that could mean giving charity, that could mean, that could also include, Krishna says, sva-karmana tam abhyarchya. Even our work itself we can do in a mode of service to Krishna, taking care of family. We see them not just as our family but as Krishna’s children or Krishna’s parts in our care and then we serve them by executing our responsibilities diligently.

Of course, Krishna also says that we should strive to rise to a higher level of service as much as possible. That means we try to become spontaneously absorbed in him. So, definitely if we can spend more time and energy and resources in directly serving Krishna, that is better. But it is not that only that is service and this is not service. Everything that we do can be redefined in the mode of service to Krishna and that is essentially Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness does not mean or rather having faith in Krishna does not mean giving up our intelligence. God has given us our intelligence so that we can use it in His service, and faith means going in the direction of the intelligence and being ready to go further also. It is not going in a direction opposite to that of intelligence. That means just like in our professional career, if we are in business or we are starting some enterprise, then we take calculated risks. So, we are using our intelligence and we feel this risk is worthwhile. It is worth taking, it is a reasonable risk. Some people go slightly beyond that and nobody can be foolhardy…I mean just taking risks without any thinking at all. So, in some ways, Bhakti is also like taking calculated risk.

When Srila Prabhupada went to America, it was an extraordinary act of faith. At the age of 70, with no money, with no contacts, no institutional support, to go all the way to America was an extraordinary act of courage which arose from faith. But it was not just faith that was rashness, that was not recklessness. Prabhupada knew that his Guru Maharaj wanted outreach outside India to happen and his Guru Maharaj had sent his disciples to UK, but that was before the First World War or Second World War, and after the Second World War, UK’s fortune went down, America’s fortune went up substantially. So, Prabhupada used his intelligence to decide to go to America instead of UK. Prabhupada also felt that it seems my Godbrothers have tried in UK, that has not worked, so let me try somewhere else. So, we also use our intelligence. Just like if you are going to swim in water, we first put a little bit of water and see how cold it is and how much we can tolerate the cold and then we decide whether to go in more or not. So, we can take small incremental steps.

So, generally, love is seen in two ways: Love is seen by what we give for our beloved and second is what we give up for our beloved. Parents may want to offer the best education to their children and now that’s what we want to give to the beloved. But then if that means that to be with the child where the best school is, the parents have to take up a job which is not paying that well, then we take that up. But what we give and what we give up, both are important and same applies in our relationship with Krishna also. So, definitely our devotion is seen through a certain level of sacrifice that we do in Krishna’s service, but when we are doing that sacrifice, that does not mean that we just abandon or reject our intelligence. It’s that we see even our intelligence as Krishna’s gift to us and then we understand that sometimes we can’t understand Krishna’s plan.

So, sometimes if we get a direct instruction from the spiritual master to do a particular thing, then even if that doesn’t make sense, we may decide at that time to do it. But in general, even the spiritual master’s instructions are given in such a way that they make sense to us. Krishna would simply have told Arjuna, just fight. I am God. Obey me. Fight. Krishna spoke all the 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita because he was not just forcing Arjuna to have faith or forcing Arjuna to reject his intelligence in the name of obedience and faith. Krishna wanted to persuade Arjuna ___(6:30). So, we can take inspiration from other devotees who are sacrificing a lot for Krishna’s service and then we can sacrifice according to our capacity.

End of transcription.

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Chaitanya Charan

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