When opulences are disqualifications for devotion, why does ISKCON preach to the opulent?

by Chaitanya CharanAugust 10, 2014

From Mahesh P

“SB 1.8.26 — My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.”

We mainly focus preaching on reputed colleges where most of students possess most or all of these material opulence. So if we go by SB 1.8.26, reputed colleges are not conducive to preaching. Could you please clarify, prabhuji?

Answer Podcast

Transcribed by:  Geetanjali Nath

Question: From Mahesh Prabhu, Kunti Maharani says that , “………….” that birth, wealth, intelligence,and beauty, these oppulances, make people unlikely to take to devotion and yet we see that ISKCON preaches to people who have oppulances. Preaching in engineering colleges where most students have these oppulances. So why is it like this ?

Answer:   Kunti Maharani , if we see the , she is talking about a obstacle to devotion, she is not talking about something that is a permanent stopper of devotion. It is possible obstacle and she is cautioning about that. Now if say that Kunti maharani is saying that these are obstacles for devotion, but then we see that she had almost all these things. Janma – she was born in a very lusterious family, she was actually part of the Yadu dynasty itself in which Krishna was born. In some ways  shw was connected with Krishna. Now Vasudeva was her brother, she had  Janma, and Aishwarya – now she was born in a wealthy family and married in Kuru dynasty which was also wealthy. Shuta – now was she learned ? yes she herself was learner, phenomenal learned in fact, that’s how she is considered such a great person that her teaching comes in Srimad Bhagavatam. and was she beautiful ?? yes she was gorgeously beautiful . She was princes and was married to a prince. and so now she had all these opulence, now did that  stop her from practicing devotion. No not at all, she did practice e devotion in spite of that. but she is speaking these prayers at a particular situation, and what is that situation, she is saying that Krishna, when we were in the forest , in the danger, you are with us. Now when the danger is going and you are going, so better let the danger be there and you will also be there with us. So she saying that now comforts have come , now these may become imputes for us for not to take shelter of you. therefore she is simply pointing out that how a devotee cherishes the shelter of Krishna over and above everything else, and she does pray that let the calamity come again and again, but she is not simply a sadist or masochist, sadist is one who causes pain to others, masochist is one who causes pain to oneself, she is not a masochistic who want to endure suffering unnecessarily. No the purpose is that by enduring, when suffering comes Krishna comes to the devotees, and what a devotee wants is the presence and the proximity of Krishna. So the whole prayer is essentially to show how we should not let material prosperity come at the cost of proximity to |Krishna. Sp that does not mean that we should never have material prosperity or material opulence in any way. we see that Kunti and her son Yudhister maharaj did become kings and they did live in kingly opulence, but then they used it for the service of the |Lord , for establishing dharma and doing all round good. material and spiritual welfare for all of society. So the point is that these are possible obstacles, and we should not let these stop us in our practice of bhakti. but its not that they have a permanently irreversibly stop us from practice of bhakti, so now with respect to ISKCON out reaching colleges. its not that ISKCON does only to engineers there are doctors also, and there are other places where devotees are preaching to other faculty. but yes even if ISKON is preaching to engineers many of intelligent students become engineers now a days, and they have the opulence of learning, they have many of these opulence, and if they have these opulence then they can use these in the Krishna’s service, They will become influential in society, they use their intelligence, their position, use their diligence hard working nature. So what ever opulence they have, they can use it in Krishna’s service, and those people who have opulence can do far greater service to Krishna then those people who do  not have opulence. Why ? because those opulence are the source of influence in others. Now if people have wealth, then they can influence others, and if people have intelligence, then hey can pursue and influence others, so that’s why those with influence, of any sort, and influence comes from opulence, they are the people who can influence society, and that’s why reaching out to them is important. So now it does happen sometimes that, some students who are too infatuated by say, wealth, or things like that the only goal of going to engineering college is to go to America and earn a lot of money over there. Then they will not become interested in Krishna, in that case this wealth is an obstacle for them, but  wealth in itself in not always an obstacle. because Krishna also says in sixth chapter in Bhagavad Gita when He is talking about the yogi who is fallen away, so he says in 6:41  śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe, yoga-bhraṣṭo ’bhijāyate, Srimatam – the yogi who is deveated and is not successsfull in this life, is born in the next life in the wealthy family, Why in wealthy family, because if he is born in the wealthy family then he does not have to struggle much for the bodily maintenance, and then the mental energy and the time is available for higher spiritual persuits, so that means Krishna also points out that wealth can be favorable for the practice of bhakti, for the practice of spiritual life. So, opulence because they can be used as sources of influence for change of society for the better, devotees focus on sharing Krishna consciousness with those people who have these opulence.Thank you.

Hare Krishna.

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Chaitanya Charan

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