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Srila Prabhupada Stories

Stories shared by Srila Prabhupada during conversations and lectures.

Dr. Frog Philosophy

Dr. Frog, that the story of Dr. Frog. Dr. Frog is trying to understand Atlantic Ocean comparing with his three-feet well, that's all. When he is informed that there is Atlantic Ocean, he's simply comparing with his limited space, "It may be four feet," or, "It may be five feet," "It may be ten feet," because he is within the three feet.

His friend informed, "Oh, I have seen a reservoir of water, vast water." So that vastness, he is just conjecturing, "How much the vastness may be? My well is three feet; it may be four feet, five feet," now he is going on. But he may go on millions of millions of feet, it is still, it is greater. That he does not know.

Therefore, atheistic persons, demons, they think in their own way that, "God, Krishna, may be like this, Krishna may be like this, Krishna may be like this." Generally they think that, "Krishna are I." How they say? "Krishna is not great." They do not believe that God is great. He thinks that, "God is as good as I am. I am also God." This is demonic.

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.7.30-31 - Mombasa, September 12, 1971

Don't bite, but do not forget to expand your hood

There is a short story in this connection about a snake who became a devotee upon instruction by Narada, who instructed him not to bite anymore. Since ordinarily a snake's business is to fatally bite other living entities, as a devotee he was forbidden to do so. Unfortunately, people took advantage of this nonviolence on the part of the snake, especially the children, who began to throw stones at him. He did not bite anyone, however, because it was the instruction of his spiritual master.

After a while, when the snake met his spiritual master, Narada, he complained, "I have given up the bad habit of biting innocent living entities, but they are mistreating me by throwing stones at me." Upon hearing this, Narada Muni instructed him, "Don't bite, but do not forget to expand your hood as if you were going to bite. Then they will go away." Similarly, a devotee is always nonviolent; he is qualified with all good characteristics. But, in the common world, when there is mischief made by others, he should not forget to become angry, at least for the time being, in order to drive away the miscreants.

Reference: Srimad Bhagavatam 4.11.31 Purport

Beyond Patram, Pushpam...

Whenever Krishna wants some service from you or begs something from you, it does not mean that He is in need of it. He is not in need of it. But He is in need of your love because you have forgotten how to love God, how to love Krishna. That He is practiced.

There is a story that some sannyasi went to a householder, because a sannyasi goes to householder for begging. They are begging also like that. They are not beggars, but they introduce as beggar so that the householder may receive and take some advantage of his knowledge. He is not beggar. So one beggar went to a householder, and the housewife said, "Oh, this beggar has come from door to door. Give him some ashes." So the sannyasi replied, "All right. Give me some ashes. Just begin your charity." Just begin your charity.

So similarly, Krishna, when He wants, "Give Me a little flower, a little fruit, a little water," it does not mean that He is begging. He is just inducing me to the practice of offering everything which belongs to Krishna.

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.11 - Montreal, August 17, 1968

Virtue of Satisfaction

Prabhupada: It is a question of culture. Culture. She was king's daughter, royal, and married her with a muni, and old, rotten - older than me. All the skin has become slackened. But still she was serving him just like worshipable lord. The age difference is great-grandfather and great-granddaughter. You'll find in Bhagavatam.

Lord Siva, he could not construct even a house. He was living underneath a tree. And his wife, Durga, srishti-sthiti-pralaya-sadhana-saktir eka [Bs 5.44]. She can create a new world, so powerful, Durga. She's living with her husband underneath a tree. Never claims, "My dear husband, if you cannot, I can make one." There is a story about that, "People criticize us. All right, let us have some house." So Lord Siva, Durga, both of them capable to do anything. So they constructed a very nice gold house. "Now we shall live." So there is new house entering ceremony. So one Gargamuni was invited as brahmana. Many other brahmanas.

So they began to eat so much. Then whatever stock they have finished, then when after eating, when they wanted, "Give us dakshina," because after eating there is... So Lord Siva, "Where shall I get everything? I have finished." Then they became puzzled what to do. So Lord Siva said, "All right, you take this house." Again they became underneath a tree. [laughs] "All right, as dakshina you take this house. Don't bother." Their house entrance ceremony was there. As a result of that ceremony they became again underneath a tree.

Reference: Room Conversation - September 9, 1976, Vrindavana

Affection Controls Krishna

To approach a guru means just to beg from him Krishna. Krishna sei tomara. Because Krishna is devotee's Krishna. Krishna is the master, but who can control Krishna? His devotee. Krishna is the supreme controller, but He is controlled by devotee. That is, Krishna is bhakti-vatsala. Just like a big father, a high-court judge and...

There is a story that the prime minister Gladstone, somebody came to see him. And the Mr. Gladstone informed that, "Wait. I am busy." So he was waiting for hours, then he became inquisitive, "What this gentleman is doing?" So he wanted to see within that he had become a horse, and taking his child on the back side. That business he was doing. You see? The Prime Minister, he is controlling the British Empire, but he is controlled by a child out of affection. This is called affection.

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.52 - Detroit, August 5, 1975

Intelligence is Power

It is mentioned that the spiritual world is just manifestation of cit-sakti, and this material world is creation of material energy or karma-sanga, where everyone has to work. Without work, it is said, na hi suptasya simhasya pravisanti mukhe mrigah. That is very nice example. In the forest the lion is supposed to be the mightiest animal, and he is sometimes called the king of the animals, pasu-raja. So in one place it is said that even the lion, who is the king of the forest, if he sleeps and he thinks that animals will come and enter in his mouth, that is not possible. He has to also find out how to eat. Na hi suptasya simhasya pravisanti mukhe mrigah. The lion is so powerful, but he cannot also dictate.

So there is another story, buddhir yasya balam tasya / nirbuddhes tu kuto balam / pasya simho madonmattah / sasa kena nipatitah, that a lion was killed by a rabbit. Sasakena nipatitah. Why? Now, buddhir yasya balam tasya: "One who has got intelligence, he has got power." A lion is very mighty, ferocious animal, and a sasaka, an ordinary rabbit, he killed a lion. How? Now, the lion was disturbing all animals, so all the animals held a meeting and called the lion: "Sir, you do not try to kill us all, hunting after everyone. We shall go voluntarily every day, one of us. So you don't create disturbance. Let us become peaceful." So lion agreed, "All right, if you voluntarily come, I will sleep, and if you enter in my mouth..." So this was the agreement.

Then there was the turn of one rabbit. So he planned something. He went to the lion a little late. So lion was very angry that, "Why you have come late? I am hungry, and you did not come." [laughter] So the rabbit said, "Sir, there was a danger in the way." "What is that?" "There is another lion, and he wanted to kill me and eat, so I protested, 'No, sir, you cannot kill me. [laughter] I am destined to be killed by such and such lion, so you cannot do it.'" So he was very much pleased: "Where is that lion?" "Yes. Please come. I will show you." So he took him near one well. The rabbit said, "He is living within this." [laughter] The lion immediately... "Come on. Make a how!" So there was vibration, still higher sound, and he saw his photo, yes, shadow. So he thought it, "Yes, there is a lion." Immediately jumped over him. [devotees laugh] Finished. So how the lion was killed by the rabbit? Now, buddhir yasya balam tasya: "One who has got intelligence, he has got power."

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.1.44 - Los Angeles, June 10, 1976

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