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Srila Prabhupada Stories

Stories shared by Srila Prabhupada during conversations and lectures.


So a madman and an atma-rati person, self-satisfied man, outwardly, you will find there is no difference, but inwardly, oh, there is vast difference. There is a story of Jada Bharata, a brahmana boy whose name was Jada Bharata. He was formerly the emperor of this world. His name was Maharaja Bharata. And by his name now India is called Bharata-varsha. Formerly this whole planet was named as Bharata-varsha. Before that, this planet was named as Ilavrita-varsha, long, long years, millions of years before.

But Jada Bharata, he also lived atma-rati, self-satisfied. In the beginning of his spiritual life he left this world, at a very young age. When he was only twenty-four years old he left his wife, children and kingdom. It is not a joke. An emperor with beautiful young wife, small children, and palace - he left everything. There are many instances like that.

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 3.17-20 - New York, May 27, 1966

Krishna is Conquered by His Devotee

For a devotee, Krishna is within the palms of a devotee. Ajita, jito 'py asau. Although Krishna is not conquerable, but He likes to be conquered by His devotee. That is the position. Just like He willingly placed Himself to be conquered by Mother Yasoda, to be conquered by Radharani, to be conquered by His friends. Krishna became defeated, and He has to take His friend on the shoulder. Practically sometimes we see that a king keeps a joker amongst his associates, and sometimes the joker insults the king, and the king enjoys.

Just like there is a famous joker, Gopala Bon, in Bengal. So one day the king asked him, "Gopala, what is the difference between you and an ass?" So he immediately measured the distance from the king. He said, "It is three feet only, sir. The difference is only three feet." So everyone began to laugh. And the king enjoyed that insult. Because sometimes it is required.

So Krishna also... Everyone praises Him in exalted position. Everyone. That is Krishna's position - the Supreme Lord. In Vaikuntha, there is only praising. There is no such thing. But in Vrindavana, Krishna is free to accept insult from His devotee. The people do not know that, what is Vrindavana life. So devotees are so exalted. Radharani orders, "Don't allow Krishna to come here," Krishna cannot come in. He flatters the other gopis, "Please allow Me to go there." "No, no. There is no order. You cannot go." So Krishna likes that.

Reference: The Nectar of Devotion - Calcutta, January 30, 1973

Morality Means Krishna's Satisfaction

From material point of view, what is moral, that is most, I mean to say, abominable from the point of... Just like Yudhishthira Maharaja. Yudhishthira Maharaja became very moral. Krishna advised him, "Just go and tell Dronacarya that, 'Your son is dead,' " although his son was not dead. Because Dronacarya will not die. Unless he hears the news of the death of his son, he'll not die. So he would not believe anyone, but Yudhishthira Maharaja is famous, very moral. So Krishna asked him that, "You go, otherwise he'll not believe anyone." So Yudhishthira Maharaja hesitated, "How can I say lies?" So for this he had to see hell. He became immoral. Man-nimitte kritam papam punyaya eva kalpate.

So our standard of morality and immorality is to see whether Krishna is satisfied. If Krishna is satisfied, then it is morality. If Krishna is dissatisfied, then it is immoral. And Krishna's representative also. Therefore it is said, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto 'pi. Our morality is to satisfy Krishna or His representative, guru. Yasya prasada. If he's satisfied, then it is moral. If he's not satisfied, then it is immoral. Na gatih kuto 'pi.

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 2.26-27 - London, August 29, 1973

Krishna is the only Purusha

The real purusha is Krishna. And there is a nice example. When Rupa Gosvami was there in Vrindavana in his bhajana, Mirabhai went to see him. And Rupa Gosvami's message was that he does not see any woman. They were very strict. At least, the story is like... So Mira challenged that, "I came to Vrindavana. I know that only Krishna is purusha here, and everyone is woman. So how does it mean that Rupa Gosvami's declined to see another woman?" So Rupa Gosvami agreed, "Yes, I am mistaken. Yes, Krishna is the only purusha." So purusha means the enjoyer, and prakriti means the instrument of enjoyment.

Reference: Bhagavad-gita Lecture - Ahmedabad, December 8, 1972

This is Dog's Philosophy

Ta'ra madhye jihva ati lobhamoy sudurmati ta'ke jeta kathina samsare. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, "Amongst the senses, the most powerful sense is the tongue." Most powerful sense. You see? They are smoking, chain smoker, going on, going on. What is this? There is some sensation. And if we smoke cigarette or drink, it is simply the tongue. The tongue is dictating, "Do this, do that. Take this, take coffee, take tea, smoke, take flesh, take chicken, take this, take this, take..." That means that out of the all senses, the tongue is the most formidable. Therefore Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, ta'ra madhye jihva ati lobhamoy sudurmati ta'ke jeta kathina samsare. It is very difficult to conquer over the tongue. And if you can conquer over the tongue, then you can conquer over the belly, and then you can conquer over the genital. The straight line, one after another. Ta'ra madhye jihva ati.

So you know the story, that one dog was crossing over a small rivulet, and he saw the picture of another dog in the water. And actually, there was no dog. He was carrying some food in his mouth, and he saw another dog within the water. So he thought, "Let me take his foodstuff from the mouth," and as he opened the mouth, he wanted to take the other dog's foodstuff, so whatever he had, gone. You see? This is dog philosophy, "Take away." Take other's meal; he loses his own. This is called illusion, maya. You did not read this, Aesop's Fable story? It is very instructive story. This is dog's philosophy. All these so-called empire... This Roman Empire was expanded. The British Empire was expanded. Now they have lost everything. Finished. The dog's business was finished.

So this kind of expansion, unnecessarily... Therefore our philosophy is, "Be satisfied whatever God has given you.Tena tyaktena bhunjitha ma gridhah kasya svid dhanam [Iso mantra 1]. You be satisfied whatever is given to you by God, allotted to you. Don't try to encroach upon others' property. This is civilization. But man is transgressing this law, nature. They are not satisfied to become localized. They want to expand. If you want to expand, but expand something which will be beneficial to the human society. Just like we are expanding Krishna consciousness. That is required to be expanded. Because the cats and dog civilization will be controlled. But to expand the cats and dog civilization to compete with another dog is the same story, Aesop's Fable story, to capture the other dog and take his foodstuff, and then lose everything. These are very instructive.

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.4 - Rome, May 28, 1974

No Loss in Spiritual Course

Now, there is a story. It is very interesting. Visvamitra Muni, he was a great king, kshatriya, but his priest, Vasishtha Muni, he had great spiritual power. So he renounced his kingdom. He wanted to advance. He was kingly, royal order, but still, he wanted to advance in the spiritual order. So he adopted yoga process, meditation. That time it was possible for adopting this yoga process.

So he was meditating in such a way that the Indra, who was the king of heaven, he thought that, "This man is trying to occupy my post." As there is competition... Heaven means that is also material world. So this competition - no businessman wants another businessman go ahead. He wants to cut down. Competition of price, quality. Similarly, that Indra, he thought that, "This man is so strongly meditating, I may be deposed and he come to my seat." Then he arranged one of his society girls, Menaka, to go there and allure this muni.

So when Menaka approached that rishi, Visvamitra Rishi, he was meditating. And simply by the sound of her bangles, he could understand, "There is some woman." And as soon as he saw that is heavenly, celestial beauty, he was captivated. Then there was a result, Shakuntala. Perhaps some of you may know. There is a book made by Kalidasa, Shakuntala. This Shakuntala is supposed to be the most beautiful girl in the world, and she was born by this combination of Visvamitra Muni and Menaka.

So when this girl was born, then Visvamitra thought, "Oh, I was advancing in my spiritual culture, and again I have been entrapped." So he was going out. At the same time his wife, Menaka, brought this girl before her, and little child is always attractive. She showed that, "Oh, you have got such a nice girl, such beautiful girl, and you are going away? No, no. You should take care." So there is a picture, very nice. That is a very famous picture, that Menaka is showing Visvamitra Muni the girl, and the muni is like that, "No more show me." Then he went away.

So there are chances of failure. Just like a great sage like Visvamitra Muni, he also failed, failed for the time being. But Krishna says that this failure is not, I mean to say, unsuccessful. As we have sometimes the proverb that, "Failure is the pillar of success," especially in the spiritual life, this failure is not discouraging. So Krishna says that, "Even one fails in completing his spiritual course, still, there is no loss on his part."

Reference: Bhagavad-gita 6.40-43 - September 19, 1966, New York

What to Pray for?

There is a story, that one old woman in the forest... I think it is in Aesop's Fable or somewhere. So she was carrying a big bundle of dry wood, and somehow or other, the bundle fell down. It was very heavy. So the old woman became very much disturbed, "Who will help me to get this bundle on my head?" So she began to call God, "God, help me." And God came, "What you want?" "Kindly help me to get this bundle on my head." [laughter] Just see. God came to giving benediction, and she wanted to, "Give this bundle again on my head."

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.32 - Bombay, December 2, 1974

Absorption is Required

I will recite one story in this connection, that one brahmana in South India, in Ranganatha temple, he was reading Bhagavad-gita. And he was illiterate. He did not know neither Sanskrit nor any letter. Illiterate. So the people, neighborhood, they knew that, "This man is illiterate, and he is reading Bhagavad-gita." He is opening the Bhagavad-gita, "Uh, uh," like that he was. So somebody was joking, "Well, brahmana, how you are reading Bhagavad-gita?" He could understand that, "This man is joking, because I am illiterate."

So in this way, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also happened to be that day in the Ranganatha temple, and He could understand that, "Here is a devotee." So He approached him and He asked, "My dear brahmana, what you are reading?" So he could also understand that, "This man is not joking." So he said, "Sir, I am reading Bhagavad-gita. I am trying to read Bhagavad-gita, but I am illiterate. So my Guru Maharaja said that, 'You must read eighteen chapters daily.' So I have no knowledge. I cannot read. Still, Guru Maharaja said, so I am just trying to carry out his order and opening the pages, and that's all. I do not know how to read it."

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said that, "You are crying sometimes, I see." Then, "Yes, I am crying." "How you are crying if you cannot read?" "No, because when I take this Bhagavad-gita book, I see one picture, that Krishna is so kind that He has taken the chariot driver, sarathi, of Arjuna. He is His devotee. So Sri Krishna is so kind that He can accept the position of a servant because Arjuna was ordering, 'Keep my chariot here,' and Krishna was serving him. So Krishna is so kind. So when I see this picture within my mind, I am crying." So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu immediately embraced him that, "You are reading Bhagavad-gita. Without any education, you are reading Bhagavad-gita." He embraced him.

So this is... How he was seeing the picture? Because he was a lover of Krishna. It doesn't matter he could read these shlokas or not, but he was absorbed in love of Krishna, and he was seeing Krishna was sitting there, and He was driving the chariot of Arjuna. This is required, not that education.

Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.25.26 - Bombay, November 26, 1974

Here is a Rascal Number One

Therefore they are rascals. Rascal means that however kick him on his face, still, he'll insist. That is rascal. Rascal means that. They'll never take good lesson. That is rascal. And sensible means he takes good lesson. Na mam dushkritino mudhah [Bg 7.15]. And why they remain rascal? Because they are dushkritinah, very, very sinful. Very, very sinful.

Don't you see? They are maintaining slaughterhouse. They are maintaining brothel. They are ruining everyone's life by sense gratification. These are all sinful activities. Therefore they remain rascal forever. They cannot improve. Because they are so sinful, they have to suffer, go to the darkest region. They'll have to become worms of the stool. That is awaiting them. But they do not know how things are going on. They are thinking, "We are now safe. We are safe." That is foolishness. That is rascaldom.

You know the story, that Kalidasa, a great poet, he was a great rascal. It is a long story. So he was sitting on the branch of a tree and cutting. So some gentleman, "Why you are cutting? You'll fall down." "No, no, I'll not fall down." But when he fell down, then he went to that gentleman, "How did you know, sir, that I shall fall down?" Then they concluded, "Here is a rascal number one." [laughter] "Here is a rascal number one." They do not know that they are going to hell. That is rascaldom.

By their so-called scientific advancement, philosophy, education, they are going to hell. That they do not know. Therefore they are rascals. This is the definition of rascaldom: one who does not know where he is going. If somebody goes in this way straight, and you say, "Don't go!" "No. Why shall I not go?" he's rascal. [laughter] He's rascal. And the another rascal, "Yes, yes, you can go. It is all right.Yata mata tata patha. "As many ways you manufacture, it is all right. You can go this way." He's another rascal. This is going on.

Reference: Morning Walk - December 7, 1973, Los Angeles

Negative Affirmation

Prabhupada: His name was Gopal Ban. And there was a king, Krishnacandra. So the kings would relax by joking words by the jokers. That was system formerly. So Gopal Ban was constructing a house. So the king advised another friend that, "If you go to his new house and evacuate..." Because the house is not yet opened, not yet established, "then I'll give you one thousand rupees."

So this man said, "Yes, I'll go and do it." So he came to Gopal Ban's house and began to say, "Gopal Ban! Oh! I am called by nature. Kindly show me where is your privy. I have to pass." So he could understand that, "Why this man has come here to evacuate?" So he, "Yes, yes. Come in, come in, come in." So he opened the new lavatory and brought a big stick. So he said, "Why you have brought the stick?" "Yes, you can pass, you can pass stool, but if you urine one drop, I'll kill you."

So, "How it is possible?" "If it is not possible, I cannot allow." So these foolish scientific men, "You can speak, but if you use microphone, then I'll kill you." Yes. The Gopal Ban's policy. They would not say, "Not allow," but in a different way.

Reference: Room Conversation - August 11, 1973, Paris