Stories shared by Srila Prabhupada during conversations and lectures.
One must first of all be faithful (sraddadhana). One must actually be very much eager to see God. Not that one takes it as a frivolous thing - "Can you show me God?" - or as some magic. They think God is magic. No. One must be very serious and think, "Yes, I have been informed about God. So if there is a God, I must see Him."
There is a story in this connection. It is very instructive, so try to hear. One professional reciter was publicly reciting the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and he was describing that Krishna is very highly decorated with all kinds of jewels when He goes to tend the cows in the forest. So, there was a thief in that meeting, and he thought, "Why not go to Vrindavana and plunder this boy? He's in the forest with so many valuable jewels. I can go there and catch the child and take all the jewels." This was his intention. So he was serious. "I must find that boy," he thought. "Then in one night I shall become a millionaire."
The thief's qualification was his feeling: "I must see Krishna! I must see Krishna!" That anxiety, that eagerness, made it possible for him to actually see Krishna in Vrindavana. He saw Krishna in just the same way as the Bhagavatam reader had described. Then the thief said, "Oh, You are such a nice boy, Krishna." He began to flatter Him; he thought that by flattering Him he would easily take all the jewels. Then he proposed his real business: "May I take some of these ornaments? You are so rich." "No, no, no," said Krishna. "My mother will be angry! I cannot give them away." Krishna was playing just like a child.
So the thief became more and more eager for Krishna to give him the jewels, but by Krishna's association he was becoming purified. Then at last Krishna said, "All right, you can take them." Then the thief became a devotee immediately, because by Krishna's association he had been completely purified. So somehow or other you should come in contact with Krishna. Then you'll be purified.
Reference: Journey of Self-Discovery
Without God's sanction you cannot do anything, that's a fact. But what kind of sanction it is, that you have to understand. God is creator, God is giving sanction. Everything is God. Otherwise how He is God? But He has to do.
There is a story like that, that the thief is praying to God, "My Lord, give me the chance I can make some stealing in that house." And the householder also praying to God, "My Lord, please save my house, my things may not be stolen." Now God has to adjust. God has to please the thief and the householder. And both of them are prayer.
So God has so intelligence, He can do like that. He can give the sanction to the thief and He can give protection to the householder. That is God's position. Because both of them prayers, praying, "Give me the facility." And isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrid-dese 'rjuna tishthati [Bg 18.61]. And He is situated in everyone's heart, and there are so many petitions, and He has to deal with them. That is God. Hare Krishna.
Reference: Evening Darsana - August 11, 1976, Tehran
It is a fact, not story. One man, he went out of his village, and after ten years, he came back, advertised himself that, "I have become successful in yoga practice." So naturally villagers surrounded him, "Oh, you have...? What yoga practice you have learned?" "I can walk on the water." "Oh?" Actually, even at the present moment, if somebody comes and says, "I can walk...," many people will come, thousands of men.
So when everything arrangement was that he'll cross the river, walking on the water, one old man came. He said, "Sir, it is very wonderful, but it is two paisa worth. Two paisa worth." "Why?" "Now, you will walk and go the other side; I'll take a boat, pay him two paisa, I'll do the same thing. So what is your credit?"
Reference: Morning Walk - December 9, 1973, Los Angeles
Prabhupada: Yes. He had very good wife, young wife, and he became a victim to a prostitute and lost all brahminical culture. So if you create prostitute in the society, where is the hope of brahminical culture?
There is a story that a rascal, he was rich, and he was going to the prostitute. So the wife inquired that, "What is wanting in me that you are going to the prostitute?" You know that story? "No, I go there because she dances, sings." So she learned dancing. So in this way, one after another, drinking, dancing, this, that. Still he was going. The wife learned everything. Then when she said, "Now I have learned whatever you wanted. Still why you are...?" "No, one thing. I cannot express that." "What is that?" "You do not abuse my father and mother. That you cannot do." These prostitutes, they abuse the father and mother.
In Bengal it is known, rakta kedara vega.[?] They address like that. Then she said, "All right. Stop. I am no more your wife. I cannot abuse your father and mother. That is not possible. I have learned everything for your satisfaction, but I cannot learn this thing." The prostitute will not only abuse the paramour but his father, mother, family, everything, culture.
Tamala Krishna: And he enjoys it.
Prabhupada: And he enjoys: "Oh, so kindly she is abusing. It is love."
Reference: Morning Walk - January 21, 1976, Mayapur
Prabhupada: So we have explained yesterday, buddhi-yoga. Buddhi-yoga means bhakti-yoga. So, svalpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat. Bhakti-yoga, begun, some way or other, it has got great effect.
There is story that in the Deity room, a lamp was burning. You know oil lamp has to be watched. Sometimes the wick has to be pushed. So the lamp was almost going to be extinguished. In the meantime, a rat came there. He thought that it is something eatable. So he touched with mouth the wick, and it became pushed. Simply by that action he got salvation. Just try to understand. Because he gave some service to the Deity.
So there are many instances. Svalpam apy asya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat. Krishna consciousness business is so nice that whatever you do sincerely, it will never be lost.
Reference: Bhagavad-gita 2.40 - London, September 13, 1973
Indian man (2): ... political things. Two and two will always be four. But we people don't agree so far.
Prabhupada: Yes. You want five.
Indian man (2): [laughter] We want five, correct. Four to make it five.
Prabhupada: There is a story that a grocer's son was doing business, and when he was given a five rupees note, so he was giving four rupees. So the customer said, "Why you are giving me four rupees?" "No, I do not know what is the exchange." "No, it is six rupees." So, "No, father will be angry." [laughter] Means he knows perfectly well what is five rupees, but he is innocent when he was giving four rupees. And when the customer wanted six rupees, he, "No, my father will be angry." [break] ...created a havoc by misinterpreting Bhagavad-gita, all people. According to their whims, "Five rupees note means four rupees," by imagination, they have created havoc all over the world. Otherwise everything is there. Avajananti mam mudhah [Bg 9.11]. If we take Krishna's instruction, then whole world becomes immediately happy. But they will not take it. They will manufacture their own: "Two plus two equal to five" or "three," not exactly to four.
Indian man (3): So all anxiety and duhkha have been created by the man himself.
Prabhupada: Yes. They have created.
Indian man (3): Nobody else is doing for him, but he created himself.
Indian man (3): And then he said, "I am in misery. I am in trouble." Trouble is created by you. Nobody has else created.
Prabhupada: So that is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, that mind is the enemy and mind is the friend. So we created our mind, enemy or friend, and we suffer for that.
Indian man (3): Mind is very, very powerful. How to make use of that? Actually, mind is using the man; man is not using his mind.
Prabhupada: In the Bhagavata it is said, yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana sarvair gunais tatra samasate surah [SB 5.18.12]. In another line...
Harikesa: Harav abhakta?
Prabhupada: Eh? Harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna mano-rathenasato dhavato bahih [SB 5.18.12]. One who is Krishna conscious, he has got all the good qualities. Yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana sarvair gunaih: "All good qualities can be manifest." And harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-gunah: "And one who is not devotee, he has no good qualities." "Why? He is so educated." No, mano-rathena: "He is hovering over the mind." Asato dhavato bahih: "He will stick to this asat." But the Vedic injunction is asato ma sad gamaya. He cannot go to the real platform of life. Asato bahih. They do not understand that this godless civilization is the root cause of all calamities in the world. [Hindi] Kirtaniyah sada harih. Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that kirtaniyah sada harih. Twenty-four hours you have to do that. But where is twenty-four hours? You will not twenty-four minutes.
Reference: Morning Walk - January 2, 1976, Madras
Srila Prabhupada sometimes told the following story to illustrate how one may mix with nondevotees and yet keep one's devotional integrity:
Once a crocodile invited a monkey in a tree to come and ride on his back. The foolish monkey jumped down from the tree and soon found himself clinging to the crocodile's back in the middle of the river.
The monkey asked the crocodile, "Where are we going?"
The crocodile replied, "I'm going to take you home, where my wife will cut out your heart and we will eat it for lunch!"
The monkey replied, "But I left my heart back on shore in the tree. Will you please let me get it?"
The crocodile thought this was a good proposal and allowed the monkey to touch shore. But the monkey jumped into his tree and refused to accept further invitations from the crocodile.
The moral of this story: You may associate with the nondevotee, but don't give him your heart.
Reference: Narada-bhakti-sutra 45 purport
Nava-yauvana: Their reason, they say, is because we have to work so hard all day, then we have to try to forget, watch the television.
Prabhupada: Why should you work? If you have to forget, why should you take such nonsense things that you have to forget again? Why not chant Hare Krishna? Even the child does not forget. He's chanting. Take such things that you'll enjoy. The more you do not forget, you more enjoy. Why should you take up something that you have to forget? This is rascal.
Nava-yauvana: Karmis cannot understand.
Prabhupada: There is a story like this. A man is sitting. His friend came, "Why you are sitting idly?" "What shall I do?" "Work." "Why shall I work?" "You'll get money." "What shall I do with the money?" "Then you'll be able to sit peacefully and eat." "I'm doing that. I'm already doing that." I'm peacefully sitting and eating. Why shall I go and work? If that is the ultimate end, that I shall peacefully sit down and eat, I am doing that. Why shall I go and work?
Reference: Morning Walk - August 12, 1976, Tehran
Kaunteya pratijanihi. Pratijanihi: "My dear Arjuna, you can declare this to the world. You declare." Why Krishna is not declaring? Krishna is declaring through His devotee, because Krishna has a promise that, "I shall protect My devotee." If a promise is there by the devotee, that cannot be violated. Krishna can... Because He is God, He can violate His own promise because He is supreme. But He wants to protect His devotee; therefore He is trying to give the declaration through His devotee that, "It will be protected."
I will give you one example how Krishna sometimes breaks His promise. It is very nice story. Krishna, when He joined Arjuna, He promised from His own side that, "Because the fight is between your brothers, so it is not My duty... Because both of you are My relatives, so it is not My duty to join one party and not to join another. But because I have divided Myself - Myself one side, and other side, My soldiers - but Duryodhana has decided to take My soldiers, not Me, so I shall join you. But I shall not fight. I shall not fight. I may take some work which may assist you." So Arjuna offered, "Whatever work You like, You can take." So He said, "All right. I shall drive your chariot."
So Krishna's promise was that He will not fight. But at a time when Arjuna was perplexed by fighting with Bhishma... Bhishma was the greatest fighter, although he was very old man. Duryodhana incited him that, "Because the other side are your very pet grandsons, you are not fighting fully." That was the complaint of Duryodhana. So in order to encourage him, Bhishma said to Duryodhana, "All right, tomorrow I shall finish all these five brothers. Tomorrow I shall finish. And I have got now special arrows for killing these five chivalrous brothers."
So Duryodhana was very intelligent. He told, "All right, please keep these five arrows with me for the night. I shall deliver you tomorrow in the morning." "All right, you take it." And Krishna understood. Krishna is, everything knows, past, present and future. Krishna knew it that, "Bhishma has now promised. He will kill." So He asked Arjuna - this is also politics - that, "You go to Duryodhana. Do you remember that Duryodhana" - Duryodhana is elderly than Arjuna - "that he would keep some promise which he has offered to you?" Duryodhana told him, "Arjuna, whenever you want something, I shall give you." "Now this is the time. You can go." "And what is that?" "Now, he has got five arrows for killing you. You should take and come to Me."
So after fight, they were friends. So Arjuna went to the camp of Duryodhana, and he was well received. "Well, Arjuna, come on. What do you want? Come on. Sit down. Do you want anything from me? If you want, I can stop this fight. I can return you this..." Arjuna said, "No. I have not come to you for begging my kingdom. Fighting will go on. But I want... You promised something." "Yes. I know. I offer you. What do you want?" "Now, I want those five arrows." At once he delivered.
And this information was carried to, I mean to say, Bhishma. Bhishma knew that, "Krishna is very cunning also. He will save His devotee. So He has done this. All right, in spite of Krishna... He has broken my promise, and tomorrow I shall see. If Krishna does not break His promise, then His friend will be killed. I will fight in such a way." So he was fighting in such a way that Arjuna became almost dead. Then at that time, Krishna... The chariot was torn into pieces, and Arjuna fell down. And then Krishna took up one of the wheel of the chariot and came before: "Now, Bhishma, you stop this fighting; otherwise I will kill you." Bhishma at once gave up his arrow, and he offered, "All right. Kill me."
So thing is that because Bhishma promised that, "I shall kill Arjuna tomorrow," and Krishna also promised not to fight, just to save these two devotees, Arjuna and Bhishma - Bhishma also was a great devotee - just to show him that, "I am breaking My promise. Please stop..." He wanted that, "Either I shall break My promise or you shall kill Arjuna. So better see that I have broken My promise." So in this way, sometimes, for devotee, He sometimes breaks His own promise.
Reference: Bhagavad-gita 9.29-32 - New York, December 21, 1966
In the Western countries also fair takes place, some in county, some village place. So in India there are weekly bazaar, which is called hatta. So at that time the salesmen with their goods, commodities, they assemble, and many purchasers, just like in marketplace. So there was a market, weekly market, and thousands of people assembled there. So one old lady of that village, she began to cry. Then her elderly son inquired, "Mother, why you are crying?" "Now, where shall I accommodate all these people to lie down at night? There are so many people in this village, and how I shall accommodate?"
The son began to laugh. "My dear mother, you don't bother. It will be all arranged." "No, my dear son, I am very much perplexed." So she began to cry. So in the evening the son called the mother, "Mother, now you see in the marketplace." She saw, "Oh, where are all those people gone? Huh?" So there is arrangement. All those thousands of people assembled in the market, they have got their sleeping place. They have got their eating place. So by arrangement. There is arrangement. Similarly, there may be millions and millions of living entities - God has arrangement.
Reference: Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1 - San Francisco, March 6, 1968