Chanakya Pandit asks, "Who is happy?" He answers, "The man who does not work away from home and who is not a debtor—he is happy."
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das
[Posted March 8, 2007]

Habituated to Unnecessary Things

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

credit cards Srila Prabhupada - March 8, 2007 - Congress Takes Aim At Credit Card Policies
Lawmakers Threaten Legislation If Industry Doesn't Voluntarily Curb "Sky-High" Interest Rates And Fees

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd and other Democratic senators challenged credit card executives at a hearing in January over rising late fees and other penalties and marketing practices they portrayed as predatory. Dodd, D-Conn., said he was putting the industry on notice that if it doesn't improve practices on its own, legislation may be warranted.

Since Democrats assumed control of Congress in January, they have put a number of consumer issues on the legislative agenda. With Americans weighed down by some $850 billion in consumer debt, the practices of the robustly profitable credit card industry are a compelling subject for scrutiny.

Citigroup, the nation's largest financial institution, announced last week that it was eliminating the practice of so-called universal default — raising interest rates for card customers because of their failure to pay other creditors on time. In addition, Citigroup said it would eliminate some types of interest rate increases that have been criticized.
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Got money, now what?
excerpt from Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6, Rome, May 24, 1974

Making Money

Can't Get No Satisfaction A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

So much human energy is being diverted to making money, for the general population has increased its capacity to make more and more dollars, but in the long run the result is that this unrestricted and unlawful monetary inflation has created a bad economy all over the world... more
nashta-prayeshv abhadreshu
nityam bhagavata-sevaya
bhagavaty uttama-shloke
bhaktir bhavati naishthiki

"By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact. —Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.18

Here is the remedy for eliminating all inauspicious things within the heart, which are considered to be obstacles in the path of self-realization. The remedy is the association of the Bhagavatas. There are two types of Bhagavatas, namely the book Bhagavata and the devotee Bhagavata. Both the Bhagavatas are competent remedies, and both of them or either of them can be good enough to eliminate the obstacles. A devotee Bhagavata is as good as the book Bhagavata because the devotee Bhagavata leads his life in terms of the book Bhagavata and the book Bhagavata is full of information about the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees, who are also Bhagavatas. Bhagavata book and person are identical.

The devotee Bhagavata is a direct representative of Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead. So by pleasing the devotee Bhagavata one can receive the benefit of the book Bhagavata. Human reason fails to understand how by serving the devotee Bhagavata or the book Bhagavata one gets gradual promotion on the path of devotion. But actually these are facts explained by Srila Naradadeva, who happened to be a maidservant's son in his previous life. The maidservant was engaged in the menial service of the sages, and thus he also came into contact with them. And simply by associating with them and accepting the remnants of food left by the sages, the son of the maidservant got the chance to become the great devotee and personality Srila Naradadeva. These are the miraculous effects of the association of Bhagavatas. And to understand these effects practically, it should be noted that by such sincere association of the Bhagavatas one is sure to receive transcendental knowledge very easily, with the result that one becomes fixed in the devotional service of the Lord. The more progress is made in devotional service under the guidance of the Bhagavatas, the more one becomes fixed in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The messages of the book Bhagavata, therefore, have to be received from the devotee Bhagavata, and the combination of these two Bhagavatas will help the neophyte devotee to make progress on and on.

Generally, people do not understand the need for making spiritual progress and cleansing the heart of all dirty things (abhadrani). Material life means dirty life, uncivilized life, yet people think that having nice clothes and a nice apartment and a nicely washed body means they are civilized. They do not know how the contamination within their hearts has attacked them.

In the name of civilization, people have created so many unnecessary things, called anarthas. For example, thousands of years ago, in the Vedic age, when there was no so-called advancement of civilization, people used to eat from utensils made of silver or gold, or at least some kind of metal. Now people are using plastic, yet they are still proud of their advanced civilization. Actually, the plastic utensils are unnecessary. Another example: two hundred years ago in India there was no industry, but people were so happy. They did not have to travel two hundred miles or five hundred miles away from home to earn their livelihood. In Europe and America I have seen that some people are daily flying by airplane to the place where they earn their livelihood. From Toronto they are flying to Montreal—almost five hundred miles. Nearly everyone has to travel at least fifty miles. In New York many people come from a distant place on Long Island, cross the river, and then take a bus to reach their place of employment. All this travel is simply unnecessary.

Chanakya Pandit asks, "Who is happy?" He answers, "The man who does not work away from home and who is not a debtor—he is happy." Very simple. Yet now we see that practically everyone works away from home and everyone is a great debtor. So how can they be happy? In America the banks canvass, "Borrow money from us, purchase a motorcar, purchase a house, and as soon as you get your salary, give it to us." Or they offer, "Take this bank card." It should be known as a bankrupt card. If you take the card and deposit your money in the bank, then you can purchase whatever you like with the card. But soon you are without any money, and all you have left is that card.

So, all these anarthas can immediately be finished if you take up the process of Krishna consciousness, or bhakti-yoga: anarthopashamam sakshad bhakti-yogam adhokshaje [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.6]. A good example is our students in the Krishna consciousness movement. Many are from America or Europe, and they knew very well how to increase anarthas. But as soon as they joined our Society they no longer had to pay the cinema bill, the gambling bill, and so many other bills. Even the medical bills were decreased almost to nil. Does a person die without smoking? No. It is an anartha. One becomes habituated to smoking due to bad association: sangat sanjayate kamah. Because of bad association one learns how to smoke, how to gamble, how to eat meat, and how to take intoxicants. In America the government is spending millions of dollars to stop this intoxication habit among the young people. But the government does not know how to stop it. Here is the remedy: Krishna consciousness. It is practical. Anyone who seriously takes up the process of Krishna consciousness can immediately give up all bad habits, including intoxication. But still the government will not patronize the Krishna consciousness movement. They'd rather spend lavishly on some useless program.

Because the modern people do not know how to get out of the clutches of all these unnecessary things, the learned Srila Vyasadeva wrote the Srimad-Bhagavatam: lokasyajanato vidvamsh chakre satvata-samhitam. Take shelter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and you will perfectly learn how to diminish your unnecessary things. The simple process is given in the previous verse (SB 1.2.17):

shrinvatam sva-kathah krishnah punya-shravana-kirtanah
hridy antah-stho hy abhadrani vidhunoti suhrit satam

If you simply hear about Krishna from the Srimad-Bhagavatam or the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna Himself will cleanse away your anarthas. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna is directly speaking about Himself. But don't misinterpret His words. Simply hear them as Arjuna did. Someone may say, "Arjuna heard the Bhagavad-gita directly from Krishna, but now Krishna is absent. So how can we hear it as Arjuna did?" Because Krishna is absolute, He is nondifferent from His words. So if you read the Bhagavad-gita as it is, receiving it through disciplic succession, then your reading is as good as Arjuna's hearing directly from Krishna. But if you give your own interpretation of the Bhagavad-gita, or hear the interpretation of a nondevotee, you'll remain a rascal.

Sanatana Gosvami has forbidden us to hear about Krishna from nondevotees:

avaishnava-mukhodgirnam putam hari-kathamritam
shravanam naiva kartavyam sarpocchishtam yatha payah

"One should not hear anything about Krishna from a non-Vaishnava. Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects; similarly, talks about Krishna given by a non-Vaishnava are also poisonous." Sometimes, in India, people who do not follow the principles of Vaishnava behavior become professional reciters of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and hold seven-day public readings, called bhagavata-saptaha. Such hearing of Srimad-Bhagavatam is forbidden. The present verse recommends nityam bhagavata-sevaya, "regular hearing of the Bhagavatam," not saptaham bhagavata-sevaya, "one-week's hearing of the Bhagavatam." Is the Bhagavatam such a thing that you can understand everything just by hearing it for one week? You will not understand one word by reading the Bhagavatam for only a week, what to speak of all eighteen thousand verses. The whole of Vedic knowledge is contained in the Bhagavatam (nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam [SB 1.1.3]), so what will you understand by only a week's reading?

The real prescription is given here: nityam bhagavata-sevaya. Every day you should hear the Bhagavatam, and at every moment you should remember the Bhagavatam. Then nashta-prayeshv abhadreshu: [SB 1.2.18] the dirty things in your heart will be eradicated. This is the essence of the Krishna consciousness movement—to provide you with an opportunity to hear about Krishna patiently so that the dirty things within your heart will be cleansed away. What those dirty things are will be mentioned in the next verse: lust, greed, and other effects of the modes of passion and ignorance (rajas-tamo-bhavah [SB 1.2.19]).

Habituated to Unnecessary Things/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2007 - Hansadutta das
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