Will ISKCON help us if we become poor following the devotional life taught by them?
A devotee asked like this:
“Prabhu, please do not be offended by my questions. But I do see some paralells with your story. Also, you then say that after contacting ISKCON, you will see that in the end only a handful of devotees will stay.
Thus you advice (correctlty!) that one must take care of studies and be prepared for the material life, all the while also performing devotional service to the best of ones ability.
Prabhu, I am posting the following:
Yes, you have dedicated a lot of time to help devotee who has problems. It affected your business. Shouldn’t ISKCON have helped you then? You should have the basic needs (prasadam en shelter as well as some seva in an ashram) and you should have continued with e-advicing devotees over the internet? Is this not so Prabhu?
Also, when you advice devotees to keep working in cities, and donate to ISKCON, where is then the progress of the mission of Srila Rupa Gosvami? There are so many stories about Srila Prabhupada, when he said, become self-reliant. Do not rely on money and the economy. Isn’t this so Prabhu?”
Ha Ha. Very interesting question.
First, all the visitors to ISKCON can not continue there because the standard of their instructions is high without a compromise. So, all the visitors would not like to continue in a fear whether they will become a sanyasi. However, those who wish to practice devotional way of life will stay there. That is why, we can’t see a crowd as seen in some popular temples that do not teach the scriptures but encourage devotion with expectation. ISKCON never says that you will get this much of material benefits if you follow their teachings. This is the speciality of this sathsangha that makes me stay there for decades.
I never said that my company was affected because of devotional services. I said that it was affected because I failed to balance my devotional services and my business. This is the fact.
It was my mistake only. I was thinking that the devotees will be upset if they do not see my posts on any day. So, I took pains voluntarily and tried to satisfy them.
But, when it comes to money, I did not get sufficient support that showed that what I was thinking earlier was not so. Out of more than a lakh devotees, only a few came forward to support this service financially though I have given payment gateways for making payments without giving their identity like address, phone number, etc. Only because of these few devotees, the expenses are met atleast partially and hence this service is running.
Even in ISKCON temples, only a few devotees support the expenses of all the devotees. When we support a devotional service to hundreds or thousands of devotees, it is very auspicious and invite the blessings of Krishna and our earning is also purified from karma. You financially help to clear the darkness of thousands of devotees.
Seeing the actual trend in our services as well as temples, I started to feel that one should not depend on devotional service alone for managing himself and his services. He has to work, earn and also perform devotional service.
I learnt that in our life, we should allocate time for everything. Out of 24 hours, Srila Prabhupada recommended just two hours of devotional practices like chanting and worshiping. He did not recommend 24 hours practice.
Similarly, I too should have restricted my time for this service just for one hour every day. About 5 years ago, I announced break once a week on sundays. But, since the devotees expected daily posts because I had practiced them so, I could not escape and had to spend 4 hours daily. Preparing every post after thinking of all relevant points require more than two hours. Checking the messages through different options and taking down all of them in the file takes 20-25 minutes daily. Then, posting every reply/ article with suitable links take more than 30 minutes. Then, posting in the social media takes another 15-20 minutes. After that, following the site’s availability, comments, replying them, etc, takes a few minutes throughout the day.
Thus, e-preaching is not easy to manage if we like to do it with a pattern properly. I should not have practiced this pattern of daily posts, and I should post whenever I finish an article in free time. I did not cultivate the devotees so. Hence, I am caught for many hours daily in this service.
This severely impacted my consciousness positively towards spiritual consciousness. Though I am happy over it, I forgot my personal life. Day by day, I was reducing my time in my business and hence suffered severe setback. My savings were withdrawn and still I could not come out of this service since I did not wish to stop this service to the devotees of Krishna that may make me guilty.
Here, I should point out an important thing. I have read Bhagavad Gita’s 18th chapter again and again. Krishna repeatedly says that one should perform his duties assigned to him according to his nature. So, I should have given proper concentration in my business. Because of over-enthusiasm, I have been involved in this service allowing my business to decline without balancing my time for business and preaching.
It was my mistake only. How can ISKCON be responsible and support me for my fault of not balancing my business and preaching properly? If I go to them and request for a full time service in the temple, they may give and feed me. Or, If I join their online team, they may accept me. They may feed me till I am able to work. What else they can do? Will they keep me when I become bed ridden? Practically, it is not possible. We should make our own arrangements for our last hours.
So, managing his personal life and career is the responsibility of every devotee. We should make all arrangements for managing our last periods of life also. We should not depend on any organization for our maintenance of last period. It won’t happen. We will be on road side if we do not act wisely. We should have some optimum level of savings. You need not save for many generations. But, you can save atleast for your last period. This is not wrong.
Of course, our media has grown beyond my forecast. I did not expect this much of big group of loyal readers. I just casually started this service to use my free time of few minutes daily. Since it grew beyond expectations, I found it difficult to manage my business. It was a practical difficulty.
If I get a good revenue through my service, I can appoint staff for salary and manage this e-preaching directly with me. Atleast, I can do only the writing of contents and ask them to post and manage. It is not possible now.
That is why, I am crying in my media to the devotees to concentrate in their studies, career and family for 22 hours and follow devotional practices in the remaining two hours. Never do e-preaching unless you have a group of humble devotees to manage them. Even if you feed Krishna Consciousness to atleast two of your family and friends, it will be good.
Of course, I have hundreds of testimonies to prove that hundreds of devotees have taken Krishna Consciousness because of this service. As in August 2018, we have given more than 2000 counselling so far to the people with different problems in devotion and personal life. Though my personal and professional life faced a set back, I firmly believe that Krishna would have been pleased with this service because my writings have reformed hundreds of followers of our media.
Krishna does not give material comforts for all. If He chooses a devotee to keep closely with Him, He makes that devotee’s material life poor that makes that devotee to aim to go out of this painful material life. If Krishna allows more problems to attack a devotee, that means, He is taking steps to make that devotee go back to Him as early as possible. Otherwise, he will not detach from material desires to be eligible to escape from these material planets.
This is how I take all my sufferings.
You said about how to fulfill the mission of Srila Rupa Gosvami. Going to that state is the final target. First, we should help the devotees to get a taste in following Krishna Consciousness. If we start to speak what Srila Rupa Gosvami said even now, they will not even continue their devotion because they will have real responsibilities in his family. I can’t write to desert all of them for the sake of following what Srila Rupa Gosvami said. They will come to that stage in future. Right now, we are planting the seeds of Krishna Consciousness and watering that. When the conditions become apt for attaining perfection, they may come to the stage of pure devotion as said by Srila Rupa Gosvami.
Sowing a seed is very important. It will grow automatically when the conditions become favourable. I am doing the service of sowing the seeds. Krishna will make it grow from within their hearts.
A father just sends his seeds into the womb of his wife and go. What happens? With no efforts from outside, that seed grows and becomes a child.
Service to Krishna is also like that. We need the people to sow seeds of Krishna Consciousness in the heart of the people. All people will not come to the state of what Srila Rupa Gosvami said in Nectar of Devotion. As said by Krishna Himself, only one in thousands will come to that stage. Others will achieve atleast in their next birth(s). But, this seed will never go waste and it will continue birth after birth.
Why do you rush to go back to Krishna within this birth? Just follow the devotion sincerely. If some lacking is there because of your personal family background, Krishna will give a wonderful next birth with a cooperating surroundings, from where you will definitely go back to Krishna.
Just aim for becoming a pure devotee. Krishna will fulfill it in whatever way He customizes for you.
Leave everything to Krishna and be relieved. Just keep on developing attachment with Krishna, helping your family members without material attachment.
Hope this helps you.