When Bali Mahārāja, thinking Vāmanadeva to be the son of a brāhmaṇa, told Him to ask for anything He liked, Lord Vāmanadeva praised Hiraṇyakaśipu and Hiraṇyākṣa for their heroic activities, and after thus praising the family in which Bali Mahārāja had been born, He begged the King for three paces of land. Bali Mahārāja agreed to give this land in charity, since this was very insignificant, but Śukrācārya, who could understand that Vāmanadeva was Viṣṇu, the friend of the demigods, forbade Bali Mahārāja to give this land. Śukrācārya advised Bali Mahārāja to withdraw his promise. He explained that in subduing others, in joking, in responding to danger, in acting for the welfare of others, and so on, one could refuse to fulfill one’s promise, and there would be no fault. By this philosophy, Śukrācārya tried to dissuade Bali Mahārāja from giving land to Lord Vāmanadeva.
iti vairocaner vākyaṁ
dharma-yuktaṁ sa sūnṛtam
niśamya bhagavān prītaḥ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti—thus; vairocaneḥ—of the son of Virocana; vākyam—the words; dharma-yuktam—in terms of religious principles; saḥ—He; sū-nṛtam—very pleasing; niśamya—hearing; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; prītaḥ—completely pleased; pratinandya—congratulating him; idam—the following words; abravīt—said.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: When the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāmanadeva, heard Bali Mahārāja speaking in this pleasing way, He was very satisfied, for Bali Mahārāja had spoken in terms of religious principles. Thus the Lord began to praise him.
vacas tavaitaj jana-deva sūnṛtaṁ
kulocitaṁ dharma-yutaṁ yaśas-karam
yasya pramāṇaṁ bhṛgavaḥ sāmparāye
pitāmahaḥ kula-vṛddhaḥ praśāntaḥ
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; vacaḥ—words; tava—your; etat—this kind of; jana-deva—O King of the people; sū-nṛtam—very true; kula-ucitam—exactly befitting your dynasty; dharma-yutam—completely in accord with the principles of religion; yaśaḥ-karam—fit for spreading your reputation; yasya—of whom; pramāṇam—the evidence; bhṛgavaḥ—the brāhmaṇas of the Bhṛgu dynasty; sāmparāye—in the next world; pitāmahaḥ—your grandfather; kula-vṛddhaḥ—the oldest in the family; praśāntaḥ—very peaceful (Prahlāda Mahārāja).
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O King, you are indeed exalted because your present advisors are the brāhmaṇas who are descendants of Bhṛgu and because your instructor for your future life is your grandfather, the peaceful and venerable Prahlāda Mahārāja. Your statements are very true, and they completely agree with religious etiquette. They are in keeping with the behavior of your family, and they enhance your reputation.
Prahlāda Mahārāja is a vivid example of a pure devotee. Someone might argue that since Prahlāda Mahārāja, even though very old, was attached to his family, and specifically to his grandson Bali Mahārāja, how could he be an ideal example? Therefore this verse uses the word praśāntaḥ. A devotee is always sober. He is never disturbed by any conditions. Even if a devotee remains in gṛhastha life and does not renounce material possessions, he should still be understood to be praśānta, sober, because of his pure devotion to the Lord. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore said:
“Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, a sannyāsī or a śūdra—regardless of what he is—he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Kṛṣṇa.” (Cc. Madhya 8.128) Anyone completely aware of the science of Kṛṣṇa, regardless of his status in life, is a guru. Thus Prahlāda Mahārāja is a guru in all circumstances.
Here His Lordship Vāmanadeva also teaches sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs that one should not ask more than necessary. He wanted only three paces of land, although Bali Mahārāja wanted to give Him anything He wanted.
na hy etasmin kule kaścin
niḥsattvaḥ kṛpaṇaḥ pumān
yo vādātā dvijātaye
na—not; hi—indeed; etasmin—in this; kule—in the dynasty or family; kaścit—anyone; niḥsattvaḥ—poor-minded; kṛpaṇaḥ—miser; pumān—any person; pratyākhyātā—refuses; pratiśrutya—after promising to give; yaḥ vā—either; adātā—not being charitable; dvijātaye—unto the brāhmaṇas.
I know that even until now, no one taking birth in your family has been poor-minded or miserly. No one has refused to give charity to brāhmaṇas, nor after promising to give charity has anyone failed to fulfill his promise.
na santi tīrthe yudhi cārthinārthitāḥ
parāṅmukhā ye tv amanasvino nṛpa
yuṣmat-kule yad yaśasāmalena
prahrāda udbhāti yathoḍupaḥ khe
na—not; santi—there are; tīrthe—in holy places (where charity is given); yudhi—in the battlefield; ca—also; arthinā—by a brāhmaṇa or a kṣatriya; arthitāḥ—who have been asked; parāṅmukhāḥ—who refused their prayers; ye—such persons; tu—indeed; amanasvinaḥ—such low-minded, low-grade kings; nṛpa—O King (Bali Mahārāja); yuṣmat-kule—in your dynasty; yat—therein; yaśasā amalena—by impeccable reputation; prahrādaḥ—Prahlāda Mahārāja; udbhāti—arises; yathā—as; uḍupaḥ—the moon; khe—in the sky.
O King Bali, never in your dynasty has the low-minded King been born who upon being requested has refused charity to brāhmaṇas in holy places or a fight to kṣatriyas on a battlefield. And your dynasty is even more glorious due to the presence of Prahlāda Mahārāja, who is like the beautiful moon in the sky.
The symptoms of a kṣatriya are given in Bhagavad-gītā. One of the qualifications is the willingness to give charity (dāna). A kṣatriya does not refuse to give charity when requested by a brāhmaṇa, nor can he refuse to fight another kṣatriya. A king who does refuse is called low-minded. In the dynasty of Bali Mahārāja there were no such low-minded kings.
yato jāto hiraṇyākṣaś
carann eka imāṁ mahīm
yataḥ—in which dynasty; jātaḥ—was born; hiraṇyākṣaḥ—the king named Hiraṇyākṣa; caran—wandering; ekaḥ—alone; imām—this; mahīm—surface of the globe; prativīram—a rival hero; dik-vijaye—for conquering all directions; na avindata—could not get; gadā-āyudhaḥ—bearing his own club.
It was in your dynasty that Hiraṇyākṣa was born. Carrying only his own club, he wandered the globe alone, without assistance, to conquer all directions, and no hero he met could rival him.
yaṁ vinirjitya kṛcchreṇa
viṣṇuḥ kṣmoddhāra āgatam
ātmānaṁ jayinaṁ mene
tad-vīryaṁ bhūry anusmaran
yam—whom; vinirjitya—after conquering; kṛcchreṇa—with great difficulty; viṣṇuḥ—Lord Viṣṇu in His incarnation as a boar; kṣmā-uddhāre—at the time when the earth was delivered; āgatam—appeared before Him; ātmānam—personally, Himself; jayinam—victorious; mene—considered; tat-vīryam—the prowess of Hiraṇyākṣa; bhūri—constantly, or more and more; anusmaran—thinking about.
When delivering the earth from the Garbhodaka Sea, Lord Viṣṇu, in His incarnation as a boar, killed Hiraṇyākṣa, who had appeared before Him. The fight was severe, and the Lord killed Hiraṇyākṣa with great difficulty. Later, as the Lord thought about the uncommon prowess of Hiraṇyākṣa, He felt Himself victorious indeed.
niśamya tad-vadhaṁ bhrātā
hantuṁ bhrātṛ-haṇaṁ kruddho
jagāma nilayaṁ hareḥ
niśamya—after hearing; tat-vadham—the killing of Hiraṇyākṣa; bhrātā—the brother; hiraṇyakaśipuḥ—Hiraṇyakaśipu; purā—formerly; hantum—just to kill; bhrātṛ-haṇam—the killer of his brother; kruddhaḥ—very angry; jagāma—went; nilayam—to the residence; hareḥ—of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
When Hiraṇyakaśipu heard the news of his brother’s being killed, with great anger he went to the residence of Viṣṇu, the killer of his brother, wanting to kill Lord Viṣṇu.
tam āyāntaṁ samālokya
cintayām āsa kāla-jño
viṣṇur māyāvināṁ varaḥ
tam—him (Hiraṇyakaśipu); āyāntam—coming forward; samālokya—observing minutely; śūla-pāṇim—with a trident in his hand; kṛtānta-vat—just like death personified; cintayām āsa—thought; kāla-jñaḥ—who knows the progress of time; viṣṇuḥ—Lord Viṣṇu; māyāvinām—of all kinds of mystics; varaḥ—the chief.
Seeing Hiraṇyakaśipu coming forward bearing a trident in his hand like personified death, Lord Viṣṇu, the best of all mystics and the knower of the progress of time, thought as follows.
yato yato ’haṁ tatrāsau
mṛtyuḥ prāṇa-bhṛtām iva
ato ’ham asya hṛdayaṁ
yataḥ yataḥ—wheresoever; aham—I; tatra—there indeed; asau—this Hiraṇyakaśipu; mṛtyuḥ—death; prāṇa-bhṛtām—of all living entities; iva—just like; ataḥ—therefore; aham—I; asya—of him; hṛdayam—within the core of the heart; pravekṣyāmi—shall enter; parāk-dṛśaḥ—of a person who has only external vision.
Wheresoever I go, Hiraṇyakaśipu will follow Me, as death follows all living entities. Therefore it is better for Me to enter the core of his heart, for then, because of his power to see only externally, he will not see Me.
evaṁ sa niścitya ripoḥ śarīram
ādhāvato nirviviśe ’surendra
evam—in this way; saḥ—He (Lord Viṣṇu); niścitya—deciding; ripoḥ—of the enemy; śarīram—the body; ādhāvataḥ—who was running after Him with great force; nirviviśe—entered; asura-indra—O King of the demons (Mahārāja Bali); śvāsa-anila—through the breathing; antarhita—invisible; sūkṣma-dehaḥ—in his finer body; tat-prāṇa-randhreṇa—through the hole of the nostril; vivigna-cetāḥ—being very anxious.
Lord Vāmanadeva continued: O King of the demons, after Lord Viṣṇu made this decision, He entered the body of His enemy Hiraṇyakaśipu, who was running after Him with great force. In a subtle body inconceivable to Hiraṇyakaśipu, Lord Viṣṇu, who was in great anxiety, entered Hiraṇyakaśipu’s nostril along with his breath.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is already in the core of everyone’s heart. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati (Bg. 18.61). Logically, therefore, it was not at all difficult for Lord Viṣṇu to enter Hiraṇyakaśipu’s body. The word vivigna-cetāḥ, “very anxious,” is significant. It is not that Lord Viṣṇu was afraid of Hiraṇyakaśipu; rather, because of compassion, Lord Viṣṇu was in anxiety about how to act for his welfare.
sa tan-niketaṁ parimṛśya śūnyam
apaśyamānaḥ kupito nanāda
kṣmāṁ dyāṁ diśaḥ khaṁ vivarān samudrān
viṣṇuṁ vicinvan na dadarśa vīraḥ
saḥ—that Hiraṇyakaśipu; tat-niketam—the residence of Lord Viṣṇu; parimṛśya—searching; śūnyam—vacant; apaśyamānaḥ—not seeing Lord Viṣṇu; kupitaḥ—being very angry; nanāda—cried very loudly; kṣmām—on the surface of the earth; dyām—in outer space; diśaḥ—in all directions; kham—in the sky; vivarān—in all the caves; samudrān—all the oceans; viṣṇum—Lord Viṣṇu; vicinvan—searching for; na—not; dadarśa—did see; vīraḥ—although he was very powerful.
Upon seeing that the residence of Lord Viṣṇu was vacant, Hiraṇyakaśipu began searching for Lord Viṣṇu everywhere. Angry at not seeing Him, Hiraṇyakaśipu screamed loudly and searched the entire universe, including the surface of the earth, the higher planetary systems, all directions and all the caves and oceans. But Hiraṇyakaśipu, the greatest hero, did not see Viṣṇu anywhere.
apaśyann iti hovāca
mayānviṣṭam idaṁ jagat
bhrātṛ-hā me gato nūnaṁ
yato nāvartate pumān
apaśyan—not seeing Him; iti—in this way; ha uvāca—uttered; mayā—by me; anviṣṭam—has been sought; idam—the whole; jagat—universe; bhrātṛ-hā—Lord Viṣṇu, who killed the brother; me—my; gataḥ—must have gone; nūnam—indeed; yataḥ—from where; na—not; āvartate—comes back; pumān—a person.
Unable to see Him, Hiraṇyakaśipu said, “I have searched the entire universe, but I could not find Viṣṇu, who has killed my brother. Therefore, He must certainly have gone to that place from which no one returns. [In other words, He must now be dead.]”
Atheists generally follow the Bauddha philosophical conclusion that at death everything is finished. Hiraṇyakaśipu, being an atheist, thought this way. Because Lord Viṣṇu was not visible to him, he thought that the Lord was dead. Even today, many people follow the philosophy that God is dead. But God is never dead. Even the living entity, who is part of God, never dies. Na jāyate mriyate vā kadācit: “For the soul there is never birth or death.” This is the statement of Bhagavad-gītā (2.20). Even the ordinary living entity never takes birth or dies. What then is to be said of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the chief of all living entities? He certainly never takes birth or dies. Ajo’pi sann avyayātmā (Bg. 4.6). Both the Lord and the living entity exist as unborn and inexhaustible personalities. Thus Hiraṇyakaśipu’s conclusion that Viṣṇu was dead was wrong.
As indicated by the words yato nāvartate pumān, there is certainly a spiritual kingdom, and if the living entity goes there, he never returns to this material world. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (4.9): tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so’rjuna. Materially speaking, every living entity dies; death is inevitable. But those who are karmīs, jñānīs and yogīs return to this material world after death, whereas bhaktas do not. Of course, if a bhakta is not completely perfect he takes birth in the material world again, but in a very exalted position, either in a rich family or a family of the purest brāhmaṇas (śucīnām śrīmatāṁ gehe), just to finish his development in spiritual consciousness. Those who have completed the course of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and are free from material desire return to the abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (yad gatvā na nivartante tad dhāma paramaṁ mama [Bg. 15.6]). Here the same fact is stated: yato nāvartate pumān. Any person who goes back home, back to Godhead, does not return to this material world.
āmṛtyor iha dehinām
vaira-anubandhaḥ—enmity; etāvān—so great; āmṛtyoḥ—up to the point of death; iha—in this; dehinām—of persons too involved in the bodily concept of life; ajñāna-prabhavaḥ—because of the great influence of ignorance; manyuḥ—anger; aham-māna—by egotism; upabṛṁhitaḥ—expanded.
Hiraṇyakaśipu’s anger against Lord Viṣṇu persisted until his death. Other people in the bodily concept of life maintain anger only because of false ego and the great influence of ignorance.
Generally speaking, even though the conditioned soul is angry, his anger is not perpetual but temporary. It is due to the influence of ignorance. Hiraṇyakaśipu, however, maintained his enmity and his anger against Lord Viṣṇu until the point of death. He never forgot his vengeful attitude toward Viṣṇu for having killed his brother, Hiraṇyākṣa. Others in the bodily concept of life are angry at their enemies but not at Lord Viṣṇu. Hiraṇyakaśipu, however, was everlastingly angry. He was angry not only because of false prestige but also because of continuous enmity toward Viṣṇu.
pitā prahrāda-putras te
svam āyur dvija-liṅgebhyo
devebhyo ’dāt sa yācitaḥ
pitā—father; prahrāda-putraḥ—the son of Mahārāja Prahlāda; te—your; tat-vidvān—although it was known to him; dvija-vatsalaḥ—still, because of his affinity for brāhmaṇas; svam—his own; āyuḥ—duration of life; dvija-liṅgebhyaḥ—who were dressed like brāhmaṇas; devebhyaḥ—unto the demigods; adāt—delivered; saḥ—he; yācitaḥ—being so requested.
Your father, Virocana, the son of Mahārāja Prahlāda, was very affectionate toward brāhmaṇas. Although he knew very well that it was the demigods who had come to him in the dress of brāhmaṇas, at their request he delivered to them the duration of his life.
Mahārāja Virocana, Bali’s father, was so pleased with the brāhmaṇa community that even though he knew that those approaching him for charity were the demigods in the dress of brāhmaṇas, he nonetheless agreed to give it.
bhavān ācaritān dharmān
brāhmaṇaiḥ pūrvajaiḥ śūrair
bhavān—your good self; ācaritān—executed; dharmān—religious principles; āsthitaḥ—being situated; gṛhamedhibhiḥ—by persons in household life; brāhmaṇaiḥ—by the brāhmaṇas; pūrva-jaiḥ—by your forefathers; śūraiḥ—by great heroes; anyaiḥ ca—and others also; uddāma-kīrtibhiḥ—very highly elevated and famous.
You also have observed the principles followed by great personalities who are householder brāhmaṇas, by your forefathers and by great heroes who are extremely famous for their exalted activities.
tasmāt tvatto mahīm īṣad
vṛṇe ’haṁ varadarṣabhāt
padāni trīṇi daityendra
sammitāni padā mama
tasmāt—from such a person; tvattaḥ—from Your Majesty; mahīm—land; īṣat—very little; vṛṇe—am asking for; aham—I; varada-ṛṣabhāt—from the personality who can give charity munificently; padāni—footsteps; trīṇi—three; daitya-indra—O King of the Daityas; sammitāni—to the measurement of; padā—by a foot; mama—My.
O King of the Daityas, from Your Majesty, who come from such a noble family and who are able to give charity munificently, I ask only three paces of land, to the measurement of My steps.
Lord Vāmanadeva wanted three paces of land according to the measurement of His footsteps. He did not want more than necessary. But although He pretended to be an ordinary human child, He actually wanted the land comprising the upper, middle and lower planetary systems. This was just to show the prowess of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
nānyat te kāmaye rājan
nainaḥ prāpnoti vai vidvān
na—not; anyat—anything else; te—from you; kāmaye—I beg; rājan—O King; vadānyāt—who are so munificent; jagat-īśvarāt—who are the king of the entire universe; na—not; enaḥ—distress; prāpnoti—gets; vai—indeed; vidvān—one who is learned; yāvat-artha—as much as one needs; pratigrahaḥ—taking charity from others.
O King, controller of the entire universe, although you are very munificent and are able to give Me as much land as I want, I do not want anything from you that is unnecessary. If a learned brāhmaṇa takes charity from others only according to his needs, he does not become entangled in sinful activities.
A brāhmaṇa or sannyāsī is qualified to ask charity from others, but if he takes more than necessary he is punishable. No one can use more of the Supreme Lord’s property than necessary. Lord Vāmanadeva indirectly indicated to Bali Mahārāja that he was occupying more land than he needed. In the material world, all distresses are due to extravagance. One acquires money extravagantly and also spends it extravagantly. Such activities are sinful. All property belongs to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all living beings, who are sons of the Supreme Lord, have the right to use the Supreme Father’s property, but one cannot take more than necessary. This principle should especially be followed by brāhmaṇas and sannyāsīs who live at the cost of others. Thus Vāmanadeva was an ideal beggar, for He asked only three paces of land. Of course, there is a difference between His footsteps and those of an ordinary human being. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His inconceivable prowess, can occupy the entire universe, including the upper, lower and middle planetary systems, by the unlimited measurement of His footsteps.
vācas te vṛddha-sammatāḥ
tvaṁ bālo bāliśa-matiḥ
svārthaṁ praty abudho yathā
śrī-baliḥ uvāca—Bali Mahārāja said; aho—alas; brāhmaṇa-dāyāda—O son of a brāhmaṇa; vācaḥ—the words; te—of You; vṛddha-sammatāḥ—are certainly acceptable to learned and elderly persons; tvam—You; bālaḥ—a boy; bāliśa-matiḥ—without sufficient knowledge; sva-artham—self-interest; prati—toward; abudhaḥ—not knowing sufficiently; yathā—as it should have been.
Bali Mahārāja said: O son of a brāhmaṇa, Your instructions are as good as those of learned and elderly persons. Nonetheless, You are a boy, and Your intelligence is insufficient. Thus You are not very prudent in regard to Your self-interest.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, being full in Himself, actually has nothing to want for His self-interest. Lord Vāmanadeva, therefore, had not gone to Bali Mahārāja for His own self-interest. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (5.29), bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram. The Lord is the proprietor of all planets, in both the material and spiritual worlds. Why should He be in want of land? Bali Mahārāja rightly said that Lord Vāmanadeva was not at all prudent in regard to His own personal interests. Lord Vāmanadeva had approached Bali not for His personal welfare but for the welfare of His devotees. Devotees sacrifice all personal interests to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and similarly the Supreme Lord, although having no personal interests, can do anything for the interests of His devotees. One who is full in himself has no personal interests.
māṁ vacobhiḥ samārādhya
lokānām ekam īśvaram
pada-trayaṁ vṛṇīte yo
mām—me; vacobhiḥ—by sweet words; samārādhya—after sufficiently pleasing; lokānām—of all the planets in this universe; ekam—the one and only; īśvaram—master, controller; pada-trayam—three feet; vṛṇīte—is asking for; yaḥ—He who; abuddhimān—not very intelligent; dvīpa-dāśuṣam—because I can give You an entire island.
I am able to give You an entire island because I am the proprietor of the three divisions of the universe. You have come to take something from me and have pleased me by Your sweet words, but You are asking only three paces of land. Therefore You are not very intelligent.
According to Vedic understanding, the entire universe is regarded as an ocean of space. In that ocean there are innumerable planets, and each planet is called a dvīpa, or island. When approached by Lord Vāmanadeva, Bali Mahārāja was actually in possession of all the dvīpas, or islands in space. Bali Mahārāja was very pleased to see the features of Vāmanadeva and was ready to give Him as much land as He could ask, but because Lord Vāmanadeva asked only three paces of land, Bali Mahārāja considered Him not very intelligent.
na pumān mām upavrajya
bhūyo yācitum arhati
tasmād vṛttikarīṁ bhūmiṁ
vaṭo kāmaṁ pratīccha me
na—not; pumān—any person; mām—unto me; upavrajya—after approaching; bhūyaḥ—again; yācitum—to beg; arhati—deserves; tasmāt—therefore; vṛtti-karīm—suitable to maintain Yourself; bhūmim—such land; vaṭo—O small brahmacārī; kāmam—according to the necessities of life; pratīccha—take; me—from me.
O small boy, one who approaches me to beg something should not have to ask anything more, anywhere. Therefore, if You wish, You may ask from me as much land as will suffice to maintain You according to Your needs.
yāvanto viṣayāḥ preṣṭhās
na śaknuvanti te sarve
śrī-bhagavān uvāca—the Supreme Personality of Godhead said; yāvantaḥ—as far as possible; viṣayāḥ—the objects of sense enjoyment; preṣṭhāḥ—pleasing to anyone; tri-lokyām—within these three worlds; ajita-indriyam—a person who is not self-controlled; na śaknuvanti—are unable; te—all those; sarve—taken together; pratipūrayitum—to satisfy; nṛpa—O King.
The Personality of Godhead said: O my dear King, even the entirety of whatever there may be within the three worlds to satisfy one’s senses cannot satisfy a person whose senses are uncontrolled.
The material world is an illusory energy to deviate the living entities from the path of self-realization. Anyone who is in this material world is extremely anxious to get more and more things for sense gratification. Actually, however, the purpose of life is not sense gratification but self-realization. Therefore, those who are too addicted to sense gratification are advised to practice the mystic yoga system, or aṣṭāṅga-yoga system, consisting of yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra and so on. In this way, one can control the senses. The purpose of controlling the senses is to stop one’s implication in the cycle of birth and death. As stated by Ṛṣabhadeva:
“When a person considers sense gratification the aim of life, he certainly becomes mad after materialistic living and engages in all kinds of sinful activity. He does not know that due to his past misdeeds he has already received a body which, although temporary, is the cause of his misery. Actually the living entity should not have taken on a material body, but he has been awarded the material body for sense gratification. Therefore I think it not befitting an intelligent man to involve himself again in the activities of sense gratification, by which he perpetually gets material bodies one after another.” (Bhāg. 5.5.4) Thus according to Ṛṣabhadeva the human beings in this material world are just like madmen engaged in activities which they should not perform but which they do perform only for sense gratification. Such activities are not good because in this way one creates another body for his next life, as punishment for his nefarious activities. And as soon as he gets another material body, he is put into repeated suffering in material existence. Therefore the Vedic culture or brahminical culture teaches one how to be satisfied with possessing the minimum necessities in life.
To teach this highest culture, varṇāśrama-dharma is recommended. The aim of the varṇāśrama divisions—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa—is to train one to control the senses and be content with the bare necessities. Here Lord Vāmanadeva, as an ideal brahmacārī, refuses Bali Mahārāja’s offer to give Him anything He might want. He says that without contentment one could not be happy even if he possessed the property of the entire world or the entire universe. In human society, therefore, the brahminical culture, kṣatriya culture and vaiśya culture must be maintained, and people must be taught how to be satisfied with only what they need. In modern civilization there is no such education; everyone tries to possess more and more, and everyone is dissatisfied and unhappy. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore establishing various farms, especially in America, to show how to be happy and content with minimum necessities of life and to save time for self-realization, which one can very easily achieve by chanting the mahā-mantra—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
tribhiḥ kramair asantuṣṭo
dvīpenāpi na pūryate
tribhiḥ—three; kramaiḥ—by steps; asantuṣṭaḥ—one who is dissatisfied; dvīpena—by a complete island; api—although; na pūryate—cannot be satisfied; nava-varṣa-sametena—even by possessing nine varṣas; sapta-dvīpa-vara-icchayā—by the desire to take possession of seven islands.
If I were not satisfied with three paces of land, then surely I would not be satisfied even with possessing one of the seven islands, consisting of nine varṣas. Even if I possessed one island, I would hope to get others.
arthaiḥ kāmair gatā nāntaṁ
tṛṣṇāyā iti naḥ śrutam
sapta-dvīpa-adhipatayaḥ—those who are proprietors of the seven islands; nṛpāḥ—such kings; vaiṇya-gaya-ādayaḥ—Mahārāja Pṛthu, Mahārāja Gaya and others; arthaiḥ—for fulfillment of ambition; kāmaiḥ—for satisfying one’s desires; gatāḥ na—could not reach; antam—the end; tṛṣṇāyāḥ—of their ambitions; iti—thus; naḥ—by Us; śrutam—has been heard.
We have heard that although powerful kings like Mahārāja Pṛthu and Mahārāja Gaya achieved proprietorship over the seven dvīpas, they could not achieve satisfaction or find the end of their ambitions.
santuṣṭo vartate sukham
nāsantuṣṭas tribhir lokair
yadṛcchayā—as offered by the supreme authority according to one’s karma; upapannena—by whatever is obtained; santuṣṭaḥ—one should be satisfied; vartate—there is; sukham—happiness; na—not; asantuṣṭaḥ—one who is dissatisfied; tribhiḥ lokaiḥ—even by possessing the three worlds; ajita-ātmā—one who cannot control his senses; upasāditaiḥ—even though obtained.
One should be satisfied with whatever he achieves by his previous destiny, for discontent can never bring happiness. A person who is not self-controlled will not be happy even with possessing the three worlds.
If happiness is the ultimate goal of life, one must be satisfied with the position in which he is placed by providence. This instruction is also given by Prahlāda Mahārāja:
“My dear friends born of demoniac families, the happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be obtained in any form of life, according to one’s past fruitive activities. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor, just as we obtain distress.” (Bhāg. 7.6.3) This philosophy is perfect in regard to obtaining happiness.
“In the spiritually joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness and enjoys himself through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth.” One has to perceive happiness by the supersenses. The supersenses are not the senses of the material elements. Every one of us is a spiritual being (ahaṁ brahmāsmi), and every one of us is an individual person. Our senses are now covered by material elements, and because of ignorance we consider the material senses that cover us to be our real senses. The real senses, however, are within the material covering. Dehino’smin yathā dehe: [Bg. 2.13] within the covering of the material elements are the spiritual senses. Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam: [Cc. Madhya 19.170] when the spiritual senses are uncovered, by these senses we can be happy. Satisfaction of the spiritual senses is thus described: hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate. When the senses are engaged in devotional service to Hṛṣīkeśa, then the senses are completely satisfied. Without this superior knowledge of sense gratification, one may try to satisfy his material senses, but happiness will never be possible. One may increase his ambition for sense gratification and even achieve what he desires for the gratification of his senses, but because this is on the material platform, he will never achieve satisfaction and contentment.
According to brahminical culture, one should be content with whatever he obtains without special endeavor and should cultivate spiritual consciousness. Then he will be happy. The purpose of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to spread this understanding. People who do not have scientific spiritual knowledge mistakenly think that the members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement are escapists trying to avoid material activities. In fact, however, we are engaged in real activities for obtaining the ultimate happiness in life. If one is not trained to satisfy the spiritual senses and continues in material sense gratification, he will never obtain happiness that is eternal and blissful. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.5.1) therefore recommends:
One must practice austerity so that his existential position will be purified and he will achieve unlimited blissful life.
puṁso ’yaṁ saṁsṛter hetur
santoṣo muktaye smṛtaḥ
puṁsaḥ—of the living entity; ayam—this; saṁsṛteḥ—of the continuation of material existence; hetuḥ—the cause; asantoṣaḥ—dissatisfaction with his destined achievement; artha-kāmayoḥ—for the sake of lusty desires and getting more and more money; yadṛcchayā—with the gift of destiny; upapannena—which has been achieved; santoṣaḥ—satisfaction; muktaye—for liberation; smṛtaḥ—is considered fit.
Material existence causes discontent in regard to fulfilling one’s lusty desires and achieving more and more money. This is the cause for the continuation of material life, which is full of repeated birth and death. But one who is satisfied by that which is obtained by destiny is fit for liberation from this material existence.
tejo viprasya vardhate
tat praśāmyaty asantoṣād
yadṛcchā-lābha-tuṣṭasya—who is satisfied by things obtained by the grace of God; tejaḥ—the brilliant effulgence; viprasya—of a brāhmaṇa; vardhate—increases; tat—that (effulgence); praśāmyati—is diminished; asantoṣāt—because of dissatisfaction; ambhasā—by pouring of water; iva—as; āśuśukṣaṇiḥ—a fire.
A brāhmaṇa who is satisfied with whatever is providentially obtained is increasingly enlightened with spiritual power, but the spiritual potency of a dissatisfied brāhmaṇa decreases, as fire diminishes in potency when water is sprinkled upon it.
tasmāt trīṇi padāny eva
vṛṇe tvad varadarṣabhāt
etāvataiva siddho ’haṁ
vittaṁ yāvat prayojanam
tasmāt—because of being satisfied by things easily obtained; trīṇi—three; padāni—steps; eva—indeed; vṛṇe—I ask; tvat—from your good self; varada-ṛṣabhāt—who are a munificent benedictor; etāvatā eva—merely by such an endowment; siddhaḥ aham—I shall feel full satisfaction; vittam—achievement; yāvat—as far as; prayojanam—is needed.
Therefore, O King, from you, the best of those who give charity, I ask only three paces of land. By such a gift I shall be very pleased, for the way of happiness is to be fully satisfied to receive that which is absolutely needed.
ity uktaḥ sa hasann āha
vāmanāya mahīṁ dātuṁ
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; iti uktaḥ—thus being addressed; saḥ—he (Bali Mahārāja); hasan—smiling; āha—said; vāñchātaḥ—as You have desired; pratigṛhyatām—now take from me; vāmanāya—unto Lord Vāmana; mahīm—land; dātum—to give; jagrāha—took; jala-bhājanam—the waterpot.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: When the Supreme Personality of Godhead had thus spoken to Bali Mahārāja, Bali smiled and told Him, “All right. Take whatever You like.” To confirm his promise to give Vāmanadeva the desired land, he then took up his waterpot.
viṣṇave kṣmāṁ pradāsyantam
jānaṁś cikīrṣitaṁ viṣṇoḥ
śiṣyaṁ prāha vidāṁ varaḥ
viṣṇave—unto Lord Viṣṇu (Vāmanadeva); kṣmām—the land; pradāsyantam—who was ready to deliver; uśanāḥ—Śukrācārya; asura-īśvaram—unto the King of the demons (Bali Mahārāja); jānan—knowing well; cikīrṣitam—what was the plan; viṣṇoḥ—of Lord Viṣṇu; śiṣyam—unto his disciple; prāha—said; vidām varaḥ—the best of the knowers of everything.
Understanding Lord Viṣṇu’s purpose, Śukrācārya, the best of the learned, immediately spoke as follows to his disciple, who was about to offer everything to Lord Vāmanadeva.
eṣa vairocane sākṣād
bhagavān viṣṇur avyayaḥ
kaśyapād aditer jāto
śrī-śukraḥ uvāca—Śukrācārya said; eṣaḥ—this (boy in the form of a dwarf); vairocane—O son of Virocana; sākṣāt—directly; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; viṣṇuḥ—Lord Viṣṇu; avyayaḥ—without deterioration; kaśyapāt—from His father, Kaśyapa; aditeḥ—in the womb of His mother, Aditi; jātaḥ—was born; devānām—of the demigods; kārya-sādhakaḥ—working in the interest.
Śukrācārya said: O son of Virocana, this brahmacārī in the form of a dwarf is directly the imperishable Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. Accepting Kaśyapa Muni as His father and Aditi as His mother, He has now appeared in order to fulfill the interests of the demigods.
yad anartham ajānatā
na sādhu manye daityānāṁ
mahān upagato ’nayaḥ
pratiśrutam—promised; tvayā—by you; etasmai—unto Him; yat anartham—which is repugnant; ajānatā—by you who have no knowledge; na—not; sādhu—very good; manye—I think; daityānām—of the demons; mahān—great; upagataḥ—has been achieved; anayaḥ—inauspiciousness.
You do not know what a dangerous position you have accepted by promising to give Him land. I do not think that this promise is good for you. It will bring great harm to the demons.
eṣa te sthānam aiśvaryaṁ
śriyaṁ tejo yaśaḥ śrutam
dāsyaty ācchidya śakrāya
eṣaḥ—this person falsely appearing as a brahmacārī; te—of you; sthānam—the land in possession; aiśvaryam—the riches; śriyam—the material beauty; tejaḥ—the material power; yaśaḥ—the reputation; śrutam—the education; dāsyati—will give; ācchidya—taking from you; śakrāya—unto your enemy, Lord Indra; māyā—falsely appearing; māṇavakaḥ—a brahmacārī son of a living being; hariḥ—He is actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari.
This person falsely appearing as a brahmacārī is actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, who has come in this form to take away all your land, wealth, beauty, power, fame and education. After taking everything from you, He will deliver it to Indra, your enemy.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura explains in this regard that the very word hariḥ means “one who takes away.” If one connects himself with Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord takes away all his miseries, and in the beginning the Lord also superficially appears to take away all his material possessions, reputation, education and beauty. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.88.8), yasyāham anugṛhṇāmi hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ śanaiḥ. The Lord said to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, “The first installment of My mercy toward a devotee is that I take away all his possessions, especially his material opulence, his money.” This is the special favor of the Lord toward a sincere devotee. If a sincere devotee wants Kṛṣṇa above everything but at the same time is attached to material possessions, which hinder his advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, by tactics the Lord takes away all his possessions. Here Śukrācārya says that this dwarf brahmacārī would take away everything. Thus he indicates that the Lord will take away all one’s material possessions and also one’s mind. If one delivers his mind to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa (sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ), one can naturally sacrifice everything to satisfy Him. Although Bali Mahārāja was a devotee, he was attached to material possessions, and therefore the Lord, being very kind to him, showed him special favor by appearing as Lord Vāmana to take away all his material possessions, and his mind as well.
tribhiḥ kramair imāl lokān
sarvasvaṁ viṣṇave dattvā
mūḍha vartiṣyase katham
tribhiḥ—three; kramaiḥ—by steps; imān—all these; lokān—three planetary systems; viśva-kāyaḥ—becoming the universal form; kramiṣyati—gradually He will expand; sarvasvam—everything; viṣṇave—unto Lord Viṣṇu; dattvā—after giving charity; mūḍha—O you rascal; vartiṣyase—you will execute your means of livelihood; katham—how.
You have promised to give Him three steps of land in charity, but when you give it He will occupy the three worlds. You are a rascal! You do not know what a great mistake you have made. After giving everything to Lord Viṣṇu, you will have no means of livelihood. How then shall you live?
Bali Mahārāja might argue that he had promised only three steps of land. But Śukrācārya, being a very learned brāhmaṇa, immediately understood that this was a plan of Hari, who had falsely appeared there as a brahmacārī. The words mūḍha vartiṣyase katham reveal that Śukrācārya was a brāhmaṇa of the priestly class. Such priestly brāhmaṇas are mostly interested in receiving remuneration from their disciples. Therefore when Śukrācārya saw that Bali Mahārāja had risked all of his possessions, he understood that this would cause havoc not only to the King but also to the family of Śukrācārya, who was dependent on Mahārāja Bali’s mercy. This is the difference between a Vaiṣṇava and a smārta-brāhmaṇa. A smārta-brāhmaṇa is always interested in material profit, whereas a Vaiṣṇava is interested only in satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. From the statement of Śukrācārya, it appears that he was in all respects a smārta-brāhmaṇa interested only in personal gain.
kramato gāṁ padaikena
dvitīyena divaṁ vibhoḥ
khaṁ ca kāyena mahatā
tārtīyasya kuto gatiḥ
kramataḥ—gradually; gām—the surface of the land; padā ekena—by one step; dvitīyena—by the second step; divam—the whole of outer space; vibhoḥ—of the universal form; kham ca—the sky also; kāyena—by the expansion of His transcendental body; mahatā—by the universal form; tārtīyasya—as far as the third step is concerned; kutaḥ—where is; gatiḥ—to keep His step.
Vāmanadeva will first occupy the three worlds with one step, then He will take His second step and occupy everything in outer space, and then He will expand His universal body to occupy everything. Where will you offer Him the third step?
Śukrācārya wanted to tell Bali Mahārāja how he would be cheated by Lord Vāmana. “You have promised three steps,” he said. “But with only two steps, all your possessions will be finished. How then will you give Him a place for His third step?” Śukrācārya did not know how the Lord protects His devotee. The devotee must risk everything in his possession for the service of the Lord, but he is always protected and never defeated. By materialistic calculations, Śukrācārya thought that Bali Mahārāja would under no circumstances be able to keep his promise to the brahmacārī, Lord Vāmanadeva.
niṣṭhāṁ te narake manye
hy apradātuḥ pratiśrutam
pratiśrutasya yo ’nīśaḥ
niṣṭhām—perpetual residence; te—of you; narake—in hell; manye—I think; hi—indeed; apradātuḥ—of a person who cannot fulfill; pratiśrutam—what has been promised; pratiśrutasya—of the promise one has made; yaḥ anīśaḥ—one who is unable; pratipādayitum—to fulfill properly; bhavān—you are that person.
You will certainly be unable to fulfill your promise, and I think that because of this inability your eternal residence will be in hell.
na tad dānaṁ praśaṁsanti
yena vṛttir vipadyate
dānaṁ yajñas tapaḥ karma
loke vṛttimato yataḥ
na—not; tat—that; dānam—charity; praśaṁsanti—the saintly persons praise; yena—by which; vṛttiḥ—one’s livelihood; vipadyate—becomes endangered; dānam—charity; yajñaḥ—sacrifice; tapaḥ—austerity; karma—fruitive activities; loke—in this world; vṛttimataḥ—according to one’s means of livelihood; yataḥ—as it is so.
Learned scholars do not praise that charity which endangers one’s own livelihood. Charity, sacrifice, austerity and fruitive activities are possible for one who is competent to earn his livelihood properly. [They are not possible for one who cannot maintain himself.]
dharmāya yaśase ’rthāya
kāmāya sva-janāya ca
pañcadhā vibhajan vittam
ihāmutra ca modate
dharmāya—for religion; yaśase—for one’s reputation; arthāya—for increasing one’s opulence; kāmāya—for increasing sense gratification; sva-janāya ca—and for maintaining one’s family members; pañcadhā—for these five different objectives; vibhajan—dividing; vittam—his accumulated wealth; iha—in this world; amutra—the next world; ca—and; modate—he enjoys.
Therefore one who is in full knowledge should divide his accumulated wealth in five parts—for religion, for reputation, for opulence, for sense gratification and for the maintenance of his family members. Such a person is happy in this world and in the next.
The śāstras enjoin that if one has money one should divide all that he has accumulated into five divisions—one part for religion, one part for reputation, one part for opulence, one part for sense gratification and one part to maintain the members of his family. At the present, however, because people are bereft of all knowledge, they spend all their money for the satisfaction of their family. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī taught us by his own example by using fifty percent of his accumulated wealth for Kṛṣṇa, twenty-five percent for his own self, and twenty-five percent for the members of his family. One’s main purpose should be to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This will include dharma, artha and kāma. However, because one’s family members expect some profit, one should also satisfy them by giving them a portion of one’s accumulated wealth. This is a śāstric injunction.
atrāpi bahvṛcair gītaṁ
śṛṇu me ’sura-sattama
satyam om iti yat proktaṁ
yan nety āhānṛtaṁ hi tat
atra api—in this regard also (in deciding what is truth and what is not truth); bahu-ṛcaiḥ—by the śruti-mantras known as Bahvṛca-śruti, which are evidence from the Vedas; gītam—what has been spoken; śṛṇu—just hear; me—from me; asura-sattama—O best of the asuras; satyam—the truth is; om iti—preceded by the word oṁ; yat—that which; proktam—has been spoken; yat—that which is; na—not preceded by oṁ; iti—thus; āha—it is said; anṛtam—untruth; hi—indeed; tat—that.
One might argue that since you have already promised, how can you refuse? O best of the demons, just take from me the evidence of the Bahvṛca-śruti, which says that a promise is truthful preceded by the word oṁ and untruthful if not.
satyaṁ puṣpa-phalaṁ vidyād
vṛkṣe ’jīvati tan na syād
anṛtaṁ mūlam ātmanaḥ
satyam—the factual truth; puṣpa-phalam—the flower and the fruit; vidyāt—one should understand; ātma-vṛkṣasya—of the tree of the body; gīyate—as described in the Vedas; vṛkṣe ajīvati—if the tree is not living; tat—that (puṣpa-phalam); na—not; syāt—is possible; anṛtam—untruth; mūlam—the root; ātmanaḥ—of the body.
The Vedas enjoin that the factual result of the tree of the body is the good fruits and flowers derived from it. But if the bodily tree does not exist, there is no possibility of factual fruits and flowers. Even if the body is based on untruth, there cannot be factual fruits and flowers without the help of the bodily tree.
This śloka explains that in relation to the material body even the factual truth cannot exist without a touch of untruth. The Māyāvādīs say, brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: “The spirit soul is truth, and the external energy is untruth.” The Vaiṣṇava philosophers, however, do not agree with the Māyāvāda philosophy. Even if for the sake of argument the material world is accepted as untruth, the living entity entangled in the illusory energy cannot come out of it without the help of the body. Without the help of the body, one cannot follow a system of religion, nor can one speculate on philosophical perfection. Therefore, the flower and fruit (puṣpa-phalam) have to be obtained as a result of the body. Without the help of the body, that fruit cannot be gained. The Vaiṣṇava philosophy therefore recommends yukta-vairāgya. It is not that all attention should be diverted for the maintenance of the body, but at the same time one’s bodily maintenance should not be neglected. As long as the body exists one can thoroughly study the Vedic instructions, and thus at the end of life one can achieve perfection. This is explained in Bhagavad-gītā [Bg. 8.6]: yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram. Everything is examined at the time of death. Therefore, although the body is temporary, not eternal, one can take from it the best service and make one’s life perfect.
tad yathā vṛkṣa unmūlaḥ
śuṣyaty udvartate ’cirāt
evaṁ naṣṭānṛtaḥ sadya
ātmā śuṣyen na saṁśayaḥ
tat—therefore; yathā—as; vṛkṣaḥ—a tree; unmūlaḥ—being uprooted; śuṣyati—dries up; udvartate—falls down; acirāt—very soon; evam—in this way; naṣṭa—lost; anṛtaḥ—the temporary body; sadyaḥ—immediately; ātmā—the body; śuṣyet—dries up; na—not; saṁśayaḥ—any doubt.
When a tree is uprooted it immediately falls down and begins to dry up. Similarly, if one doesn’t take care of the body, which is supposed to be untruth—in other words, if the untruth is uprooted—the body undoubtedly becomes dry.
In this regard, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says:
“One who rejects things without knowledge of their relationship to Kṛṣṇa is incomplete in his renunciation.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.66) When the body is engaged in the service of the Lord, one should not consider the body material. Sometimes the spiritual body of the spiritual master is misunderstood. But Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī instructs, prāpañcikatayā buddhyā hari-sambandhi-vastunaḥ. The body fully engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service should not be neglected as material. One who does neglect it is false in his renunciation. If the body is not properly maintained, it falls down and dries up like an uprooted tree, from which flowers and fruit can no longer be obtained. The Vedas therefore enjoin:
The purport is that activities performed with the help of the body for the satisfaction of the Absolute Truth (oṁ tat sat) are never temporary, although performed by the temporary body. Indeed, such activities are everlasting. Therefore, the body should be properly cared for. Because the body is temporary, not permanent, one cannot expose the body to being devoured by a tiger or killed by an enemy. All precautions should be taken to protect the body.
parāg riktam apūrṇaṁ vā
akṣaraṁ yat tad om iti
yat kiñcid om iti brūyāt
tena ricyeta vai pumān
bhikṣave sarvam oṁ kurvan
nālaṁ kāmena cātmane
parāk—that which separates; riktam—that which makes one free from attachment; apūrṇam—that which is insufficient; vā—either; akṣaram—this syllable; yat—that; tat—which; om—oṁkāra; iti—thus stated; yat—which; kiñcit—whatever; oṁ—this word oṁ; iti—thus; brūyāt—if you say; tena—by such an utterance; ricyeta—one becomes free; vai—indeed; pumān—a person; bhikṣave—unto a beggar; sarvam—everything; oṁ kurvan—giving charity by uttering the word oṁ; na—not; alam—sufficiently; kāmena—for sense gratification; ca—also; ātmane—for self-realization.
The utterance of the word oṁ signifies separation from one’s monetary assets. In other words, by uttering this word one becomes free from attachment to money because his money is taken away from him. To be without money is not very satisfactory, for in that position one cannot fulfill one’s desires. In other words, by using the word oṁ one becomes poverty-stricken. Especially when one gives charity to a poor man or beggar, one remains unfulfilled in self-realization and in sense gratification.
Mahārāja Bali wanted to give everything to Vāmanadeva, who had appeared as a beggar, but Śukrācārya, being Mahārāja Bali’s familial spiritual master in the line of seminal succession, could not appreciate Mahārāja Bali’s promise. Śukrācārya gave Vedic evidence that one should not give everything to a poor man. Rather, when a poor man comes for charity one should untruthfully say, “Whatever I have I have given you. I have no more.” It is not that one should give everything to him. Actually the word oṁ is meant for oṁ tat sat, the Absolute Truth. Oṁkāra is meant for freedom from all attachment to money because money should be spent for the purpose of the Supreme. The tendency of modern civilization is to give money in charity to the poor. Such charity has no spiritual value because we actually see that although there are so many hospitals and other foundations and institutions for the poor, according to the three modes of material nature a class of poor men is always destined to continue. Even though there are so many charitable institutions, poverty has not been driven from human society. Therefore it is recommended here, bhikṣave sarvam oṁ kurvan nālaṁ kāmena cātmane. One should not give everything to the beggars among the poor.
The best solution is that of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. This movement is always kind to the poor, not only because it feeds them but also because it gives them enlightenment by teaching them how to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. We are therefore opening hundreds and thousands of centers for those who are poor, both in money and in knowledge, to enlighten them in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and reform their character by teaching them how to avoid illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling, which are the most sinful activities and which cause people to suffer, life after life. The best way to use money is to open such a center, where all may come live and reform their character. They may live very comfortably, without denial of any of the body’s necessities, but they live under spiritual control, and thus they live happily and save time for advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one has money, it should not be squandered away on nothing. It should be used to push forward the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement so that all of human society will become happy, prosperous and hopeful of being promoted back home, back to Godhead. The Vedic mantra in this regard reads as follows:
athaitat pūrṇam abhyātmaṁ
yac ca nety anṛtaṁ vacaḥ
sarvaṁ nety anṛtaṁ brūyāt
sa duṣkīrtiḥ śvasan mṛtaḥ
atha—therefore; etat—that; pūrṇam—completely; abhyātmam—drawing the compassion of others by presenting oneself as always poverty-stricken; yat—that; ca—also; na—not; iti—thus; anṛtam—false; vacaḥ—words; sarvam—completely; na—not; iti—thus; anṛtam—falsity; brūyāt—who should say; saḥ—such a person; duṣkīrtiḥ—infamous; śvasan—while breathing or while alive; mṛtaḥ—is dead or should be killed.
Therefore, the safe course is to say no. Although it is a falsehood, it protects one completely, it draws the compassion of others toward oneself, and it gives one full facility to collect money from others for oneself. Nonetheless, if one always pleads that he has nothing, he is condemned, for he is a dead body while living, or while still breathing he should be killed.
Beggars always present themselves as possessing nothing, and this may be very good for them because in this way they are assured of not losing their money and of always drawing the attention and compassion of others for the sake of collection. But this is also condemned. If one purposely continues this professional begging, he is supposed to be dead while breathing, or, according to another interpretation, such a man of falsity should be killed while still breathing. The Vedic injunction in this regard is as follows: athaitat pūrṇam abhyātmaṁ yan neti sa yat sarvaṁ neti brūyāt pāpikāsya kīrtir jāyate. sainaṁ tatraiva hanyāt. If one continuously poses himself as possessing nothing and collects money by begging, he should be killed (sainaṁ tatraiva hanyāt).
strīṣu narma-vivāhe ca
nānṛtaṁ syāj jugupsitam
strīṣu—to encourage a woman and bring her under control; narma-vivāhe—in joking or in a marriage ceremony; ca—also; vṛtti-arthe—for earning one’s livelihood, as in business; prāṇa-saṅkaṭe—or in time of danger; go-brāhmaṇa-arthe—for the sake of cow protection and brahminical culture; hiṁsāyām—for any person who is going to be killed because of enmity; na—not; anṛtam—falsity; syāt—becomes; jugupsitam—abominable.
In flattering a woman to bring her under control, in joking, in a marriage ceremony, in earning one’s livelihood, when one’s life is in danger, in protecting cows and brahminical culture, or in protecting a person from an enemy’s hand, falsity is never condemned.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Eighth Canto, Nineteenth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled, “Lord Vāmanadeva Begs Charity from Bali Mahārāja.”
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