Srila Prabhupada speaks out on philanthropy


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 30, Winter 2010/11

In our feature article on pages 12-13, we give examples of ISKCON's new mission of performing philanthropic acts, such as supporting hospitals and secular education, which have no connection to the performance of any Krishna conscious activities prescribed by Srila Prabhuapda. Many other examples could also have been cited if space allowed, such as building bird boxes and clearing litter from a public park. Such activities appear to be undertaken with a view to ISKCON accommodating and becoming part of the "mainstream". As Srila Prabhupada explains below, though these activities are certainly virtuous in their own right, they have no connection to the mission of Krishna consciousness which ISKCON is supposed to be spreading.

The actual charitable mission of ISKCON

"ISKCON (the International Society of Krishna Consciousness) is a non-lucrative organization, whose purpose is to promote the well-being of human society by drawing its attention to God."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 24/8/1968)

Bogus ideas

"People very much appreciate it when we expand our conception of self-interest from bodily welfare to family welfare, or from family welfare to community welfare, or from community welfare to national welfare [...] But these are all bogus ideas, misconceptions."
(The Quest for Enlightenment, chapter 2)

Waste of money charity

"Charity in the mode of goodness is recommended by the scriptures, but charity in the modes of passion and ignorance is not recommended because it is simply a waste of money. Charity should be given only to propagate Krishna consciousness all over the world. That is charity in the mode of goodness."
(Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 16:1-3, purport)

Sense gratification

"If you give some money for opening hospital, if you give some money for opening schools, free education. These are certainly virtuous activities. But they are also meant for sense gratification. Suppose if I give in charity for distributing education. Then in my next life I will be getting good facilities for education, I'll be highly educated or being educated I shall get nice post. At the end, what is the idea? If I get a good post if I get a good position, how do I utilize it? For sense gratification. [...] That is fruitive activities."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 14/2/1969)

Not accepted in Bhagavatam

"This is very important point. People are very much interested in welfare activities for the human society. So they think that by feeding poor men or giving cloth or opening hospitals, schools, colleges — "These things are required. What is the use of hearing about Krishna?" That is their opinion. But these welfare activities are extended selfishness. [...] Yes. Without knowing what is the real self-interest. Therefore we find so many faults in such welfare activities. [...] So that kind of philanthropy is not accepted in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as very advancement of civilization."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 19/10/1972)

Schools and hospitals not devotional service

"Pious activities bring about material opulence, but one cannot acquire devotional service by any amount of material pious activity, not by giving charity, opening big hospitals and schools or working philanthropically. Devotional service can be attained only by the mercy of a pure devotee."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 22.51, purport)

Material embarrassment

"To open hospital or to open a school or similar philanthropic activities are generally being done by persons who are embarrassed with this mithya* world [...] Because they found it better happiness by taking in politics and on political movements or opening school, hospitals. They found better happiness in these activities. Then why the, they say that this jagat mithya?* These are activities of the material world."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 9/11/1972)

* illusory world

Material pleasure

"Therefore they take to this hospitality or opening a school or philanthropic work, another type of this material pleasure."
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, 5/8/1976)

Diversion of real duty

"If you become Krsna conscious [...] then all other duties are automatically done. There is no question of separate attempt — philanthropy, philosophy and nationalism, this "ism," that "ism." We have discovered so many things and diversion of the real duty."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 15/1/1977)

Useless impediment

"The so-called philanthropy, altruism, humanitarianism, this ism, that.... Bogus.... Not bogus — useless. It will not help. They are pious activities. So, Caitanya-caritamrta says, pious or impious, both of them are impediments to Krsna consciousness. So we are not interested with pious activities or impious even. We are interested how to serve Krsna."
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, 8/1/1977)

Real philanthropy

"There are, for the materialistic person, there are two varieties of self-interest. One is concentrated interest and other is expanded interest. [...] They think that I have extended my self-interest to my country, to my family, I have become a big man. And people also give him honor. This we have practical experience but that is extended self-interest. That is not actually philanthropy. Philanthropy is when one becomes interested in Krsna's interest, that is real philanthropy."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 29/10/1976)

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