Spiritual Success v. Material Success


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 43, Spring 2014

In the preceding article we saw GBC voted-in guru HH Bhakti Charu Swami ("BCS") preaching the opposite to Srila Prabhupada -- by calling for the gurukula system of education to be replaced by job education. In the same teleconference quoted by the article, BCS also states:

"Won't it be wonderful to see that our children are winning Olympic gold medals? Then only will we have recognition that, yes, ISKCON is the real institution."

And, earlier he had stated:

"Let us start off with a school, and considering if those children are coming out and if they're going to Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford and Cambridge [...] Let them become the most successful people in the world. Let them become the army general, let them become state presidents, and that is how Krsna consciousness will have its recognition and establishment. And why not? Devotees of Krsna are meant to be the best. So that's why I was saying, like I don't think in terms of gurukula."
(BCS Lecture, 13/5/09)

Hence, BCS's call for Srila Prabhupada's gurukula program to be ditched is actually a consequence of a new theory regarding Krsna consciousness. According to this theory, only material success in terms of attending a top university, winning Olympic Gold medals, becoming President, army general and the "most successful people in the world" will enable ISKCON to be recognised as the "real" institution. Claiming that a spiritual organisation will only be recognised as being "real" based on it being materially successful is absurd and contradictory. And, as we will see, Srila Prabhupada confirms that such a theory is indeed nonsense. All emphases have been added.

Spiritual formula

"This routine program is the backbone of our Movement, and we stand solid on such program such as chanting, speaking, arati, reading scriptures, prasadam, like that. These things are sufficient for us. Any sane man will be attracted to such program. And if we perform everything nicely and always seize every opportunity to preach about Krishna, that is our formula for success."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 8/12/71)

"Our process is to show Krishna Consciousness as it is, not as others want to see it. By showing KC in this way, you are making the thing less important. It is not that we should change to accommodate the public, but that we should change the public to accommodate us. [...] These books are the best advertising, they are better than advertising. If we simply present Krishna Consciousness in a serious and attractive way, without need to resort to fashionable slogans or tricks, that is sufficient. Our unique asset is our purity. No one any where can match it. That will be noticed eventually and appreciated, as long as we do not diminish or neglect the highest standard of purity in performing our routine work, not that we require to display or announce ourselves in very clever ways to get attention. No, our pure standard is enough. Let us stand on that basis."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 28/12/71)

"If we stick to our principle, certainly very soon we shall be recognized as a bona fide institution and who can give better information than us in the matter of Spiritual understanding?"
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 13/3/70)

Srila Prabhupada directly cautions that we must rely only on our standard spiritual program and Srila Prabhu­pada's books. This alone is sufficient for ISKCON to become successful and recognised as bona fide.

Don't waste time

"We are trying to gain success in these material activities, but by God's will, there are different living entities. They have already all the successes. So therefore our real business is not to waste our time to get any material success. Our real business is how we shall be successful to become an obedient servant of Krsna. That's all. That is real success."
(Srila Prabhupada Morning Walk, 5/4/74)

"But to come to the point of a reputed artist will require long duration of time. And our time is very short. We have to finish our Krishna Consciousness during our lifetime, and we should not waste a single moment for anything else. According to Caitanya Caritamrta, a man is famous who is known as a great devotee of Krishna. So if there is not possibility of selling our pictures immediately on presentation, I do not think there is any necessity to improve our artistic craftsmanship. We should be satisfied with our pictures hanging in our different temples. But we may not sacrifice our valuable time for becoming famous artists so that pictures may be sold like hotcakes."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 13/4/68)

"But at the present moment to go to university means how to gratify the senses very scientifically. [...] It is simply a waste of time. This modern university education is simply a waste of time."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 27/10/76)

Rather, trying to spend time and energy becoming materially successful is directly condemned as a waste of time.

No compromise

Srila Prabhupada: "They are daily one or two gentlemen, like you they are coming. But they find our prescription very strict. [Laughter]. And...but we are not going to change it. We are not after vox populi. That is not our concern. We have got our standard method."
Director: "Yeah, sure. I believe that you should have these standards if you want them, if anybody wants them."
Srila Prabhupada: "Yes. That is making us successful. We do not make any compromise. This is our method. If you like, you take it. If you don't like, you go away. Don't mind."
(Room conversation, 21/5/75)


In the Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi, 12.10), it is stated that "The order of the spiritual master is the active principle in spiritual life." Therefore, any new philosophy or idea can immediately be rejected if Srila Prabhupada has not actively ordered it. Hence, not only is the philosophy that "Material success = Spiritual recognition" rendered deviant by the lack of direct authorisation for it from Srila Prabhupada, but, additionally, Srila Prabhupada has also directly condemned it. Thus, establishing conclusively and comprehensively, just how deviant this philosophy is.

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