26th May, 2015. Vrindavan
I had written in an earlier blog about a wonderful purport that I heard in Vrindavan and that I would write about it separately, the verse is SB5.18.22
O supreme unconquerable Lord, when they become absorbed in thoughts of material enjoyment, Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, as well as other demigods and demons, undergo severe penances and austerities to receive my benedictions. But I do not favor anyone, however great he may be; unless he is always engaged in the service of Your lotus feet. Because I always keep You within my heart, I cannot favor anyone but a devotee.
This verse is being spoken by Laxmi ji. It is fairly simple verse yet a little puzzling as we hear so many times that Laxmi Devi doesn’t bestows her mercy on a materialistic person, or she goes where Lord Narayana is worshiped, yet today we see so many impious, forget even materialistic, people enjoying great material wealth. This bewilders me sometimes and I would reconcile myself with the thought that they are reaping piety from their past birth, until this purport. This purport was a eye opener for me. Srila Prabhupada writes :
In this verse the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmīdevī, clearly states that she does not bestow her favor on any materialistic person. Although sometimes a materialist becomes very opulent in the eyes of another materialist, such opulence is bestowed upon him by the goddess Durgādevī, a material expansion of the goddess of fortune, not by Lakṣmīdevī herself. Those who desire material wealth worship Durgādevī with the following mantra: dhanaḿ dehi rūpaḿ dehi rūpa-pati-bhājaḿ dehi. “O worshipable mother Durgādevī, please give me wealth, strength, fame, a good wife and so on.” By pleasing goddess Durgā one can obtain such benefits, but since they are temporary, they result only in māyā-sukha (illusory happiness). As stated by Prahlāda Mahārāja, māyā-sukhāya bharam udvahato vimūḍhān: [SB 7.9.43] those who work very hard for material benefits are vimūḍhas, foolish rascals, because such happiness will not endure. On the other hand, devotees like Prahlāda and Dhruva Mahārāja achieved extraordinary material opulences, but such opulences were not māyā-sukha. When a devotee acquires unparalleled opulences, they are the direct gifts of the goddess of fortune, who resides in the heart of Nārāyaṇa.
The material opulences a person obtains by offering prayers to the goddess Durgā are temporary. As described in Bhagavad-gītā (7.23), antavat tu phalaḿ teṣāḿ tad bhavaty alpa-medhasām: men of meager intelligence desire temporary happiness. We have actually seen that one of the disciples of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura wanted to enjoy the property of his spiritual master, and the spiritual master, being merciful toward him, gave him the temporary property, but not the power to preach the cult of Caitanya Mahāprabhu all over the world. That special mercy of the power to preach is given to a devotee who does not want anything material from his spiritual master but wants only to serve him. The story of the demon Rāvaṇa illustrates this point. Although Rāvaṇa tried to abduct the goddess of fortune Sītādevī from the custody of Lord Rāmacandra, he could not possibly do so. The Sītādevī he forcibly took with him was not the original Sītādevī, but an expansion of māyā, or Durgādevī. As a result, instead of winning the favor of the real goddess of fortune, Rāvaṇa and his whole family were vanquished by the power of Durgādevī (sṛṣṭi-sthiti-pralaya-sādhana-śaktir ekā [Bs. 5.44]).
This clears so much air and confusion in my head. It is so true that we see so many people becoming Godless and earning so much money yet we see them without any happiness or contentment, because such wealth is not bestowed by Laxmi Devi. Hence people are suffering despite having so much wealth at their disposal. We can also see the example of Ravana and what happened to him in the end where all the opulence he had was destroyed.
I searched and found some more verses where scriptures elaborates this point further
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of CC Madhya 21.53 that `Because he wants to enjoy the material energy, the conditioned soul is allowed to reside in Devī-dhāma, the external energy, where goddess Durgā carries out the orders of the Supreme Lord as His maidservant. The material energy is called jagal-lakṣmī because she protects the bewildered conditioned souls.. For material facilities, the conditioned soul tries to please goddess Durgā, and mother Durgā supplies all kinds of material facilities. Because of this, the conditioned souls are allured and do not wish to leave the external energy.’
Lord Śiva, the most powerful demigod, second only to Lord Viṣṇu, is self-sufficient. Although he has nothing to aspire for in the material world, for the benefit of those in the material world he is always busily engaged everywhere and is accompanied by his dangerous energies like the goddess Kālī and the goddess Durgā. ( SB 4.24.18)
This verse was spoken by Vidura while he was asking Maitreya Rishi about `Pracetas’ and how they met Lord Shiva. Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to the above verse that ‘Asuras try to pacify the goddess Kālī, or Durgā, by worshiping her in material opulence, but when the asuras become too intolerable, the goddess Kālī does not discriminate in killing them wholesale. Asuras do not know the secret of the energy of Lord Śiva, and they prefer to worship the goddess Kālī or Durgā or Lord Śiva for material benefit……Lord Śiva’s duty is very dangerous because he has to employ the energy of the goddess Kālī, or Durgā. In another popular picture the goddess Kālī is sometimes seen standing on the prostrate body of Lord Śiva, which indicates that sometimes Lord Śiva has to fall down flat in order to stop the goddess Kālī from killing the asuras. Since Lord Śiva controls the great material energy (the goddess Durgā), worshipers of Lord Śiva attain very opulent positions within this material world. Under Lord Śiva’s direction, a worshiper of Lord Śiva gets all kinds of material facilities.’
My lord, surely I have been solidly cheated by the insurmountable illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for in spite of having obtained your association, which gives liberation from material bondage, I did not seek such liberation. (SB 3.23.57)
This verse was spoken by Devahuti to her husband Kardama Muni, feeling unsatisfied and distressed in her heart, despite all the opulence her husband had recently showered upon her. Srila Prabhupada warns in his purport that ‘People do not know what they are doing when they worship the material energy in the form of goddess Kālī or Durgā for material boons. They ask, “Mother, give me great riches, give me a good wife, give me fame, give me victory.” But such devotees of the goddess Māyā, or Durgā, do not know that they are being cheated by that goddess. Material achievement is actually no achievement because as soon as one is illusioned by the material gifts, he becomes more and more entangled, and there is no question of liberation. One should be intelligent enough to know how to utilize material assets for the purpose of spiritual realization. That is called karma-yoga or jñāna-yoga. Whatever we have we should use as service to the Supreme Person.’
So we learn that most of the material wealth people acquire is mostly bestowed by Durga devi and not by Laxmi devi. What is bestowed by Laxmi devi is permanent and auspicious, brings relief from the bondage of birth and death, examples are Prahlada, Dhruva Maharaj, etc.) where as what is bestowed by Durga devi is just the opposite and is called māyā-sukha (illusory happiness), prime example is Ravana. That is how today we see many people who have attained so much wealth but they have no happiness or even peace in their lives.
We also notice that whenever devotees are bestowed with wealth they generally do not get bewildered by it and use it in the service of Lord and His devotees. Our handling of wealth should not be that of an enjoyer of wealth rather than that of a caretaker who has been chosen by Lord to use it in the service of His devotees. We have examples of so many flourishing businessmen, HG Radheshyam Prabhu, from Gurgaon, comes immediately to my mind , whom we see that they are completely detached from money and they are using whatever wealth they have in the service of Lord. And we see Laxmiji bestowing more wealth on such devotees, as they utilise it for the right purpose.
On the other hand we see so many impious people hoarding money and trying to enjoy it. We increasingly hear how the richest comedian in USA commits suicide or a rich businessmen family is fighting over his vast wealth in India, or rich person’s son `plotting’ against his own father and so on. We also read how the number of bankruptcies have risen exponentially in last few decades, that too mostly in the rich countries. Similarly the less said about the money in shares/ESOPs the better, material energy continues to punish all such people. Whatever they have is temporary, even by the fickle standards of this material world. Forget liberation from the cycle of birth and death, even attainment of peace is very far for such people, inner happiness is further distant.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to SB 4.24.18 that : In contrast, a Vaiṣṇava, or worshiper of Lord Viṣṇu, gradually becomes poorer in material possessions because Lord Viṣṇu does not trick His devotees into becoming materially entangled by possessions. Lord Viṣṇu gives His devotees intelligence from within, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (10.10):
teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ yena mām upayānti te
“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”
Thus Lord Viṣṇu gives intelligence to His devotee so that the devotee can make progress on the path back home, back to Godhead. Since a devotee has nothing to do with any kind of material possession, he does not come under the control of the goddess Kālī, or the goddess Durgā.
All glories to the transcendental purports by Srila Prabhupada.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.