His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Question: Could you say a little more about the importance of good association and avoiding bad association?
Yes, it is said in Srimad Bhagavatam that those who are intelligent will take good association (sadhu-sanga) and avoid bad association (duh-sanga). Actually bad association is the main problem. It is called jana-sangancha. Do not associate with anyone except devotees of Krishna.
Sometimes those who preach Krishna consciousness go to non-devotees, but it is for service, not for their own interest.
One time, Srila Bhakti Hriday Bon Maharaj went begging and collecting in Kolkata. He was walking, walking, and suddenly came to a pros-quarter street where there lived a few thousands of prostitutes. He became very shy, "What place have I come to?!" As he went through that place, some prostitute girls gave him a coin—some gave one rupee, some two rupees, some five rupees. Taking that money, he came to Prabhupad, crying. Prabhupad asked him,
"Why are you crying?"
"Prabhupad, today I have gone to a wrong place. I did not know that street was only a pros-quarter street, I did not know," said Bon Maharaj.
"Am I doing wrong?" asked him Prabhupad. "I take so many brahmacharis and sannyasis from householders—I bring so many boys from their houses, taking them away from their mothers and fathers, and make them brahmacharis. When they become brahmacharis and begin to preach Krishna consciousness, I send them back to the householders to bring more householders to Krishna consciousness. Am I doing wrong? You did not do wrong because you did not go there for your own interest. You went there and some prostitute girls gave you one-two rupees from the money they earn, for the service of the Lord—you did not make any mistake."
We must understand this example, understand what Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur told.
It is necessary to have a proper desire for service. If your desire is proper, then one day mercy will come through that, but you must have chastity for your Guru, you must think, "How shall I make my Gurudev happy?" You heard the story that Prabhupad Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur told. I have told it before.
There was once a small nine-year-old boy called Satyakam who lived with his mother Jabala. Jabala worked outside in everybody's houses—she cleaned the plates, cooked house to house, etc. and earned some money in this way. She went through very much austerity, did very hard work for her only son. She gave him the name Satyakam ('satya' means truth) because her son never told a lie, he always spoke the truth.
One day Satyakam said to his mother,
"Mother, you work so much, you get so much austerity—I think I can go now to the ashram and study there under guidance of my Guru."
"Yes, you can go and stay there." (A real mother allows her son to go to Krishna consciousness.)
"Then I will go to my Gurudev's ashram tomorrow!" Satyakam was very happy. "My Guru's name is Gautam Goswami, and I will take shelter and stay there. But mother, when I first come to my Guru, he does not know me and he will ask me about my name, he will ask me where my house is, what my mother's name is, what my father's name is. He will ask me everything..."
"Yes. You know that your name is Satyakam, and your mother's name (my name) is Jabala, your house is in this village..."
"But you have never told me my father's name. What is my father's name?" asked Satyakam.
"Son, I work in so many houses and mix with many people. I also make many people happy, give them enjoyment, and actually I enjoyed with so many men, I do not know who your real father is. Tell the same to your Guru."
The next day Satyakam came to his Guru's place. When he paid obeisance to his Guru, the Guru said,
"Oh, what a nice boy. What is your name?"
"My name is Satyakam."
"What is your father's name?"
"My mother said she had mixed with so many people, even she does not know who my real father is."
The Guru became very happy hearing the truth and seeing that the boy was not shy or ashamed, so he immediately said, "Usually I wait before giving anyone initiation. I first observe them for many days, then give them initiation, but in your case I will not wait. Bring some wood, bricks and sand, I will make a fire sacrifice today and give you initiation and the brahmin thread. You are actually already a brahmin, so I must give you the brahmin thread now."
When Satyakam got initiation, he was very happy. He came to his Guru, paid him obeisance and asked, "Prabhu, you have given me shelter, you have given me initiation, but what is my service? How can I make you happy? What kind of service can I do to make you happy?" His Gurudev was very surprised, "Satyakam, many brahmacharis, many sannyasis live in my ashram, but they want their own happiness, they do not think about my happiness. You are a small boy, but you want to make me happy, you want my happiness! I am surprised. I am going to give you some service, it is a very hard service. I have four hundred cows, but no one takes care of them—everybody fights for their milk, curd, yoghurt, and paneer, but no one fights for service, no one thinks about the cows, and the cows become sick. Tell me, can you do this cows' service?"
"Yes, Gurudev! I can do the cows' service," answered Satyakam.
"Alright, then I have these four hundred cows, go, you can take this service."
"Yes, Gurudev," said Satyakam, "but I want to take one permission from you... I want to take the cows for grazing, but I will not come back until I can increase the number of the cows to one thousand. Please let me come back when there is one thousand cows."
So, Satyakam took the cows for grazing and he did not come back—he was waiting when there is one thousand cows. He waited, waited, waited, and after many years the number of the cows reached one thousand, then he said, "Now I must go back to my Gurudev's ashram." His Guru also had been waiting for him all these years.
Satyakam started walking back, and one night, when he was taking rest under a tree, a demigod came to him and asked, "Satyakam, where are you? Are you sleeping?" Seeing the four-armed demigod, Satyakam was surprised, "Who are you?" The demigod replied, "I am Sun," and gave him very much divya-jnan (divine knowledge). Another day, Satyakam again walked all day and in the evening Moon came to him, then the next night Fire came, and so on—every night he learned transcendental knowledge from all kinds of demigods.
Finally, he came back to the ashram. His Gurudev looked at him and saw a very exalted Vaishnav in front of him. He said,
"Satyakam, how did you learn all this?"
"I have learned from Moon, Sun, Air, and others," explained Satyakam.
"I have been waiting for you..."
"I have also been waiting to come back, but I promised you that I would come back when I have made one thousand cows. Now I am here, can you please give me some spiritual advice?"
Satyakam's Gurudev gave his garland to Satyakam and seated him on his chair, "This is my teachings to you. Take this chair." Satyakam became the Acharya of the ashram.
You can see that a prostitute's son became an Acharya.
So, if we practise properly, if we have chastity, if we have sincerity, have svikar [স্বীকার, resolve, or ability to accept something firmly], then we can easily understand what Krishna consciousness is and what is necessary.
Whatever you do—cooking, sleeping, enjoying, etc.—no one will take it away from you. Today you cook some good prasadam (paneer, puspanna, sweet rice, etc.), you are very happy, but if you bring a pig and give that prasadam to it, it will tell you, "It is very bad, bring me a bucket of stool." When we were a tiger or an elephant, we were in a forest and we were also very happy—happier than we are now. When we were a street dog, we slept so much. How many hours do you sleep? Seven-eight? Dogs and snakes sleep twenty-one, fifteen hours a day and they are very happy to sleep on the street. Do you understand? This kind of enjoyment will never go away from you, but what will go away? The main, the most important thing—Krishna consciousness. You will never get this opportunity again. That is why it is necessary to understand what this life is for, what Krishna consciousness is, and that is why good association is so necessary.
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