Maya is very strong. In the name of philanthropy, altruism and communism, people are feeling compassion for suffering humanity throughout the world. Philanthropists and altruists do not realize that it is impossible to improve people’s material conditions. Material conditions are already established by the superior administration according to one’s karma. They cannot be changed. The only benefit we can render to suffering beings is to try to raise them to spiritual consciousness. Material comforts cannot be increased or decreased. It is, therefore, said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.18), tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham: “As far as material happiness is concerned, that comes without effort, just as tribulations come without effort.” Material happiness and pain can be attained without endeavor. One should not bother for material activities. If one is at all sympathetic or able to do good to others, he should endeavour to raise people to Krishna consciousness. In this way, everyone advances spiritually by the grace of the Lord.

For our instruction, Bharata Maharaja acted in such a way. We should be very careful not to be misled by so-called welfare activities conducted in bodily, terms. One should not give up his interest in attaining the favor of Lord Vishnu at any cost. Generally, people do not know this, or they forget it. Consequently, they sacrifice their original interest, the attainment of Vishnu’s favor, and engage in philanthropic activities for bodily comfort.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Srimad Bhagavatam”, Fifth Canto, Chapter 08 – Text 10

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