Lord Buddha advocated that we give up all material desires. It is not possible to become desireless, but it is possible to give up material desires. It is the nature of the living entity to desire; it is not possible to be desireless. If one is desireless, he is dead. Desirelessness means purifying one’s desire, and desire is purified when we only desire the service of Krishna. The devotees are not anxious to merge into the existence of the Supreme. The Buddhist philosophy advocates nirvana, the negation of all material desires. Buddha does not offer more than this. Sankaracarya gives a little more, saying that we should become desireless in this material world and then enter into the Brahman effulgence. This is called brahma-nirvana. According to the Vaisnava philosophy, however, we should negate material desires and be situated on the Brahman platform, but in addition, we should engage in the devotional service of the Lord. This is called bhakti. Mayavadi philosophers cannot understand this, but Krishna says that this devotional service is on the transcendental platform.

A living entity, by constitution, has the propensity to be attached to something. We see that if someone has no object of attachment if he has no children, he transfers his attachment to cats and dogs. This indicates that the propensity for attachment cannot be stopped; rather, it must be utilized for the best purpose. Our attachment for material things perpetuates our conditional state, but the same attachment, when transferred to the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His devotee, is the source of liberation.

We have many desires, but we have to divert these desires to Krishna’s service. For instance, we may be very attached to making money; therefore Krishna says, “Yes, go ahead and conduct your business. There is no harm. Simply give Me the results.” As stated in Bhagavad-gita (9.27):

yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam

“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” This is the beginning of bhakti-yoga. If we conduct business and earn money, we should spend it on Krishna. This is a form of bhakti. Another vivid example is Arjuna, who was a fighter. By fighting, he became a devotee. He did not become a devotee by chanting Hare Krishna but by fighting in the Battle of Kuruksetra. Krishna advised him to fight, but because Arjuna was a Vaisnava, in the beginning, he was unwilling. A Vaisnava does not like to kill anything, but if Krishna orders him, he must fight. He does not fight out of his own will, because a Vaisnava’s natural instinct is not to do harm to anyone. However, when a Vaisnava knows that Krishna wants a particular thing done, he does not care for his own considerations.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2007 edition), “Teachings of Lord Kapila, The Son of Devahuti”, Page 129, 151 & 197
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Quest for Enlightenment”, Page 91

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