The Real Self-interest of a Human Being
14th September 2014 • Śrīmad Bhāgavatam
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 6.9.49
Those who think material assets to be everything or to be the ultimate goal of life are called misers (kripanas). They do not know the ultimate necessity of the soul. Moreover, if one awards that which is desired by such fools, he must also be considered foolish.
There are two classes of men - namely the kripana and the brāhmana. A brāhmana is one who knows Brahman, the Absolute Truth, and who thus knows his real interest. A kripana, however, is one who has a material, bodily concept of life. Not knowing how to utilize his human or demigod life, a kripana is attracted by things created by the material modes of nature. The kripanas, who always desire material benefits, are foolish, whereas brāhmanas, who always desire spiritual benefits, are intelligent. If a kripana, not knowing his self-interest, foolishly asks for something material, one who awards it to him is also foolish. Krishna, however, is not a foolish person; He is supremely intelligent. If someone comes to Krishna asking for material benefits, Krishna does not award him the material things he desires. Instead, the Lord gives him intelligence so that he will forget his material desires and become attached to the Lord’s lotus feet. In such cases, although the kripana offers prayers to Lord Krishna for material things, the Lord takes away whatever material possessions the kripana has and gives him the sense to become a devotee. As stated by the Lord in the Caitanya-caritāmrita (Madhya 22.39):
āmi — vijña, ei mūrkhe ‘vishaya’ kene diba?
sva-caranāmrita diyā ‘vishaya’ bhulāiba
“Since I am very intelligent, why should I give this fool material prosperity? Instead I shall induce him to take the nectar of the shelter of My lotus feet and make him forget illusory material enjoyment.” If one sincerely prays to God for material possessions in exchange for devotional service, the Lord, who is not foolish like such an unintelligent devotee, shows him special favor by taking away whatever material possessions he has and gradually giving him the intelligence to be satisfied only by rendering service to His lotus feet. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Thākura comments in this regard that if a foolish child requests his mother to give him poison, the mother, being intelligent, will certainly not give him poison, even though he requests it. A materialist does not know that to accept material possessions means to accept poison, or the repetition of birth and death. An intelligent person, a brāhmana, aspires for liberation from material bondage. That is the real self-interest of a human being.