By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
yadā na paśyaty ayathā gunehām
svārthe pramattah sahasā vipaścit
gata-smrtir vindati tatra tāpān
āsādya maithunyam agāram ajnah
“Even though one may be very learned and wise, he is mad if he does not understand that the endeavor for sense gratification is a useless waste of time. Being forgetful of his own interest, he tries to be happy in the material world, centering his interests around his home, which is based on sexual intercourse and which brings him all kinds of material miseries. In this way one is no better than a foolish animal.” [SB 5.5.7]
One has to be vipaścit, or learned, to understand the interest of life (self-interest). Everyone, especially the karmīs, the jnānīs, the yogis, and mixed devotees, is working for self-interest. For the devotees also, so long there is the self, self-interest is also there. But there is a little difference – the devotees work for Superself-interest. Self is there, but it is Superself-interest. Whereas, the karmīs, the jnānīs and the yogis work for individual self-interest. Self-interest there must be!
That is the difference between lust and prema, or love. The Caitanya-caritāmrta defines the difference between lust and love. It appears almost the same but Krishnadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has given a very clear definition, ātmendriya-prīti-vānchā-tāre bali ‘kāma’ [Cc. Ādi 4.165]. When one is interested for his personal sense gratification, that is called kāma or lust, and krsnendriya-prīti-icchā dhare ‘prema’ nāma, and when one is interested for satisfying the senses of Krishna, that is prema. And the concrete example is there in the Bhagavad-gītā, that in the beginning Arjuna was thinking in terms of his family interest. How can I kill my brother, my nephews, my master, teacher, and my grandfather?
There are, for the materialistic person, there are two varieties of self-interest. One is concentrated interest and other is expanded interest. Just like a child, if you give him some foodstuff, a cake, he will immediately eat it himself, and if he is little liberal, then he will give it to his other friends also. So, this is called extended interest but the beginning is self-interest. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. So in our ordinary activities we find the same thing. Suppose a big political leader, in the beginning he is interested with his family members, but sometimes he takes to national interest, for all members of the country, or the society, community. And then there is fight between one community and another community, one family and another family, one nation and another nation, because that extended self-interest does not make things perfect. That extended self-interest must be up to Vishnu. Then it will be perfect. But that they do not know, because they have no idea that there is Vishnu, the Supreme Lord, or Krishna. na te viduh svārtha-gatim hi visnum [SB 7.5.31]. They do not know. They think that, “Since I have extended my self-interest to my country and to my family, I have become a big man.” And people also give him honor. We have practical experience of this but that is extended self-interest. That is not actually philanthropy.
Philanthropy is when one becomes interested in Krishna’s interest. That is real philanthropy. Otherwise it is all kāma (lust). There is no question of prema but it is passing off as prema – the so called deśa-bhakti (service to the nation) and love for humanity. The whole world is going on, but these are all imperfect things. The so-called philanthropism, altruism, humanitarianism, they are all imperfect. na te viduh svārtha-gatim hi visnum: That is not self-interest.
Just like this finger – it picks up some nice cake, rasagullā, but if the fingers think that, “We have got it, we shall use it,”, then it will be spoiled. But if the fingers think that, “Give it to the stomach,” then it will be to everyone’s interest. As soon as the rasagullā goes to the stomach the energy is distributed not only to these fingers of right hand, but to the left hand fingers also. This law they do not know. Therefore it is said yadā na paśyanti, paśyaty ayathā gunehām. Everyone is trying communally, nationally, individually, for his or their interest, so that is not good (svārthe pramattah). They do not know what real self-interest is.
Yadā na paśyaty ayathā gunehām svārthe. Everyone should be self-interested. But this is svārthe – that if you get a nice food stuff and if you give it to the stomach, then it is real svārthe (self-interest). tasmin tuste jagat tustah. prānopahārāc ca yathendriyānām. You put the foodstuff through the right way, not the foolish way. There are nine holes in the body – the mouth, the eyes, the ears, the genital, the rectum, the navel. If some rascal says that any hole will do, “You put the foodstuff through any hole”. Sometimes it is done. When one cannot eat, the foodstuff is forced through the body, through the rectum, through the nose. That is very troublesome. But the real process is that you put the foodstuff through the mouth. It must go to the stomach and then the energy will be distributed, everyone will be happy.
Similarly, if we serve Krishna, if we abide by the orders of Krishna, and satisfy Him, as He says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekam śaranam vraja [Bg. 18.66], that is the perfection of life. If we work otherwise, forgetting Krishna… Here it is said, gata-smrtir vindati tatra tāpān. If we forget Krishna, if we make our own plan to satisfy myself, community, society, nation, this is forgetfulness and the result will be, gata-smrtir vindati tatra tāpān: you will simply get trouble. That is being done, actually. The whole world is in forgetfulness of Krishna, or God. They are making so many plans to become happy but the result is vindati tāpān, simply suffering, simply suffering. It will never be successful.