By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Kunti says, “My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of material progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.”
These material opulences are the disqualifications – Janma, to take birth in very aristocratic family or nation. Just like you American boys and girls, you are born of rich parents and a rich nation. So, to take birth in nice family or in nice nation, to become very rich, to become advanced in knowledge, to become learned and educated and to get beauty, these are the gifts of pious activities. This, in one sense, is God’s grace. Otherwise, why does a poor man not attract anyone’s attention; but a rich man does. An educated man attracts attention, whereas a fool or rascal does not. These things are materially very beneficial. Janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrī –high birth, riches, knowledge and beauty.
But when a person is materially opulent in this way, he becomes intoxicated. “Oh, I am rich man. I am an educated man. I have got money.” Therefore we advise to refrain from intoxication. They are already intoxicated by these possessions. And then, again further intoxication? Just like when you become intoxicated by drinking wine, you start thinking that you are flying in the sky. You are thinking like that. You have gone to the heaven. Yes. So these are the effects of intoxication. But the intoxicated person does not know that this intoxication will be finished. It is within the time limit. It is not going to continue. That is called illusion. Similarly, if one is intoxicated, that “I am very rich. I am very educated, I am very beautiful, I am born in high family, in high nation…” That’s all right. But how long will this intoxication last?
Suppose you are American. You are rich, beautiful, advanced in knowledge, and you are proud of being American. But how long will this intoxication last? As soon as this body’s finished, everything is finished. Same thing. You drink something and become intoxicated. But as soon as that intoxication is over, all your intoxicated dreams are over, finished. So this intoxication, if you remain in intoxication, hover in the sky and mental platform… These are on the mental platform, egoistic platform, or bodily platform.
But you are not this body, neither this gross body nor the subtle body. This gross body is made of earth, water, air, fire, sky, and the subtle body is made of mind, intelligence and ego. But you do not belong to these eight elements ( apareyam). In the Bhagavad-gītā, it is mentioned as the inferior energy of God. Even if one is very mentally advanced, he does not know that he’s under the influence of inferior energy. That is intoxication. Just like intoxicated person does not know in what condition he is. So this opulent position is intoxication. We are already intoxicated and the modern civilization is that we should increase the intoxication further. In fact, we have to become out of the intoxicated situation, but modern civilization is increasing it further, “You become more intoxicated, more intoxicated, and go to hell.” This is the position of the modern civilization.
So Kuntī says that whose intoxicated position, edhamāna-madah [SB 1.8.26], is increasing, such persons, naivārhati, they cannot feelingly address: “Jaya Rādhā-Mādhava.” That is not possible. Their feeling, spiritual feeling, is lost. They cannot feelingly address because they do not know. They think, “Oh, this God is for the poor men, who cannot have sufficient food. Let them go to the church and ask: ‘Oh, God, give us our daily bread.’ But we have got enough bread. Why shall I go to church?” This is their opinion. Therefore nowadays, in the days of economic development, nobody’s interested in going to the church or temple. “What is this nonsense? Why shall I go to the church for asking bread? We shall develop economic condition and there will be sufficient supply of bread.”
Just like the Communist country – they do so. The Communist country make propaganda in the villages. They ask people to go to the church and ask for bread. The innocent people ask as usual: “Oh God, give us our daily bread.” Then when they come out of the church, these Communist people ask: “Have you got bread?” They say: “No sir.” “All right, ask us.” And then they ask: “Oh Communist friend, give me bread.” And the Communist friend has brought a truckload of bread: “Take, as much as you like. Take! So who is better? We are better or your God is better?” They say: “No sir, you are better.” Because they have no intelligence, they do not inquire that: “You rascal, wherefrom have you brought this bread? Have you manufactured it in your factory? Can you manufacture grains, the ingredients of bread, in your factory?”
Śūdra – they are called śūdra. Śūdra means one who has no intelligence. They take it, as it is. But one who is brāhmana, one who is advanced in intelligence, he’ll inquire immediately: “You rascal, wherefrom have you brought this bread?” That is the question of the brāhmana. You cannot manufacture bread. You have simply transformed God’s grain… The grain, the wheat is given by God, and you have simply transformed. But transforming something from something does not become your property.
So in this way we have to see things as they are. That is Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness is not a crippled idea. Therefore Kuntī says: janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrībhir edhamāna-madah pumān [SB 1.8.26]. Those who are increasing their intoxication, such persons cannot become Krishna conscious. Just like an intoxicated person, who is now fully intoxicated and talking nonsense and if somebody tells him, “My dear brother, you are talking nonsense. Here is father. Here is mother.” Will he care for it? He’s intoxicated. Similarly all these rascals, intoxicated rascals, if you tell them, “Here is God,” they will not understand because they are intoxicated.
Therefore Kuntī says: tvām akiïcana-gocaram. So it is a good qualification, when one becomes freed from these intoxicants – Janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrī – good birth, good opulence, good education, and good beauty. They can be used properly. When the same person becomes Krishna conscious… Just like you American boys and girls are doing. You were intoxicated. But when the intoxication is over, you are doing better service in Krishna consciousness. Just like when you go to India, they’re surprised how these American boys and girls have become so mad after God. Because that teaches them that: “You rascal. You learn. Because you imitate from the Western countries. Now see here, the Western boys and girls are dancing in Krishna consciousness. Now you imitate.” That was my policy.
So it is being fructified now. Yes. So everything can be utilized, good parentage, if you utilize. If you remain intoxicated and do not utilize it, then it is not a very good asset. But you can utilize it for a good purpose. If you utilize the asset for Krishna’s purpose, it will be a better position. Just like zero. Zero has no value. But as soon as you put one before zero, it becomes ten immediately. Another zero – hundred. Another zero – thousand. Similarly with these janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrī. So long you remain intoxicated with it, it is all zero. But as soon as you put Krishna, it becomes ten, hundred, thousand, millions. Yes. That is the opportunity. So you have got this opportunity. You American boys and girls, you have got this opportunity. You have got zeroes. Put Krishna. You become ten.
[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.26 delivered in Mayapur, West Bengal, India on April 18, 1973]