By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
In the name of civilization, we have unnecessarily increased so many unwanted things. This is called anartha. Artha means which is substance. We can give so many examples. When there was no so-called advancement of civilization, people used to eat on utensils made of silver, gold, at least metal. Now they are using plastic. And still, they are proud of advancement of civilization. Actually it is anartha, unwanted things.
Two hundred years ago, at least, in India, there was no industry. But people were so happy. They did not have to go two hundred miles or five hundred miles away from home for earning livelihood. In Europe and America, I see that people are going for earning their livelihood by aeroplane as daily passengers. I’ve seen. From Vancouver, they were coming to Montreal and other places. Five hundred miles. At least fifty miles, one must go. In New York, many people are coming from distant place, such as Long Islands, crossing the sea, and then again bus, again… Anartha, simply unnecessary.
Chanakya Pandita says that “Who is happy?” He says, “The man who does not go out of home, and who is not a debtor – he is happy.” Very simple thing. So now we see everyone is out of home, and everyone is a great debtor. So how can you be happy? In America the bank canvasses that “You take money, you purchase motorcar, you purchase your house, and, as soon as you get your salary, you give me.” That’s all. Finished. You take the card… American… What is it called? Am-card?
Prabhupada: “Bank-card” or something. “Bank-rupt.” (laughter) You see? So you take the card and you purchase whatever you like. And deposit your money in the bank. Then again, you are without any money. Simply that card. That’s all.
So actually we are creating anarthas. Anarthas means unwanted things. anarthopaśamam sāksād bhakti-yogam adhoksaje [SB 1.7.6]. If one is engaged in bhakti-yoga practice, devotional service, immediately the anarthas will be diminished. Just like our students. Since they have joined this Krishna consciousness movement… They were all Americans, Europeans. They knew how to increase anarthas, unwanted things. It is confirmed. Immediately they have given up the cinema bill, the club bill, the intoxication bill, the gambling bill, and so many bills. And medical bill also. We don’t pay very much medical bill. That’s a fact.
So actually Krishna consciousness movement is so nice that if one takes to it, immediately he reduces so many rascal anarthas which are not required. Does a man die without smoking? It is anartha, unnecessary. They are habituated by bad association. Sangāt sanjāyate kāmah kāmāt krodho ‘bhijāyate. By bad association, they learn how to smoke, how to gamble, how to eat…
So these are anarthas. So Sūta Gosvāmī said that if you engage yourself in devotional service of the Lord, then immediately, directly, the anarthas will be diminished…Teach bhakti-yogam to the people. All anarthas will be vanquished immediately.
But these foolish people, they do not know. Here is the remedy. They won’t consult the perfect knowledge, i.e. the Vedic knowledge. They will manufacture their own ways. Lokasya ajānatah. Because these fools, they do not know, how to get out of the clutches of unwanted things. Therefore Vyāsadeva, has made this Srimad-Bhagavatam. Take shelter of Srimad-Bhagavatam and you know perfectly how you can diminish your unwanted things. And the simple process is, “you simply hear about Krishna.”… Krishna is speaking Himself in the Bhagavad-gita. Don’t malinterpret. Simply hear as Arjuna heard it… So we have to hear. If we actually want to diminish our anarthas, then we must hear Krishna as He’s speaking, without any interpretation.
[An excerpt from lecture delivered on the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.18 in Vrindavana on October 29, 1972]