#daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā #Food-for-life #Mid-Day-Meals #Feeding-the-poor
In today’s time of Kaliyuga where most of the population is a hypocrite, has no other purpose than sense gratification often talks, appreciates, and glorifies about Humanitarian work. Charity & donating is considered pious activity but it also represents the demonic quality if it has been done for sense gratification, for pride & image building.
Lord Krsna identifies such people as demons in BG 16.13-15
…īśvaro ’ham ahaṁ bhogī siddho ’haṁ balavān sukhī
āḍhyo ’bhijanavān asmi ko ’nyo ’sti sadṛśo mayā
yakṣye dāsyāmi modiṣya ity ajñāna-vimohitāḥ
“I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful, and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice.” In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance. ”
A person who has accumulated wealth, power, and surrounded by aristocratic relatives sometimes conducts charities, organizes Yagya, Bhandara (Food distribution) while his heart is full of materialistic desires. If someone uses that charity or does such charity it will only generate Karma and further entangled the soul into this material affair of dying and taking birth in the different wombs of different species.
In Modern times we have seen factories and industries often advertise about their social welfare activities. This is done to generate image building. But why do they need Image Building? Because they know that their industries and big machines are creating problems like global warming, polluting our groundwater. This currency eco system is forcing people to produce nuts and bolts in a hellish environment while forgetting that food, grains and livestock is the real wealth.
But their publicity material shows otherwise. It promotes welfare work done by industrialists such as promoting green and clean cities, women empowerment, distributing food, etc. But in reality, we have seen how industries have polluted our rivers, land, and groundwater. Their chemicals, fertilizers, tractors have only promoted animal killings and the development of diseases like cancer. This is called image building or in other words covering the nasty picture and presenting the all-good image in front of the public.
The whole modern society fails to provide a solution to major four problems faced by us i.e. Birth -Death-Disease and Old Age. The modern scientists’ claims about progress in medical science. But a small virus-like Corona has shown that they have no control over these problems. It is frustrating that they do nothing about it and keep people in illusion by developing cinema, smartphone, and more powerful cars.
The age of Vedic civilization, which was based upon Krsna consciousness, facilitated the real welfare of its citizens. It categorizes the potential and distributed the work following their abilities and quality. The whole atmosphere of Krishna Consciousness society was to provide its citizen with equal opportunity to progress in the Krsna consciousness and go back to Godhead where there is no birth, no death, no old age, and no disease and serve the lotus feet of Krsna and remain satisfied.
In modern society, we have no such Vedic civilization/authority to guide us for the real purpose of life. It’s a cat and dog society with one single purpose of filling the belly. But through this belly, we do have a chance to realize the lost relationship with Krsna. If this belly is filled with Krsna Parsadam along Krsna Philopshy and kirtan it will infect us with the Krsna’s love and we will gradually become Krsna Consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada Jagad-Guru, A great Vaishnava and founder Acharya of ISKCON wanted to help people. A Vaishnava always feels mercy for the miseries of other living beings that are always suffering within this material world. So Srila Prabhupada profoundly recommended a treatment that can instantly infest the people with Krsna consciousness seed. He recommended the Kīrtana and prasāda distribution.
In one of the conversations, Srila Prabhupada says “Kīrtana and prasāda distribution. This is our preaching mainly. And if they hear little philosophy, that is very good. Otherwise simply kīrtana and prasāda distribution are sufficient. Caitanya Mahāprabhu used to do that. He was not speaking philosophy to everyone. Kīrtana and prasāda distribution. So our men can perform very nice kīrtana, and if they come to take little prasādam, that is preaching. You have to maintain this standard, that kīrtana must go on and prasādam should be distributed.” January 29, 1977
Krishna Kirtan along with Parsadam Distribution will help Jiva to be free from continuous suffering of repeated birth and death as confirmed by Krsna in 8.16 in Bhagavad Gita.
आब्रह्मभुवनाल्लोका: पुनरावर्तिनोऽर्जुन ।
मामुपेत्य तु कौन्तेय पुनर्जन्म न विद्यते ॥ 8.16
From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.
Due to the loss of Vedic civilization, the people lost bona-fide spiritual guidance and become bewildered. And this highest purpose wad diluted upto bodily comforts. This can be seen in our Indian Society where Darida is considered Narayan. Instead directing people to serve Naryana eternally in his Abode Mayavdi started campaigns like daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā
Srila Prabhupada in SB 7.15.6, Purport says ‘In Kali-yuga there is a scarcity of food almost every year, and thus philanthropists spend lavishly to feed the poor. For this they invent the term daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā. This is prohibited. One should distribute sumptuous prasāda, considering everyone a part of the Supreme Lord, but one should not juggle words to make a poor man Nārāyaṇa. Everyone is related to the Supreme Lord, but one should not mistakenly think that because one is related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he has become the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa. Such a Māyāvāda philosophy is extremely dangerous, especially for a devotee. ”
Further Srila Prabhupada says “There are so many institutions, daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā. But why there are daridras still? That means you cannot change.” Lecture on BG 13.21 — Bombay, October 15, 1973
In India this daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā Mayavad is very deeply imbibed in the consciousness of people. That is why they expect every Sadhu, Institution to be engage in the same kind of Mayavad. They will not appreciate Hare Krishna Kirtan, they will not apperciate the Philopshy, but they will appreciate the daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā concept that is why we see even big Vahishnva institution have fallen for this trap. To get the appreciation which later turns into donations. And to get it easily from this society you need a covering which fulfills this concept of daridra-nārāyaṇa-sevā .
The concept of Mid-Day Meals or food for life is the same covering. This is a way to tell people that we are at par with your consciousness and that we believe in serving the poor and it is an important part of our functions apart from serving the mission of the Chaitnya Mahaprabhu.
The Mid Day Meal Program is an initiative that provides school going kids free food. Many NGO’s participates in this program including Iskcon. But due the nature of this material world anything, which has no connection with Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna, traps itself into the trouble after trouble. For an example few days’ back it was questioned why Mid Day food doesn’t have onion and garlic https://theprint.in/theprint-essential/akshaya-patras-midday-meal-runs-into-yet-another-controversy-over-missing-onion-garlic/246491/
Moreover when this food is supplied to kids there is no chance to conduct the Kirtan, One has to compromise with the core Philopshy of distributing the parsadam and even after compromising there is no guarantee that one will get some appreciation instead we have seen that Mid Day Meal program has to face lot of criticism by the same people to whom they wanted to impress.
Read this article here where people are criticizing the Mid Day Meal Program. Unfortunately material world like that only the moment you leave the shelter of Philopshy you are bound to face some sort of hurdle and problem. Srila Prabhupada gave a piece of advise to Mahatma Ghandi in his letter to quit politics otherwise he will die an inglorious death and after few months the same people shoot him down for whom he fought for whole of his life. https://www.thequint.com/news/india/karnataka-news-iskcon-in-trouble-as-kids-refuse-to-eat-mid-day-meals
So you loose on both side you have to water down instructions and Philopshy given by Acharya & still you will not get appreciation for the things you have done to please materialistic people. It may attract some people by telling them that we are feeding 2-3 lakh kids everyday and he may donate some money. But Srila Prabhupada presented a far better program. In one of his letter Srila Prabhupada instructed.
“This food distribution program is to be done very, very nicely as I have already written in my last letter. Generally people make a plea that why are there so many hungry and naked. So we invite all hungry and naked people *to come to us *and we will give them food and clothing *and Krishna consciousness as well*. This will attract the general public and there will never be any shortage of food-stuffs, so continue regularly. In Bombay there are many generous persons who like food distribution programs, and actually, our temple should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiritual knowledge. Our Bombay program should be based on giving Krishna consciousness through the English medium and distribution of prasadam without any discrimination.” Letter to Giriraja — Tokyo 23 April, 1972
Few more quotes by Srila Prabhupada Clears the Picture that how he wanted Parsadam Distribution Program to be conducted.
“My only desire is that our temple must be a living temple by chanting Hare Krsna Mantra and distributing prasadam as well as distributing books to the intelligent class of men” Los Angeles 6 January, 1974:
“In Vrindaban we can begin this prasadam distribution program also. Of course, there are many chatras for distributing, but we shall give them also Krishna Consciousness, that will be unique. April 25, 1972 Letter to Gurudas
If temples simply follow Srila Prabhupada Instructions then there will be no scarcity of funds. The regular kirtan parties in the streets, the regular book distribution parties, along with kirtan and Parsadam will attract many thousands of people to take this Krsna Consciousness without compromising with the Philopshy
Srila Prabhupada never compromised he wanted to declare that we Jiva are dependent upon Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada completely rejected Hyadrabad Secretary’s suggestion of providing relief to drought-hit areas with food and grains. Instead Srila prabhupada replied to his letter with following words:
” I beg to inform you that without pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no one can become happy. Unfortunately, people do not know who God is and how to make Him happy. Our Krsna consciousness movement is therefore meant to present the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly to the people. As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Seventh Canto, Sixth Chapter: tuste ca tatra kim alabhyam ananta adye/ kim tair guna-vyatikarad iha ye sva-siddhah.
The idea stated in this verse is that by pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we please everyone, and there is no question of scarcity. Because people do not know this secret of success, they are making their own independent plans to be happy. However, it is not possible to achieve happiness in this way. ”
On your letterhead I find many important men in this country who are interested in relieving the sufferings of the people, but they should know for certain that without pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead all their attempts will be futile. A diseased man cannot live simply on the strength of the help of an expert physician and medicine. If this were so, then no rich man would ever die. One must be favored by Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Therefore if you want to perform relief work simply by collecting funds, I think that it will not be successful. You have to please the supreme authority, and that is the way to success. For example, due to the performance of sankirtana here, the rain has begun to fall after a drought of two years.
The last time we performed a Hare Krsna Festival in Delhi, there was imminent danger of Pakistan’s declaring war, and when a newspaper man approached me for my opinion, I said there must be fighting because the other party was aggressive. However, because of our sankirtana movement, India emerged victorious. Similarly, when we held a festival in Calcutta, the Naxalite [Communist] movement stopped. These are facts. Through the sankirtana movement we can not only get all facilities for living, but also at the end can go back home, back to Godhead. Those who are of a demoniac nature cannot understand this, but it is a fact.
I therefore request you, as leading members of society, to join this movement. There is no loss on anyone’s part for chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, but the gain is great. According to Bhagavad-gita (3.21), what is accepted by leading men is also accepted by common men:
yad yad acarati sresthas tat tad evetaro janah sa yat pramanam kurute lokas tad anuvartate
“Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.”
The sankirtana movement of Krsna consciousness is very important. Therefore, through you I wish to appeal to all the leading men of India to accept this movement very seriously and give us all facility to spread this movement throughout the world. Then there will be a very happy condition, not only in India but all over the world.
Hoping this will meet you in good health,
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami ……..”
Srila prabhupada stressed upon joining the Krsna consciousness movement and gave many examples where Hare Krishna Kirtan solved many problems like drought and war. This letter is an example how we could have dealt with the current Corona Situation we could have dependent upon the mercy of Krsna and have promoted Kritan & Parsadam Distribution. Instead what we saw on the Internet and social media was the pictures and videos of distributing the food without kirtan this may be have done to retain the secular image of the institution.
In a letter May 13, 1972 to Gurudas
Srila Prabhupada wrote “ Spiritual education and food, that is proper. Simply supplying food is nonsense, spiritual education means just to inject in their ears about our Philopshy
Here will come the picture of that letter May 13, 1972
If the Mid-Day meal program or Food for Life program continues –What people will think when they join Iskcon? They will think that they are joining another social welfare institution, although Iskcon may not want itself to be recognizing as social welfare platform, but due to these activity it feels like as if it is one. And many people may just join Iskcon because of this activity. They have never experienced Book distribution, Street Kirtana at all but they know about this mid day meals and the they are being sent to go out and collect for mid day meals and not to distribute books or do Harinaam as their main service.
That is why Srila Prabupada didn’t wanted to promote ISKCON as social welfare movement in the way that is generally considered my mundane people. That’s why in a lecture on SB 6.1.55 London August 13, 1975 Serial prabupada said
“Not that because he is poor man and we are giving parsada, no. this is not our idea. To our eyes, the so-called poor man and rich man, they are all suffering, not that simply poor man suffering and the rich man is not suffering. Therefore we give them Prasadam or Isa-Sanga. that parsadam is also Isa. the parsadam accepted by Krsna, offered to Krsna, is also Krsna. So if we give prasadam, then he is getting the opportunity of associating with Krsna.. So this prasāda distribution means giving chance to the people, those who are poor in knowledge, to awaken their Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is our policy.
Srila Prabhupada made this policy so that we don’t miss our goal of going back to Godhead and by following his instructions as it is we should ensure that we don’t let anyone else miss this opportunity of being fully surrendered to the lotus feet of Krsna.