Indebtedness to Parents
ASK BVKS | July 3, 2015 |
English; Colombo, Sri Lanka
Translation: With one’s body one can acquire all goals of life, and it is one’s parents who give the body birth and sustenance. Therefore no mortal man can repay his debt to his parents, even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years. (S.B.10.45.5).
1. Why does Krishna say here that one cannot repay his debt to his parents even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years when in S.B 11.5.4 Narada muni says to Vasudeva–“One who has taken shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet, is not indebted to demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one’s forefathers who have passed away.” So how are we to understand this statement and how should we take this comment in SB 10.45.5?
2. Is this comment applicable to only a Krishna conscious father and mother or a materialistic father & mother also?
ANSWER BY HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:
"All right. Karttik Kumar form Bangalore is quoting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.45.5, spoken by Kṛṣṇa.
janitaḥ poṣito yataḥ
na tayor yāti nirveśaṁ
pitror martyaḥ śatāyuṣā
Translation: With one’s body one can acquire all goals of life, and it is one’s parents who give the body birth and sustenance. Therefore no mortal man can repay his debt to his parents, even if he serves them for a full lifetime of a hundred years.
So there’s that verse which Śrīla Prabhupāda quotes three times, I believe, in Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Because Arjuna’s whole proposition was not to go against the family.
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam
O King, one who has given up all material duties and has taken full shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, who offers shelter to all, is not indebted to the demigods, great sages, ordinary living beings, relatives, friends, mankind or even one's forefathers who have passed away. Since all such classes of living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one who has surrendered to the Lord's service has no need to serve such persons separately. (SB 11.5.41.)
So this appears to be contradictory because Kṛṣṇa says you can’t repay your debt to your parents, even if you serve them for a full lifetime of a hundred years. But then Kṛṣṇa says: “If you take shelter of Me, then you are not indebted.”
Well, one statement is qualified by another. This is common – that (there is a) general truth, (and) there are exceptions. Sri Lankans are good people. OK, we can accept that as a general proposition. Well, this one is not good - some of them are not good. So it’s a general case, but it’s qualified.
Actually, one can repay the debts. One repays the debts to the parents by having children. That’s the understanding. So the children, they will offer pinda to the Pitris.
DEBT TO THE PARENTS
What is the debt to the parent? - That you were given a body by them. So you can’t exactly repay, but you create more bodies. So there is a way to repay, but the mood of this is that what you were given is so valuable that we feel we can’t repay. We shouldn’t think: “OK, I repaid them, and then leave them alone, forget them.” That’s the idea. Gratefulness should be there.
Everything we want to do, that can be done through the body. If you don’t have a body, you can’t do anything. If you are a ghost, for instance. If you are born in a subhuman body, then one cannot achieve the goal of life. So therefore, the human form of life is very valuable. But, if we fully dedicate to Kṛṣṇa, then we become free from the ordinary method of repaying the debt to the parents because we actually benefit not only the parents but even previous generation and even forthcoming generations. Kṛṣṇa delivers them all.
So therefore, one is not a debtor if he takes full shelter of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa takes care of all, the parents and everyone else. So the general case is that one cannot repay the debt to the parents. And of course, that’s very much part of Indian culture, especially in North India very well-known this story… What’s his name? Kumara Sampat, Sampat Kumar; what is it? Śravan Kumar. Very common picture to see him carrying, on his shoulder, the father and mother.
So, question number two. In one sense it is more applicable to materialistic father and mother. Inasmuch as, by Kṛṣṇa consciousness you repay the debt. Of course, you shouldn’t think that: “Well, (it) doesn’t matter about my parents.” A child in Kṛṣṇa consciousness shouldn’t be neglectful of parents. But, (one) may also, if one is fully engaged in preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then (he) may not marry and look after the parents in old age. But it should be seen that someone looks after them - some arrangement is made - something is done. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness we shouldn’t take it as an excuse to neglect our parents."
April 12, 2014 |
Question: I have a doubt in my mind, and you could most likely solve it. Sannyasa is the highest ashram and generally the sannyasis are respected as being; as good as God by other sections. I hear stories about Prabhupada offering sannyasa to many of his devotees, and many of them could not maintain it. During the early stages of the Krishna Conscious movement, was Prabhupada very careful in choosing candidates for Sannyasa?… Expand>
I have a doubt in my mind, and you could most likely solve it.
Sannyasa is the highest ashram and generally the sannyasis are respected as being; as good as God by other sections. I hear stories about Prabhupada offering sannyasa to many of his devotees, and many of them could not maintain it.
During the early stages of the Krishna Conscious movement, was Prabhupada very careful in choosing candidates for Sannyasa? I hear stories that sometimes many of the devotees were given Sannyasa on a single day and were asked to go out and preach (please correct me if I am wrong).
Is the spiritual master supposed to understand the possible frailties of his disciples very carefully and give instructions only according to the disciple’s capacity? I hear this argument that the strength to carry on the instruction is imparted with the instruction itself.
Is it possible that the spiritual master may give an instruction, but if he is not very helpful to the disciple then the disciple has to take a simpler instruction for himself after the failure?
How does giving instructions work in the current context? We have many madhyama bhaktas acting as leaders, so are we supposed to check with others when there are strict instructions (other than chanting and regulative principles) and strong ideas presented that are directly not in Prabhupada's books - like preaching, program building etc.?^ Show less
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Question: I am sure you are aware of one of the great devotees in our ISKCON movement, Srila Aindra Prabhu, recently I have heard some of his recordings, lectures, conversations, and he is always giving emphasis on that one of the biggest problems in ISKCON is that the performance of (nagar) Harinama Sankirtan is on… Expand>
I am sure you are aware of one of the great devotees in our ISKCON movement, Srila Aindra Prabhu, recently I have heard some of his recordings, lectures, conversations, and he is always giving emphasis on that one of the biggest problems in ISKCON is that the performance of (nagar) Harinama Sankirtan is on the decline and that is the reason for many problems in ISKCON. It is now often sidelined and marginalised as a token activity that is performed once in a while. He feels that it is more important than book distribution.
If we look historically at ISKCON, the times when most people joined the movement was when there was ample regular Harinama Sankirtan being performed everyday. Similarly many great saints in our movement were engaged in regular Harinama Sankirtan, such as Vishnujana Swami, etc.
I am also aware that book distribution brhad mrdanga has been promoted as our kirtan by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur as being equal to Harinama Sankirtan. Book distribution is still emphasised quite nicely in most of our temples in ISKCON.
But often when there was difficulty in ISKCON, lots of kirtan and 24 hour kirtans should be held. Now I see a huge popularity in kirtan in the temples, in Europe and America, regularly large and long kirtans are held, although I still do not see the results fully manifesting yet, I believe it may do soon.
Here are my questions -
Is book distribution a means for replacing (Nagar) Harinama Sankirtan, or that they should both be the main focus of our movement side by side?
Do you feel (Nagar) Harinama Sankirtan should be promoted to regular daily activity, or should it be kept as a weekend activity?
Looking forward to hear your authoritative view on this point.^ Show less