So you want to serve the needy?

Would you like to help others? How do you know you are actually helping them and not prolonging their misery? How do you know you are not getting entangled in an endless web of actions and reactions?

Some say “manava seve madhava seva“, which means “by serving the needy man, you serve God”. Let us examine this… if you feed the hungry, or clothe the naked, or try to heal the sick… will that actually help them? Sure, there is some temporary relief from the pangs of material suffering. If temporary relief is your goal, sure, but what if you want to really help them out of this mess they are in? You surely cannot feed, clothe, or shelter someone forever. Even if you did, you cannot protect them from old age, disease, and eventually death.

They are suffering primarily because they are spirit souls masquerading as material bodies. The material body gets hungry, gets sick, gets old, and dies, and this is the main cause of problems.

So yes, we can serve God by serving the souls, but how we serve them determines if we become the cause of their emancipation or the cause of their (and our own!) continued bondage.

The law of karma is very complicated, and impossible to trace out fully due to the immense complexity, but it is very very precise. It will surely pay back in just measure every single reaction to every single action.

So yes, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Not to be administered by us, but we do become instruments of that, mostly unwittingly. What personal enmity did the soldiers from Nazi Germany have against the soldiers from America in the Second World War? Why did Guenter kill Billy? Why did Tommy kill Thorsten? They owed a debt to each other, one to kill, and one to be killed, and in that particular lifetime, one soul was born in Nazi Germany, and the other was born in America. Both were enlisted, and many souls’ karmic reactions came together and manifested as the Second World War.

Every single occurence in the world is simply an example of karmic debts… someone becomes a father, someone becomes a daughter, someone becomes the slaughtherer, someone becomes the slaughtered, and in this way, ad nauseum, someone becomes an exploiter, someone becomes the exploited.

Don’t believe me? OK, let us see, what could be the karmic reward for feeding a hungry man? To be fed yourself, maybe many times over, but being fed yourself primarily. And what does the person who was fed need to do? They need to repay their debt to you. This means that both to enjoy the benefit and to get paid back, both you and the person you fed need to take birth again. Birth again, old again, sick again, and surely death again.

Don’t forget that whatever you fed someone was also a living entity – whether seed, vegetable or animal. So, who pays the debt to that living entity. You both, benefactor and beneficiary.

Same with opening up hospitals – you will one day get free medical treatment yourself.

Opening up orphanages? You will be taken care of by benevolent strangers when you become an orphan yourself.

Any philanthropic activity on the material platform results in such karmic bondage, subtle or gross.

All this sounds depressing, no?

How to actually help someone? It is commonly understood that teaching someone to farm is far better than just feeding them a few meals. Knowing that each living entity is actually spiritual in nature wearing a material covering. It then stands to reason that teaching them to shed the material covering, or in other words, helping them be purely spiritual, that is the way to actually help someone.

Want to help someone? Help them be truly spiritual through your help, let them begin their journey back home. This starts with being purely spiritual yourself. If you cannot do this, then you can continue your philanthropy, don’t stop it, because one day you may progress further…

श्रेयो हि ज्ञानमभ्यासाज्ज्ञानाद्ध्यानं विशिष्यते ।
ध्यानात्कर्मफलत्यागस्त्यागाच्छान्तिरनन्तरम् ॥ १२ ॥

śreyo hi jñānam abhyāsāj
jñānād dhyānaṁ viśiṣyate
dhyānāt karma-phala-tyāgas
tyāgāc chāntir anantaram

If you cannot take to this practice, then engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/12/12/

So if you want to renounce the fruits of action, that is OK, but know that there is more, such as cultivation of knowedge, but the real deal – realized knowledge, you need to live your knowledge. Even better than the cultivation of knowledge is meditation, and what is the highest?

Being purely conscious of Krishna is higher.

What is even still higher?

And even higher?

And the highest?

मय्येव मन आधत्स्व मयि बुद्धिं निवेशय ।
निवसिष्यसि मय्येव अत ऊर्ध्वं न संशय: ॥ ८ ॥

mayy eva mana ādhatsva
mayi buddhiṁ niveśaya
nivasiṣyasi mayy eva
ata ūrdhvaṁ na saṁśayaḥ

Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/12/8/

Ultimately however, this the way to please God the most…

Generally it is advised that Bhagavad-gītā be discussed amongst the devotees only, for those who are not devotees will understand neither Kṛṣṇa nor Bhagavad-gītā. Those who do not accept Kṛṣṇa as He is and Bhagavad-gītā as it is should not try to explain Bhagavad-gītā whimsically and become offenders. Bhagavad-gītā should be explained to persons who are ready to accept Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is a subject matter for the devotees only and not for philosophical speculators. Anyone, however, who tries sincerely to present Bhagavad-gītā as it is will advance in devotional activities and reach the pure devotional state of life. As a result of such pure devotion, he is sure to go back home, back to Godhead.

https://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/18/68/

Want to read more? Try this.

Help others, truly help them, start by helping yourself first.

You can start by chanting this purely spiritual mantra, even if just once:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

The Maha Mantra, the Great Mantra for Deliverance from Material Bondage and Development of Pure Spiritual Nature

Try it out. Help me help others. Please let me know I may serve you on your spiritual journey.

Author: Mahabhagavat Das SDA

I am a formally initiated disciple of His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari. My spiritual master was initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in 1971. He is the author of the famous Ultimate Self Realization Course. Check it out at www.joincourse.com.

4 thoughts on “So you want to serve the needy?”

  1. Hare Krishna prabhu! Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
    We know that karmic reaction is a result of fruitive consciousness and not activity itself. In this case, how to understand this, when for example, we are acting for the material benefit of others. Are we getting entangled if we are acting free from selfishness and without expecting any fruitive results?
    Thank you.
    Your servant,
    Ananda-mayi dd

    Like

    1. Dear Ananda-mayi mata,

      Please accept my humble obeisances.
      All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

      Why should we act for the material benefit of others? A pure spiritualist does not do so. We should always act for spiritual benefit even if there was some collateral material benefit. The goal should be spiritual. If this was not the case, then Krishna would have allowed Duryodhana to become the king of the world. However, Duryodhana had to be killed for his spiritual benefit. In the short term there was a material loss – he lost his life, but he went to heaven too – longer-term material benefit.

      In the material world, we ourselves are not yet free of all karmic influences, and unless one is a pure devotee, they cannot suddenly stop the material transactions. Sometimes, the apparently material transactions don’t stop even for advanced devotees. I know one devotee who qualified as a doctor. But he does not practice medicine, having chosen to serve Krishna as a Brahmachari. However, when I asked him about whether he practices medicine, he said out of humility that his karmic reactions were not yet done. A lot of people still approach him for material ailments. His brilliance however, is that he uses that conversation about a material ailment to give them Krishna consciousness.

      The famous example is a great associate of Lord Chaitanya Sri Murari Gupta. He was an expansion of Sri Hanuman, a pure devotee. But he was a medical doctor… he cured people of both their material and spiritual ailments.

      The specifics will vary of course, according to time, place, and circumstance, but my plea to you is that if you have energy to serve, then serve to free souls from the material realm. The energy you spend will be the same, but the effect will be permanent.

      Does this help?

      your servant,
      Mahabhagavat Das

      Like

  2. To whom it may concern,

    I also want to serve for the needy. What should I do?

    Regards,

    David Lio

    ________________________________

    Like

    1. Dear David, please help in such a way that they progress in their spiritual journey – give them Krishna books, give them Krishna Prasada, and give them Harinam Sankirtan. If you cannot do this directly then donate to people or organizations that do this. With distribution of Bhagavad Gita As It Is, for example, we have been able to prevent suicides and change lives… at the Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai, for example, patients are given excellent medical treatment, but in a very Krishna conscious atmosphere – see http://www.bhaktivedantahospital.com/ What about people who have no hope in medical treatment? There is a hospice for them, but in a very loving spiritual atmosphere https://iskconnews.org/bhaktivedanta-hospice-opens-in-vrindavana,2234/ If you have specific ideas, please write to me (Mahabhagavat Das – I brought you the books) and I can help you spiritualize those wayf of helping.

      Like

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