"One who is beyond duality and doubt, whose mind is engaged within, who is always busy working for the welfare of all sentient beings, and who is free from all sins, achieves liberation in the Supreme." (Bhagavad Gita 5.25)
All over the world we see that religious organizations are busy with so many different programs of welfare work for the benefit of the poor, the sick, the young and the disadvantaged. In India this is also very prominent. There they have a very bogus and unauthorized concept of "daridya Narayana seva." It means "service to the poor Narayana." It is such a nonsense concept. They think that Narayan has become poor and if they serve the poor then they will be serving Narayana. So on the basis of this daridya narayana seva all the religious organizations in India are very much interested in serving the poor.
"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-narayana-seva. This is prohibited. One should distribute sumptuous prasada, considering everyone a part of the Supreme Lord, but one should not juggle words to make a poor man Narayana. 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, Narayana. Such a Mayavada philosophy is extremely dangerous, especially for a devotee. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore strictly forbidden us to associate with Mayavadi philosophers. Mayavadi-bhasya sunile haya sarva-nasa: if one associates with the Mayavada philosophy, his devotional life is doomed." (Srila Prabhupada from Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.15.6)
There are so many attempts all over the world by religious and philanthropic organizations to feed the poor but still there are so many poor people who are hungry. So what does this mean? For so many years so many organizations are spending billions to feed the hungry but there are still so many hungry people. The reality is that we experience things in this world according to our karma. Karma means work and every time we perform any type of work there will a reaction to that work and in the future we have to enjoy or suffer that reaction. If it is good work we will enjoy the results of it in the future and if it is bad work then that will cause us to suffer in the future.
So the hungry people are actually suffering from the hunger as a karmic result for sinful activities they have performed in the past. It is caused by their own sinful activities, and it is the arrangement of Krishna, the arrangement of the material nature — we all have to suffer and enjoy the reactions to our activities in the past. There is nothing we can do about this and it is not possible for the religious and philanthropic organizations to improve the situation either.
"Fifty years ago, when I first came to Bombay, at that time I was grhastha. I saw there were persons lying down care of footpath, and fifty years after, we are seeing the same thing is going on. No change. There is a class of men who must lie down care of footpath. There are so many institutions, daridra-narayana-seva. But why there are daridras still? That means you cannot change. It is not possible. It is not possible. Just like a man who has done something criminal and he is in prison. Can you take him out? It will be another criminal action. If you try to take him away from the prison house by some means, then you'll be punished and he'll be punished, both. This is the law state. Similarly, how you can surpass the stringent laws of nature and the laws of God? That is not possible." (Bhagavad Gita 13.21 Prabhupada lecture)
So this is the fact, this material world is a place of suffering and we will suffer here. And we can not stop the suffering of others no matter what we try to do, at least not on the mundane platform by trying to feed the poor people, etc.
Therefore this mundane welfare work is useless. It does not work, the hungry and poor people remain and the people who are trying to feed and give them money are also sinful in the same way as a man who tries to free the prisoners because they are suffering becomes a criminal himself and he will not be successful. Rather, even if he is able to free a few prisoners, the police will find him and they will also find those escaped prisoners and they will all be put back in the prison with much longer sentences this time…
Only a person who is fully Krishna conscious can be said to be engaged in welfare work which is truly beneficial for all living entities. When a person knows that Krishna is the fountainhead of everything and when he acts in that spirit he acts for everyone.
The sufferings of humanity are due to forgetfulness of Krishna as the supreme enjoyer, the supreme proprietor, and the supreme friend. Therefore, to act to revive this Krishna consciousness within the entire human society is the highest welfare work. One cannot be engaged in first-class welfare work without being liberated in the Supreme. So the real beneficial welfare work is to awaken everyone's dormant Krishna consciousness and this is the purpose of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's Sankirtan movement.
In this Kali-yuga the people are very unfortunate, fallen and greatly sinful. So in this fallen age Krishna is so merciful that He, in the form of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is giving the highest spiritual advancement to anyone at all who simply agrees to chant:
Hare Rare Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
So in one sense this age of Kali is a very difficult time for spiritual life but actually, because of the mercy of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu it is now a very good time for spiritual life, because Krishna has made everything very easy for us. All we need to do is chant Hare Krishna. It is so very simple:
kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet
"This age of Kali is an ocean of faults, but there is one great benefit. Simply by Krishna kirtan, chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, one can become purified of all material contamination and return back home, back to Godhead."
So the greatest welfare work is to spread this Krishna kirtan all over the world on the other hand a person engaged only in trying to improve the physical welfare of human society cannot factually help anyone. Temporary relief of the external body and the mind does not solve one's actual problems. The real cause of one's difficulties in the hard struggle for life is one's forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Lord. So the true welfare work which is beneficial for all the living entities of this universe is to popularize the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra all over the world.
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