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A Devotee Is Not Poor
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(Click to enlarge painting of Sudama Brahmana being received by Krishna and Rukmini)

"Kṛṣṇa is an ocean of mercy. He is especially merciful to the poor and fallen. Without His mercy, there is no possibility of happiness."

(Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 17.75)

"One can execute devotional service even in the most poverty-stricken condition. The Lord says, patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalam: He is ready to accept from the devotee any kind of offering, never mind what. Even a leaf, a flower, a bit of fruit, or a little water, which are all available in every part of the world, can be offered by any person, regardless of social position, and will be accepted if offered with love."

(Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 9.2, Purport)

"Although he appears to be materially poor, a person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not actually a poor man, but the person who has no taste tor Kṛṣṇa consciousness and appears to be very happy with material possessions is actually poor. Persons infatuated by material consciousness are very intelligent in discovering things for material comforts, but they have no access to understanding the spirit soul and spiritual life."

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.26.31, Purport)

"According to devotional vision, a man is poor if he is not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A man may be very rich materially, but if he is not Kṛṣṇa conscious, he is considered poor. On the other hand, many ācāryas, such as Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī, used to live beneath trees every night. Superficially it appeared that they were poverty-stricken, but from their writings we can understand that in spiritual life they were the richest personalities."

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.29.17, Purport)

"Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu had a very sincere devotee whose name was Kholāvecā Śrīdhara and whose only business was to sell pots made of the skin of banana trees. Whatever income he had, he used fifty percent for the worship of mother Ganges, and with the other fifty percent he provided for his necessities. On the whole, he was so very poor that he lived in a cottage that had a broken roof with many holes in it. He could not afford brass utensils, and therefore he drank water from an iron pot. Nevertheless, he was a great devotee of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is a typical example of how a poor man with no material possessions can become a most exalted devotee of the Lord. The conclusion is that one cannot attain shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa or Śrī Caitanya Gosāñi through material opulence; that shelter is attainable only by pure devotional service.

    anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ
    jñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam
    ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-
    śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā
    (CC Madhya 19.167)

'One should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa favorably and without desire for material profit or gain through fruitive activities or philosophical speculation. That is called pure devotional service.' "

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.19.7, Purport)

"The entire world is under the illusion that people will be happy by advancing in materialistic measures to counteract the miseries of conditional life, but this attempt will never be successful. Humanity must be trained to engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. That is the purpose of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. There can be no happiness in changing one's material conditions, for everywhere there is trouble and misery."

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.9.17, Purport)

"This movement is always kind to the poor, not only because it feeds them but also because it gives them enlightenment by teaching them how to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. We are therefore opening hundreds and thousands of centers for those who are poor, both in money and in knowledge, to enlighten them in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and reform their character by teaching them how to avoid illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling, which are the most sinful activities and which cause people to suffer, life after life. The best way to use money is to open such a center, where all may come live and reform their character. They may live very comfortably, without denial of any of the body's necessities, but they live under spiritual control, and thus they live happily and save time for advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one has money, it should not be squandered away on nothing. It should be used to push forward the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement so that all of human society will become happy, prosperous and hopeful of being promoted back home, back to Godhead."

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 8.19.41, Purport)

"In Bhagavad-gītā it is stated that the Lord is satisfied if some devotee offers Him even a leaf or a little water. This formula prescribed by the Lord is universally applicable, even for the poorest man. But that does not mean that one who has sufficient means to worship the Lord very nicely should also adopt this method and try to satisfy the Lord simply by offering water and a leaf. If he has sufficient means, he should offer nice decorations, nice flowers and nice foodstuffs and observe all ceremonies. It is not that one should try to satisfy the Supreme Lord with a little water and a leaf, and for himself spend all his money in sense gratification."

(Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 8)

"Pure devotion is uncontaminated by the modes of material nature. Ahaituky apratihatā: unconditional devotional service cannot be checked by any material condition. This means that one does not have to be very rich to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even the poorest man can equally serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead if he has pure devotion. If there is no ulterior motive, devotional service cannot be checked by any material condition."

(Caitanya-caritāmṛta Madhya 1.161, Purport)

"A person who has a pinprick in his body does not wish others to be pricked by pins; a considerate man in the life of poverty does not wish others to be also put into that condition. Generally it is seen that one who has risen from a poverty-stricken life and becomes wealthy creates some charitable institution at the end of his life so that other poverty-stricken men might be benefited. In short, a compassionate poor man may consider others' pains and pleasures with empathy. A poor man is seldom puffed up with false pride, and he may be freed from all kinds of infatuation. He may remain satisfied by whatever he gets for his maintenance by the grace of the Lord.

To remain in the poverty-stricken condition is a kind of austerity. According to Vedic culture, therefore, the brāhmaṇas, as a matter of routine, keep themselves in a poverty-stricken condition to save themselves from the false prestige of material opulence. False prestige due to advancement of material prosperity is a great impediment for spiritual emancipation. A poverty-stricken man cannot become unnaturally fat by eating more and more. And on account of not being able to eat more than he requires, his senses are not very turbulent. When the senses are not very turbulent, he cannot become violent.

Another advantage of poverty is that a saintly person can easily enter a poor man's house, and thus the poor man can take advantage of the saintly person's association. A very opulent man does not allow anyone to enter his house; therefore, the saintly person cannot enter. According to the Vedic system, a saintly person takes the position of a mendicant so that on the plea of begging something from the householder, he can enter any house. The householder, who has usually forgotten everything about spiritual advancement because he is busy maintaining family affairs, can be benefited by the association of a saintly person. There is a great chance for the poor man to become liberated through association with a saint. Of what use are persons who are puffed up with material opulence and prestige if they are bereft of the association of saintly persons and devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead?"

(Kṛṣṇa Book, Chapter 10)

"You are not poor. Of course one should be humble, but a devotee is not poor. Your attitude, however, is that you are poor and humble is nice. But one who is in Krishna Consciousness is the richest person. What value have these material riches got? But when it is engaged in Krishna's service, it is spiritualized."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, March 15, 1970)

"Of course ultimately we must depend only on Krishna. If He gives us something we shall accept and offer it in His service, if we have nothing, what is the harm, we shall sit under a tree and chant Hare Krishna."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, December 29, 1972)

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