Suppose you are the friend of a billionaire. One day you see your friend's estranged son wandering like a vagabond on the streets, drunk, disheveled, diseased, distressed and starving. Somebody comes and offers him food. He hungrily gulps down the food and continues his aimless wandering. Then someone else comes and offers him new clothes. He happily wears the clothes, but remains lost and forsaken. Then someone else gives him free medicines, which give temporary physical relief, but no permanent solace. Then you take him home in your car, and arrange for his bathing, food and treatment. When he has sobered down, you talk with him lovingly and explain to him his father's great affection and longing for him. Then you clarify and remove the misunderstanding that had strained h is relationship with his father. And when he is ready to return back to his father, you take him back to his father's mansion where he is given the best foods, the best clothes and the best medicines. Thus you have helped solve his problems permanently.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of IKSCON, would tell a story to illustrate the principle of all-round welfare work. All of us are souls, beloved children of the God, Krishna, who is the supreme billionaire, being the Lord of the Goddess of Fortune. Therefore we are all like princes. But due to misuse of our free will, we have left the shelter of our all-loving father and are struggling for paltry pleasure in this material world, exactly like the lost son of that billionaire. The material welfare workers are like the people who offered food, clothing and medicine to the lost son, whereas the devotee is like the father's friend who took the son back to his father. The Bhagavad-gita philosophy shared by devotees is not an impractical, armchair recreation, but is a practical, vital clarification intended to remove the misconceptions that estrange us from Krishna. When we understand Krishna's love for us, we feel inspired to re-enter into a loving relationship with Him and thus eventually return back to Him to be eternally happy. By loving Krishna, we benefit not only in the next life, but also in this very life. Devotional harmony with Krishna - especially by chanting His holy names like the Hare Krishna mahamantra - blesses us with a sublime inner joy. When enriched by this inner joy, we can remain satisfied, whether we have little or lot, and can calmly endeavor to benefit ourselves and others - materially and spiritually. That's why sharing the principles and techniques to discover inner joy comprises the most complete social service.
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