1956 Back to Godhead vol 3 part 04 - Human Welfare Activities
Human Welfare Activities
We met the other day the founder of one human welfare society and we have been pleased to see the plan. And we suggested a little more improvement on it by the method of keeping all the items of plans etc. in touch with the plannings of Bhagwat Geeta. The whole theme of the Bhagwat Geeta is to do everything in relation with the wish of the Supreme Lord. Arjuna was sufficiently educated in the matters of politics, sociology, family affairs, education and all that is required for human welfare but he was lacking in the sense of the service for the Supreme Lord. So far Arjuna was personally concerned he was quite cognizant all about it but he assumed the role of a common man who did not know how to work in the plan and desire of the Lord. That was the beginning of Bhagwat Geeta.
Arjuna pretended to become a pious man and desired to be non-violent good man without doing the painful act of bloodshed in the battlefield. Such pious attitude without knowing the desire of the Supreme Lord was condemned by Shri Krishna. He described such pseudo-pious attitude as befitting a non-Aryan person. Therefore to become pious, to become non-violent and to have all such good qualities are judged in terms of the purpose of service.
A small boy, without knowing the effect of his pious activity, gave to his ailing brother some pieces of Parumtha as his brother asked for it. The ailing brother was suffering from typhoid fever and as he was a child, he asked his younger brother to give the Paramtha. The younger brother without knowing the result of his charitable work gave Paramtha to the suffering brother and when the whole thing was disclosed to the mother the charitable younger brother was severely punished by the mother. This is our practical experience. So simply to do charitable work without knowing the effect of it is to do it in the mode of ignorance. So far charities, penances and sacrifices are concerned they are all also of three qualities. Charity done in full cognizance of the authoritative injunctions is called Swattik or in goodness. Charity done with a purpose for getting something in return is called Rajasik or in the mode of passion. Charity done in darkness without knowing the effect of such charities or doing it under some superior pressure or request is called Tamasik or in the mode of ignorance. The same routine is prescribed for other good work also. Therefore Tamasik charity and Swattik charity are two different items. One leads to degradation while the other leads to elevation. Therefore simple charity, penance and sacrifices may not be always good without a descriptive and discriminative knowledge.
Human welfare activities with full scientific knowledge of it will certainly elevate the status of human society. The aim of welfare activity must be first of all ascertained. Sreemad Bhagwatam has discussed in many places about the aim of life. Does the aim of life mean to live for a number of long years? The Bhagwat says no it is not such. Because so far life is concerned, the life of some tree is far far longer than a human being. The longest duration of life of a human being is not more than 100 years. But in the vegetable kingdom some trees live more than one thousand years. A human being will answer that the tree may live for one thousand years but the signs of life are absent there. The main sign of life is breathing. The Bhagwat in answer to this will say that there are many many big bellows which can breathe more vehemently. So breathing is no special qualification. There are beasts who can produce more children than the human being. They also eat according to the standard of life. Therefore according to Bhagwat which is practical commentation on the Vedanta Sutra--the aim of life should be only to hear the message of the Supreme Lord wherein only lies all the sum total welfare of human society.
In the Bhagwat Geeta the ultimate instruction is to surrender unto the will of the Supreme Lord and in that manner the surrendered soul is protected by all means by the Lord from all sorts of frailties possible in human life.
Arjuna understood the principle and he changed his decision of leaving the battlefield. Therefore to know the Supreme Lord and to know our relation with the Lord eternally existent does not mean to give up all material activities. But to know Him, our relation with Him and our duties to Him is the highest knowledge. And to impart this knowledge to one and all is the highest welfare activity in the human society.