Austerity and Taste in Devotional Service

Prabhu: If the devotional service is the nature of the living entity, so that means that the devotional service must be performed in natural way and guided by taste or rasa. But opposite of that there is a part of austerity. So what’s the difference between these two things, are they opposite?

HH BVPS Maharaja: No. To do anything, it’s trouble. Right? Anything you’re gonna do is going to be trouble. So it’s just a matter of accepting what trouble you don’t mind because of the inspiration due to the result. Right? Just like a parent. They don’t mind the trouble of taking care of their own kid. But most parents won’t take care of anyone else’s. Why? It’s the same trouble. But because it’s not to their taste. So this idea that one is going to be happy without trouble is an illusion. Right?

In other words, you have to work hard to be able to buy that bottle of Vodka. Right? It’s not that you just… and then you get the bottle you just pour it, you have to get out your knife, you have to cut the top nicely, then you have to unscrew it, you’ve got to pour it in the glass, right, you’ve got to drink it, right? Feels like you just drank fire. And then as you get drunk, you have to be careful not to knock the bottle over. And then now you’re in a state of enjoyment, you have to make sure that you don’t fall down the stairs or get hit by a truck or something like that, right? And then you fall asleep and then all that time that could be spent in enjoying is lost. Where is the lack of work? Where is the lack of trouble? Right?

You know, it’s a hot day, the sun’s out, you know, so everyone leaves the city, goes to the beach. But it’s an endeavor, everyone is going to the beach, so therefore there’s a traffic jam. And then you’ve to get there, then you’ve to find a spot on the beach, right, someone else’s kids are yelling and screaming, somebody kicks a ball and it comes and lands on you. And then the best part is is you went there, it’s hot in the city, so you go to the beach, so you’re lying in the sun, there’s no shade, there it’s hot. Right? And then you have to deal with the sunburn for three days. So where is the lack of austerity? Right? And we haven’t even gotten into the fashion part of it. Do you understand? You know, you get there and you feel you look like a dweeb, so then next time you go and look around the shops, spend hours to find the right thing, so you won’t look so stupid, spend money…

Dweeb, ok, you have dweebs, you have geeks and you have nerds. Nerds are the computer guys, but they’re basically all the same. The nerd is that they’re focused only on a particular, how you say, technical aspect. The geek is means is taking the perspective that they’re so… yeah, they’re so absorbed in that that they actually are socially disfunctional, you know. And the dweeb is basically taking that they just don’t quite… their lack of being able to fit in. You know, they dress weird, it’s not fashionable, you know. Does that make sense?

Prabhu: So what is the proportion between austerity and taste?

HH BVPS Maharaja: So like you really love your job, right? Like love going there every day whether you’re sick or not. You love all the people you have to work with. You love the manager. You really love the boss. And the pay, oh! [kiss] is perfect! And then of course there’s the traffic jams, all those things, right, it’s ecstasy, right, that’s why the taste is why you just jump out of bed in the morning and rush to the work, because this is the greatest thing that ever happened to you. Right?

So that means 250 days of the year you do something you have absolutely no taste for because it’s necessary. No, I’m saying 250 days of the year he goes to work which he actually doesn’t want to do, but he has to, it’s necessary. The point is is there’s no taste, there’s no taste, he is trying to say: “Well unless we have the taste for devotional service, how can we do it, so therefore until I develop the taste I’m just going to rot in this material world like a worm in stool and that’s perfectly fine and no one should come here and tell me that.

The point is is that the question is brought out as if it’s so unnatural to do devotional service, because we don’t have that taste. So because we don’t have the taste, why should we be, you know, encouraged or forced into doing something so unnatural? But in the same breath we are inferring that I don’t mind working my backside off doing materialistic things though I have no taste for them. But I do it because I see the importance. I need money, I need food, I need to sleep, I need to have sex and I need to defend my position of materialism against others. So I’m willing to go through the austerity. But devotional service, unless I just sit there doing nothing and I’m in ecstasy doing that, why should I be involved? Then only it’s natural.

The point is is being in the material world is not natural for the living entity. Being in the spiritual world is natural. So our complaint actually is I’m unwilling to be natural, I’d rather be artificial, because I’m more practiced at it. Does that make sense? So don’t talk natural. Natural and materialism don’t match, you know

Prabhu: Actually my first point was about this, because natural is spiritual, so why should we go through austerity if it’s natural?

HH BVPS Maharaja: The point is is that Krishna is bringing out the element that as a person in your relationships you’re willing to take the trouble to make the other person happy.

(From Questions and Answers after a class on Srimad Bhagavatam 2.9.24, 22 July 2011, Riga, Latvia)

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