H.H. Bhaktividya Purna Maharaja lecturing in New Vraja Dhama, Hungary, circa 2015, photo courtesy of Madirekṣana dd

Prabhu (1): I would like understand nature according to work. How we could identify...?

His Holiness Bhaktividyā Pūrṇa Svāmī Mahārāja: Nature according to work?

Prabhu (1): Yes, like in regards to work. Because I had an idea what is my nature 20 years ago, but it changed. And 10 years ago again another idea, and 5 years ago another idea, and 1 year ago another idea. So I don't understand what is actually my nature.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: He said 20 years ago? So what was the nature 20 years ago?

Prabhu (1): Probably the same, but I had an idea of what my nature was, and that changed.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: What was that idea?

Prabhu (1): I don't remember.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: But how do you even know that your question is relevant?

Prabhu (1): I remember that it kept changing.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Do you remember 10 years ago?

Prabhu (1): Yes.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: So what was it 10 years ago?

Prabhu (1): I wanted to become a teacher of literature.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: A teacher of the...?

Translator: Literature.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Of 'The Literature'? 'The Literature' meaning 'The Vedic literature'?

Prabhu (1): No, I was not a devotee at the time.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: I see. And then 5 years ago?

Prabhu (1): I wanted to become a musician.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Anything in-between?

Prabhu (1): Not really.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, and then after the musician?

Prabhu (1): Then I became a devotee.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And after being a devotee?

Prabhu (1): I wanted to be a cook.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: A cook or a kook? A cook, okay, and then?

Prabhu (1): And now I am carving wood.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And now he is carving wood. Okay, what is your reason for teaching the literature?

Prabhu (1): I liked it so much and I found that I had talents to pass it unto the others, to teach it to others.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay. So was it an area you felt you had some ability in?

Prabhu (1): Yes.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: So what was the important thing, the passing it on or the subject itself?

Prabhu (1): Both.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Both. And of the literature, it meant appreciating the literature or writing the literature, or analyzing gramatically the literature, or...?

Prabhu (1): Not grammatically, but to analyze literature for the sake of the literature itself.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Literature for literature. But what are you going to appreciate in literature? Grammar? Spelling? The vocabulary, the technique, the content?

Prabhu (1): Especially the contents, and I liked to analyze poems.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, and then after that what was it? Fireman? Oh, music. And then... [Laughter] Wasn't there fireman in there somewhere? So when you were 10 years old, you didn't want to be a fireman?

Prabhu (1): In the childhood I wanted to become a dragon... [Laughter]

HH BVPS Mahārāja: You can talk to him. [Laughter]

Translator: He already is going friends...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Yes, I am saying, you get friends. [Laughter] And then the dragon, was the flying part, or was it the fire-breathing? [Laughter] Or the getting shot down with big arrows by the guys on the ground?

Prabhu (1): I don't remember, I was three or four.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Oh, okay, okay. So, and then, musician, what was the purpose of music?

Prabhu (1): I liked to play music very much and I thought to myself that I was doing it well.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: But there was no idea to teach it to others?

Prabhu (1): No.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: So okay, it was more of a... So the reason, it would just be appreciation?

Prabhu (1): Yes.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, means, of yourself or of others?

Prabhu (1): Both.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay. But if you played alone and no one was there to listen, you wouldn't be unhappy?

Prabhu (1): No.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, and then, wood carving, what's...

Translator: Cooking...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Oh, cooking between, yes, okay. And then what was the idea in cooking?

Prabhu (1): I wanted to cook well and I got feedback that I am doing it pretty well, so I liked to do that.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Feedback, feedback meaning there is... [indistinct] [Laughter] It's fun to go between languages, it's so funny. Okay, you got feedback, so why... So the feedback then was... Okay, and then what was the point of the... What did you want to do with the cooking?

Prabhu (1): I preferred to please others with it, I wanted to cook for others, rather than for myself.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, but it was... You were into recipes, or you were into the whole science of cooking, or...?

Prabhu (1): The whole thing.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay. The half and the half. [Laughter] And then, wood carving.

Prabhu (1): I started to do that beside the cooking.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Beside the cooking. So you... Means, he was taking the potatoes and carving in all these... So everyone started thinking it was too weird, all the funny shapes in there... And you wanted to immortalize the potato carving into something more sighty? No? Okay, so then the wood carving, what is it, why wood carving?

Prabhu (1): I have been doing these kind-of things from my childhood, and I thought that I have talents in it and now I could use it for something.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And what is this 'something'?

Translator: He will do things.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: He will do things. 'Do things' means...?

Prabhu (1): Yesterday you gave a few tips, a few hints what I could do.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: I see. And do you expect to make money out of it? Did you expect to make money out of... Did you expect to be able to maintain yourself or make money out of the cooking?

Prabhu (1): Yes, definitely, I am not a temple devotee, I am living outside, so I have to have my maintenance.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And music?

Prabhu: I think I didn't want money from that.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: He didn't have any... enough dreads.

Translator: Enough threads?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: [Laughter] And then... And the literature?

Prabhu (1): I wanted to live from that.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Dreads are when your hair is matted into little long.... So I am saying, he didn't have enough dreads to make money out of music. [Laughter] Okay. What does your mother do?

Prabhu (1): Helps my father.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And what does your father do?

Prabhu (1): Natural healing.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Natural healing?

Translator: Yes, and also with the garden at home, he is dealing in agriculture.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, and what does your father's father do, besides push up daisies? But before he was doing that as a full-time occupation? What was he doing? [Laughter] Does that make sense?

Prabhu (1): I don't remember.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: You don't remember. Or mother's father?

Prabhu (1): I don't even know him.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Just because you don't know doesn't mean you don't...

Prabhu (1): I never asked.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And why did you give up literature?

Prabhu (1): Due to financial reasons I wasn't able to continue the studies.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And musician?

Prabhu (1): For the same reason, plus I understood that maybe I wasn't as talented as I thought I was.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Means, a string broke on a guitar and you couldn't replace it? Two strings broke? [Laughter] The guitar itself broke?

Prabhu: That happened, but that wasn't the reason.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Oh, okay. And then, cooking?

Prabhu (1): I was serving devotees who cook much better than me.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: So now, if you have the money, which one would you do?

Prabhu (1): The woodcarving.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Yeah? So if you had money that you could finish the school for the literature, or buy your guitar strings or...

Prabhu (1): As a devotee I don't think that these things have a purpose or meaning.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, if they did? You could teach them bhakti?

Prabhu (1): Maybe.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: So which of those two would be more important?

Prabhu (1): From which two?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: It means, we were saying, the woodcarving or the teaching?

Prabhu (1): The woodcarving.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: No, but I am just saying, is the teaching, if it was within the devotional service?

Prabhu (1): Probably both, I would do both...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay. So what do you get from the woodcarving? (..) Means, it is going to probably take more time. But does everybody else understand what is going on here? The same thing applies in your own life. We are trying to find out what it is that you are interested in and why you are doing it. Because 'why' much of the time means, 'why' will actually establish what actually is the nature. Like the example, you have a small king, he has a few villages, or you have a big landlord, and he has so many villages. So both of them protect these villages, they have their own army, and both of them take tax to maintain themselves. So then what varṇa are they? Do you understand? What? Anyone has an idea?

Prabhu (2): Kṣatriya.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Kṣatriya, both?

Prabhu (2): The landlord is vaiśya.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Why?

Prabhu (3): Because he is taking the tax not to protect the people but to be a vaiśya.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, yeah, yeah. And why is the kṣatriya taking the tax?

Prabhu (3): To protect the people and he just... He is not lending the place, he gives the place to the people to live.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Yeah. Yeah.

Prabhu (4): He protects to take tax?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: In other words, one protects to take the tax, the other takes tax to protect the people, so that's how you tell the difference. Like Droṇācārya was expert in martial arts, but he taught, he didn't do. Right? You know what I am saying? He wanted to get Drupada, but he didn't do it himself. He taught people who then caught him. So that is a brāhmana. Do you understand? So you have to see what is the underlying cause.

Now, why the wood carving? You know what I am saying? Why, what attracts you about the wood carving and makes it different from something else? Does that make sense? Why?

Prabhu (1): To create.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: To create. Okay, to create what?

Prabhu (1): Anything that's compatible with Kṛṣṇa.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, but I am saying, is it that you are trying to create, means you created something that is useful? Or create means, you express your artistic ideas?

Prabhu (1): Both.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Which one, any one is more prominent than the other?

Prabhu (1): No.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: No. So if you just would had, all you did was, you were given designs that you just copied and then just made, and made something nice, you would be comfortable? Or you would want to create the designs yourself?

Prabhu (1): I would also be happy if it is given.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: So therefore, yeah, okay.... Okay. And when you say, your mother helps the father, what does she do? What does that mean?

Prabhu (1): She is putting things together, making medicines and things like that.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And in the treatment?

Prabhu (1): She doesn't do any treatment.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: See, in one sense, you could look at it that there is a good chance that the cooking and music are hobbies. Do you understand? They are not occupation. Then, you are looking at it that possibly the teaching and the woodcarving, those could be occupations, right? So, because in here you see is that the literature, the teaching is given up, because it is not looked at to be practical, while the woodcarving is. So, therefore, the practical element is most important. But at the same time is, throughout all of them then art is the common platform. So then you basically get...

Okay, now in doing this woodcarving, it is something you would want to do yourself or you wouldn't mind working for someone else who, let's say had a woodcarving company?

Prabhu (1): I prefer to do it on my own.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And why?

Prabhu (1): I find it more practical.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: More practical means...?

Prabhu (1): If there are more people in that thing, they may have different ideas and...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: No, no, no, it can be separate, means, they do one project, you do your own project, you are on your own. You do your project, you can work on your own, you can have your own workplace, but someone has a business where they do woodcarving and you are one of the people that they work with and give you things to do and everything.

Prabhu (1): I don't find this very attractive.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: So you want to work on your own? Okay. And then when you are working is... Okay, now you pick wood, is it just something you are comfortable with that you feel that you can then take that, do something with that, means, you know how to work with the wood and get something from the wood? Right? Or it is... Or you have the element that the wood is a way you can express the creative impulse with?

Prabhu (1): I think it's both.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Because basically what you are getting in here between these is, you are getting brāhminical flavors, but down in the art area, you are getting kṣatriya in the way of practicalness, but you are also getting artistic. But no vaiśya. [Laughter]

Translator: Brāhminical in artistic?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Brāhminical, but in the artistic, means, the area is within arts, because then you see that from the father. You know what I am saying? But unless you know kind-of what the mother's side was, then it is hard to understand if we are getting more of a kṣatriya or a śūdra. Do you understand? Because in all this the concept of money hasn't really come up, but also nowadays the idea of education hasn't really come up.  If you wanted to do that, to know it, do it and educate, then there would be a common pattern. Does that make sense? At the same time, the art element is very strong. So art is the common thing, but it is just a matter of how the art is approached, as hobby, or as occupation? You know what I am saying? So that's, means, that is as far as we can get in this amount of time. You know, you can always try to find out what it is farther back in the family they do.

Prabhu (1): This was of great benefit, it was very helpful. I want to ask if these principles also apply to others, because I have seen other devotees who are also kind-of unsure of their...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: It is the same process. See, also the independence is important, so technically that independence kind-of cuts out the śūdra aspect. Śūdras are comfortable to work under someone else, because that means regular pay. If you are going do it on your own, then you may get as in the words of... Who was it? One of the congregational devotees who runs a business, he says, 'Business is like a dog's dinner. Sometimes it's really good, sometimes it's just a few scraps.' So there is that willingness to take that risk, so then that takes that element out. Does that make sense? But how to nail it down, that you have to take it farther back. Means, you would have to analyze yourself, what are actually the reasons because... You know, what is prominent? Then you can start to see which direction it gets. Is that okay? Any more squash things?

Prabhu (5): I would like to ask about my own nature, I like very much to analyze things, and once I have understood things I like to teach it to others, and also to get to know people is very important for me.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: That I mean, you have to do more, that means, up to that, I cannot go through everybody here. [Laughter] We were taking one so that you have an understanding how to look at it what is there. So you have to see is, what is the purpose? You know what I am saying? So then if the educational aspect is the more important, then you decide. Okay?

Prabhu (6): Would there be importance to educate devotees so that they maybe understand their natures?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Yeah.

Prabhu (7): Related to this, you can always identify certain pure nature, or it is always mixed?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: It depends, can be mixed, can be pure. Generally in these kind-of environments it is more mixed, so you take what is prominent and work with that and add in the other elements that support. You know what I am saying? Like he is doing the wood-carving, but at the same time is, he might want to as a service do some cooking, or in his house do cooking and maintain these kind-of things, read 'The Vedic literature.' You know what I am saying? In other words, these things are important to him. Like that.

Prabhu (7): You can mix it, a śūdra can have brāhminical qualities and...?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: It's not so much śūdra with brāhminical qualities, it is a matter of just seeing that all the elements of the conditioned nature are somehow or other engaged. But you have to see which is the perspective by which they view these activities. Because then that will determine where the prominence is or how they are mixed.

From Seminar on Masculine and Feminine interactions, part 17, New Vraja Dhāma, Hungary

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