Buying Happiness

[Krishna holding fruits]“While Krishna was going to the fruit vendor very hastily, most of the grains He was holding fell. Nonetheless, the fruit vendor filled Krishna’s hands with fruits, and her fruit basket was immediately filled with jewels and gold.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.11)

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phala-vikrayiṇī tasya


phalair apūrayad ratnaiḥ

phala-bhāṇḍam apūri ca

If someone gave you money every time you asked them, wouldn’t you have a high opinion of them? Wouldn’t you approach them whenever you were in need of something? Wouldn’t you offer respect to them on a regular basis? Within the Vedic tradition of spirituality there are different ways to procure money. One way is to do a prescribed ritual at the appropriate time and dedicate it to the right deity. Then you’re hopefully all set. With the speaker of the Bhagavad-gita, however, things are different. Though He says that all work, sacrifice and austerity should be done as an offering to Him, He never promises to give money in return.

yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi

yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat

yat tapasyasi kaunteya

tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam

“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.27)

[offering of fruits]The specific verse in the Bhagavad-gita is spoken to Arjuna, who is the disciple in the conversation. The teacher speaks and the student listens. If it were the other way around, the roles wouldn’t make sense. If I’m teaching a class and a student corrects me on everything, if they interrupt my lessons, why are they in the class sitting down? They should be teaching instead.

Krishna did not insert Himself as teacher; there was no imposition. He did not tell Arjuna, “I am your guru; you must be submissive to me.” Arjuna asked for help, and Krishna kindly obliged. The verse referencing all work done as an offering applies to all living entities, not just to Arjuna. Why is this the case? Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the source of all worlds, both material and spiritual.

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo

mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate

iti matvā bhajante māṁ

budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 10.8)

If you make an offering to the creator of each and every universe, it makes sense that He could then give you anything in return. Yet that is not His promise. He is not a cheap god in this way. I could buy the affection of my children with toys, but that wouldn’t benefit them in the end. Money does not buy happiness. Neither does the removal of distress. In many cases, we don’t know what is good for us. Therefore we sometimes ask for things that we shouldn’t have.

Of all deities, only Krishna looks out for the welfare of His devotees. This is His mercy that no one else can replicate. Sometimes He gives opulence and related items, but never because someone demands it. And if the wealth might take the person away from what makes them happiest, He will never offer it.

We can look to the pastime with the fruit vendor as a case study. In Vrindavana a fruit vendor once came to the house of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yashoda. She had been there before. She was a member of the tight-knit community. She was like the letter carrier that you see every day or the clerk at the bank that you frequent.

[Lord Krishna]On this particular day, the darling child of the house ran out to purchase the fruits. He took with Him some grains. Since His hands were small and His enthusiasm great, most of the grains fell to the ground en route to the destination. Thus Yashoda’s Krishna didn’t have much to give to the vendor.

That didn’t matter, as she filled His hands with fruit. She did not want anything in return. She had not read that everything should be offered to Krishna, for the Bhagavad-gita had not yet been spoken to Arjuna. She was not told to worship Krishna as a way to get money.

The beloved child was so pleased that He transformed the contents of the vendor’s basket into jewels. This was real opulence; it would sell for much more than fruits on the open market. This was a kind reward, but it wasn’t the real source of the vendor’s happiness. She already had the thrill of seeing a smile on Krishna’s face, of keeping His hands full with delights.

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ

yo me bhaktyā prayacchati

tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam

aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 9.26)

[Krishna with the fruit vendor]Money alone can’t bring happiness, and so the Supreme Lord never proclaims it to be a reward of much value. Bhakti has a value that is too high to measure. It is real love, in a relationship that never breaks. It can only be offered to Krishna, one of His non-different expansions like Vishnu or Rama, or one of His dearest devotees. This bhakti is identical with Krishna and it comes from Krishna. Those who make an offering to Him with love, not expecting anything in return, get it very easily

Other material rewards are equally as limiting as wealth. The wellbeing of the family can only do so much. Eventually the family will be gone. Every relationship we have will vanish at the time of death. Real peace comes from knowing the eternal life that is bhakti-yoga. The better today and the brighter tomorrow come through connection with the origin of the creation, who kindly shows us the way towards Him. Even in this age of degraded standards, where just believing in God is difficult, we can still find Him, through simply chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

In Closing:

As Supreme Lord of all that be,

Easily gift anything can He.


But this not promise of Krishna made,

Devotion reward of genuine obeisance paid.


Back in time to Gokula travel,

And at fortune of fruit vendor marvel.


Jewels in basket of value there were,

But loving sentiments more important in her.

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