“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)
यत् करोषि यद् अश्नासि
यज् जुहोषि ददासि यत्
यत् तपस्यसि कौन्तेय
तत् कुरुष्व मद्-अर्पणम्
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi
yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam
You have just come into a large amount of money. Unexpected, to say the least, and in such a vast quantity that you are not sure what to do with it all. You have enough to live off for the rest of your life. Immediate family taken care of, and you don’t really need a new house.
There are ways to sacrifice that wealth. In Sanskrit the word is yajna, and the connotation is a connection, yukta, to a higher purpose. On loan from the goddess of fortune, the ideal intent is one identical to hers.
1. Give away to family members
Unfortunately, you could not keep this a secret. Others found out. They want a share. They need some help, as they are down on their luck. As soon as you give away some money, others take notice and feel entitled.
Then there is that one family member who keeps squandering whatever you give to them. Their house is about to be foreclosed on. Their business is on the verge of shutting down. There is that gambling debt that needs to be resolved. One headache after another, you wish you could go back in time and be poor again.
2. Donate to a college
The alumni association has your contact information. You reluctantly gave it to them one time when they got ahold of you on the phone. Now you want to move and change your number. They keep sending solicitations. It is like they never have enough. What is tuition for? Why do they need so many donations? You had a good time in college, for sure, but you don’t feel that you owe them anything.
3. Build a new hospital
It is embarrassing that the best hospital in the area is over an hour away by car. What if there is an emergency? People need surgery, don’t they? Child birth? The little ones are ready to enter this world, and they may not be able to wait until you are sitting in a hospital of your choosing.
You decided to remedy the situation by building one in the local community. It will be state of the art. The best physicians. The highest quality nurses. Plenty of capacity. Yet giving the money was only step one. Now so many regulations are coming in. The other hospitals, the ones viewed poorly, are unhappy about the competition. They are trying to find ways to sabotage your effort.
4. Invest in new businesses
There is the saying, it takes money to make money. Why not invest for the future? Let the newfound money multiply many times over. Assist budding entrepreneurs who are just waiting to strike it big. They have some innovative ideas, but no capital to turn the dreams into a reality.
5. Help the cause of bhakti
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada advises to sacrifice words, wealth, intelligence and life for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna. This matches the interest of Lakshmi Devi. She controls fortune and she seeks the pleasure of Narayana, her husband.
Narayana is another name for Krishna. Everything we receive in this world is sourced in Him. He is the origin of everything, adi, and He is also without an origin, anadi. Any other sacrifice of wealth has limitations. There may be pious credits accrued, but the person making the donations still feels something is missing.
The dedicated servants of Krishna often live off begging. Not that they are trying to get out of working for a living, but detachment from material affairs helps to maintain a focus in the service. They continue off the donations of others, and these gifts are a sacrifice in line with yajna.
Indeed, such a sacrifice is no different than the actual devotional work of the recipients. This is the meaning of absolute with respect to bhakti life. The sweeper in the street has just as much value as the expert preacher. The person making the donation is as dear to Krishna as the person using the wealth to maintain the temple and spread the glories of the sankirtana process: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
In wealth suddenly to come,
In demand person to become.
This one and that in need,
Wanting with assistance to proceed.
Best use for bhakti’s sake,
Servants as blessing to take.
So that spreading sankirtana sound,
Sacrifice for transcendence found.
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