Materially Impoverished, Spiritually Nourished

Teachings of Queen Kunti

Queen Kunti was not only a sophisticated woman from a royal background, but a gentle, thoughtful, and, most importantly, spiritually realized soul which should be evident to anyone who reads the book Teachings of Queen Kunti.

The following is an excerpt from a commentary Srila Prabhupada wrote to a statement of Queen Kunti as it is recorded in the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.27.

Srila Rupa & Sanatana Goswamis - "They left everything to gain something superior to what they previously possessed."

A living being is finished as soon as there is nothing to possess; therefore, a living being cannot be, in the real sense of the term, a renouncer. A living being renounces something for gaining something more valuable. A student sacrifices his childish proclivities to gain better education. An employee gives up his job for a better one. Similarly, a yogi in devotion renounces the material world not for nothing but for something tangible in spiritual value. The famous six Gosvamis of Vrindavana gave up their worldly pomp and prosperity for the sake of devotional service to God. They were influential men in the worldly sense. The Gosvamis were ministers in the government service while one of them, Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami, was the son of an influential zamindar (royal landowner in India from the 1400-1500s) of his time. They left everything to gain something superior to what they previously possessed. The devotees are generally without material prosperity, but they have a very secret treasure-house in spiritual merits.

There is a story about Sanatana Gosvami. who had a gemstone with him, which he kept in a pile of refuse. One day a needy man stole the gemstone, but later on wondered why the valuable stone was kept in such a neglected place. He therefore returned and asked Sanatana Goswami for the most valuable thing. The thief was then given the process of chanting mantras which consist of the spiritual names of God.

Akincana means one who has nothing to give materially. A factual yogi in devotion does not give anything material to anyone because such a person has already left all material assets. Such devotees can, however, deliver the supreme asset because that is the only property of a factual devotee. The gemstone of Sanatana Gosvami, which was thrown in the rubbish, was not the property of the gosvami; otherwise, it would not have been kept in such a place.

This specific example is given for the neophytes in order to convince them that material hankerings and spiritual advancement go ill together. Unless one is able to see everything as spiritual in relation with the Supreme, one must always distinguish between spirit and matter. A spiritual master like Sanatana Gosvami, although personally able to see everything as spiritual, set this example for those who may have no such spiritual vision.

Advancement of material vision or material civilization is a great stumbling block for spiritual advancement. Such material advancement entangles the living being in the bondage of a material body followed by all sorts of material miseries. Such material advancement is called anartha, or things not wanted. Actually this is so. In the present context of material advancement one uses lipstick at a cost of a few dollars, and there are so many unnecessary things, which are all products of the material conception of life. By diverting attention to so many unwanted things, human energy is spoiled without achievement of spiritual realization, the prime necessity of human life. The attempt to reach the moon (or Mars, in recent years) is another example of spoiling energy because even if the moon is reached, the problems of life will not be solved.

The yogis of devotion are called akincanas because they have practically no material assets. Such material assets are all products of the modes of material nature. They foil spiritual energy, and thus the less we possess such products of material nature, the more we have a good chance for spiritual progress.

1 September 1896 – 14 November 1977. The founder and the spiritual guide (the acharya) of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

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