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Is Service to Animals Krsna Consciousness?

This is our occasional questions and answers section. This time we talk about the relation between Krsna consciousness and animal protection activism. Are they the same thing? Can they be mutually inclusive? The question was asked by a nice soul from our FB Expand the BLISS Livestream page.

DEVOTEE: Can you not spiritualize every action you take with Krishna in mind as the benefactor of the results. Service to plants, animals, humans, earth, with Krishna in mind as the benefactor? You say no. But Krishna says otherwise?

The whole world is full of violence, and a devotee's first business is to stop this violence, including the unnecessary slaughter of animals.

(Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.22.24)

Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.

In this way you will be freed from bondage to work and its auspicious and inauspicious results. With your mind fixed on Me in this principle of renunciation, you will be liberated and come to Me.

Wouldn’t helping plants, animals, humans, the planet as an offering for Krishna also be assisting jivas tho, not “bodies”? With our unalloyed devotional service for Krishna performed primarily, along with spreading Krishna consciousness

May we assist Krishnas parts and parcels, as an offering of devotion? May you please explain to me why you would advise against this? For example when I go to slaughter houses I chant the maha mantra for the animals and have plans to distribute prasadam for the employees in the near future. Over the past several years (before practicing Bhakti) I’ve helped many people stop exploiting and killing animals with the actions I’ve taken. When Krishna engaged me back in his service, I began offering all my work for animals/humans to him. I understand your point about serving Krishnas parts and parcels for the fruits of ones labour and entangling oneself. Would this be considered karma yoga?

🙏🏿Thank you for your service Prabhuji, Hare Krishna

PURUJIT: Ok, Prabhu. It is a little complex, so bear with me. First of all, it is certainly noble from you to engage in protecting animals from being killed. You are a great soul who feels compassionate for these helpless beings who are mercilessly killed by misguided people. I certainly do not advise against this.

The key point is that the sloka you are referring to talks of the result of our work as an offering to Krsna, not exactly work itself. If we go by the interpretation that says that one can do whatever he wants for Krishna, then that does not really make sense, does it? If this was the case, then by that same logic, an owner of a slaughterhouse could say: I kill the animals as an offering to Krsna in my mind. Or if one can eat whatever he wants, then he might as well just eat meat as an offering to Krsna? I do not think this is what Krsna says here. Please do not mind. Therefore, if we want to understand the Bhagavad-gita let us do it in the way Krsna Himself recommends in the Gita itself, namely by hearing from a bona fide spiritual master in the disciplic succession. Srila Prabhupada gives an explanation of this sloka as follows: is the duty of everyone to mold his life in such a way that he will not forget Krsna in any circumstance. Everyone has to work for maintenance of his body and soul together, and Krsna recommends herein that one should work for Him. Everyone has to eat something to live; therefore he should accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Krsna. Any civilized man has to perform some religious ritualistic ceremonies; therefore Krsna recommends, "Do it for Me," and this is called arcana. Everyone has a tendency to give something in charity; Krsna says, "Give it to Me," and this means that all surplus money accumulated should be utilized in furthering the Krsna consciousness movement.

Bg 9.27 purport

Srila Prabhupada further explains this point here:

One may be engaged in various activities, but one should not be attached to the result of his work; the result should be done only for Him. For example, one may be engaged in business, but to transform that activity into Krsna consciousness, one has to do business for Krsna. If Krsna is the proprietor of the business, then Krsna should enjoy the profit of the business. If a businessman is in possession of thousands and thousands of dollars, and if he has to offer all this to Krsna, he can do it. This is work for Krsna. Instead of constructing a big building for his sense gratification, he can construct a nice temple for Krsna, and he can install the Deity of Krsna and arrange for the Deity's service, as is outlined in the authorized books of devotional service. This is all krsna-karma.

Bg 11.55 purport

So it is not that we can offer something in the mind to Krsna. We must practically work and dedicate the result of our work for the expansion of the Krsna consciousness movement. In other words whatever income you receive for your work you should spend for the expansion of temples and Srila Prabhupada's books. Then that would be karma yoga. Krsna is a person and therefore if we want to serve Him, we should serve Him in the way He likes, not the way we like 🙂 although we might have all the good intentions. Krsna is not obliged to accept our offerings if He does not like them. Think of it in this way. You are a person with an individual taste. If I invite you to my place and offer you a meal that contains animal products, you will hardly accept it, no matter how well I think of it as a suitable offering to you. In the same way, if we want to serve Krsna as a person, we should take a little time to know what He wants and how He wants it. This we can find out from the spiritual master, who is the intimate servant of Krsna.

Another point is that you cannot satisfy the jiva by helping the body. The body is satisfied by material means. The soul cannot. It is just like saving a drowning person's clothes. We may take care of his clothes very nicely, but unless we save the person who is wearing the clothes, the person drowns.

We have been going through billions births and deaths. We have been animals and plants and we have died many many times. It is not possible to help someone on the material plane since all one's suffering and happiness is simply a result of one's previous activities. What you can do though is to elevate the souls trapped in various unfavorable situations by giving them Krsna consciousness. Chanting Hare Krishna in a slaughterhouse is giving the poor animals the highest opportunity to leave the cycle of birth and death altogether although you might not save their life in their present situation. Not just animals, but plants, insects everyone is getting eternally benefitted when they hear the Hare Krishna mahamantra and it immediately elevates them to the position of human birth after death with the opportunity to come in contact with the Hare Krishna movement. So it is simply a question of priority. Do we save the animals only for this life or do we save them completely so they do not have to suffer in this material world ever again?

Hope this explains it. Hare Krishna! Thank you

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