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Welfare Work Doesn't Work

People spend millions of pounds and countless hours engaged in service to the material body, and practically completely neglect any kind of attention on the soul proper. This kind of misguided and false compassion isn't helping anyone. Srila Prabhupada herein describes, according to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, how we can really help our fellow man.

Maya is very strong. In the name of philanthropy, altruism and communism, people are feeling compassion for suffering humanity throughout the world. Philanthropists and altruists do not realize that it is impossible to improve people's material conditions. Material conditions are already established by the superior administration according to one's karma. They cannot be changed. The only benefit we can render to suffering beings is to try to raise them to spiritual consciousness. Material comforts cannot be increased or decreased. It is therefore said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.18), tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham: "As far as material happiness is concerned, that comes without effort, just as tribulations come without effort." Material happiness and pain can be attained without endeavor. One should not bother for material activities. If one is at all sympathetic or able to do good to others, he should endeavor to raise people to Krsna consciousness. In this way everyone advances spiritually by the grace of the Lord. For our instruction, Bharata Maharaja acted in such a way. We should be very careful not to be misled by so-called welfare activities conducted in bodily terms. One should not give up his interest in attaining the favor of Lord Visnu at any cost. Generally people do not know this, or they forget it. Consequently they sacrifice their original interest, the attainment of Visnu's favor, and engage in philanthropic activities for bodily comfort.

SB 5.8.10

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