Pure Intentions of Sudama and Srila Prabhupada

Srimad Bhagavatam 10.81.06-07 - Pure Intentions of Sudama and Srila Prabhupada (download mp3)
by Suresvar Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 10.81.6-7
sarva-bhutatma-drk saksat
vijnayacintayan nayam
 sri-kamo mabhajat pura
patnyah pati-vratayas tu
 sakha priya-cikirsaya
prapto mam asya dasyami
 sampado ’martya-durlabhah

Being the direct witness in the hearts of all living beings, Lord Krsna fully understood why Sudama had come to see Him. Thus He thought, “In the past My friend has never worshiped Me out of a desire for material opulence, but now he comes to Me to satisfy his chaste and devoted wife. I will give him riches that even the immortal demigods cannot obtain.”

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti comments that the Lord momentarily wondered, “How has it come about, despite My omniscience, that this devotee of Mine has fallen into such poverty?” Then, quickly understanding the situation, He spoke to Himself the words related in this verse.

But someone may point out that Sudama should not have been so poverty-stricken, since appropriate enjoyment comes as a by-product of service to God even for a devotee who has no ulterior motives. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (9.22):

ananyas cintayanto mam
 ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
 yoga-ksemam vahamy aham

“But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form — to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.”

In response to this point, a distinction must be made between two kinds of renounced devotees: one kind is inimical to sense gratification, and the other is indifferent to it. The Supreme Lord does not force sense gratification upon the devotee who is extremely averse to worldly enjoyments. This is seen among such great renouncers as Jada Bharata. On the other hand, the Lord may give limitless wealth and power to a devotee who is neither repelled nor attracted by material things, such as Prahlada Maharaja. Up to this point in his life, Sudama Brahmana was totally averse to sense gratification, but now, out of compassion for his faithful wife — and also because he hankered to have Krsna’s audience — he went to beg from the Lord.