Members of the so-called educated class ask, "If one is busy all the time rendering devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, how is one to maintain himself and his family?" The so-called educated men think only a fool would be blind to his immediate physical needs and uselessly waste his time in devotional service so he could rise to the platform of a mahātmā. In fact, they think that a real mahātmā is he who strives to improve his material facilities from good to better. They say that it is because of the economists' poor planning that the world is facing a major crisis in food production. Both the economists and their critics should turn to the Bhagavad-gītā (9.22) and hear what Lord Kṛṣṇa has to say on this subject:
- ananyāś cintayanto māṁ
- ye janāḥ paryupāsate
- teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ
- yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy 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.
It is relevant to mention here how in the Western world one atheistic government tried to induce the innocent citizens to embrace atheistic views. The government sent their propagandists to proselytize the people in the villages. They asked the innocent villagers, "Why do you all go to church? What do you pray to God for?" The villagers simply answered, "God gives us food." The atheists then led the villagers to the church and asked them to pray to God for food. The villagers, of simple faith, began to pray to God. At the end of their prayers, the officials asked them if they had received food or not. Bewildered, the people shook their heads. The atheists then asked the villagers to pray to them for food, which they did. Immediately, with a look of triumph, the atheists brought out baskets of bread. The villagers became happy and thought that the government representatives were more responsive and productive than God.
Alas! If only a devotee of the Lord had been present there, the villagers' devotion would not have been molested. The neophyte devotees' tender devotion is always susceptible to damage. But bread, after all, does came from God, and not from the atheists. If those villagers had been more conversant with the scriptures, the atheists would never have been successful in their evil plan. The simple villagers were illiterate, and hence they had no idea that the Supreme Lord alone can give them food. If the earth did not produce grain, then the atheists, despite their advanced material science, could never make bread or other foods.
Many may claim that in the modern age material scientists have helped increase agricultural yield. But we fearlessly proclaim that it is precisely such atheistic views that have brought the world to the present acute food crisis. If we are not careful, the day will soon come when fruits will be reduced to just skin and seed, cows' udders will dry up, and paddy fields will grow only grass. The scriptures predict that these things will come to pass in the Kali-yuga.
In reality, the Supreme Lord is always protecting us. The inmates of a prison are being punished by the government, yet the same government feeds them and looks after them. Similarly, sinful, atheistic people, though punished by the Lord's illusory energy (māyā personified as Durgā-devī), are still fed and cared - for by the Lord Himself. And if the Supreme Lord feeds and maintains even the worst sinners, reprobates, and helpless souls, then what to speak of those who are eternally surrendered to His lotus feet? He is like a king who takes proper care of his subjects, but who especially looks after the needs of his near and dear relatives. Therefore it is not true that a comfortable life can be enjoyed only by those who perform ordinary pious activities, but not by the devotees, who are free from fruitive action and empirical knowledge. The devotees do not always suffer, for the Supreme Lord personally takes care of them. The devotees are the Lord's relatives and family members. Just as ordinary people feel joy and satisfaction when they look after the needs and comforts of their family, the Lord also feels pleasure when he tends to the well-being of His devotees. Thus the Supreme Lord is known as Bhakta-vatsala, "the maintainer of the devotees." But He is never referred to as Karmī-vatsala, "the maintainer of fruitive workers," or Jñānī-vatsala, "the maintainer of empiric philosophers."
The devotees of the Lord fully depend on Him for everything, and so whatever they do to maintain themselves and their family is favorable to devotional surrender. Such pure souls are always fixed in devotion, never wasting a moment in activities outside the Lord's service. They are not assailed by materialistic desires, because everything they do is for the Lord's pleasure. Hence they alone are truly peaceful.