Jeff Green is a 32 year old American who lives in Arizona. Not long ago his wife passed away. Due to the grief he suffered at her death, he did something totally out of character for a normal and sane person. He said, "I could no longer take the pain that my wife's death caused me and so I brought her back home. "
His wife, Lucy, was born with a heart condition that cut her life short at the young age of 29. Lucy's last words to Jeff were, "We will meet again in heaven. " But these words were of no consolation in Jeff's despair. At the funeral, in an act of desperation, Jeff decided that he would not let Lucy leave him.
"I called the cemetery caretaker and explained my feelings. " he said later. "I spoke with the authorities and got special permission to take my wife home with me. They thought it strange, but I was allowed to take her with me. I'd rather have her at home than six feet under ground. Lucy had a great sense of humor and I'm sure she would appreciate being my coffee table. "
Jeff ordered a special hermetically sealed glass case that eliminates the decomposition of a dead body. "It cost me about $6,000. 00, but it was worth it. "
Some of his friends and relatives, filled with fear, stopped visiting him, but his true friends respected his decision and continue coming over.
Some even comment that it makes a nice piece of furniture.
This question was emailed to me by a Bhakta in New Zealand:
Lately Ive been wandering what exactly is the exact definition of breaking the Gambling regulative principle. The other regs are quite clear. Gambling however has diffrent degrees and different forms including speculation.
For instance Gambling is generally in western terms meaning casinos and horse races etc. Dabbling with that with the expectation of making some money . It seems that the obvious transgression is that It leads to Lust and Greed and bad association etc.
However there are also other types of activity like lotto or buying a product which has attached to it a draw one can enter into to say win a car etc , by answering a question.
Also there is dabbling in various forms of sharemarkets and stock exchange. Its interesting that once Shyamasundara and Srila Prabhupada Dabbled in gold. Of course it was Shyamasundara who first bought the Gold . Then Srila Prabhupada Kind of joined in the fun. However after this he said Shyamasundara is expert wheras its better that no one else does this. In one sense buying and selling things is kind of similiar. Or entering into a business partnership with some idea of making some gain.
So my Question is what exactly constitutes breaking this principle. For instance Im aware that some devotees buy lotto tickets which could be seen as being in one sense less innocent compared to say entering a gambling casino.
I would very much appreciate what you would have to say.
Srila Prabhupada counted mental speculation as a transgression of the "no gambling" rule. See for example his letters to Dinadayal das (70-02-02), Hanuman Prasad Poddar (70-02-05), and Manmohini dasi (70-02-21). In addition, there's a letter from Srila Prabhupada to his disciple Sacisuta das in Boston, dated 68-05-30. In it Srila Prabhupada discussed the rules that initiated devotees must follow. Along with the 4 regulative principles and the 10 offenses against the holy name, several other rules are listed, including these two:
Srila Prabhupada clearly did authorize risk-taking in the preaching field. Consider this statement, from a 1968 lecture:
Krsna said that devotees, that you should not disturb them. [Prabhupada means that Krsna said in the Gita that devotees ought not to disturb persons who are attached to material activities. ] But devotees are so kind that taking all risk. Just like Nityananda Prabhu took all risk, Lord Jesus Christ took all risk. Therefore a devotee is more kind than God. A devotee is more merciful than God Himself. We should always remember this. And therefore Krsna says, mad-bhaktya pujyabhyadhika. "Anyone who worships My devotee, he worships more than what he can do for Me. " That means He appreciates the worship of His devotee than to Himself. So actually, devotees are so kind. Krsna says, "Those who are absorbed too much in material consciousness, don't disturb them. " But devotees take the risks, even at the cost of life. Therefore devotee is so dear to Krsna.
Betting money in a casino, or playing the lotto, or even just letting the mind wander here and there in haphazard mental speculation, or wasting time and energy in idle talks and frivolous sports, all amount to taking risks that are not sanctioned by our Founder-acarya. Gambling does not only entail the risk of losing money. When one engages in foolish thoughts, idle talks and frivolous sports, one risks being caught by death in the midst of material consciousness.
You mentioned Srila Prabhupada's gold-buying adventure with his disciple Syamasundara Prabhu, which took place during a visit to Switzerland. Yes, there was an element of risk involved in that--but obviously that risk was entirely for Krsna's service. And as you pointed out, Srila Prabhupada did not intend for other disciples to take such financial market risks, even if in the name of Krsna's service. The falldown of one of ISKCON's big leaders a few years ago was attributed by observers to his risking Krsna's laksmi in the Russian financial market.
In conclusion, I think it is useful to equate "gambling" with "risk-taking" because
1) by understanding what kinds of risk-taking are encouraged and what kinds are forbidden, we learn that there are gambles that can be rightly and properly taken in devotional service;
2) plus we learn that the rule against gambling encompasses more than just the games of hazard (roulette, cards, horse-betting) that in karmi society typically go under the rubric gambling.
Ergo, authorized risks constitute the absolutely best service that one can perform for the Lord; while unauthorized risks constitute gambling.
I will spend Janmastami and Srila Prabhupada Vyasa-puja in the Kiev temple. On the evening of 7 September I take a train to Dnepropetrovsk. The photo report about the Kiev festivities will be uploaded from there.
Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.
Srila Sarasvati Thakura's translation (rendered into English from the Thakura's Bengali):
Bhagavan Sri Krsna, the hearing and chanting of whose name is the supreme source of liberation and who is the benefactor of sadhus, in the form of Antaryami Caitya-guru of all human beings uproots the heaps of sinful desires in the heart of one who engages in hearing His transcendental katha or names and qualities.
From Srila Sarasvati Thakura's explanation:
The only friend of great sadhus is Krsna. When, after entering one's ears in the form of sabda-brahma, He is glorified in the form of nama-brahma, then there is no way for all kinds of inauspicious illusory enjoyments to stay in such a person's heart. The sword of remembering Hari, mentioned earlier, cuts the other thoughts, thus completely destroying plans for enjoying maya. This sense gratificatory business, performed under the external energy of the Lord, is endangering by many anarthas. If Antaryami Krsna is being served by hearing and chanting, the living entity's thirst for getting the fruits of external enjoyment cannot stay.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura writes about this verse:
tatas ca srnvatam iti kramena sravana-kirtane ukte. tatas ca hrdi yany abhadrani papani antah-sthah san vidhunotiti smaranam.
The Bengali translation of Srila Cakravartipada's Sanskrit that Srila Sarasvati Thakura gives in his commentary:
tarpor (orthat sri-guru-pada-padmer
asroe labhe sri-vasudev kothate ruci labher por) srnvatam orthat sri-krsner
kotha srovon-kari manov-goner. Ekhane krame sravan o kirtaner (orthat
prothome sravan o pore kirtaner) kotha bola hoiyache. tarpor sadhaker hrdoye
ye somosto amangal (orthat aparadha-janito) pap-basona-samuho vidyaman,
seiguli sri-krsna (antaryami-rupe ba caitya-guru-rupe) ontoh-stho hoiya
vidhauto koren, ihar dvara smaran onger nirdes kora hoilo.
Thereafter (in other words, after obtaining taste for Sri Vasudeva-katha, having taken shelter at the lotus feet of the spiritual master)--srnvatam means "of humans who engage in hearing Krsna-katha"--here the talk is about gradual development of hearing and chanting (i. e. first hearing and then chanting). Thereafter, whatever inauspicious (originating from offenses) sinful desires are there in the sadhaka's heart, Sri Krsna (in the form of Antaryami or of Caitya-guru) residing within destroys them all; through this, remembering has been established.