Student: Some say that determination and desire are all you need to achieve something, but what about luck?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: It is true that if you have desire and determination, you can achieve anything. But you may sometimes fail along the way to achievement if your luck does not favour you. When your luck does favour you, it will be easy, and when your luck does not, it will be difficult. These two things are interdependent.
na svayam daivam adatte purusartham apeksate
Here, daiva means luck, and purusartha means desire and determination. Both are necessary, and when we have both, then we achieve our result. Neither luck alone nor desire and determination alone, however, are fully responsible.
Student: Some people don’t believe in luck.
Student: Why not? Don’t desirous and determined person sometimes get killed in accidents?
Srila Govinda Maharaj: Our luck, daiva, is created by our karma. The good actions we have performed previously return to us as fruits in this plane. That is what we call luck.
There was a disciple of Srila Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj, who lived in Kolkata. When he would come to see Guru Maharaj, his movements were always very lazy, like a Western house cat. He would offer his dandavat to Guru Maharaj for fifteen minutes, and when he would get up, he would have tears in his eyes. I used to wonder, “When it takes him fifteen minutes to offer a dandavat, how does he maintain himself?”
I went to visit him once in Kolkata. I saw that he had a large six bedroom house and eight children. He was putting all his children through school, and I could immediately see how much his monthly expenses must be. Then I saw he had a small variety shop in a poor neighbourhood. I was very surprised. He had no other business and sometimes had a boy helping him in the shop. With only this small business, he was able to build a large home and cover the expenses of raising eight children? That day I decided that if your luck favours you, then you can even receive a meal from a tree [even the impossible can take place]. If your luck favours you and you work as possible by you, you can achieve anything. I could not believe that someone who takes fifteen minutes to offer one dandavat could be successful, but I saw it myself.
When Munindra Mohan Prabhu, Mohita Krishna Prabhu, and Krishna Kanta Devi Dasi wanted to do some seva, I told them they could print some books. Within three months, Krishna Kanta gave me three or four books and said, “Maharaj, through our energy, these books have come out.” Many other devotees may have helped also, but here with desire, determination, and favourable luck three or four books were published within three months.
Krishna Kanta Devi Dasi: It’s all your energy. Not mine.
Srila Govinda Maharaj: You have given the energy, the three of you and maybe some others. It was a miracle for me, and that day I decided I would go to Italy. When I saw that they can produce these nice books with fine printing within a short period, then I decided I would go to Italy and I would tell them they can arrange that.
There was another disciple of Srila Guru Maharaj who was very intelligent and industrious. He would come to the Math and do seva day and night without tiring. His name was Krishna Govinda Prabhu. During Sri Nabadwip Dham Parikrama, he would serve as the storekeeper in the Math, and he was very faithful to Srila Guru Maharaj. But he struggled greatly to maintain his family, and he suffered so much as a result of this. He wasn’t successful at all. So, determination is necessary, desire is necessary, and favourable luck is also necessary.
In Sanskrit, it is also said that if a lion does not do any work, then a lion will not eat. He must go out in the jungle and chase after deer. Then he will eat. He cannot eat just by sitting in his cave.
Srila Guru Maharaj had a friend, MC Chaterjee, who was a big lawyer in Delhi. When Guru Maharaj was in Delhi, Guru Maharaj would sometimes visit him, and happily they would discuss many things. A godbrother of Srila Guru Maharaj would sometimes come with Guru Maharaj. He was very energetic but sometimes would show himself to be lazy. Once, that godbrother was late to visit MC Chaterjee, and MC Chaterjee told him, “Do you think you are so great that everyone has to wait for you and you do not have to follow any rules and regulations? Why are you late? Do you think that after taking midday prasadam, some time after four o’clock you will go out to the meeting, and the hall will be full of people waiting to hear your lecture? That is not realistic. If you spend your time and energy beforehand, going to so many places and doing so many things, then you can make a field for your lecturing. Then one day you will see the result that there is a hall full of people to listen to you. That day will come if you spend your energy beforehand so much for that. Only then will the lecture hall be full.”
This is very true, and Srila Guru Maharaj sometimes gave this example. If you tirelessly try to do something for the service of Krishna, Krishna will give you that opportunity. Krishna does not cheat anyone who wants to serve Him. Krishna gives them some opportunity because bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya: devotion produces more and more devotion. If you want to serve, you must get the chance to serve though behind that no doubt some mercy and your sukrti will help you.
Spoken in 1999 in Italy.
Listen to the original audio recording of this talk here.
kaka-taliyavat praptam drstvapi nidhim agratah
na svayam daivam adatte purusartham apeksate
(Hitopadesa: Mangalacharana, 35)
“Even if you see a treasure in front of you by coincidence (lit. like a palm fruit falling just as a crow lands), you do not acquire it by destiny [favourable luck] alone; personal endeavour [desire and determination] is required.”
udyamena hi sidhyanti karyani na manorathaih
na hi suptasya simhasya pravisanti mukhe mrgah
(Hitopadesa: Mangalacharana, 36)
“Tasks are completed by industriousness, not just by desire. Animals do not enter the mouth of a sleeping lion.”