This is a very instructive story Srila Prabhupada tells to us about a yogi and a businessman who tried to cheat him. It is directly related to sadhana bhakti and how we cannot light the fire of Krishna Consciousness by having only smoke – instead of fire. In other words, if we cheat, change the process, or are just lazy, we will never get the good result – Krishna, or in this case – fire.
Conversation – July 1, 1974, Melbourne
Prabhupada: That is sense. Otherwise nonsense, that's all. It is up to us to take up the sense or nonsense. The direction is there. What Arjuna said?
Satsvarupa: "Arjuna said, My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy, and I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions."
Prabhupada: This is sense.
Bhurijana: Prabhupada, I think my illusion is not yet dispelled.
Prabhupada: Then unfortunate.
Prabhupada: Continue. (laughter) Who can check?
Bhurijana: I want to understand in this sense though, exactly how far your instructions are because I know I want to do it, what you say, but I am not exactly…
Prabhupada: You are old student.
Prabhupada: If you still cannot understand what is my instruction, then how can I help you? New students may say like that. You are intelligent, educated, old student. If you say… (long, silent pause) Our movement is that beginning of spiritual life is to surrender. If there is no surrendering, then it is no advance. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. This is the beginning. If that thing is lacking, there is no beginning even, what to speak of advancement. That is discussed already. Na siddhim sa avapnoti na sukham na param gatih. This is the beginning of spiritual life. The word is called disciple. Disciple means who accepts discipline. If there is no discipline, where is disciple? And "disciplic succession." We have used this word. Not that discipline is finished by one man, no. It will continue to go by succession. That is perfect.
Find out this verse. As soon as the disciplic succession is missing, then everything is lost.
Satsvarupa: evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh sa kaleneha mahata yogo nastah parantapa
Prabhupada: Nasta, this word is used.
Satsvarupa: "This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost."
Prabhupada: That's it. As soon as the discipline broken, then everything is lost. Now you can dance like a dog. That will not affect. Nobody can do that unless there is spiritual strength. Now, last night Madhudvisa Maharaja was singing, and so many men became enthused to dance. So unless there is spiritual strength, it cannot be done. Others cannot ask and dance. No, that is not possible. That is not possible. Unless there is spiritual strength, you cannot enthuse others. So we should have to acquire spiritual strength by following the regulative principle. Sanatana Gosvami has therefore forbidden. Avaisnava-mukhodgirnam puta-hari-kathamrtam sravanam kartavyam: "Those who are not following Vaisnava principles, one should not hear from him." Why? It is Krishna-katha, Krishna's. Now sarpocchista-payo yatha: "Milk is very good, but as soon as it is touched by a serpent, it is no more good. It is harmful." So one must be Vaisnava. Unless one is Vaisnava, there is injunction, "Don't hear from him. It will be poisonous." So one who is not following Vaisnava principle, he cannot speak about Vaisnava principle. It is harmful. That is forbidden by acharyas, Sanatana Gosvami. If somebody says, "What is the harm? He is chanting Hare Krishna…" He cannot chant. That is a show-bottle chant. That is not effective. But even taking that "Anyone who is chanting, let me hear," no, Sanatana Gosvami says, "No, don't hear." It will be harmful more than… In other words, if you are not following the Vaisnava principle, you don't chant. It will not be effective.
Did you not see the difference last night? There were many others. They could not join in the dancing. So far gathering men, if you do not gather intelligent men, then what is the use of gathering men? Ekas candras tamo hanti na ca tara sahasrasah: "If there is one moon, that is sufficient. What is the use of millions of stars?" If one is perfect Vaisnava, that is sufficient. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's movement is… There are so many… Such a big instruction book. It is not that, whimsical. But still, we recommend that "Go on chanting." This will help you anywhere. That is also good. It is exactly like that: if you ignite wood for fire, if the wood is dry, the fire takes place immediately, and if it is moist, then it takes time. Only smoke will come. So smoke is not required. The blazing fire required. Then if from the wood, if simply smoke comes you cannot (chuckles) take any work out of it. There is traces of fire. As soon as there is smoke, there is fire, but it is not useful. It is useful for troubling your eyes only. What is smoke? Smoke means also fire. But you require blazing fire, not smoke fire. So blazing fire takes place if the wood is dry, immediately takes place. Otherwise, you go on enjoying the smoke. Be satisfied. "When there is smoke, there is fire." But it will not be useful. (chuckling) It will be useful, gradually the wood will dry. It takes long time. Just try to understand this example. You require the flame, not the smoke. But if you are satisfied with the smoke, that is your business. If you simply be satisfied – "The smoke is also fire. Unless there is fire, why the smoke comes?" – that's a good argument, but smoke will not help you. You require the flame. That flame cannot be produced if the wood is wet. Wet means materially contaminated. Is that example all right?
Satsvarupa: Yes, that's true.
Prabhupada: Yes. So pure devotional service is flame. All other things are smoke. You must get the flame. Otherwise, your business will not get done. So naturally we fan when there is smoke, "Phat, phat, phat." As soon as flame comes, there is no smoke. So again fan it. Let the flame come. Then everything will be all right. Otherwise be satisfied with the smoke. You are cooking with smoke for three hundred years. (laughter)
There is a very humorous story that one man… He was a yogi. So he approached. It is not story, it is fact. Approached one big man that… As people are very inquisitive to see some yogic magic, so the rich man asked the yogi, "What you have learned about yogic perfection?" "No, I can in the severe winter season, I can dip myself in the water up to this and practice yoga." "So, how long can you remain? At night?" "Yes. No, I can remain the whole night or as long as you…" "All right, if you remain within severe cold, within water, overnight, then I shall give you such and such presentation." So he agreed, and he did it. And in the morning, when the man came, so he said, "Oh, you are successful." Then he did not..[give the yogi the promised money]. Either he had no money or he did not want to give. So he had his one advisor, "So what shall I do?" "No, no sir, you cannot give money." "Why?" "Now, there was heat." "So how there was heat?" You know, in India they give akasa-pradipa? During Karttika month they… This is our Vaisnava principle, I think. The lamp is there on the head of the roof. On the roof there is a bamboo, and in the top of the bamboo there is light. So this man was in the lake. And his advisor said, "You have seen that the lamp was there, and heat was coming." (laughing) That lamp was three miles away and still, he advised, "Yes, there was heat. Therefore he could tolerate." So what can be said? He is poor man. So there was another servant of that big man. So he appealed to him that "See, I took so much trouble and he did not pay me anything." "So don't worry. I shall see that you are paid." What is that? Some presentation?
Then that servant, while he was employed, there was an urgent business. The rich man said that "Tomorrow I am going. You must come and go with me." So suppose he was to go at ten o'clock. Then at nine o'clock a messenger came: "You are ready?" "No, just I am cooking. Then I shall finish my cooking, take my meals and then we shall go." So he was very angrily inquired, "So why you did not…?" "No, I am cooking." "Where you are cooking?" Now, he has three bamboos, and on the top there was a pot, rice pot, and he was giving fire here. So that rich man came and saw. "What kind of cooking this is?" "No, there is heat. It is going on." (laughter) "So how you do this, such a nonsense." "No, if the temperature from the lamp on the roof of the sky could protect that man, why not it will be cooking?" Then he could understand this is the reply. So that man was paid.
So this kind of progress, cooking, three miles above, a pot, a little fire, it will not act. There must be proper adjustment of cooking. Then you can cook food and eat. A little smoke or little fire and three miles away the cooking pot, in this way, cooking is useless attempt. One must be serious to cook. There is method how to cook. If you don't adopt that method and if you cook in your whimsical way, you will never be able to eat. If you say, "I shall cook in my way," and if you adopt that process, will it help? Na siddhim sa avapnoti na sukham na param…
So the yogi kept himself warm by yogic power, but the cheater businessman claimed he did so by seeing some flame three miles away on some temple roof top. Then the same cheating man’s servant constructed a cooking apparatus with bamboo poles but the fire was a long distance from the pot with vegetables to cook. His argument was that if you accept that the yogi kept warm three miles away by a single candle flame then you have to accept that this food will be cooked also “three miles” away from the cooking flame. So the lesson to be learned here is the verse Srila Prabhupada quoted at the end –
But he who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.
As described before, the sastra-vidhim, or the direction of the sastra, is given to the different castes and orders of human society. Everyone is expected to follow these rules and regulations. If one does not follow them and acts whimsically according to his lust, greed and desire, then he never will be perfect in his life. In other words, a man may theoretically know all these things, but if he does not apply them in his own life, then he is to be known as the lowest of mankind.