How to Pay a Sage. How to Run a Society.

This is the conclusion of Pṛthu’s discussion with Sanāt Kumār.

Extremely grateful that the self-knowing young children of Brahmā had given him a clear vision his true self-interest, the King said, “Compassionate Hari must have felt compassionate towards me – for all of you blessed spiritualists have come to me. You, his devotees, are equally compassionate, so you have very thoroughly manifest his compassion to me. What can I give you in return?

This illustrates the ideal attitude towards sādhu-guru: “you are the manifestation of Krishna’s compassion on me. And your own part in that is also extremely compassionate.” 

This also illustrates the principle that a recipient of goods, services, or knowledge pays something in return.

“All I have are gifts handed down to me from sādhus. All of those gifts I then gave entirely to the teachers and philosophers. I gave them everything – my kingdom, forces, land, and treasury, as well as my own home, children and wife, and even my own self. I made them the commanders of my armies and the leaders and administrators of my kingdom. I did this because I believe that those who know Vedic śāstra are the only ones truly capable of leading society.

This is how to run a society, and I wish that many of the people trying to run “Vedic” and/or “Krishna Conscious” societies would pay attention to it. The true leader of the society is not the person with charisma or talents. The true leader is the person who very clearly and thoroughly understands Vedic śāstra.

All power and all parts of the society should be given to their care. King Pṛthu set an ideal example here, giving not only what was in his society, but even what was in his own home, and even what was in his own body. That is a true leader. Of course there can be only one King Pṛthu in history, but the rest of the leaders throughout history should look up to his example, emulate it, and feel embarassed when they fail to do so.

“They accepted everything I offered, but distributed it all wisely to the various members of society.

What do the brāhmaṇas (the really intelligent, learned, wise people who have realized  knowledge in practice) do with all the power that should be given to them? They keep none of it!

Then what is the point of giving it to them?

 Because they are wise and neutral and know exactly how to distribute that power to the right people. They put various people in charge of various things, according to their individual abilities and inclinations.

Just as I wish the kṣatriya’s running our religious and “spiritual” institutions would pay attention to the fact that the brāhmaṇas should be running the show, so to do I wish that the people claiming the role of teachers and philosophers in these societies would pay attention to the fact that real brahmaṇas don’t hold on to any power or wealth, but distribute it to the most appropriate people.

I therefore possess nothing to give you. You have shown us our true selves and very conclusively explained how to walk the path towards the All-Attractive, revealed in the Vedas, but how can we repay you? In truth, though, you need no payment, for your constant deeds of unlimited mercy bring you perfect satisfaction which nothing can diminish. All we can do is offer you water in our cupped hands.”

– Excerpt from an early draft of Part 4 of

Beautiful Tales of the All-Attractive

A translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam’s fourth canto

By Vraja Kishor

Parts 1, 2, and 3 of Beautiful Tales of the All Attractive

are available at

Categories: Tags: , , , , , ,

Do You have a Comment or Questions?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s