(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada and devotees in New York)
Devotee: What happens to the Vaiṣṇava if he is following the spiritual master and he's not successful in spiritual life? Does he also take birth on higher planets like it says in the Bhagavad-gītā?
Prabhupāda: If he is not successful, he is guaranteed to get another human form of life in rich family or a pious family.
Devotee: Like Bhagavad-gītā says.
Prabhupāda: Yes. In rich family, to take birth in rich family, means he has no economic problem, so he can engage fully in developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And pious family means automatically he gets chance to become Kṛṣṇa conscious.
Devotee: So can it be understand that if a person, for instance, some Americans are very wealthy, that they...
Prabhupāda: Yes. They must have done pious activities in their previous life, all Americans. But they should know that this is their advantage to become Kṛṣṇa conscious: "We have no economic problem, but we are employing our facilities in sense gratification." That is a mistake.
Devotee: Suppose a person is born in a very poor family. What does that mean? Suppose someone is born in a very poor, low, very low, and he becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is open to all. Just like we are calling everyone, "Come and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa." It is open to all. There is no question of becoming poor or rich. But if he takes the advantage, that is up to him. We are not restricting here that only the rich persons or brāhmaṇas or pious family or rich family can come here, no. Everyone. Everyone is welcome. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ. Poor family or uneducated family, uncultured family, they are called pāpa-yoni, sinful family. But Kṛṣṇa says, "Never mind. Even if he is in sinful family, whatever he may be, if he comes to Me, he also can enter into the spiritual kingdom." So there is no such restriction.
māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya
ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās
te 'pi yānti parāṁ gatim
Parāṁ gatim means the highest perfectional life. And that is practical. Here, when people come here, we don't inquire whether he is poor or rich or this or that. "Come on. Sit down. Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa." The opportunity is equal for everyone.
Devotee: How is it that people who have done some pious activity, they get a nice birth in this statement, but usually people who are not wealthy or not so educated, sometimes they more or less take to worshiping Kṛṣṇa or God.
Prabhupāda: That is the grace of the devotees. The devotees offer their service, and they get the opportunity. Never mind what he is. It is the grace. Therefore, when Bhāgavata says, yad-apāśrayāśrayam... Apāśrayāśrayam means a devotee is already under the protection of God, and if one takes protection of a devotee, he also becomes a devotee and becomes purified. Therefore a devotee is more merciful than God. Even in God there is consideration—pious, impious. For a devotee there is no such consideration. "Everyone come." What is the purpose of opening so many centers? Just to give people opportunity to take advantage, without any consideration of his position. But if one does not take the advantage, it is up to him. That independence has everyone. We are inviting everyone to understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but nobody is coming. What can we do? Those who are fortunate, they are taking advantage. That's all.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Montreal, October 23, 1968)