Today I remembered an incident from New Delhi, perhaps in 1971. Gurudas and I had gone into a shop to make a purchase, and in the mood of saving Krishna’s money, I was bargaining fiercely. But he corrected me, citing a principle from The Nectar of Devotion—“Not Giving Pain to Any Living Entity.” Srila Prabhupada had written, “This is the statement of Mahabharata: ‘A person who does not disturb or cause painful action in the mind of any living entity, who treats everyone just like a loving father does his children, whose heart is so pure, certainly very soon becomes favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’
“In so-called civilized society there is sometimes agitation against cruelty to animals, but at the same time regular slaughterhouses are always maintained. A Vaisnava is not like that. A Vaisnava can never support animal slaughter or even give pain to any living entity.”
I had related the principle to giving pain to living entities outside the course of devotional service, but Gurudas made me realize that I should not cause pain to the mind of the merchant, whether he was overcharging or not, even in the course of trying to save Krishna’s money.
“Not giving pain to any living entity”—an instructive lesson that I have always kept with me.
Yours in service,