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There are two kinds of general activities: sreyas, or activities which are ultimately beneficial and auspicious, and preyas, or those which are immediately beneficial and auspicious

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Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Adi-lila

There are two kinds of general activities—śreyas, or activities which are ultimately beneficial and auspicious, and preyas, or those which are immediately beneficial and auspicious.
CC Adi 9.42, Purport:

There are two kinds of general activities—śreyas, or activities which are ultimately beneficial and auspicious, and preyas, or those which are immediately beneficial and auspicious. For example, children are fond of playing. They do not want to go to school to receive an education, and they think that to play all day and night and enjoy with their friends is the aim of life. Even in the transcendental life of Lord Kṛṣṇa, we find that when He was a child He was very fond of playing with His friends of the same age, the cowherd boys. He would not even go home to take His dinner. Mother Yaśodā would have to come out to induce Him to come home. Thus it is a child's nature to engage all day and night in playing, not caring even for his health and other important concerns. This is an example of preyas, or immediately beneficial activities. But there are also śreyas, or activities which are ultimately auspicious. According to Vedic civilization, a human being must be God conscious. He should understand what God is, what this material world is, who he is, and what their interrelationships are. This is called śreyas, or ultimately auspicious activity.

In this verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that one should be interested in śreyas. To achieve the ultimate goal of śreyas, or good fortune, one should engage everything, including his life, wealth and words, not only for himself but for others also. However, unless one is interested in śreyas in his own life, he cannot preach of śreyas for the benefit of others.

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Śreyas means ultimate good, and preyas means immediately palatable. That is called preyas. So everyone should be interested for śreyas, not for preyas.
Lecture on BG 1.31 -- London, July 24, 1973:

Pradyumna (leads chanting, etc.):

na ca śreyo 'nupaśyāmi
hatvā svajanam āhave
na kāṅkṣe vijayaṁ kṛṣṇa
na ca rājyaṁ sukhāni ca
(BG 1.31)

Translation: "I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Kṛṣṇa, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness."

Prabhupāda: So there are two things, śreyas and preyas. Here Arjuna is speaking of śreyas. Śreyas means ultimate good, and preyas means immediately palatable. That is called preyas. So everyone should be interested for śreyas, not for preyas. Just like a child, he likes to play all day and night. Naturally. Playful child. So that is called preyas. He likes immediate pleasure. But his father says, "My dear child, just go to school or read book." So father is asking for śreyas, ultimate good. If he is not educated at the, at childhood, then how he will prosper in his future life? So considering the future prospect, ultimate good, that is called śreyas. And preyas means immediate. Just like we eat something which I may not digest, or it may have some bad effect later on. But people are interested—the immediate benefit, without calculation of future benefit.

So Arjuna is considering with reference to his future, that "If I kill my kinsmen, what benefit there will be? I want victory, I want kingdom, to become happy, but if my all kinsmen are killed, then what is the value of my victory? With whom I shall enjoy?" He is thinking like that.

So Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna is thinking of the śreyas and preyas. Actual śreyas means to achieve Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is wanting in Arjuna.
Lecture on BG 1.31 -- London, July 24, 1973:

So Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna is thinking of the śreyas and preyas. Actual śreyas means to achieve Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is wanting in Arjuna. He is showing that feature of life, that he wants better the society, friendship and love. He does not want to kill them. Then everything will be finished. But actually the fact is that even after killing the so-called kinsmen, if he can satisfy Kṛṣṇa, that is his śreyas. That is his śreyas. That he does not know. And because he does not know, therefore this Bhagavad-gītā is there. He is playing the part that he does not know that Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate goal of life, not this so-called society, friendship and love. He is playing that part, that he does not know. He is thinking that "Kṛṣṇa is not important." Kṛṣṇa has already asked him to fight, but he is considering that "Kṛṣṇa, You are asking me to fight, and I have to kill my own kinsmen. Then where is my victory?" So therefore he said... Here in the previous verse, he has said, paśyāmi viparītāni keśava: (BG 1.30) "You are asking me to fight, for my victory, for my happiness, but I see it will be just the opposite." Paśyāmi viparītāni. This is his problem. And to solve this problem, Arjuna became the disciple of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa advised him this Bhagavad-gītā, and that is the prelude.

The immediate result and remote result is described in Sanskrit word, śreyas and preyas. Preyas means immediate benefit and śreyas means ultimate benefit. So those who are interested in the ultimate benefit go back to home, back to Godhead. For them, worshiping the Supreme Lord is most beneficial.
Lecture on BG 4.12 -- Bombay, April 1, 1974:

Now we have to make our choice whether for temporary benefit we shall worship demigods or for permanent benefit we shall worship Kṛṣṇa. That is our choice. But people generally make their choice: kṣipraṁ hi mānuṣe loke siddhir bhavati, immediate result. Immediate result. That will be explained that immediate result, it may be very palatable in the beginning, but it is.... It will produce bitter result at the end. But that we do not consider. We want immediate.

The immediate result and remote result is described in Sanskrit word, śreyas and preyas. Preyas means immediate benefit and śreyas means ultimate benefit. So those who are interested in the ultimate benefit go back to home, back to Godhead. For them, worshiping the Supreme Lord is most beneficial. And those who are interested in the matter of temporary benefit, dhanaṁ dehi, rūpaṁ dehi, yaśo dehi. Just like by worshiping goddess Durgā we want all these things. But we forget that whatever we get, material benefit, with the end of this material body, everything is lost. That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, that "At the end, I, as death, I take away all your material possession." Sarva-haro mṛtyuḥ.

So that is not good. We, because we are eternal—nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13)—we should be after eternal happiness, eternal benefit. That should be our business.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

There are two kinds of benefit: one is called preyas and one is called śreyas. Preyas means immediately very pleasing, immediately. The senses, sense satisfaction, very pleasing immediately. But śreyas means ultimate goal, ultimately.
Lecture on SB 1.1.9 -- Auckland, February 20, 1973:

There are two kinds of benefit: one is called preyas and one is called śreyas. Preyas means immediately very pleasing, immediately. The senses, sense satisfaction, very pleasing immediately. But śreyas means ultimate goal, ultimately. Just like a child, for him preyas means he wants to play, he doesn't want to go to school and, but his śreyas means he must go to school, must be educated so that his future life may be secure. That is called śreyas. So our life, this human form of life, should be used for śreyas. It is said, puṁsām ekāntataḥ śreyas. We should not be attracted by the preyas. Preyas. But modern education is so nasty that they encourage preyas. Especially in the, not in this country, everywhere. That boys and girls are not checked, rather encouraged, encouraged in the matter of immature sex life. Preyas. They want it, "All right, do it, take tablets and enjoy." This is dangerous. For this reason, the generation are becoming degraded, because they are not aiming at the śreyas. They are simply aiming at the preyas, immediate pleasing thing. They do not know that immature sex life spoils the brain, spoils strength. Everything is spoiled. In student life, brahmacārī system is very nice. If he keeps brahmacārī without any sex life, then his brain becomes very potent. He can remember, memory becomes very sharp, bodily sense becomes very solid. In this way his life becomes very solid for future śreyas. But that is not being taught at the present moment. But here the ṛṣis, the great sages, they are asking, puṁsām ekāntataḥ śreyas. Tan naḥ śaṁsitum arhasi, "Kindly describe what we should accept." This is called inquiry. Everyone should be inquisitive for the ultimate benefit of life. What is that ultimate benefit of life? The ultimate benefit of life is to stop this repetition of birth and death, old age and disease. That is ultimate benefit of life. But they do not know.

Just like if you say to a small child, "Don't go to school. Please come and play with me," he would like to play with his friend. That is immediate profit. But if you ask him to go to the school, that is remote profit. That is called śreyas. And preyas. Preyas means immediate profit.
Lecture on SB 3.26.43 -- Bombay, January 18, 1975:

Suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām (BG 5.29). Kṛṣṇa says that "I am the friend of everyone." But we are taking the place of Kṛṣṇa, leadership. I am declaring to my countrymen, to my follower, that "I am your friend." So actually, I cannot be friend because I do not know what is the goal of life. I cannot lead them properly. Some immediate convenience we can offer, and people, being less intelligent, they are after immediate profit. It is called preyas. Just like if you say to a small child, "Don't go to school. Please come and play with me," he would like to play with his friend. That is immediate profit. But if you ask him to go to the school, that is remote profit. That is called śreyas. And preyas. Preyas means immediate profit. Two young men, if one friend says to the other friend, "Oh, let us go to the cinema," that is very palatable. And if he says, "Let us go to this meeting in Hare Kṛṣṇa Land," that is not very palatable. This is the distinction between śreyas and preyas. Niḥśreyasāya. Niḥśreyasāya means ultimate goal of life, ultimate profit of life.

Śreyas means real interest, and preyas means immediate profit.
Lecture on SB 5.5.16 -- Vrndavana, November 4, 1976:

We are making big, big plans to be happy like the monkeys. Therefore here it is said that arthān samīheta nikāma-kāmaḥ. So it is the duty of everyone to do something for his welfare. But here the beginning is lokaḥ svayaṁ śreyasi naṣṭa-dṛṣṭiḥ: "These rascals, they are blind to their real interest." Śreyas means real interest, and preyas means immediate profit. So nikāma-kāmaḥ, sense gratification, is very nice immediately. "I enjoy sex life. This is very nice. Why shall I chant Hare Kṛṣṇa? Let me enjoy sex." Śreyasi. And preyasi: "This is pleasure." And it is not pleasure; therefore naṣṭa-dṛṣṭiḥ. He does not know that this sense pleasure is not his actual pleasure. It is creating different types of miserable conditions. Naṣṭa-dṛṣṭiḥ. He has no eyes.

Suppose somebody says that "Oh, there is a very nice dancing girl singing, and why you are here, saṅkīrtana? What you'll enjoy? Come here. There's a very nice girl." That is preyas. Preyas means immediately very pleasing. And one comes here, that is śreyas, means it will do him ultimately good.
Lecture on SB 7.9.54 -- Vrndavana, April 9, 1976:

Here the same word is used, śreyas-kāmāḥ. Śreyas-kāmāḥ. Anyone who is dhīra, he'll inquire about the ultimate goal of life, śreyas. There are two things, śreyas and preyas. Preyas means immediately very nice. Suppose somebody says that "Oh, there is a very nice dancing girl singing, and why you are here, saṅkīrtana? What you'll enjoy? Come here. There's a very nice girl." That is preyas. Preyas means immediately very pleasing. And one comes here, that is śreyas, means it will do him ultimately good. So there are two things, way. Those who are foolish persons, they are after śreyas..., er, preyas, immediately palatable. And those who are intelligent, dhīra, they are after śreyas. Śreyas-kāmāḥ. Without becoming śreyas-kāmāḥ, nobody can be Kṛṣṇa conscious. If one is preyas-kāmāḥ, if one wants to enjoy this material world, sense gratification, he cannot become Kṛṣṇa conscious. That is not possible. Only śreyas-kāmāḥ.

So how to... "Yes, I am śreyas-kāmāḥ. I... Yes, I want what is the ultimate goal of life. Yes." That is... Just like Sanātana Gosvāmī went to Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This is a fact. So śāstra also says, tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21). The śreyas-kāmāḥ. If you are actually serious about the ultimate goal of life, then you approach a guru. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ. If you are actually inquisitive to understand what is sreyas, that is śreyas-kāmāḥ. kāmāḥ means desiring, and śreyas means ultimate good. Not preyas-kāmāḥ. If you want to enjoy these material facilities, then you can go to such kind of men, such kind of men, and... If you want to learn drinking, so go to a club where drinking is very encouraged. Preyas-kāmāḥ. If you want to enjoy sex, go to the club where prostitutes are available. That is preyas-kāmāḥ. But if you want to reach the goal of life, then go to Kṛṣṇa conscious movement. There are two kinds of men, sreyas-kāmāḥ, preyas-kāmāḥ, so two things are there. So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is for the śreyas-kāmāḥ. And who becomes śreyas-kāmāḥ? Mahā-bhāga, with great fortune. Not ordinary person. Unfortunate or misfortunate, they cannot understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Mahā-bhāga. Very, very great fortunate person.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1973 Conversations and Morning Walks

Immediately which you like, that is called preyas. But what is your ultimate good, that is called śreyas. Śreyas and preyas.
Room Conversation -- September 19, 1973, Bombay:

Prabhupāda: So this life should be, education means one should be advanced in education to inquire about himself, that is brahma-jijñāsā. Athāto brahma jijñāsā. And as soon as there is question of jijñāsā, then there must be somebody else from whom to inquire. Therefore śāstra says that when you are jijñāsu, when you are inquisitive... Inquisitive of what? Jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. Śreyas. Here we are also jijñāsu, we are going to the market; "What is the rate of this share? What is the rate of this commodity? What is the rate of rice? What is...?" We are also jijñāsu. But śāstra says jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam: "One must be inquiring about the highest perfection of life." That is human life. Śreya uttamam. Śreyas means... śreyas and preyas. Goodness, welfare, good. A small child does not know what is his śreyas. If you give a two payasā worth lozenges, he thinks, "This is my object, end of... I have got now nice sweet lozenges." But as you advance, then the śreyas is different. It is preyas. Immediately which you like, that is called preyas. But what is your ultimate good, that is called śreyas. Śreyas and preyas. So people are interested in the bodily concept of life. Anything which is immediately pleasing to my senses, we take it, "This is my end of life." Therefore śāstra says, śreya uttamam, not that śreyas which is immediately very pleasing to you. What is immediately pleasing to you, it will be a source of great displeasure at the end. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā. So uttamam. Uttamam. Ut means transcendental, and tama means this material world. "Beyond this material world," Uttama. Śreya uttamam. Because we are not this material body, therefore our śreyas, our highest perfection of life, is different. Here the perfection of life—you get a comfortable life of the body. That is not possible, however comfortably you may situate. You may be very rich man, you may have very rich connection or good apartment, but still, you cannot be happy because you are not this body. But they do not know. Therefore one should be inquisitiveness that "I want to be happy. I am arranging for my happiness with so many material paraphernalia, but still I am not happy." This inquiry should be there. That is called jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. And that is brahma-jijñāsā.