Question to Radhanath Swami: One thing always comes in my mind. If we give small children who come begging to us Prasad (sanctified food first offered to the Lord) or money, for long will they survive on this Prasad or money? Rather it will encourage them to beg even further and further, and they can’t become successful in their life. So, don’t you think it is better to give Prasad or money to very old and elderly beggars rather than give it to small children?
Radhanath Swami: Very nice observation. Actually, giving Prasad does not have a temporary effect. This Prasad connects their soul to God, to Krishna. It has everlasting benefit on the spiritual platform. Giving Prasad has an all-together different effect from giving them ordinary food. When we offer the proper food in the mode of goodness to God, it becomes Prasad, and that Prasad has spiritual benefit that’s everlasting.
Now, when you are speaking of little children, can little children get jobs? You may say that they should be working, but little children who are 5 or 6 years old! It is their parents who aren’t taking care of them. Are those children to be blamed for being lazy? So, I don’t think it’s necessarily like teaching them to be lazy when we give them something; at least we are doing something for them.
Yes, ultimately, the society should create facilities to encourage people not to be beggars. We should encourage people to actually work and earn an honest and ethical living. That’s really the duty of the society at large: to provide that education, that encouragement and those opportunities; otherwise people become lazy. But again, when we are talking about little children, to give them God’s mercy in the form of Prasad is an act of mercy. I don’t think it encourages them to remain as beggars.