There is a discussion in my Whatsapp group on this topic. I already sent some short messages but I wanted to say something more.
Nobody should “pay” for anything in Krishna Consciousness. Not for the prasadam, not for coming to the temple, and certainly not for receiving initiation.
Everything is and must be free of charge.
Srila Prabhupada says that a Brahmana who asks for a salary or accepts a salary is no better than a dog.
“Those who give education in exchange of money, they are not brahmanas. Just like we are lecturing, educated, educating people. We don’t say that ‘Give us salary.’ We simply ask them, ‘Please come.’ Therefore we are making food. I’ll give you food. I’ll give you good seat. Please come and hear. We are not asking money, that ‘First of all pay the fees. Then you come and learn Bhagavad-gita.’ We never say so. So those, these so-called teachers, they first of all set up salary, ‘What salary you’ll give me?’ That is dog’s business. That is not brahmana’s business. Brahmana will never ask. Brahmana is eager to give lesson only. That’s all. Brahmana is eager to see that people are educated. ‘Take free education and be educated. Be a human being.’ This is brahmana’s business. I came here not to ask for any money. But I want to give lesson. This is brahmana’s business.”
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Paris, June 11, 1974)
“So this Canakya Pandita, although he was prime minister, he maintained his brahminical spirit. He was not accepting any salary, yes, because for brahmanas to accept salary, it is understood that he becomes a dog. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.”
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Moscow, June 22, 1971)
I think these declarations from our main Acarya settles the point.
However there is a second completing perspective that comes from the Bhagavad-gita and from Acaryas like Rupa Gosvami.
brahmaṇy ādhāya karmāṇi
saṅgaṁ tyaktvā karoti yaḥ
lipyate na sa pāpena
“One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.”
Brahmanyadhaya karmani means that we should give the result of what we do to Krishna.
And kama-karena phale saktah nibadhyate. Those who just enjoy the results of their work without give some to Krishna becomes entangled.
Therefore those who have some money should give it for worthy causes. They should give to Krishna, to the Guru, to the temple, to the Deities.
Not in the mentality of “paying” for anything, but as a donation, a way to give back a part of what he received from the Lord.
Those who have but don’t give will remain entangled in maya.
Also money is not the only thing that we can give to Krishna. You can give anything you have. Even a flower, some water, a fruit. But give it with devotion.
Like here in Puerto Rico we have a devotee who brings some flower everytime he comes and another who brings fruit. This is called devotion.
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.26).
– Manonatha Dasa (ACBSP)
21 May 2019