Preaching: This category covers quotes and excerpts by Swami B.G. Narasingha Maharaja that focus on the importance of spreading the teachings of Bhakti yoga and the role of the spiritual teacher in preaching. These are quotes and excerpts that have been extracted from articles, lectures and letters by Swami B.G. Narasingha.
THE ONE THING PRABHUPĀDA WOULD NOT BE HAPPY ABOUT…
If Śrīla Prabhupāda came here (to our āśrama in South India), he would be happy about so many things – nice Deities, nice gardens, nice cows, nice devotees – so many things. But the one thing he would not be happy about is that there is no regular prasādam distribution going on. He would ask, “How much prasādam are you distributing? How many people are you feeding.” This is very important. So we need to do this as soon as possible. Then I will feel that we have Prabhupāda’s full blessings.
WHAT ARE WE ACTUALLY PREACHING???
We were quick to criticize the hell out of Gauḍīya Maṭha and Prabhupāda’s god-brothers. But as the saying goes, “When you point a finger, three fingers point back”. We have become at least thirty times worse than Gauḍīya Maṭha ever was. We criticize them for lack of preaching and pride ourselves as the ‘global preachers”, but in the end what are we actually preaching in the name of Prabhupāda, Kṛṣṇa and Mahāprabhu?? Nonsense is the answer. And we think that this nonsense preaching will endure the test of time for the next 10,000 years. What fools we have become! We are proud of our many followers, our zones, our riches, our properties and big, big temples. Truth be told, we are asses among the real Vaiṣṇavas and an embarrassment to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
THE BIGGEST ‘SCAM’ IN PREACHING
ou know what one of the biggest ‘scams’ in preaching is? “Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and your life will be sublime!” Your life will go upside down and backwards! You’ll be finished! We told that to one couple we met from England the other day – they’ve been chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa for about 5 years. We told them “Your life will go upside down and backwards!” And they said, “Yup! That’s exactly what happened to us. We sold the house, cashed out, came to India, this, that…” The search for Kṛṣṇa…actually that is the most sublime thing. But if we say like that in the beginning, people will say, “Oh I don’t want to become a devotee!” No one will want to do that. So it is sublime, but it is not understandable how sublime that is. Externally it looks very, very chaotic.
It is accepted by our line of ācāryas that the most powerful form of saṅkīrtana is twofold – the kīrtana of khol and karatālas, and secondly, book distribution and bhāgavata-kathā. You’re speaking it, your selling it and you’re singing it. These two things are inseparable. That is the saṅkīrtana of Mahāprabhu and that is the method to win divine grace and to be accepted by the Supreme Lord as an eternal servitor…
One day, some of my sannyāsī godbrothers visited and they asked me, “If you were given the chance to express what you think would be a good step for improving Iskcon, what would you suggest?”
So the first thing I said just ended the conversation. I said, “The first thing is I would tell everyone to stop preaching.”
And one of them said, “But preaching is the essence!”
I said, “No, no, no – practice is the essence! Everybody just become Kṛṣṇa conscious for a few years and really get something in your heart, get something in your community, and then go out and share that with the world”
But no chance! Because then there would be no income…no collection.
PREACHING MEANS FIGHTING FOR TRUTH
Every preacher is expected to ruffle feathers and draw critics if indeed he is preaching. Preaching means fighting for the truth, not love bombing. But as far as possible the preacher himself should not offend.
PROFESSIONAL SAṄKĪRTANA DEVOTEES
There are ‘professional saṅkīrtana devotees’ who go out and they use a 501c3 non-profit status, get permits and go to various places and venues and collect. They keep the money for themselves and give a portion of it to the temple in order to maintain the permits. This is what I call in my language, “a professional saṅkīrtana devotee.” Such things never existed in Prabhupāda’s time. You went out on the name of saṅkīrtana to sell books, collect money, or chant the holy name – none of it was yours! Whatever you sold, whatever you collected, whatever you did or whatever you achieved out there, was all offered to Prabhupāda and to the temple.
AN ĀŚRAMA NEEDS STRONG SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP
dditionally to manpower, to start an āśrama and expand the preaching field, finances are required. The good old USA is not a cheap place to live and restrictions on what a person or persons can and cannot do are increasing day by day. Indeed unfortunate.
Another thing is this – I have seen land, money and devotees come together in USA and other places and projects were started, but because these projects did not have a strong central spiritual leadership and there were as many conceptions as there were devotees (meaning nobody could agree on important spiritual truths) the projects failed.
So land, money and devotees are required, but if everyone doesn’t have faith in the leader, or the leader isn’t spiritually qualified (usually the case), then failure is imminent. Getting land, money, like-minded devotees and a qualified leader together at the same place at the same time, in my experience, takes nothing short of a miracle.
IS OUR BOOK DISTRIBUTION PROOF OF OUR ADVANCEMENT?
There is general misconception amongst devotees in the west, that the ability to distribute Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books is proof of advanced Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or special mercy of the Lord. I have distributed books since 1998 (in Iskcon till 2008 and out of Iskcon since 2008) and my personal realisation is that you may be able to distribute (sell) many books while being extremely proud and harsh with people, with no proper understanding and conception of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and being drastically attached to fame, name and glory. There were, and are, many devotees who could sell books without even following the basic regulative principles. Together with books, we have to give out Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is practically demonstrated through our thinking, speaking and acting. If we are not Kṛṣṇa conscious, if we are not humble, if we don’t have proper understanding of Vaiṣṇava siddhānta, if we remain attached to worldly things, hen we are not really pleasing Śrīla Prabhupāda essentially – because we are not becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious, regardless of how many books we did, or do distribute in our life.
PURITY FIRST – BIG AFTER!
M ost people are just satisfied with, “Hey, the books are going out! The books are going out!” And they’re building big temples. And that’s our hankering. We hanker, ‘Okay, let’s do big!!’ But let’s first get down to the essence of purity also, and then we can do big.
SHOW AND TELL
W e must remember to practice what we preach and not just become salesmen. We are not trying to convert people into becoming salesmen – we are trying to turn them towards Kṛṣṇa. And personal example is everything! We have to SHOW them how to be Kṛṣṇa conscious, and not just TELL them!
THE POTENCY IS IN THE INSTRUCTION
I n Śrīla Prabhupāda’s time, we went and preached in colleges and universities, even though most of us had no university training at all. Actually, that’s not important – whether you have a degree or not. The most important thing is that you listen to the guru carefully and repeat what he says. The potency is in the instruction. Actually, these universities are full of ignorant people. When Bhaktisiddhānta came to Mysore, he visited the Sanskrit University and wrote in the guestbook that it was a pity there was no department for the soul, the ātmā. So in all these universities – where are they teaching about the ātmā? So if we can preach in universities about Vedic knowledge, history, culture, all these things, some people might wake up to real knowledge.
SAVE YOURSELF FIRST!
G oing out for preaching means we must meet many materialistic people, people who are polluted by all types of worldly things. We cannot go for preaching unless we ourselves have the resolve, the fixed determination (niṣṭhā) that we are not interested in these things. If you find that while preaching to someone, you are yourself becoming interested in their mundane standard of life and living, then you should retreat for some time, remain in the āśrama and don’t associate with those types of people and those things. It is not worth the loss of your self in the attempt to deliver someone else.
WE MUST PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH
I began distributing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books and Back to Godhead magazine in 1970. Devotees danced, chanted Hare Kṛṣṇa and distributed literature and prasādam all day and sometimes even at night. At one point over 1 million Back to Godhead magazines were being distributed every month in the streets of major cities around the world and Śrīla Prabhupāda was very happy about that. He had waged war against māyā and distribution of books and Back to Godhead magazine were transcendental bombs. But we must remember to practice what we preach and not just become salesmen. We are not trying to convert people into being salesmen… we are trying to turn them toward Kṛṣṇa. And personal example is everything! We have to show them how to be Kṛṣṇa conscious and not just tell them.
BEING A USEFUL INSTRUMENT OF MAHĀPRABHU
W hen we go to preach – yes, the people are in ignorance, but if you go there feeling so much better than everybody else, then you cannot be a useful instrument in Mahāprabhu’s movement. You have to go and approach them with some grace, some humility, some dignity.
PREACHING MEANS FIGHTING WITH MĀYĀ
P reaching means fighting with māyā, not love-bombing and tree-hugging, although we should make the truth palatable to hear, but not water it down. The main problem is that leaders in the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement are misleading the devotees by not speaking out against deviations. The result is that there are so many deviations in the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement that it is almost impossible to keep track of them.