Real Preaching Must be As It Is

By Bhakta Çré Hari Vijayaräghavan

“So, simply if you read and hear the activities–either read or hear, both of them are çravanamactivities of the Lord, you get liberation. Simply by reading.”
-Lecture on Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 2.1.5 in Los Angeles, 8-13-72

Vedas are called çruti, meaning knowledge that has come down by the hearing process. From the Supreme Personality of Godhead Çré Kåñëa through the eternal disciplic successions (evam paramparä-präptam), this transcendental knowledge has been coming down since time immemorial. As per the Vedic system, the transcendental knowledge that is received from the predecessor spiritual masters needs to be distributed as it is to suffering humanity for its spiritual welfare. The process simply requires sincere and submissive following in the footsteps of the predecessor Äcäryas (mahäjano yena gatah sa panthäh). Please note that all emphases in this article have been added.

The Vedic vision

The Vedas are also known as mother. Like a mother, who nurtures her children and wants them to be happy, similarly, the ultimate vision of the Vedic knowledge is to see that all living entities are happy:

“Vedic civilization is to think, ‘Oh, let everyone be happy.’ Sarve sukhino bhavantu: “Everyone be happy.”
-Lecture on Bhagavad-gétä, 7.14 in Hamburg on 9-8-69

The material world, being a place of perpetual suffering (asukham lokam), is under the grip of ignorance or darkness (tamas). The above-mentioned highest goal of happiness for all living entities can be accomplished by profuse distribution of the transcendental knowledge, especially to human beings, who, with their developed intelligence, should be capable of assimilating that knowledge. Thus, they are benefited by progressing in their spiritual lives. According to Providence, there are bona fide disciplic successions which distribute Vedic knowledge in the human society.

Though the Vedas reveal many branches of knowledge, the cream or essence of the Vedic philosophy is contained in the Vedäntic literatures. Vedänta means ultimate knowledge, and it is meant for ultimate perfection. Äcäryas have revealed that Çréla Vedavyäsa, the literary incarnation of the Lord (munénäm apy ahaà vyäsam), utterly defeated all opposing views and opinions differing from the Vedic philosophy in his Vedänta-sütra, which is part of the library of Vedantic literatures. These Vedantic literatures–like the Upaëiñads (including Gétopaëiñad), Vedänta-sütra, and Çrémad-Bhägavatam–reveal the highest perfectional wisdom, viz., knowledge about the Absolute Truth (satyaà param). When this ultimate knowledge becomes fully known to a conditioned soul (yasmin vijïäte sarvam evaà vijïätam bhavati), he is on the liberated platform.

In defiance of the fallen nature of Kali-yuga, the sampradäya äcäryas–following in Vyäsadeva’s footsteps (the Äcäryas of the Bhägavata school, especially)–have given elaborate commentaries on the Vedäntic literatures in order to provide us the proper understanding and application of these scriptures for our spiritual progress:

“. . . Baladeva Vidyäbhüñaëa, with the order of Govinda-jé at Jaipur, he wrote the commentary on Brahma-sütra. That name is Govinda-bhäsya. So, the Gaudiya-Brahma Sampradäya, they have got also commentary on Brahma-sütra. That is required.
-Lecture on Bhagavad-gétä,13.8-12, in Bombay on 9-30-73

It is to be noted that Çrémad-Bhägavatam is the natural commentary on the Vedänta-sütra by its author, the self-same Vyäsadeva, and, therefore, it is held in very high esteem (çrémad-bhägavatam amalaà puränam) by the Bhägavata school; other äcäryas have given extensive commentaries on it, as well. This point is brilliantly summarized in On Sufficient Guidance:

“Even after the devotee Bhägavata has left manifest existence, the Book Bhägavata (explained by him with voluminous and lucid purports) still remains in written or in verbal (taped) form. It is sufficient guidance and is still available for the neophyte. The Book Bhägavata requires commentary by the acharya, even if he is no longer physically present, in order to render its meaning clear. A great saintly person may be silent for those who cannot comprehend this mystery, but he is not silent for those who act upon it.”
-Kailäsa Candra däsa, On Sufficient Guidance

Everyone connected to a bona fide disciplic succession is entrusted with the mission of distributing transcendental knowledge that has come down in the respective disciplic branch to enlighten the suffering public. This preaching utilizes the afore-mentioned commentaries and their teachings, which accrue to the benefit of the followers. This path has already been chalked out. The mahä-bhägavat Äcäryas have personally set exemplary standards (pramänaà kurute) in relation to how this knowledge is to be distributed throughout the world. From the ñad-goswämés of Våëòävana (by their creation of immense devotional literatures) through the agency of stalwart, mahä-bhägavat Äcäryas a bit later (such as Sréniväsa Äcärya, Narottama däsa Öhäkura, and Çyämänanda Pandit) to His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda’s commentaries (the Bhaktivedänta purports), and book distribution program, the mission of Çré Brahma Madhva Gaudéya Vaiñëava Sampradäya is being furthered for the welfare of suffering humanity. As such, this spotless paramparä is irrevocably linked to the Vedic teachings and vision which has just been described.

The remainder of this article will analyze the preaching work being carried out by the followers (or so-called followers) of His Divine Grace.

On improper study or hearing

“By such improper study or hearing of Bhägavatam, the material opportunists have played havoc . . . in the name of Bhägavatam. This vilification of Bhägavatam is rendered by the acts of the so-called devotees . . . ”
Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 2.2.12, purport

Exploitation in carrying out the exalted mission of distributing transcendental knowledge is never sanctioned by the Äcäryas. There are, however, individuals, groups, and institutions who falsely claim to represent the paramparä. Yet, in reality, they are simply exploiting others in the name of devotional service. They are deviants acting against the actual teachings of the paramparä. Their improper, show-bottle devotional service of “preaching” has been criticized by the authorities:

çruti-smrti-puränädi-pancarätra-vidhim vinä aikäntiké harer bhaktir utpätäyaiva kalpate

“Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanisads, Puränas, Närada-pancarätra, etc., is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society.”
Bhakti-rasämrta-sindhu, 1.2.101

For lack of proper philosophical study and assimilation of the paramparä teachings, when they engage in their so-called preaching, they are simply spreading nescience. As per the famous instructions of Çréla Rüpa Goswämé Prabhupäda, of the six controls a sober person (dhéraù) must posses, two directly relate to the tongue. Of these, the urge to speak–in this case, preaching unauthorized teachings and conclusions (väco vegam)–is the foremost pushing that must be overcome:

“When speaking in spiritual circles, one’s statements must be upheld by the scriptures. . . There is a limitless stock of Vedic literature, and one should study this. This is called penance of speech.”
Bhagavad-gétä, 17.15, purport

Even a fool is sometimes respected, but only when he remains silent. This is because, by practicing silence, even the fool, to some limited degree, represents an opulence of Lord Çré Kåñëa:

“Among punishments, I am the rod of chastisement, and of those who seek victory, I am morality. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am wisdom.”
Bhagavad-gétä, 10.38

When a cheater misleads others in the name of so-called preaching–an immoral activity according to Vedic teachings—he risks going to hell and taking his followers with him. Therefore, all responsible wise men–as representatives of Çré Kåñëa–never manipulate His teachings like that. Others, however, are instructed to hear and remain silent for their own good and the good of others.

Whenever asked about his opinion on anyone, His Divine Grace always demanded to know his philosophical conclusion, i.e., about what he actually preached. Çréla Prabhupäda would then expertly analyze such teachings in light of the revealed scriptures, and then render judgment. This is because, by speaking or writing, a person reveals his mind. By words, spoken or written, one gives forms to his thoughts. As Çréla Prabhupäda has shown by example, words can be analyzed through the eye of the çästra in order to understand the intentions behind those words; when one remains silent, it is not know what he is thinking.

Vaiñëava siddhänta teaches any activity that is not an act of sacrifice meant to please Lord Çré Viñëu causes bondage. Unauthorized preaching, by the so-called preacher to his unwitting audience, is simply a manifestation of the society of cheaters and cheated. Silence is preferable:

Personal Secretary: I know I am making mistakes.
Prabhupäda: Why do you preach?
Personal Secretary: That’s my question.
Prabhupäda: Stop preaching.
Personal Secretary: Ah.
Prabhupäda: If you know your mistakes and you’re preaching, why this nonsense preaching?
Personal Secretary: Preaching must be perfect.
Prabhupäda: Yes.
-Room Conversation on 3-16-74 in Våëòävan

As highlighted in this conversation, the principle of honesty (arjavam)–an essential brahminical quality–is never optional for a preacher. However, in a society of nonsense preaching, some “authorities” therein opine that only a nitya-siddha devotee can be a Sampradäya Äcärya in the paramparä. Similarly, this section claims that there have always been many çiksä-gurus to lead the Kåñëa consciousness society—a bogus theory is soundly defeated in Çikñä-guru is Liberated Devotee by Kailäsa Candra prabhu. Others rationalize and compromise the genuine standard of Vaiñëava initiation by validating the Sanskrit names (indicating the “initiation”—and what those people are initiated with?) received from a rubber-stamped, institutional guru.

How can one who is not authorized be a spiritual master or guru? How can he give the seed or bija or plan of devotional service to others? How is that plan supposed to unfold? And yet, the institutionalists claim that anyone who preaches that devotees must search out a genuine, physically manifest guru in order to gain dékçä must be a spiritual snob.

None of these outrages are substantiated according to the light of revealed scriptures. All intelligent devotees must rightly conclude that “authorities” who push these misconceptions—and many more of them–must be simply known as misleaders. One who is actually rendering service to the predecessor Äcäryas speaks and acts differently:

“One who has accepted a guru speaks intelligently. He never speaks nonsense. That is the sign of having accepted a bona fide guru.”
Science of Self Realization, “Choosing a Spiritual Master”

In this way, for lack of having thoroughly studied the teachings of the sampradäya, especially as it is presented by the most recent representative in our line, His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda, bogus preachers are easily able to mislead many innocent devotees. They are manufacturing new teachings and ideas that are contradictory to the siddhänta of this spotless sampradäya. In that way, their so-called preaching efforts are not in line with the Vedic vision. Therefore, more than ever, there is a great need for real preachers to represent Çréla Prabhupäda by preaching and leading the Kåñëa consciousness men and women of the world under the guidance of Prabhupäda’s nectarean teachings, so that, once again, genuine Kåñëa consciousness can flourish and suffering humanity can be delivered.

On proper study or hearing

“Lord Caitanya has advised all His followers to go everywhere and preach the message of Lord Kåñëa. Since this message is essentially Bhagavad-gétä, the preacher’s duty is to study Bhagavad-gétä as it is understood by disciplic succession and explained by great sages and learned devotees. One should speak to the general populace in accordance with one’s predecessorssädhu, guru, and çästras.”
Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 4.16.3, purport

By the causeless mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedänta Swämé Çréla Prabhupäda, the most recent maha-bhägavata Äcärya in spiritual history, we now have the facility of being engaged in the authorized devotional activity of çravanam, hearing about Çré Kåñëa by submissively reading the afore-mentioned transcendental books:

“The spiritual life begins by the process mentioned in the Vedic literature. (This) means that you must hear about God, you must chant about God. Then the spiritual life begins. . . And for hearing about Kåñëa, you can read our books.
-Lecture on Bhagavad-gétä, 4.10 in Rome, 5-25-74

As far as the distribution of the transcendental knowledge is concerned, this standard Vedic etiquette is understood and followed: Everyone may receive the knowledge (either by approaching submissively and sincerely to gain it or by great fortune or both) from the teachings. However, only those who have thoroughly read or studied the teachings–and thus have genuinely understood the gravity of the conditioned situation–are actually qualified to preach the message as it is, without any adulterations, for the welfare of others (janma särthaka kari’ kara para-upakära). They are the preachers. They are undoubtedly blessed by the Supreme Lord and the spiritual masters in the disciplic succession to further this mission. Such a personality is technically called a Vaiñëava:

“He’s unhappy seeing others, these so-called rascals who have forgotten Kåñëa, they are unhappy. Vaiñëava is unhappy seeing these peoples’ unhappiness.
-Lectures on Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 1.8.40 in Mayapura, 10-20-74

Such a devotee is very careful in presenting and preaching the teachings of his predecessors. Due to the fact that he has meticulously studied the paramparä teachings and understands the gravity of the situation, he naturally performs kértanam (or preaching) nicely. Therefore, his endeavour is authorized:

“It is not that you hear, but you remain stopped. No. The next stage will be kértanam. Either by chanting vibration or by writing or by speaking or by preaching, the kértana will be there.”
-Purport to Bhajahu Re Mana in San Francisco, 3-16-67

Of course, Çréla Prabhupäda’s great kértanam, in the form of his wonderful books, are facilitating authorized çravanam for any willing devotee. Therefore, His Divine Grace insisted on distributing his books all over the world. He also encouraged his followers to produce authorized Vaiñëava literature in order to further the mission:

“Regarding sankértana and book distribution, book distribution is also chanting. Anyone who reads the books, that is also chanting and hearing. Why distinguish between chanting and book distribution? These books I have recorded and chanted, and they are transcribed. It is spoken kértanas. So, book distribution is also chanting. These are not ordinary books. It is recorded chanting. Anyone who reads, he is hearing. Book distribution must not be neglected.”
-Letter to Rüpänuga, Oct. 19, 1974

In light of these instructions by Çréla Prabhupäda, those so-called editors (and their supporters) who have dedicated their lives to ruining the authority of his transcendental books must be thoroughly condemned. How mercilessly have they put the devotional lives of present and future generations at great risk! These so-called editors may well be, by their own actions, preparing themselves to realize the first of the Lord’s opulence (the rod of chastisement) revealed in Bhagavad-gétä, 10.38. They have cunningly manipulated many translations and purports, and their blind followers praise them for this.

As far as speaking or preaching is concerned, the modern and post-modern conception of so-called free speech is not at all approved in the çästra. Freedom is never achieved by speaking or preaching nonsense. That is because, when a conditioned soul engages himself in unauthorized kértana, which is never accepted as part of yajïa or sacrifice, he plunges himself and his willing listeners further into saàsära:

“Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunté, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain unattached and free from bondage.
Bhagavad-gétä, 3.9

All unauthorized activities lead one to the opposite pole of where an authorized activity leads. Needless to say, demons–with their technological advancements, such as radios, television, and now the INTERNET—have made it easy for all sorts of unauthorized kértanam or preaching to effortlessly spread. That misleads a mass of innocent and ignorant people. The Vedas, being concerned with the ultimate welfare of all living entities, do not allow such free speech, which is ultimately useless. Therefore, real freedom begins at the point of receiving genuine spiritual knowledge through authorized channels:

“Because we are not manufacturing anything, one simply has to read one of our books, and he receives real spiritual knowledge.”
The Science Of Self Realization, Chapter One

After receiving spiritual knowledge, distributing it as it is, for the benefit of everyone, is called kértanam or chanting or preaching. It is highly appreciable seva, for it is a proper use of one’s free will:

“… one should not only read for himself, but should also induce others to read and hear. That is called preaching.”
Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 4.23.38, purport

The whole library of çästra demonstrates this perfect model of transcendental preaching. In Çrémad-Bhägavatam, Çré Çukadeva Goswämé preaching to Çré Parékñit Mahäräja, and Çré Süta Goswämé preaching to the sages of Naimiçäraëya is one example. In Caitanya-caritämåta, Lord Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu’s preachings and dealings with exalted personalities like Çré Prakäçänanda Saraswäté, Çré Sarvabhamu Bhattäcärya, Çré Sanätana Goswämé, Çré Rüpa Goswämé and Çré Rämänanda Räya are further demonstrations. These are only a few exalted examples, among innumerable others, demonstrating what is authorized preaching, i.e., preaching the original teachings as per the Bhägavata school.

These forms of hearing or reading–and then chanting or preaching without any manipulation or change–are what actually constitute the proper use of one’s free will. This form of free speech is the only thing that is actually permitted. Indeed, the very meaning of paramparä is to pass on the transcendental message as it is, through this method of çravanam and kértanam. In this way, bona fide disciplic successions transmit the siddhänta with absolute integrity, so that everybody who sincerely comes in contact with these teachings is transcendentally benefited.

On the other hand, the consequence of subjecting oneself to unauthorized preaching is vividly described by Çré Çukadeva Goswämé amongst his first instructions to Çré Parékñit Mahäräja:

Those persons who are materially engrossed, being blind to the knowledge of ultimate truth, leave many subject matters for hearing in human society, O Emperor.

“The process of going back home, back to Godhead, is to hear about the Supreme Lord and His name, form, attributes, pastimes, paraphernalia and variegatedness. Foolish people do not know this. They want to hear something about the name, form, etc., of everything temporary, and they do not know how to utilize this propensity of hearing for the ultimate good.”
Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 2.1.2, verse and purport

The INTERNET has now given easy means to spread bogus teachings as if they are authorized kértanam. We find this in the form of many unauthorized institutional websites, popular online daily newspapers and magazines, personal pages, videos and audios and blogging in public forums, etc. Through these avenues of unauthorized kértanam, many innocent and unfortunate devotees are being further and further misled from the original teachings of our sampradäya. However, those misleaders (and their followers and their show-bottle activities) are never approved by the verses and commentaries of Çrémad-Bhägavatam.

The preachers of truth must never be silenced, however unpalatable what they preach may be to us. Because they preach transcendental knowledge from the teachings of the predecessor Äcäryas, they should never be directly or indirectly (censorship by ommision) silenced from preaching the truth, even though another application of silence is an opulence of the Lord. It is we ourselves who become spiritually deaf when we consider the truth spoken by bona fide preachers to be unpalatable. By silently hearing them out, however, we make some progress in spiritual life. The silence we try to offensively enforce upon them would be better used on ourselves to help us progress in spiritual life.

“So, when you become actually preacher of God consciousness, you cannot make any compromise. You must call the spade a spade.”
-Lecture on Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 1.2.5, 10-16-72

Thus, preaching this topmost consciousness as it is needs no approval from any editor of some website. Humbly accepting the fine instruction of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Saraswäté Öhäkura (that we have heard in many lectures by Çréla Prabhupäda), viz., that, if one finds only four walls, still one must not be discouraged even there to preach. In this author’s humble opinion, the approval is self-evident in those sincere preachers who preach about the absolute topic as it is, without any deviation.

Success is never measured by number of website hits (that is a numbers game, and numbers mean nothing). Rather, success in submissively repeating the teaching as it is, being a useful tool in the hands of predecessor Äcärya, is the criterion, even when accomplished without the support of any whimsical website editor, whose website gets more hits. That is of no spiritual concern, as the sincere and transcendental endeavor of genuine preachers is always in pleasing predecessor Äcäryas—and not in kow-towing to any envious website editor.

In summary, Çréman Kailäsa Candra prabhu is preaching Kåñëa conscious philosophy as it is, without any additions or subtractions. He is able to do so as a result of having meticulously studied the teachings of the predecessor Äcäryas, most recently represented by His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda. This is not sentiment. His brilliant, enlightening articles and position papers speak for themselves concerning his realizations. All those trying to silence him are either directly or indirectly opposing the preaching mission. That mission is in line with the Vedic teachings discussed at the beginning of this article, and Çréla Prabhupäda desired that it be promulgated in order to delivering suffering Western humanity from impersonalism and voidism.


Hare Kåñëa

1 comment

1 Dunky108 { 06.02.13 at 12:50 }

Nice article and could not agree more. Keep up the good work!

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