Overestimation and Underestimation

Bhagavad-gītā 15.11 | January 15, 2014 |

English; Salem, Tamil Nadu, India

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Question:

When reading Srila Prabhupada’s instructions through letters, how should one tell to himself that the instructions hold good for him too (with abject humility I say here that I am not questioning Srila Prabhupada, his instructions are very much relevant to the jivas, to the every atom in the universe) and not just to the said person in question. Sometimes if someone says, ‘oh, that was between Srila Prabhupada and the said person’ how should we reply that 'no, that also holds good for us too.’ Is there a quote from Srila Prabhupada to answer this question? I heard Srila Prabhupada talked about an analogy of sun in this context.

Audio answer by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami:

Well, not every instruction of Śrīla Prabhupāda in his letters is meant for everyone. Some of them are personal instructions. This question, the answer to it can be understood in detail by reading the prefatory note, or essay, in the Vedabase, given by His Holiness Jayādvaita Swami, about how to use or utilise the instructions in the Vedabase. That sum of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions is for all times, places and circumstances. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto, that’s Kṛṣṇa’s instructions. That’s for anyone in any time, place and circumstance. Others are not. Just like when… Or here is a good example, Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna mām anusmara, that’s an instruction for anyone in any time, place and circumstance, but yudhya ca - fight, that’s not for everyone. 

So Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions also, there are general instructions for everyone, and specific instructions for specific individuals. So how to understand what’s for you through the whole mass of instructions given by Śrīla Prabhupāda, a very large body of instructions? Well, therefore one has to take guidance in spiritual life, personal guidance. It’s not that you can understand everything just by reading the books ourselves. If you read the books you’ll find that ... Well, Śrīla Prabhupāda writes in a Bhagavad-gītā purport, I’m paraphrasing here, don’t know the words exactly, but says that no one can advance properly in Kṛṣṇa consciousness without taking personal guidance from a spiritual master. Don’t remember that? Some very crucial statements.

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I am sure you are aware of one of the great devotees in our ISKCON movement, Srila Aindra Prabhu, recently I have heard some of his recordings, lectures, conversations, and he is always giving emphasis on that one of the biggest problems in ISKCON is that the performance of (nagar) Harinama Sankirtan is on the decline and that is the reason for many problems in ISKCON. It is now often sidelined and marginalised as a token activity that is performed once in a while. He feels that it is more important than book distribution.

If we look historically at ISKCON, the times when most people joined the movement was when there was ample regular Harinama Sankirtan being performed everyday. Similarly many great saints in our movement were engaged in regular Harinama Sankirtan, such as Vishnujana Swami, etc.

I am also aware that book distribution brhad mrdanga has been promoted as our kirtan by Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur as being equal to Harinama Sankirtan. Book distribution is still emphasised quite nicely in most of our temples in ISKCON.

But often when there was difficulty in ISKCON, lots of kirtan and 24 hour kirtans should be held. Now I see a huge popularity in kirtan in the temples, in Europe and America, regularly large and long kirtans are held, although I still do not see the results fully manifesting yet, I believe it may do soon.

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Is book distribution a means for replacing (Nagar) Harinama Sankirtan, or that they should both be the main focus of our movement side by side?

Do you feel (Nagar) Harinama Sankirtan should be promoted to regular daily activity, or should it be kept as a weekend activity?

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