Lord Buddha and Ahimsa

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.3.24 | June 21, 2015 |

English; Kandy, Sri Lanka

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Should devotees observe a full fast of abstaining from water on Pandava Nirjala Ekadashi? Some devotees, don’t go to bed on Ekadashi, they stay awake all night and as soon as the night is over, they go to sleep. What should our attitude be?

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami: 

Observing jagarana – staying awake at night on Ekādaśī is the proper way to observe Ekādaśī, or if you want to observe it fully as in sastra, one should do that. Actually, there are many rules to follow. One’s last meal before the Ekādaśī should be at midday on the day before - on the Daśamī; and that should also be a very simple meal, according to sastra. And we have our daily duties and services to do in Kṛṣṇa’s service, so if just we go to sleep after staying awake all night, then in the name of extra service, we are cutting down our regular service. It’s like some devotees chant 64 rounds a day, but then they miss maṅgala-ārati, or they’re chanting their rounds during maṅgala-ārati… You’re trying to do something extra, but you’re cutting down on some of the basics. So, what’s the benefit? It’s best to stick to the basic things that Śrīla Prabhupāda gave us. If you want to do something extra, that’s nice, but we shouldn’t promote as if: “This is the great thing!” Prabhupāda already gave us all that we need for going back to Godhead. So, if we can just follow the basic things - that’s more than most devotees are doing. We always have to do something different. Or do something to show that we are better than others because we are doing something different. If you don’t do what I’m doing, then you can’t go back to Godhead. I’ve discovered the great secret. I’m the messiah for the present age. Hare Kṛṣṇa. If you go out and distribute books all night - that would be more pleasing to Śrīla Prabhupāda than staying awake. And a lot of this staying awake, I see actually they’re half-asleep anyway. So-called staying awake.

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Why is the term 'sankirtan devotees' so commonly used in ISKCON nowadays to address book/prasadam distributors? As I understood it from HDG Srila Prabhupada's books, we are all supposed to be sankirtan devotees, because we are part of Sri Caitanya's sankirtan mission. Not being a 'sankirtan devotee' is fatal in this respect. I looked through the Vedabase and Srila Prabhupada never used the term himself, which is kind of suspicious. Thank you very much for clarification.

Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:

Well, I’ve never heard it used for prasādam distributors, but it’s commonly used of book distributors within my understanding; maybe for prasādam distributors also. Yes, we are all supposed to be members of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprahu’s saṅkīrtana movement, under the guidance of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Śrīla Prabhupāda ascribed the term saṅkīrtana to distribution of his books and books that are meant for awakening people to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, because it’s all part of the preaching mission. Kīrtana means to glorify Kṛṣṇa. Saṅkīrtana means preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So I wouldn’t make a big thing out of this. It’s just like we are all members of the saṅkīrtana movement, but within that movement some devotees are called pūjārī, because they do the service of pūjā. We are all supposed to worship Kṛṣṇa, but those who do so as a specialised service, they’re called pūjārī. Those whose specific service is to cook for Kṛṣṇa, they may be called the cooks. That doesn’t mean that no one else can cook. But because they do that specific service that is referred to them, they are referred to as that. So specifically those who perform book distribution, within my experience, they are called saṅkīrtana devotees. I don’t know if Śrīla Prabhupāda used that term, but it was commonly used in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s presence. He didn’t object to that. So we may do so. 

Prasādam distribution is also good, but it’s not a function of praising Kṛṣṇa exactly, as the books are so. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch to call those who are distributing prasādam saṅkīrtana devotees, although if you want to be generous, you can call everyone a saṅkīrtana devotee. But then, there would be no need. You could just call them devotees. So, anyway, I wouldn’t make a big thing out of this. 

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