On Speaking Strongly in Srila Prabhupada’s Service
On Speaking Strongly in Srila Prabhupada’s Service was written for the perusal of all members of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON, especially for devotees who feel impelled to follow Srila Prabhupada’s example of preaching Krsna’s message in a strong, clear, and provocative manner. Speaking Strongly is particularly for those who maintain Srila Prabhupada’s vision of ISKCON as a revolutionary movement with a mission to change society, to rouse people to think about life’s important questions, and to get them to embrace the only permanent solution to life’s problems: Krishna consciousness.
In Speaking Strongly, Bhakti Vikasa Swami submits hundreds of quotes wherein Srila Prabhupada indicates that his followers should speak strongly for the benefit of the world and not shy away from embracing the uncompromising, realistic style of sastra, which presents not vague notions such as “spreading love” but solutions to the undeniable problems of material existence, and is especially relevant to the current disastrous condition of human society.
Taking a holistic and practical approach, Bhakti Vikasa Swami carefully examines the pros and cons of speaking strongly under various circumstances. Drawing on almost forty years of personal experience, the author discusses issues such as:
- Who is qualified to speak strongly?
- When should strong speech be used?
- Is the strong preacher a fanatic?
- Is strong speaking contrary to humility?
- When and how should tact be employed?
The ultimate merit of On Speaking Strongly in Srila Prabhupada’s Service is that it reminds the reader of what ISKCON is supposed to be—a distinct vital spiritual movement—and offers a philosophical basis from which to help restore ISKCON to its original glory.
I admit that I usually do not read books written by my godsisters and godbrothers, save and except for publications that share personal memories of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Time is precious. Therefore I prefer to read the literature of my spiritual master almost exclusively.
That said, I am glad that I picked up this book. Sure, one reason was that I was intrigued by the fact that this publication is considered controversial by many. Which is astonishing. For it becomes crystal clear after reading the first few paragraphs that the author is reminding the reader of the most precious thing in this miserable world: The very essence and purpose of the original undiluted mission of our Śrīla Prabhupāda, the Hare Krishna Movement, and the entire Sampradaya. And the genuine bliss and ecstasy that comes with delivering the message As It Is.
I consider this publication a highly responsible undertaking. I fail to see any controversy. There is not a single sentence that would suggest that the author tends to be fanatic or, in ISKCON-devotee vernacular, “too heavy”.
Quite the opposite is true. Bhakti Vikāśa Maharaj lucidly and eloquently encourages the use of our discretion and intelligence when delivering the urgent message of the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa to the suffering Jīvas. Just as our Ācāryas did, but in our own individual capacity – and based on an honest assessment of our own stage of realization; but never to compromise – as we would be failing in our duty to Śrīla Prabhupāda if we did. The truth is unpalatable to almost every conditioned soul, there is not much we can do about it. Bhakti Vikāśa Swami warns his readers of the traps of speaking to people what they like to hear, rather than what they need to hear – and that the dangers in doing so are real. Both for the speaker and the listener.
The entire book is articulately written in illustrative language. Yet perfectly sober and uncompromising as you would expect from Bhakti Vikāśa Maharaj. Be assured that the book is refreshingly free of any personal opinion. Each and every statement is thoroughly supported by Guru, Sādhu, and Śastra. In addition, the author delivers the proof that humility and speaking strongly do not necessarily exclude each other.
In conclusion, I can only humbly suggest that you get your copy. I go as far as saying that this publication is a must-read for every Śrīla Prabhupāda follower worth his salt. The book stands out as a highly potent reminder of what our sacred duty is and shows how to put it into practice. “Back to the roots,” you could say – which does apply – if by ‘roots’ we understand the undiluted, unobscured, and uncompromised words of Guru, Sādhu, and Śāstra.
by Atmavidya das,
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