Srila Prabhupada

REPEAT in our own words the meaning

If we want to understand something, passive hearing will not help us.  We need to hear ACTIVELY.  That is to say, we need to hear, think, and then repeat what we understood.  When we practice active hearing, our association with Srila Prabhupada’s books will begin to bear fruit.

Comments such as the following do not count as ‘active hearing’:

“This is a very important point”, or

“This reminds me of ……”, or

“Srila Prabhupada frequently makes this point.”

Such comments assume we have correctly understood his meaning, that everyone in the discussion knows what we have understood and that they have understood the same thing. All of these assumptions could be incorrect.

In applying this fifth principle it is best to begin a discussion or lecture by first trying to put in our own words Srila Prabhupada’s intended meaning.  It helps if we start our sentence with “I understand Srila Prabhupada means……”

“To hear and explain them is more important than reading them. One can assimilate the knowledge of the revealed scriptures only by hearing and explaining. Hearing is called sravana, and explaining is called kirtana. The two processes of sravana and kirtana are of primary importance to progressive spiritual life. Only one who has properly grasped the transcendental knowledge from the right source by submissive hearing can properly explain the subject.”  SB 1.1.6 purport.

“Hearing is solidified by the process of chanting. One who has perfectly heard from the perfect source becomes convinced about the all-pervading Personality of Godhead and thus becomes enthusiastic in glorifying the Lord.”    SB 2.2.36 purport

“When we will learn something, we have to repeat it, even in material things. And what to speak of spiritual?”  lecture New York, 1966 Bhagavad-gita 2.55-56

“So one who is spreading krishna-upadesa, simply repeat what is said by Krishna, then you become acarya. Not difficult at all. Everything is stated there. We have to simply repeat like parrot. Not exactly parrot. Parrot does not understand the meaning; he simply vibrates. But you should understand the meaning also; otherwise how you can explain?”  Lecture April 7, 1975

“You must all study all of the books so that when the need arises you can repeat in your own words their purport.” (Srila Prabhupada letter, 72-01-06)

“Just read from my books and try and explain the meaning in your own words.” (Srila Prabhupada letter, 73-01-26)

“Chant Hare Krsna Mantra day and night, read books and expressing the philosophy in your own words write articles for publishing.” (Srila Prabhupada letter, 75-11-15)

“Prabhupäda: Yes. And our men, all our men should write. Otherwise how we shall know that he has understood the philosophy? Writing means sravanam kirtanam. Sravanam means hearing from the authority and again repeat it. This is our business, sravanam kirtanam visnoh [SB 7.5.23], about Visnoh, not for any politician or any other man. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh, about Krishna or Visnuh. So that is success. Hear and repeat, hear and repeat. You haven’t got to manufacture.”   Arrival Address June 20th 1975; Los Angeles

Question / My light:

Question: You said, reading Srila Prabhupada’s books will begin to bear fruit if we practice active hearing. What is the fruit of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books?

My light:  As I understand it, the initial fruit of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books is twofold.  One is that we become peaceful as our ignorance of what is right and what is wrong, what is to be feared and what is not to be feared, what is binding and what is liberating is gradually dissipated. The other initial fruit is we will taste transcendental pleasure from the subject matter. These two initial fruits enable us to gradually progress to realising our transcendental relationship with Krishna.

My evidence for the above is:

“Ignorance is the cause of our bondage, and knowledge is the cause of our liberation.  This knowledge is the mature fruit of devotional service, and when one is situated in transcendental knowledge, he need not search for peace elsewhere, for he enjoys peace within himself.”  (Bg 4.38 puport)

“The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.” SB 1.2.8 verse

Only if we are experiencing the higher taste that comes from discussing Krishna katha can we become truly detached from the lower taste of material sense gratification.  My evidence is:

“Though the embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.”  Bg 2.59 verse

It is hard to get this higher taste by just reading many books about Krishna. Srila Prabhupada tells us we cannot taste the honey like this:

“I may say that this practical devotion is the secret to understanding the Sastras. My Guru Maharaja used to say that for one who is not engaged in devotional service, reading all the books is simply like licking the outside of the honey jar. One who thinks the books are the thing is content in this way. But we should learn the secret to open the jar and taste the honey. In this way, if we can simply understand one book, or one sloka, the perfection is there. Lord Chaitanya warned about reading too many books, although I see in America this is very popular to get volumes and volumes of books and not understand one.”   letter to Pradyumna — Los Angeles 17 February, 1968

There are principles that govern correct Krishna katha.  This is intimated in Bg 16.24 purport:

“In human society, aversion to the principles of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the cause of all fall downs.”

The better we understand these principles and become adept in applying them in our Krishna katha, the quicker we will rise out of the lower modes of nature and approach the transcendental platform:

“…unless and until one is trained in the culture of good association, one cannot become good.” S.B. 3.3.6 purport