SCRUTINIZE the meaning of the sentence phrase by phrase or word by word if necessary.
Instead of trying to understand a whole chapter or even a whole purport or paragraph in one go, focus on understanding one sentence at a time. Of course, you can read the chapter, purport, or paragraph first, but then go back and analyse each sentence. In understanding each sentence, focus on key words or phrases and unpack their meaning in the context of that sentence. This practice helps us to more deeply assimilate Srila Prabhupada’s intended meaning.
“Just try to understand each word.” Lecture on Bg 6.13-15; Los Angeles; February 16, 1969
“Each word is meaningful.” Lecture on SB 1.5.13; New Vrindaban; June 13, 1969
“Prabhupada: First of all, try to understand one word please. One word, if you understand, your life will be successful.” Morning Walk — March 30, 1974, Bombay
“Therefore you will find in Srimad-Bhagavatam, each word is transcendental. Each word is full of meaning and transcendental knowledge because the writer, the composer of this transcendental book, is Vyasadeva. He is perfect, Vedavyasa, perfect in Vedic knowledge.” Lecture on SB 1.7.6; Vrndavana; April 18, 1975
“Each word is full of meaning.” Lecture on SB 1.8.44; Los Angeles; May 6, 1973
“Just like in the Srimad-Bhagavatam there are so many descriptions, so many other things, but because it is in relationship with Krsna, so each word of Bhagavatam is valued. Each word of Bhagavad-gita is valued.” Lecture on SB 1.8.44, Los Angeles; MAY 6, 1973
“This Bhagavata is so, I mean to say, exalted transcendental knowledge that there are eighteen thousand verses, and if you analyze each verse, each word, you will get a great transcendental information.” Lecture on SB 2.1.1-5; Boston, December 22; 1969
“Each word of Srimad-Bhagavatam is important.” Lecture on SB 2.1.5; Los Angeles; August 13, 1972
“So by studying Krsna, you become liberated. So these verses should be studied very carefully, understanding each word very carefully. Then you’ll understand Krsna.” Lecture on SB 7.9.32; Mayapur; March 10, 1976
Questions / My lights:
Question 1: How can we finish reading all of Srila Prabhupada’s books if we scrutinize each word? This approach will take far too long.
My light: If we are able, we can spend some time just reading them without doing this scrutinizing study. However, in order to assimilate them we also need to put time aside each day to scrutinize them. If we don’t have time to do both (i.e. read and scrutinize) each day, I suggest you read through the books once, then daily scrutinise. Srila Prabhupada confirms that we will need many life times to assimilate the teachings in his books:
“And each and every verse is so important that if a serious student studies each and every verse, each verse will take at least one month to understand. And there are eighteen thousand verses. So for serious study of Srimad-Bhagavatam, it will take eighteen thousand months.” Lecture on SB 2.1.1-5; Melbourne; June 26, 1974
How many years is 18,000 months? My calculation is 1500 years. So if we were to live for 100 years during which time we did not suffer from senility, and if we studied Srimad Bhagavatam seriously from the age of 15 years old, then in one life we would have utmost 85 years of Srimad Bhagavatam study. How many of such life times would it take for a serious student to fully comprehend Srimad Bhagavatam alone? According to my calculation 17.64706; so that rounds up to almost 18 lifetimes of studying Srimad Bhagavatam seriously for 85 years every life time.
Question 2: Does that mean it is not possible to achieve liberation in this life time?
My light: By developing a taste for associating with these transcendental literatures we are as good as liberated because our consciousness will become absorbed in Krishna, not in maya. The devotee simply wants to absorb his / her consciousness in Krishna’s name, form, qualities and pastimes. This absorption (Krishna consciousness) is the most sublime goal of bhakti. My evidence is:
“All the cowherd men, including Nanda Mahārāja, used to talk of the wonderful activities of Lord Krishna and Balarāma, and they were always so much absorbed in those talks that they forgot the threefold miseries of this material existence. This is the effect of Krishna consciousness. What was enjoyed five thousand years ago by Nanda Mahārāja can still be enjoyed by Krishna conscious persons simply by talking about the transcendental pastimes of Krishna and His associates.” Krishna Book chp 11
“Persons who are very expert and most intelligent in understanding things as they are engage in hearing narrations of the auspicious activities and pastimes of the Lord, which are worth chanting and worth hearing. Such persons do not care even for the highest material benediction, namely liberation, to say nothing of other less important benedictions like the material happiness of the heavenly kingdom. ” SB 3.15.48 verse
“How much a devotee is seriously attached to the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be understood from the statement of Mahārāja Pṛthu (Ādi-rāja) which is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Fourth Canto, Twentieth Chapter, verse 24. He prays to the Supreme Personality of Godhead thus: “My dear Lord, if after taking liberation I have no chance of hearing the glories of Your Lordship, glories chanted by pure devotees from the core of their hearts in praise of Your lotus feet, and if I have no chance for this honey of transcendental bliss, then I shall never ask for liberation or this so-called spiritual emancipation. I shall simply always pray unto Your Lordship that You may give me millions of tongues and millions of ears, so that I can constantly chant and hear of Your transcendental glories.” NoD chp 4