PRACTICE and THEN PREACH the principles of good sadhu sanga.
When my eldest daughter did the bhakti sastri course in Mayapur, she skyped me one day. “Mum, what is more important: practicing or preaching?” My reply, as she knew it would be, was, “practice”. “Well”, she replied “the answer I am meant to give is ‘preach’”.
How would you answer her question? Did you say, ‘preach’? If so, how importantly do you rate your own practice? Do you think it’s okay to fall behind with your rounds to go out and preach?
In my view the most important thing is our personal practice. As long as we maintain our own practice, then we can aspire for the next and higher stage which is to preach. But to preach without maintaining our personal practice is hypocrisy and will lead to our fall down. Also such preaching will be ineffectual.
“Unless one practices devotional service himself, he cannot teach it to others. This conclusion is indeed confirmed throughout the Gita and Bhagavatam.” CC Adi 3.21
“So that is part of our business to preach, but to practice personally, that is our main business. To practice personally, that is our main business. Not that everyone will be preacher, but at least his own life be perfect.” Room Conversation — June 24, 1976, New Vrindaban
“Try to understand its philosophy, apply in life, and try to distribute this knowledge.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.17 — Hyderabad, November 22, 1972
“We are also giving our student position as brahmana, but if he remains a fool number one, then we are misusing our attempt. He should be very learned scholar. That should be the aim. And there is no difficulty to become a learned scholar because we have got so many books. You simply read and digest what we are speaking. Not that we are simply meant for selling books. We are reading. We must read. Then our position as brahmana will be fulfilled. Because brahmanas are teacher. Anyone who can teach, he is brahmana. So unless you read thoroughly what you are going to speak to the world, how you can become a brahmana and pandita? You should carefully note this.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.28.1 — Honolulu, June 1, 1975
“Practically you have to behave; then you can preach. Otherwise you cannot become acarya. Acarya means one who practices the acara and then teaches. He is acarya. So acara. Na saucam napi cacaro na satyam. Satyam means truthfulness. He is preaching something and doing something. That is not truthfulness. Truthfulness means what you preach, you must do. So these things are lacking in the asuric life, so we have to be careful that we must be very neat and clean. We must behave according to injunction of the sastra and guru. Then we can get out of the jurisdiction of asuras. Then we can come to the platform of sura, or devata. Then we can make advance in spiritual life. If you keep yourself in the asuric platform there is no possibility of making advancement in Krsna consciousness. That is warning here.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 16.7 — Hyderabad, December 15, 1976
If we practice sadhu sanga properly we will definitely feel relief from material suffering and gradually begin to feel happy:
“Try to always study our books and see our philosophy from different lights of directions, become convinced yourself of this knowledge and without a doubt all of your difficulties of mind will disappear forever and you will see Krishna face-to-face.” Bhagavatananda — New York 8 July, 1972
Personally I had a very dysfunctional childhood. My eldest brother attempted suicide at the age of 15 years and has subsequently been coping only because he is constantly heavily medicated. My youngest brother successfully committed suicide at the age of 26 years old. I had my first suicidal thoughts at the age of 4. My initial contact with Krishna consciousness gave me some relief, but the mental suffering quickly enveloped me once as married mother I began finding attending the temple programme too difficult to maintain. I am so grateful that the Lord in my heart guided me to associate with Srila Prabhupada in this way.
Because of my personal experience, as well as the copious instructions from Srila Prabhupada, I am 100% confident that anyone who regularly discusses his books applying the principles I share on this web page will find relief from material suffering and become peaceful and happy. As that transformation happens in our own lives, we will naturally want to share this with others. Any gentle person who has been delivered from a suffering situation will naturally want to relieve the suffering of others:
“When the florist was offered benedictions, he begged from the Lord that he might remain His eternal servant in devotional service and by such service do good to all living creatures. By this, it is clear that a devotee of the Lord in Krsna consciousness should not be satisfied simply by his own advancement in devotional service; he must be willing to work for the welfare of all others. This example was followed by the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana. It is therefore stated in a prayer about them, lokanam hita-karinau: Vaisnavas, or devotees of the Lord, are not selfish. Whatever benefits they derive from the Supreme Personality of Godhead as benedictions they want to distribute to all other persons. That is the greatest of all humanitarian activities. Being satisfied with the florist, Lord Krsna not only gave him whatever benedictions he wanted, but over and above that He offered him all material opulences, family prosperity, a long duration of life and whatever else his heart desired within the material world.” KB 41: Krsna Enters Mathura
Often we think preaching means to new people who don’t know anything about Krishna consciousness. But teaching other aspiring devotees how to improve their association with Srila Prabhupada is also very important preaching. This ‘in-house’ preaching is even more important than preaching to new people:
“Your first job should be to make sure that every one of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly our literatures and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness philosophy. If they are fully educated in our philosophy and if they can get all of the knowledge and study it from every viewpoint, then very easily they will perform tapasya or renunciation and that will be their advancement in Krishna Consciousness. So first thing is to instruct all of your temple presidents and the other devotees to read daily, just as we have done in our morning class in Los Angeles. You may remember that we were reading one sloka each morning in Sanskrit and reciting it altogether and then discussing it thoroughly by seeing different new things. So you introduce this system and train the devotees first. Don’t be too much concerned for the time being with nondevotees, now we must fix-up what devotees we have got in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness, then we will succeed. What good are many, many devotees if none of them are knowledgeable?” Letter to: Satsvarupa — Los Angeles 16 June, 1972
As you begin to benefit by applying the principles I share on this webpage, you may also be moved to help me share this with other devotees. Here are some ways Srila Prabhupada suggests we can all help his mission:
“So everyone can serve Krsna. Pranair arthair dhiya vaca sreya-acaranam sada. Either with your life, either with your money, either with your intelligence, either with your, with your words. You can serve Krsna. Any way. Krsna service is not checked. Ahaituky apratihata. It cannot be checked. In any condition of life you can serve Krsna. The first thing is that if you can dedicate your life, that is very good. Just like you have done. You have dedicated your life for spreading this Krsna consciousness movement. That is first class, pranaih. If you cannot dedicate your life immediately, then spend fifty percent of your income for Krsna. Pranair arthaih. If you think you have no money, then pranair arthair dhiya, by your intelligence. If you have got some knowledge, write some books and spread it, Krsna consciousness. And if you have no education, no money and you cannot dedicate your life, then you can spend your vacana. Vaca. Pranair arthair dhiya vaca. What is the vaca? Chant Hare Krsna and tell everyone, “Please chant Hare Krsna.” Where is the difficulty? You can serve Krsna in any condition of life. But don’t be miser.” lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.9 — Vrndavana, October 20, 1972
In the ‘How you can help‘ section of the webpage, I suggest ways you can help spread the messages of ‘Improving our Sadhu Sanga’.
But even if you can’t help to spread the messages of ‘Improving our Sadhu Sanga’, then I humbly beg that you at least practice them yourself. For by improving our sadhu sanga, we will go back to Godhead:
“The word jīvanti indicates that a devotee who always hears about Lord Kṛṣṇa will go back home, back to Godhead, even if he can do nothing except maintain his existence and hear topics concerning the Lord.” SB 10.14.3 purport