Discuss Srila Prabhupada’s books REGULARLY.
If we want to start experiencing the benefits of discussing Srila Prabhupada’s books and begin feeling happier, we need to discuss them regularly. Minimum once a week and ideally gradually building up to once a day. The best ideal is to be doing two discussions a day, the Srimad Bhagavatam in the morning and the Bhagavad-gita in the evening. But even if we start with one a week we will start feeling some benefit which will encourage us to gradually increase.
“At least one day, this Sunday, you devote, seriously studying Bhagavad-gita, and discuss amongst you whenever there is any doubt.” Conversation at house of Ksirodakasayi dasa — July 25, 1976, London
“So if we hear daily, regularly, nityam, nityam bhāgavata-sevaya, then… Nasta-prayesv abhadresu nityam bhāgavata-sevayā [SB 1.2.18]. If you hear daily…” lecture on Bg 7.1; San Diego, July 1, 1972
“We should gradually come to the sattva-guna, so that we may avoid the two lower gunas. This can be done if we regularly discuss Srimad-Bhagavatam and hear about Krishna’s activities. Nasta-prayesv abhadresu nityam bhagavata-sevaya (SB 1.2.18).” SB 10.13.53 purport
“You are experiencing some doubts, that you cannot believe that the Krishna from Krishna Book can be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that it must be like some fairy-tale. To clear up these things the best remedy is to discuss amongst yourselves all members regularly all our books in classes, then these doubts will be killed.” Letter to: Satyabhama Mayapur; 28 February, 1972
“…read our books regularly and discuss them,..” Letter to: Tony, Linda, Yajna Sarasvati — Honolulu 26 May, 1975
“We should discuss Srimad-Bhagavatam daily as much as possible, and then everything will be clarified, for Bhagavatam is the essence of all Vedic literature (nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam [SB 1.1.3]).” SB 10.13.54 purport
“So if we read, nityam bhagavata sevaya [SB 1.2.18], daily… So we are making so much effort. We are building nice building. So you come and hear Bhagavatam, discuss Bhagavatam. Then you’ll be happy.” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.12.4 — Bombay, April 15, 1976
“Discuss Bhagavatam daily, as much as possible. Everything will be clarified. Because Bhagavata is the essence.” Room Conversation — October 21, 1977, Vrndavana
Question / My light:
Question: I leave my house for work at 6 am and don’t get back till 8 pm. I am unable to go to the temple for the classes. How can I daily discuss Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam with a schedule like mine?
My light: For householders often the only way we can do this is by doing it with our close family members or friends. People we see regularly. Two people are sufficient and it may be easier to synchronize your schedules. Husband and wife are ideal partners (it will work wonders for your relationship if you do it correctly). Children can also be very good partners. (Please note, our children need to be cultivated very carefully so that we don’t put them off Srila Prabhupada’s books. I will try and share more on this blog about how we can help our children enjoy discussing Srila Prabhupada’s books.). Our friends or mentors can also be good partners.
If we live alone or for some other reason cannot find a partner we can regularly discuss with, we can discuss alone by writing down our discussion, or discuss on my Facebook group Sastra Discussions. I will always do my best to reciprocate with people in this group if they use the principles of good discussion I share on this blog.
My husband and I discuss twice a day, and often one or more of our children will join in. My husband works full time, and for a while I was also working. But every morning we fit in a half hour Srimad Bhagavatam discussion at home, and every evening a 30 minute Gita discussion. On the weekends or other holidays we indulge ourselves and discuss for longer. At the time of writing I am also doing a daily Gita discussion with my eldest daughter via Skype during her lunch hour at work.
Here are some evidences from Srila Prabhupada that he wanted us to discuss with our family, friends, and mentors:
Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu requested them all to return home and begin chanting the holy name congregationally. He also requested them to worship Krishna, chant His holy name and discuss His holy pastimes.
… Everyone can execute the cult of Krishna consciousness at home, as ordered by the Lord. Everyone can congregationally chant the holy name of Krishna, the Hare Krishna mahā-mantra. One can also discuss the subject matter of the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and install Deities of Rādhā-Krishna or Gaura-Nitāi or both and worship them very carefully in one’s own home. It is not that we have to open different centers all over the world. Whoever cares for the Krishna consciousness movement can install Deities at home and, under superior guidance, worship the Deity regularly, chanting the mahā-mantra and discussing the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. We are actually teaching in our classes how to go about this. One who feels that he is not yet ready to live in a temple or undergo strict regulative principles in the temple — especially householders who live with a wife and children — can start a center at home by installing the Deity, worshiping the Lord morning and evening, chanting Hare Krishna and discussing the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Anyone can do this at home without difficulty, and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu requested all the devotees present there to do so.” CC MADHYA 3.190
“The best process for making the home pleasant is Krishna consciousness. If one is in full Krishna consciousness, he can make his home very happy, because this process of Krishna consciousness is very easy. One need only chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Krishna, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four things will make one happy. One should train the members of his family in this way. The family members can sit down morning and evening and chant together Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If one can mold his family life in this way to develop Krishna consciousness, following these four principles, then there is no need to change from family life to renounced life.” Bg 13.8-12 purport:
“He should also make friendship with persons who are on an equal level with himself or who have the same understanding that he does. For a devotee, there is no point in making friendships with ordinary persons; he should make friendship with other devotees so that by discussing among themselves, they may elevate one another on the path of spiritual understanding. This is called ista-gosthi.
In Bhagavad-gita there is reference to bodhayantah parasparam, “discussing among themselves.” Generally pure devotees utilize their valuable time in chanting and discussing various activities of Lord Krishna or Lord Caitanya amongst themselves. There are innumerable books, such as the puranas, Mahabharata, Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita and Upanisads, which contain countless subjects for discussion among two devotees or more. Friendship should be cemented between persons with mutual interests and understanding. Such persons are said to be sva jati, “of the same caste.” The devotee should avoid a person whose character is not fixed in the standard understanding; even though he may be a Vaisnava, or a devotee of Krishna, if his character is not correctly representative, then he should be avoided.” SB 3.29.17 purport
“Strictly follow the regulative principles, regularly chant at least 16 rounds of beads daily, and without fail; read all our books and discuss them with your husband; go out for preaching regularly.” Letter to: Caitanya — Bombay, India 11 June, 1971
“So sometimes the disciple and the spiritual master, the relationship is like that. Sometimes the teacher questions to the student, and student replies, and sometimes the student questions to the teacher, and teacher replies. This is called iṣṭagoṣṭhī. To develop knowledge, these questions and answers are required. According to system of accepting a spiritual master, it is said that just after acceptance… Ādau gurvāśrayam. One must have to accept a spiritual master. Then the next position is sad-dharma-pṛcchāt. Then he should be very much inquisitive. A student… Not finishing, that “Now I am initiated. Everything finished.” No. He should be very inquisitive. Unless one is very inquisitive, there is no necessity of accepting a spiritual master. That is the instruction in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21]. One has the necessity of accepting a spiritual master who is very much inquisitive about transcendental matter. Otherwise there is no necessity.” lecture on Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.66-96; New York, November 21, 1966
It’s incredible how pressurized our lives are today and thus many people find even this solution too difficult to fit in to their busy lives. If you find yourself in this situation, then please meditate deeply on the following instruction from Srila Prabhupada:
“Everyone is thinking if I become greedy, I shall get more. That is not possible. You cannot get a farthing more than what you are destined. But it is ignorance. He’s thinking by simply struggling hard I’ll get more. The sastra says, “No, don’t do it. So far your material condition is concerned, it is already destined with your body. You have got a certain type of body and according to that body you’ll get certain amount of pleasure and pains, that is already destined.” This is called adrsta, daiva. Your main business is if you want to make success, your life, then save time for advancing in Krishna consciousness. That is proper utilization of life. That does not depend on destiny. That you can do.” Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 13.8-12 Bombay, October 3, 1973