nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Sarasvati Gosvami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Caitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.
Since my first meeting with Srila Prabhupada in this life, through his sound vibration; my initial attraction to hearing him speak, chanting in response to his kirtana’s, and chanting japa with him, have all developed a little more, especially over the past six years. This development of attraction to hear from Srila Prabhupada has led me to feel a more deeper and intimate relationship with him. Many other devotees and myself are coming to realize, just a little, the amazing effects of associating with Srila Prabhupada by sound vibration, which is the real association.
So we should associate by the vibration, and not by the physical presence. That is real association. Sabdad anavrtti. By sound. Just like we are touching Krsna immediately by sound. Sound vibration. So we should give more stress on the sound vibration, either of Krsna or of the spiritual master. Then we'll feel happy and no separation.(S.P. Lecture, 18/8/68,Montreal.)
So although a physical body is not present, the vibration should be accepted as the presence of the spiritual master, vibration. What we have heard from the spiritual master, that is living.
(S.P. Lecture, 13/1/69,Los Angeles.)
My Guru Maharaja used to say, "Don't try to see a saintly person by your eyes. You see a saintly person by the ear." Because if you hear from the saintly person and if he is speaking from the experience which he has heard from the, another saintly person--this is called guru-parampara--then the knowledge is perfect.
(S.B. Lecture 6.1.42,Los Angeles 8th June 1976.)
By Srila Prabhupada's mercy I have compiled this book. I felt it my duty to my spiritual master, to present to others what I have heard from him. In this book I have tried to present as many quotes as possible from Srila Prabhupada’s books and lectures (although there are many more) on the importance of hearing from a pure devotee and self realized soul. The effects of hearing from a pure devotee are very powerful, as we can see from the following quote.
An example of rising to the stage of ecstatic love by executing the regulative principles of devotional service is given in the life story of Narada, which is described to Vyasadeva in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Narada tells there of his previous life and how he developed to the stage of ecstatic love. He was engaged in the service of great devotees and used to hear their talks and songs. Because he had the opportunity to hear these pastimes and songs of Krsna from the mouths of pure devotees, he became very attracted within his heart. Because he had become so eager to hear these topics, he gradually developed within himself an ecstatic love for Krsna. This ecstatic love is prior to the pure love of Krsna, because in the next verse Narada confirms that by the gradual process of hearing from the great sages he developed love of Godhead (N.O.D Chapter 17.)
We have this great mercy available to us as Narada Muni had. We have the chance to hear Srila Prabhupada’s talks and songs, and by this gradual process of hearing from Srila Prabhupada we will develop love of Godhead.
This sravanam kirtanam, the class which we are holding, that you are hearing and I am speaking, this is the beginning of love of God. (B.G. Lecture.9.27-29, New York, Dec 19th, 1966)
The following quotes reveal who we should hear recite Srimad Bhagavatam and what his qualifications are.
According to the Vedic injunctions: yasya deve para bhaktih. Srimad-Bhagavatam can only be recited by one who has unflinching faith in the lotus feet of Krsna and His devotee, the spiritual master. One should try to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam from the spiritual master. The Vedic injunction states: bhaktya bhagavatam grahyam na buddhya na ca tikaya. One has to understand Srimad-Bhagavatam through the process of devotional service and by hearing the recitation of a pure devotee. These are the injunctions of Vedic literature-sruti and smrti.
This kind of Bhagavata-seva will not help. Nityam bhagavata-seva. Caitanya Mahaprabhu's order is bhagavat pada giya bhagavata-sthane. If you want to realize what is Bhagavat, then you must go and learn Srimad-Bhagavatam from a person whose life is Bhagavatam, not the professional Bhagavat reciters. So here it is said... And who will recite Bhagavatam daily unless he has dedicated his life for Bhagavan. He's bhagavata. Grantha-bhagavat, and the person bhagavata. Bhagavata. Maha-bhagavata. A person, a devotee is called bhagavata. And the grantha-bhagavata. So we have to serve both. We have to hear daily Srimad-Bhagavatam from the realized person. Nityam bhagavata sevaya. The guru. The devotee. They are bhagavat. So we have to serve, we have to please them. That is also said in the Bhagavad-Gita. Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya.
(S.B. Lecture, 1974)
This verse indicates, however, that such recitation of Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam must be done by persons completely freed from material desires (nivrtta-tarsaih). Everyone within this material world, beginning from Brahma down to the insignificant ant, is full of material desires for sense enjoyment, and everyone is busy in sense gratification, but when thus engaged one cannot fully understand the value of krsna-katha, either in the form of Bhagavad-Gita or in Srimad-Bhagavatam.
If we hear the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead from liberated persons, this hearing will certainly free us from the bondage of material activities, but hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam spoken by a professional reciter cannot actually help us achieve liberation..... A devotee is one who has no other motive for reciting Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam than to serve the Lord. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has therefore advised us to hear the glories of the Lord from a realized person (bhagavata paro diya bhagavata sthane). Unless one is personally a realized soul in the science of Krsna consciousness, a neophyte should not approach him to hear about the Lord, for this is strictly forbidden by Srila Sanatana Gosvami.
Therefore Svarupa Damodara Gosvami herein advises that one should not hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from professional reciters. Instead, one must hear and learn the Bhagavatam from a self-realized Vaisnava...... One should hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from a person who has no connection with material activities, or, in other words, from a paramahamsa Vaisnava, one who has achieved the highest stage of sannyasa (C.C. Antya, 5.131.)
We can have all the transcendental light of the Supreme Brahman, Sri Krsna, from the recitation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, provided it is received through the medium of the transparent spiritual master. Lord Caitanya's private secretary Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami advised all intending visitors who came to see the Lord at Puri to make a study of the Bhagavatam from the person Bhagavatam Person Bhagavatam is the self-realized bona fide spiritual master, and through him only can one understand the lessons of Bhagavatam in order to receive the desired result.
Srila Prabhupada recited Srimad Bhagavatam daily wherever he travelled. By his potency he would inject spiritual life within the audience.
This statement is also confirmed in the Third Canto, Twenty-fifth Chapter, verse 25, of Srimad-Bhagavatam, where Lord Kapila says, "My dear mother, when a person is actually in association with pure devotees, the sublime potency of My devotional service can be experienced." In other words, when a pure devotee speaks, his words act upon the hearts of the audience. What is the secret of hearing and chanting? A professional speaker cannot impress transcendental ecstasy within the hearts of the listeners. However, when a realized soul who is engaged in the service of the Lord is speaking, he has the potency to inject spiritual life within the audience. One should, therefore, seek the association of such pure, unalloyed devotees, and by such association and service a neophyte devotee will certainly develop attachment, love and devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
(N.O.D Chapter 17)
Srila Prabhupada’s potency is not lost to us because He is apparently absent.
The potency of transcendental sound is never minimised because the vibrator is apparently absent.
(S.B 2.9.8 )
Now we can all still hear Srila Prabhupada recite Srimad Bhagavatam daily, by utilising his recorded lecture tapes, as well as his recitation in the form of his Bhaktivedanta purports.
If somebody criticizes, "Oh, Caitanya Mahaprabhu walked on leg and you are travelling in the jet plane?" Shall I have to take that ideal? These are rascaldom. When you have to work, you have to work with the greatest facility. That's all. Now I have got the facility of the talking in microphone, and... So why should I not take it? It will be recorded. It will be heard by so many others. I am speaking to four, five men. It can be heard by a big crowd of four hundred men.
(S.P.C Vrindavana, 4thMarch, 1974)
So let us concentrate on training our devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness from our books, from tapes, by discussing always, and in so many ways instruct them in the right propositions.
(S.P.L to Hamsaduta, Los Angeles, 22nd June, 1972)
The process for Krsna consciousness is that we control the mind through hearing and chanting. We hear the maha mantra, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare and we hear the lectures from the spiritual master and read his books. Also we speak by preaching and by chanting. This is the easy method for controlling the mind, by hearing and chanting.
(S.P.L to Sharon Suzuki, 4th Sept, 1975)
Interviewer: I think the first question is kind of basic, is why is everything always taped at all the...
Prabhupada: Because we have got so many branches, they want to hear me, my singing, my speech, therefore they record it and send it to different branches.
(Interview February 1, 1968, Los Angeles)
Hearing the lecture tapes or reading the purports there is no difference, but hearing the sound vibration of Srila Prabhupada is still more effective.
Reading or hearing from the realized person there is no difference, but hearing the sound vibration from the realized soul is still more effective, better.
(S.P.L, to Punjabi premanand, 16th October, 1976)
The following quote is very revealing as it is taken from the law book Bhagavad Gita as it is. Srila Prabhupada is giving practical instruction in his purport to the fallen souls, how they can become familiar with all the knowledge necessary for realization. He suggests association with great acaryas by attending their lectures. Srila Prabhupada the self realized soul and authorized acarya of the golden age is confirming the importance of hearing his lectures on the Srimad Bhagavatm or Bhagavad Gita.
One who is in association with great acaryas, even if he is not educated or has never studied the Vedas, can become familiar with all the knowledge necessary for realization. The process of devotional service is a very happy one (susukham). Why? Devotional service consists of sravanam kirtanam visnoh, so one can simply hear the chanting of the glories of the Lord or can attend philosophical lectures on transcendental knowledge given by authorised acaryas. Simply by sitting, one can learn… .In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is also confirmed that when one becomes purified by executing the process of devotional service, especially by hearing Srimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavad Gita from realized souls, then he can understand the science of Krsna or the science of God.
The importance of hearing the transcendental message from Srila Prabhupada, through the holes of the ears is described as follows.
Simple hearing is not all; one must realize the text with proper attention. The word nivista means that Suta Gosvami drank the juice of Bhagavatam through his ears. That is the real process of receiving Bhagavatam. One should hear with rapt attention from the real person, and then he can at once realize the presence of Lord Krsna in every page. The secret of knowing Bhagavatam is mentioned here.
He considered himself lucky to receive the message by aural reception. It is especially mentioned here that one should be very inquisitive to hear with open ears from the authorized source of the bona fide spiritual master. How is one to receive? One should receive the transcendental message by aural reception. The word karna-randhraih means "through the holes of the ears." The favor of the spiritual master is not received through any other part of the body but the ears.
The Lord can be realized through the aural reception of the transcendental message, and that is the only way to experience the transcendental subject. As fire is kindled from wood by another fire, the divine consciousness of man can similarly be kindled by another divine grace. His Divine Grace the spiritual master can kindle the spiritual fire from the woodlike living entity by imparting proper spiritual messages injected through the receptive ear. Therefore one is required to approach the proper spiritual master with receptive ears only, and thus divine existence is gradually realized.
With the aid of subtitles and thousands of images of Srila Prabhupada and Krsna, hearing Srila Prabhupada’s sound vibration becomes more sweeter.
Everyone is asking me to stay at their temple when I return. So I think I shall have to expand. What do you think?
(S.P.L. to Bhagavan Dasa, 18th December,1970)
Srila Prabhupada has expanded himself in the form of thousands of hours of transcendental sound. Now he can stay and lecture in all his temples all over the world, and when we hear from him, we can sacrifice everything for him.
He reasons ill who tell that Vaisnavas die when thou art living still in sound. (Bhaktivinode Thakur)
God has given you these two ears and if you kindly submissively hear from the realized soul, then your life will be successful. Actually, that is happening. All these boys and girls who have come to me in different parts of the world, simply by hearing... I have not bribed them, I have no money. So they are sacrificing their everything for me. Why? Simply by hearing me. That's all. So the hearing is so strong.
(S.P Lecture. New Vrindavan, August31st, 1972)
The surrendering process is completed by the influence of association. The Lord has suggested, therefore, that by the influence of the speeches of saintly persons who have actually realized the Supreme, men are engaged in His transcendental loving service. The conditioned soul gets a taste for hearing about the Lord, and by such hearing only he is gradually elevated to the platform of respect, devotion and attachment for the Lord.
Prabhupada: Yes, Pulla Reddy, I have seen. (break) He is so much convinced in with our philosophy in Bombay, he is going to take sannyasa.
Mahamsa: Oh, in Hare Krsna Land?
Prabhupada: Yes. Although he is officially Shaivite, but he says that "I am so much convinced with your speech."
(Morning walk conversation, Hyderabad, April 20th, 1974)
If we hear from Srila Prabhupada in association we can all become qualified to preach.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is real preacher. That is explained in the Vedic literature, sravanam kirtanam. First of all he becomes perfect by hearing. This is called sravanam. And when he is perfectly situated in spiritual life by hearing perfectly from the perfectly authorized person, then his next stage begins, kirtanam. That is preaching. That sravanam kirtanam, everyone is hearing in this material world. Everyone is hearing. Even this material educationist, he also hears from the material person, professor. That hearing is there. Then he acts when he is grown-up, passed his examination, sometimes acts as professor. The same process: if one hears from the perfect spiritualized person, he becomes perfect, then he becomes actual preacher.
(Philosophical discussions- Origen)
So bhakti-yoga begins with hearing, sravanam, sravanam kirtanam. And if you have heard from the right source and if you are convinced, then automatically you will try to perform kirtana. Kirtana means glorifying. If you have attained like... Or to preach. Anyone who has listened from right person, authority, about Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam, about Krsna or about Rama, he would like to preach that. That is automatic, glorifying. That preaching is equal. That is called kirtana.
(S.B. Lec. 3.25.44 Bombay Dec. 12th, 1974)
So he marked it that "This boy is interested to hear me." So hearing is very important. Hearing. Just like Arjuna heard from Krsna. Come on. (People entering) (Break) ...because I was serious for hearing, and therefore now I am serious about kirtanam, means speaking, or preaching. Do you follow what I say? Yes. So one who is serious about hearing, he can become a future nice preacher. Sravanam kirtanam. Next stage is developed. That is development. If one has actually heard nicely, then he will speak nicely.
(S.P.C. Columbus, 10th May, 1969)
After receiving the spiritual master's mercy, one must repeat his instructions, and this is called sravana--kirtana-hearing and chanting. One who has not properly heard from the spiritual master or who does not follow the regulative principles is not fit for chanting (kirtana). This is explained in Bhagavad-gita (2.41): vyavasayatmika buddhir ekeha kuru-nandana. One who has not listened carefully to the instructions of the spiritual master is unfit to chant or preach the cult of devotional service.
Srila Prabhupada says that nothing can stop the Sankirtana movement, as it is the will of God Himself, Lord Caitanya. In every town and village there will be a center for Krsna consciousness.
You have asked about whether nuclear devastation on this planet would effect the Sankirtana Movement. No, there is nothing that can stop the Sankirtana Movement because it is the will of God Himself, Lord Caitanya, that His Holy Name be heard in every town and village.
(S.P.L to Makhanlal, Mayapur, 22nd June, 1973)
Actually, the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu that in every town and village there will be a center of Krishna Consciousness, is essential. People must co-operate. If not, then they will have to suffer. (S.P.L to Mr. Ashis Roy, Mayapur, 8th April, 1975)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted the Hare Krsna movement, with installed Deities, to spread to every village and town in the world, so that everyone in the world might take advantage of this movement and become all-auspicious in spiritual life.
I am very glad to know that you are so eager to start a center when you get married. That is very nice. We want to open hundreds and thousands of centers in every town, village, neighborhood, and everywhere. And we want to show ideal householder life also. If one pair of nice Krishna Conscious householders are there, so many people derive benefit out of their behaviour.
(S.P.L to Hanuman Prasad Poddar, Los Angeles, 5th Feb, 1970)
Prabhupada: Yes. Our program is to open centers in every village, every town, to propagate Krsna consciousness.
(S.P. Conversation with Newsday Newspaper, New York, 14th July, 1976)
Therefore our mission is if we can create some sadhu and they distribute themself all over the world... As Caitanya Mahaprabh, prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama. He wants that in every village, every town of the whole world, there may be a center of Krsna consciousness so that people will take advantage of it and they will also become sadhu. This is the mission of Krsna consciousness.
(S.B.3.25.24, Bombay, 24th Nov,1974)
So the will of the Lord will be done. We can only be instruments, that will please Srila Prabhupada.
If you can succeed in spreading this movement to every town and village throughout the world that will be your great credit. Kindly do this and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu will be pleased and my Guru Maharaja will be pleased and I, as their humble servant, will also be pleased. That is our main goal in life, our svartha gatim.
(S.P.L to Ramesvara, Vrindavana 18th Sept, 1976)
Centers are needed to give people a chance to hear about Krsna. In every town and village all over the world there are many candidates awaiting this message. It is the duty of all Srila Prabhupada's disciples to try to establish such centers to give these souls facility to hear from His Divine Grace.
You just associate with the person bhagavata who is realized soul and hear from him this the same book, the same knowledge. Krsna's representative. Just like Krsna says, tat samasena me srnu. Me srnu: "Hear from Me or My representative. Then you will benefit."
So these centers are being opened just to give the opportunity to the people who are suffering not only in this life, life after life.
(B.G. Lecture, 1975)
Pious activities means to cleanse the heart. Because our heart is overloaded with so many sinful activities, therefore we are suffering. So by hearing, satam prasangat, by hearing from the realized soul, by hearing the Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavata, as it is, your heart will be cleansed. Srnvatam sva-kathah Krishnah punya-sravana-kirtanah hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani...Abhadrani means rajo-guna, tamo-guna. Even sattva-guna is also mixed with rajo-guna, tamo-guna. But if you hear about Krishna... We are opening all over the world hundreds of centers. Why? We are giving chance to the people to hear about Krishna
(S.B. 1.2.6. Calcutta. Feb 26th, 1974)
Lord Caitanya said that every village and town on the surface of the world will know the message of the Sankirtana movement. This very statement affirms that in every village and town all over the world there are many candidates who are awaiting this message.
(S.P.L to Sudama, Los Angeles, 17th Feb,1970)
The devotees of Lord Caitanya must preach Krsna consciousness in every village and town in the world. That will satisfy the Lord. It is not that one should act whimsically for his own personal satisfaction. This order comes down through the parampara system, and the spiritual master presents these orders to the disciple so that he can spread the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is the duty of every disciple to carry out the order of the bona fide spiritual master and spread Lord Caitanya's message all over the world.
With centers in every town and village, Srila Prabhupada can expand unlimitedly in transcendental sound. Thus all the fallen souls can become purified, taking his direct shelter by the hearing process.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and no one can claim His potency. Nonetheless, if one is a pure devotee, hundreds and thousands of men can be purified by his vibration.
Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura has sung that the devotees of Lord Caitanya are so powerful that each one of them can deliver a universe. In other words, it is the business of devotees to preach the glories of the Lord and deliver all conditioned souls to the platform of suddha-sattva, pure goodness.
Srila Prabhupada's talks are spiritually potent. When Srila Prabhupada speaks he speaks perfectly, because his speech is managed by Krishna Himself, from within the heart. This is confirmed by the following quote
Milk touched by the lips of a serpant has poisonous effects; similarly, talks about Krsna given by an avaisnava are also poisonous. However, because a Vaisnava is surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his talks are spiritually potent. In the Bhagavad-gita (10.10) the Supreme Lord says, "tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te." To those who are constantly devoted to worshiping Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me." When a pure Vaisnava speaks, he speaks perfectly. How is this? His speech is managed by Krsna Himself from within the heart. Srila Ramananda Raya accepts this benediction from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu; therefore he admits that whatever he was speaking was not derived from his own intelligence. Rather, everything was coming from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
(C.C. Madhya Lila. 8.200)
Therefore it is imperative that we all come together, and glorify the Lord in the association of Srila Prabhupada, by lending our ears to his speeches.
One must be very meek and submissive and try to live peacefully by lending the ear to the speeches of the transcendentally self-realized soul who speaks on the message of Bhagavata-dharma or the religion of glorifying the Supreme Lord and His devotees. To glorify a great man is a natural instinct for living beings, but they have not learned to glorify the Lord. Perfection of life is attained simply by glorifying the Lord in association with a self-realized devotee of the Lord. The self-realized devotee is he who surrenders unto the Lord fully and who does not have attachment for material prosperity. Material prosperity and sense enjoyment and their advancement are all activities of ignorance in human society. Peace and friendship are impossible for a society detached from the association of God and His devotees. It is imperative, therefore, that one sincerely seek the association of pure devotees and hear them patiently and submissively from any position of life. (S.B. Intro)
We are confident that this is the way ahead for the Sankirtana movement, keeping Srila Prabhupada firmly in the center by congregating to hear his transcendental sound vibration, and thus allowing him to do what Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur predicted he would; spread the holy name around.
He reasons ill who tells that Vaisnavas die when thou art living still in sound. The Vaisnavas die to live and living try to spread the holy name around.
( Bhaktivinode Thakur.)
Prabhupada Sankirtana Society (Oldham)
January 11th 1999