Understanding Srila Prabhupada

May 1st, 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2006
Understanding Srila Prabhupada

“In this age, devotional service of hearing and repeating the holy glories of the Lord is strongly recommended, and one who takes the vow of renunciation of family life need not imitate the parivrajakacarya like Narada or Lord Caitanya, but may sit down at some holy place and devote his whole time and energy to hear and repeatedly chant the holy scriptures left by the great acaryas like the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana.” Srimad Bhagavatam 1.6.13 Purport

Comment: Srila Prabhupada is so much broader in his outlook than he is often presented. He so much stressed preaching that many devotees don’t see a scope for his followers to devote their life to chanting and hearing in a holy place. Here, however, he directly encourages that service. It was especially enlivening for me to read this. I am also guilty at times of too narrowly defining Srila Prabhupada. I thus question if there is scope in his service for my lifestyle, which, unlike most of my god-brother’s, is so limited in traveling and preaching. Here, however, Srila Prabhupada directly recommends sitting down in a holy place to devote one’s whole time to chanting and hearing. I felt encouraged reading this.

Of course, Srila Prabhupada seems to be talking more about retired grhastha’s. Still, the point remains that his strong recommendation of the traditional mode of Vaisnava retired life, chanting and hearing in a holy place, shows that Srila Prabhupada cannot be pin-holed exclusively within one conception of spiritual life, even the missionary outlook.

At the same time, however, one can’t help but note the status at which Srila Prabhupada places preaching. Usually, retirement to a holy place for exclusive chanting and hearing is the pinnacle of one’s spiritual evolution following the example of Sri Caitanya, who spent the last year of his life in Puri. But here it is almost presented as a concession.

I appreciate that although Srila Prabhupada stressed certain activities, it never became a passion in the sense of excluding or discouraging different ways and modes of serving his order and mission. That passion obviously was ours.

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