By:Dama Ghosha Dasa (Seattle, USA)
Pleasing Krishna Practically
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Regarding your questions, your first question was: Should a devotee always speak the truth to everyone in all circumstances? The answer is yes. One should always speak the truth. But a qualified devotee will be able to speak the truth very palatably to everyone so that it will sound pleasing even to his enemy. That is the art of speaking the truth. We must speak the truth to all people, but how you say it is another thing, satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat. When you become a little more experienced in Krishna consciousness by preaching, and if you are sincere and serious to make progress in spiritual understanding, you need not have to worry yourself further, because the truth will always be spoken by you in the proper manner.
Krishna will give you that intelligence; you need not be concerned for it. Simply try to please him always by your sincere service and chanting. That’s all. Of course, for doing business with businessmen you have to lie. Just like Krishna himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sometimes he also had to fabricate something in emergency situations. Although he promised not to interfere in the battle of Kurukshetra, he was forced to break his promise just to save his pure devotee. So there is no prohibition that one shall never tell lie, because for business of carrying our propaganda work sometimes it may be necessary to lie. Krishna consciousness means practical living, not something utopian or idealistic and vague. We simply do the needful, whatever pleases Krishna most. That’s all.
Gradually you will understand what it means to please Krishna and what it means to displease Krishna. That you will learn by studying our books and by yourself engaging in practical devotional service. In material dealings there is always something undesirable, but even so, you cannot give up your occupation. Just like fire is very pure, but still there is some smoke. You cannot avoid it. All these things can be rectified when the result is offered to Krishna. Otherwise, even though you may do very honest business, it has no utility whatsoever.
— Letter to Yajneshwar, January 2, 1972.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur
Question: How should we preach to ordinary people?
Answer: Human beings carry a variety of diseases, and each needs to be treated individually. Unless the disease is properly diagnosed, proper treatment cannot be administered and the ailment will not be cured. A platform speaker cannot do much for most sick people. He can give only token relief. I have not found anyone sincerely interested in Krishna consciousness for forty years. Now, whoever comes to me is not interested in hearing hari-katha. They are not ready to give up their dependence on their own education and intelligence. In this world, people like to become popular; they do not like to inquire about the Absolute Truth. Those who claim to be religious preachers are busy trying to protect their own existence by flattering others. By speaking and hearing the truth, one’s popularity is unlikely to be enhanced. Therefore, we are not interested in the sympathy or support of ordinary people who are averse to the Lord.
Question: Should we boldly speak the truth?
Answer: Without cheating anyone we should boldly speak the truth to everyone. If the truth is bitter or unpopular but bestows blessings on the living entities, we must speak it. This will not ultimately cause them anxiety. We ourselves should inquire about the Absolute Truth, and then we should try to understand how to help everyone else. Giving Krishna consciousness to others requires firm determination. Do not think of saving only the people of the present age. Think of the people in all ages and all times. Teach about the most pleasant kingdom of Vaikuntha, the place from which no one ever returns to this material world.
If you want to preach transcendence, it is vital that you yourself have taken shelter at the lotus feet of your spiritual master. Always serve the spiritual master who imparts to you transcendental knowledge. Even if you live at home instead of in the matha, we should all serve him together. We should also maintain the Lord and his devotees in opulent houses with comfortable atmospheres, and we ourselves should live in ordinary cottages. If we feed Krishna nicely, rather than enjoying things for ourselves, we will attain his mercy. Always remember that everything belongs to Krishna. Our lives will become successful only when we use everything in this world in his service. However, before preaching these instructions we must live them.
Unless we speak the truth boldly we cannot please guru and Gauranga. The more determined one is in devotional service, the bolder and more courageous he will be as a preacher. If I fail to speak the impartial truth because I might become unpopular, I have certainly abandoned the path of my disciplic succession and accepted an unauthorized path. In the end I will either find myself cheated or will become an atheist.
Question: Why were the mathas established?
Answer: The mathas were not established to favor ordinary people but to help pure devotees advance in spiritual life. We serve Lord Gauranga simply by performing sri-krsna-sankirtana. The Bhagavatam verse (11.5.32) yajnaih sankirtana prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah supports this idea. The example set by Shri Krishna’s Gaura pastimes is the only auspicious way to perfection for the jivas. The mathas have not been established to please bhogis or tyagis. They have been established to preach pure devotional service. We receive blessings as we serve Hari by establishing mathas. Our intention is not to collect one or two rupees to benefit the matha. We should not be eager to take help from unscrupulous people. Rather, if we can benefit anyone by speaking the bold truth, then the matha’s purpose is served.
People will often play tricks on us. We should consider such tricks as the Lord’s test. It is difficult to cross beyond insurmountable maya unless we are greatly fortunate. Mayavadis and bhogis are both conditioned souls. By the mercy of Krishna’s devotees, persons who surrender to Hari can discriminate between good and bad, right and wrong. Know for certain that being drawn by the enjoying spirit, many people cannot realize the Absolute Truth.
Question: Should we glorify Hari constantly?
Answer: Mahaprabhu taught kirtaniya sada harih, that we should always chant the holy name of Hari. The word “sada” leaves no room for interruption. Human beings have no work or duty other than to glorify Hari. Hari should be glorified even to birds and animals. We do not care if the ignorant call us mad or fools. We will constantly propagate hari-katha under the order and guidance of our spiritual master and Lord Gauranga. In order to hear mundane topics, people read daily newspapers and remain ever absorbed in worldly matters. Our proposition is to let everyone hear about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu every day. Let them discuss Chaitanya whenever they meet one another, and let them survive on the strength of these topics. Let there be nothing else discussed in this world.
At present, in order to keep the cultivation of Chaitanya and his instructions alive forever, we ourselves have to remain absorbed in chaitanya-katha despite impediments put forth by materialists, we are spending large amounts of money to arrange for the constant glorification of Hari. This world’s senseless people suffer from a variety of anarthas and are intoxicated by material life. They are so intoxicated that they will do anything except to try to remedy their suffering. Instead, they use their time, money, and intelligence to hear mundane topics, thereby inviting their own ruination by worsening their diseased condition. It is as if they are eating improper food instead of healthy food. Finally, they will go to hell. But still they will not hear about Shri Chaitanya even a little. It is as if they have taken a vow to avoid the proper remedy. Nevertheless, despite the obstacles, Shri Chaitanya’s devotees regularly propagate the message of Shri Chaitanya throughout the world.
— From Amrta-vani — Nectar of Instructions for Immortality, Chapter 8.