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Friday, August 31, 2007

Preaching in perspective

Is preaching the greatest service? (contd.)

When Mahārāja Pratāparudra sang the Gopī Gītā to Śrīman Mahāprabhu (in Caitanya Caritāmṛta Madhya līlā ch. 14), the Lord exclaimed he was bhūri-da, a word mentioned in one of the verses of the gopīs (SB 10.31.9) the King had recited. This word is sometimes translated as "the most munificent", but that superlative 'most' is not mentioned in the original verse, which is thus sometimes used as evidence to prove that preaching is the greatest service. The word bhūri-da simply means 'great (bhūri) donor (da)', not the MOST munificent.

Liberating the whole world means ending the material world?

Vāsudeva Datta prayed to Mahāprabhu (CC Madhya 15.163) "Prabhu, free all living entities of the disease of material life". Mahāprabhu replied (171): "Simply by your desire the world will be released." But, that is not the end of the material world as a whole, because Mahāprabhu continues (172-174): "Just as one Uḍumbar-tree yields millions of seeds, millions of universes float in the water of the material cosmos. If one of these seeds is destroyed, what will be the loss to the tree? Similarly, if one universe is liberated, Kṛṣṇa won't feel such a petty loss."

Seeing things thus in their proper perspective should not at all discourage a preacher though - a preacher has compassion that should not reach for a target,a preacher should be compassionate without attachment - attachment either to the result of his/her preaching ("soon the job will be over when we have liberated the whole world"), or attachment to the prestige of rendering the greatest service. Preaching is a great service, but not the greatest. Service rendered with love is the greatest, that is all.


  1. Reading further in that chapter one will find verse 178 saying: 'sab brahmanda saha yadi mayar hoy ksoy, tathapi na mane krsna kichu apacoy'. "If all the universes along with maya would perish, Krishna would not consider the loss." This would indicate the end of the material world, but the word yadi, 'if', shows that it is a purely hypothetical suggestion. It is not a philosophical statement.

  2. Anon, the official story of Janmastami in Haribhakti Vilasa is, as everything, very elaborate, with glorification and many details of the vow. You can find it in the latter part of chapter 15 of HBV. As far as we are concerned, we fast till midnight, when abhishekha is performed, after which fruits and milk can be taken as prasad. The following day one can break fast with grains. Whether a full night vigil is observed in Sadhu Baba's ashram or not I dont know because I never attended Janmastami there. Personally, I usually hit the sack at 1.30 a.m.