By Prabhupada priya dd
Hare Krishna. I read an article by Satyaraja prabhu about Sankirtan. He was saying that, at least in the past, many sankirtan devotees were driven by not-so-transcendental desires like being number one, or appearing clever, or like some kind of hero or something, and that this fact has given him somewhat of a negative view of sankirtan. I was thinking about this and I was wondering if it is actually possible for someone to continue doing book distribution year after year for a long time on the strength of such motivations.
Anyways, I liked the article because it made me think of my own motivations for doing sankirtan, which was probably the intention of the author. Now this is my 14th year of book distribution, and each year my motivation becomes stronger and clearer. Now I have 2 children of my own and as a parent I always have to try to protect them from dangerous situations. If they are in the road and a car comes I have to run and put them to the side. If they pick up a knife or lighter or something like that I have to take it away. There are so many dangerous situations they need to be protected from because they don’t know anything. They don’t know that the knife may cut them. So they need to be taught all these things so that they will not suffer due to their own ignorance.
Sankirtan is like this. I see the people like children. They are ignorant. They don’t know what to do and what not to do. And therefore they are doing so many things wrong without even knowing that it is wrong, and they are suffering the reaction. Most people do not know that there is anything wrong with eating meat, or drinking alcohol, or having illicit sex or gambling. That’s just what they’ve seen everyone do since they were born. It’s all just part of life and they just go along with it. And they are suffering so much, just like everyone else.
In one sense we can see them like this: they’re demons, lusty, sinful, envious rascals, and they are suffering because they deserve it. That is certainly true, but one who holds this view will have difficulty finding inspiration to preach.
Another way of seeing them is like this: they are pure spirit souls, eternal servants of Krishna, who have become severely degraded due to bad association and who are being tossed about by the modes of material nature. They are looking for happiness but due to their ignorance, all their attempts at achieving happiness are only bringing more and more suffering. So, as a parent will give knowledge to her ignorant child so that he will not suffer, we also must give knowledge to the people in general so they can change their lives, to stop doing those things which only bring pain and anguish, and to do those activities which will actually bring eternal transcendental happiness.
This is a very basic principle. It is not an esoteric meditation. It is very down-to-earth. The love that a mother has for her child - Srila Prabhupada says this is the highest love that can be achieved on the material plane. Because it is selfless; it is unconditional. Why do we love our children? They give us so much trouble! Still we would risk our lives for them. Even the “demons” would do it, even the animals do it. And how did Srila Prabhupada refer to his disciples? As his sons and daughters! Of course, most of them were young at the time and practically like children, but that doesn’t matter. Even old ladies and men who could be my grandparents I see as my children. They are just like ignorant children. They need instruction.
Who will not steer a small child away from a fire? Any sane person will do it, even if he is a complete stranger. No one will just sit there and watch him get burnt, especially not someone who considers himself religious. So who will not jump up to steer these ignorant people away from hell. It is so easy; just give them a book, some prasada, the holy name. Engage them in some devotional service - knowingly or unknowingly. That will save them; that will give them a start on the right path, the bhakti-marg. And if they follow through on that path they will finally get what they were looking for all along, eternal happiness at the lotus feet of Krishna.
Prabhupada priya dd