Management: Material or Spiritual?
By Bhurijana dasa
Management to facilitate preaching is spiritual, not material.
Srila Prabhupada: Everywhere, in the office, there is some immediate boss. So you have to please him. That is service. Suppose in office, in a department there is office superintendent. And if you do in your own way, “Yes, I’m doing my business,” and the office superintendent is not pleased, do you think that kind of service is nice? No. Similarly, everywhere we have got immediate boss. So we must work. That is systematic. If everyone manufactures, invents his own way of life, then there must be chaos.
SUDAMA: Yeah, that’s true.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Now we are world organization. There is spiritual side, and there is material side also. That is not material side. That is also spiritual side, systematic management. Otherwise how it will be done?
Conversations, Vol. 6, Los Angeles, December 5, 1973
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Management is a sign of intelligence. Srila Prabhupada even proved the existence of God through arguments based upon the intelligent management of the universe.
Srila Prabhupada: Demigod means almost God. They have got all godly qualities, and they are controllers of the atmospheric affairs. Some of them are controlling rainy season, some of them are controlling heat. As you have got controller here, some departmental director of this department, director of that department, similarly why don’t you think that this cosmic manifestation, there is a great brain behind it and there are different directors and there is management? People do not accept it. Nature. What do you mean by nature? Such nice things, such wonderful things are going on automatically, without any control? You see?
Journalist: Well, I know that’s a question that, of course, one asks oneself all the time, I guess. It’s part of man’s quest to find himself and . . .
Srila Prabhupada: But they should have common sense that you are trying to float one sputnik, so many scientific brains are working. And millions of wonderful sputniks which are called planets, they are floating in the air, there isn’t brain behind it? What is this? Is that very good reasoning?
Journalist: I don’t know. I must ponder that.
Srila Prabhupada: You should know it. How can it be? There must be a very big brain behind this. They are working.
Conversations, Vol. 1, Los Angeles, December 30, 1968
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To manage anything smoothly requires intelligence. Effective teachers apply their intelligence to maximize the actual time they spend teaching. Here are six basic managerial principles that should help.
Principle One: Cultivate the Mode of Goodness
Cultivate the mode of goodness within yourself, your classroom atmosphere, and your students. Teaching thrives on maintaining steadiness and regularity. These qualities are born of an atmosphere of goodness.
sattvat sanjayate jnanam
rajaso lobha eva ca
bhavato ’jnanam eva ca
From the mode of goodness, real knowledge develops; from the mode of passion, greed develops; and from the mode of ignorance develop foolishness, madness, and illusion.
Purport: Since the present civilization is not very congenial to the living entity, Krsna consciousness is recommended. Through Krsna consciousness, society will develop the mode of goodness. When the mode of goodness is developed, people will see things as they are. Because people have no education in actual knowledge, they become irresponsible. To stop this irresponsibility, education for developing the mode of goodness of the people in general must be there. When they are actually educated in the mode of goodness, they will become sober, in full knowledge of things as they are. Then people will become happy.
A key element of goodness is cleanliness. It is no wonder that Srila Prabhupada wrote, “Your country, America, will become very degraded. They will appreciate our revolutionary cleanliness. Our revolutionary medicine will be experimented on these children, and it will be seen to be the cure.” (Letter to Satsvarupa dasa, February 28, 1972)
Because cleanliness and goodness are the cure, teachers should be vigilant about protecting their students from slovenliness, passion, and ignorance.
jaya-kale tu sattvasya
devarsin rajaso ’suran
When the quality of goodness is prominent, the sages and demigods flourish with the help of that quality, with which they are infused and surcharged by the Supreme Lord. Similarly, when the mode of passion is prominent the demons flourish, and when ignorance is prominent the Yaksas and Raksasas flourish. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is present in everyone’s heart, fostering the reactions of sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna.
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Basically, goodness is required because it makes us receptive to Krsna consciousness.
YOGESVARA: Is there some, any qualities, in the sense that some people have more receptivity towards the divine than other people?
Srila Prabhupada: That I explained, sattva-guna, rajo-guna, tamo-guna. Those who are in sattva-guna, they can understand easily. Those who are in rajo-guna, they have got difficulty. And those who are in tamo-guna, they cannot.
Madame Devi: (French)
YOGESVARA: Is this degree of covering, whether they are in goodness, in passion or in ignorance, is that a question of their physical body? Is it a question of their hormones or chemical state? Is it a chemical state that some people are more covered than others by the modes of nature?
Srila Prabhupada: Covered means with some dirty things. That’s all.
Conversations, Vol. 10, Paris, June 15, 1974
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For a further explanation of the relationship between Krsna consciousness and the mode of goodness, please refer to chapter 5, “Teaching and Disciplining in the Modes of Material Nature,” and the essay “Elevation to Goodness” in the appendix.
Principle Two: Preach Strongly, Yet Be Sensitive
Srila Prabhupada once said that preaching brought management to one’s fingertips. When teachers effectively preach, students cooperate and cause few problems. And the students should preach as well. “It is especially nice to hear,” Srila Prabhupada wrote, “that the boys are becoming first-class preachers. That is essential. Without preaching, our institution becomes all rubbish.” (Letter to Dayananda dasa, April 11, 1974)
The preaching, to be effective, should be realized and strong. Prabhupada’s preaching example was to the point.
MAKHANALAL: There was that one notable, so-called incarnation. He supposedly lost all his potency.
Srila Prabhupada: : Eh?
MAKHANALAL: He said he gave away all his potency.
Srila Prabhupada: He’s a rascal. What potency he has got?
Dr. Patel: Who?
Srila Prabhupada: Any rascal who has called himself incarnation of God. There are so many rascals.
MAKHANALAL: Wasn’t that Ramakrishna who said he gave away everything; he had nothing more except . . .
Srila Prabhupada: What Ramakrishna? Don’t talk of these nonsense. Simply they have misled. That’s all.
Dr. Patel: Simply you bhaja Krsna and don’t think anything else. And you get all your intelligence there.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore Krsna has said, mam ekam. “Don’t go to these foolish rascals.” Mam ekam. You’ll be misled. Because they are misleaders, rascals.
Dr. Patel: You are so very hard.
Srila Prabhupada: I must be hard.
Dr. Patel: Hard, harsh, and hard and harsh.
Srila Prabhupada: The whole world is spoiled by these Mayavadis. Therefore I am very much hard.
Dr. Patel: I don’t say hard. Hard and harsh.
Srila Prabhupada: No, we must be harder and harder.
Dr. Patel: Hard and harsh! Doesn’t matter . . .
Srila Prabhupada: I don’t make any compromise with these rascals. No words. No, no. I never made that. Even if I don’t get any disciples, I’ll be satisfied. But I can’t make any compromise like these rascals. I cannot make. Ekah candras tamo hanti na ca tara sahasrasah. If I can create one moon, that is sufficient. I don’t want many stars. That was my Guru Maharaja’s principle and that is my principle. What is the use of having a number of fools and rascals? If one man understands rightly, he can deliver the whole world.
Conversations, Vol. 7, Bombay, March 23, 1974
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Although at times as hard as iron, Srila Prabhupada was also discriminating. Our preaching, especially to our students, should be individually prescribed and not fanatical.
YOGESVARA: You didn’t find it necessary to enter into any kind of discussion with this French professor just now. There was no real discussion of philosophy. I was wondering why that didn’t happen.
Srila Prabhupada: He did not raise any question. And he is simply translator. He has no philosophy. I asked him, “Which philosophy you are . . . ?” “So I make comparative study.” I think he did not like to enter into philosophical . . . Is it not?
Devotee: Most of these gentlemen who come here, when they see you and begin talking with you, like you said, they show their ignorance when they begin to speak. So they prefer not to speak. They always make some excuse that they have an appointment because they know that if they speak, they will be in real trouble.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Tavac ca sobhate murkho yavat kincin na bhasate: “A foolish man is very nice as long as he does not speak. As soon as he will speak, his foolishness will be captured.” So therefore, sometimes they do not like to talk. Remain as a nice man, (Laughs.) without being discovered.
Conversations, Vol. 10, Paris, June 14, 1974
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Principle Three: Keep Strong Krsna Conscious Relationships
Make management easier by keeping strong Krsna conscious relationships with your students.
Brahmacari means living under direction of guru. Guror hitam. How can he be simply thinking of benefitting the spiritual master? Unless that position comes, nobody can serve guru. It is not an artificial thing. The brahmacari, the disciple, must have genuine love for the guru, then he can be under control. Otherwise why one should be under the control of another person? Therefore it is said, €caran d€savat. Servant, not only servant, but menial servant. Less than domestic servant. So a disciple is expected to live in gurukula, at the shelter of the guru, as menial servant gurau sudrdha-sauhrdah. This can be possible when one is really thickly related to the guru. Otherwise, ordinary relationship will not do. One who has actually the convictionyasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadoone who is convinced that if I please my guru then Krsna will be pleased. This is called suhrdah, full faithyasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ‘pi. And if I displease my guru, then I have no place. In this way. Guru cannot be false guru. False guru has no such thing. If guru is genuine and disciple is genuine, both of them are benefited and they go back to home, back to Godhead.
Lectures, Bombay, April 12 and 14, 1976
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Know your students. Call the students by their names. Write down the names of the students in your class and see which ones you can’t remember or which ones you think of last. Note what qualities those students have. Deal with each student personally, either with a question, a comment, or a few words connected with the day’s occurrences, each day or during each lesson or section of the day. Be personally interested in each student. Informally speaking with students at different times of the day develops relationships.
However, etiquette should always be observed in the dealings between a teacher and his students. Otherwise, a teacher’s “friendly” relationships will turn to familiarity, which breeds contempt.
Guest: The Hare Krsna movement has started in the United States. Why did it start in the United States rather than India?
Srila Prabhupada: Because the United States, they are our best customer. A businessman goes to a place . . . Just like you come here. Why you have come here? Wherever there is best possibility of doing your business, there you must go. I went to the United States because these people are not poverty-stricken. And our Indian people, they have been trained to think that they are poverty-stricken. Actually, they are not poverty-stricken, but the leaders have educated them that, “You are all poverty-stricken.” This is India’s position. So far I knew that it would not be successful in India. The government would not help. The public is educated in a different way. They are after technology. So, “familiarity breeds contempt.” They say, “What is this Hare Krsna movement: It is known to us since a long time. What effect it will have?”
Conversations, Vol. 3, Hong Kong, April 18, 1972
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Just as Srila Prabhupada circled the world many times to add enthusiasm, instruction, and strength to his temples, circulate amongst your students. Know what and how they are doing. Know their strengths. Commend them for work well done. Know their difficulties. Offer help and advice to inattentive students. Document their troubles and achievements.
Maintain a positive atmosphere. Avoid nagging, sarcasm, and frequent negative comments — tension between the teacher and his students cannot fail to exist within an atmosphere where these constantly go on. Sincerely praise whenever possible. Think of plenty of exact words that can be used instead of “good” and “nice” (delightful, imaginative, superb, great, remarkable, original, fascinating). Remember that chastisements are most effective within a basically positive atmosphere. Keep your word. Fulfill your promises. Don’t bluff. Remember: problem students need more positive reinforcement.
Interact with the students. When lecturing, look at specific students in succession, each for a few seconds, in different parts of the room. This gives the teacher a feel for how the entire group is doing. Speak loud enough for students to easily hear. Use questions, not to catch the inattentive, but to check whether the material is being understood. If wrong answers are returned, the teacher should understand that he may have to re-explain in a simpler way or use examples. Using questions in this way will tend to keep the atmosphere positive.
Principle Four: Start and End All Activities Carefully
A careful start . . .
Be there first, before the students arrive. Make sure the surroundings are neat and tidy. Make sure student seating or student order is pre-organized. At first, this can be done in an arbitrary way, and later, after you have established yourself in control, student placement and order can be rearranged.
Be prepared. Know in advance what you will do. Have all materials and their distribution already organized.
Start on time. This immediately establishes the teacher’s authority. The students naturally feel respectful, knowing the teacher is on top of his service.
. . . An effective ending
Plan in advance how the activity will end, how the dismissal will take place, and how a smooth transfer to the next activity will occur.
First, go over it mentally in detail and write it out. Then, practice and master it.
Plan ahead. Leave sufficient time for the orderly and efficient collection of materials and for the dismissal, thus allowing an effective summary to occur.
Plan the end of the activity. Consider first what was the goal of the activity. Then sum it up. Don’t let one activity merge into the next. If possible, at least mentally prepare the students for their next activity.
Principle Five: Make Sure Your Procedures are Efficient
Know your objectives. Frequently check your results against your goals. Change or adjust procedures if necessary.
Use variety. Consider student interest, curiosity, and motivation. Keep in mind your students’ attention span: two short activities may be better than one long activity. Alternate preferred activities with boring ones, familiar activities with new ones, quiet individual work with group work. But don’t let variety become confusion.
Vary pace. Although the general tendency towards briskness in activities appears desirable — the ability to vary pace, and to know when to teach less and allow more time for practice — is also important. Short periods of practice followed by rest or by a different activity seem most effective.
When engaging your students, make sure each student knows what he should be doing and when he should be doing it. Just knowing without a doubt what one should be doing by having heard precise instructions removes, for most students, the temptation to misbehave.
Make sure you have your students’ attention before you give instructions. Also make sure that your students are actually capable of carrying out your instructions.
King Pariksit said: O great sage, never before has it been heard anywhere that an order from Yamaraja has been baffled. Therefore I think that people will have doubts about this that no one but you can eradicate. Since this is my firm conviction, kindly explain the reasons for these events.
Srila Sukadeva Goswami replied: “My dear King, when the order carriers of Yamaraja were baffled and defeated by the order carriers of Visnu, they approached their master, the controller of Saˆyaman-pur and master of sinful persons, to tell him of this incident.”
The Yamadutas said: “Our dear Lord, how many controllers or rulers are there in this material world? How many causes are responsible for manifesting the various results of activities performed under the three modes of material nature?”
Purport: Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura says that the Yamadutas, the order carriers of Yamaraja, were so disappointed that they asked their master, almost in great anger, whether there were many masters other than him. Furthermore, because the Yamadutas had been defeated and their master could not protect them, they were inclined to say that there was no need to serve such a master. If the servant cannot carry out the orders of his master without being defeated, what is the use of serving such a master?
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Consider your instructions before expecting students to follow them. As the Yamadutas became confused because they were incapable of carrying out the orders of their master, students who find themselves unable to carry out the orders of their teacher may similarly become confused or even angry.
Also take care to make sure your instructions do not contradict those of another teacher or authority.
If in this universe there are many rulers and justices who disagree about punishment and reward, their contradictory actions will neutralize each other, and no one will be punished or rewarded. Otherwise, if their contradictory acts fail to neutralize each other, everyone will have to be both punished and rewarded.
Purport: Because the Yamadutas had been unsuccessful in carrying out the order of Yamar€ja, they doubted whether Yamaraja actually had the power to punish the sinful. Although they had gone to arrest Ajamila, following Yamaraja’s order, they found themselves unsuccessful because of the order of some higher authority. Therefore they were unsure of whether there were many authorities or only one. If there were many authorities who gave different judgments, which could be contradictory, a person might be wrongly punished or wrongly rewarded. According to our experience in the material world, a person punished in one court may appeal to another. Thus the same man may be either punished or rewarded according to different judgments. However, in the law of nature or the court of the Supreme Personality of Godhead there cannot be such contradictory judgments. The judges and their judgments must be perfect and free from contradictions.
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Principle Six: Handle Basic Disruptions Without Losing Momentum
Following effective management procedures, like the above principles, will help eliminate most disruptions to teaching. But as happiness comes of its own accord, so does trouble. Minor disruptions are irritating. Even giving attention to them causes interruptions.
Minor misbehavior is difficult to deal with because the offender can easily hide behind innocence: “I didn’t do it on purpose.” And because it is often difficult to recognize the culprit, suitable responses are difficult to find. Be tolerant and careful. Don’t overreact, treating minor disturbances as a threat or challenge to your authority. If wrongly handled, these disruptions can develop from minor irritations to major confrontations.
Even when a teacher is quite certain that misbehavior is intentional or provocative, he should be wary of too strong an immediate response. Dramatic punishments are especially counterproductive as nothing is kept in reserve for more serious cases. Even simulated anger is troublesome. Rather, a teacher should look for a series of responses which are cool, calm, and carefully calculated.
Here are some technical-sounding names for simple techniques that help teachers effectively handle these “surface” problems:
Ignore simple affronts meant to cause disruption. Students often stop misbehaving when they do not get the attention they seek.
Inhibit behavior with eye contact or disapproving facial expressions to inform the student that the source of disturbance has been spotted and that the disturbance is not pleasing.
Peacefully call the student up to your desk and quietly whisper in his ear that he please stop the activity.
Stop restlessness by moving to the troubled area. An on the spot “quick conference” can also help.
Display interest in the student’s activity with a specific comment, such as during japa, “How’s your listening been the past few beads?” instead of, “How’s your chanting today?” You can also correct the student’s work, bring him closer to you, or praise his work. The idea is to refocus the student’s attention and remotivate him. Sometimes distractions result from the student’s inability to cope with required work.
See how the student is doing. If he is having a problem with his work, help him push beyond the difficulty.
If the above techniques fail, try these:
Diffuse a tense situation with a joke, showing that you don’t take it seriously or that you can see the funny side of it.
Search for an appropriate reason and sincerely give praise or show some affection, like a wink, a pat on the back, or a friendly smile.
Personal appeal quick conference
Call the student up, take him aside, and gently request that he desist from the behavior. Tell the student that you can’t allow him to continue acting in this way. Tell him the reasonsothers cannot hear the story, you cannot concentrate, it is making it impossible for you to teach, and so on. Then ask, “Do you think this is an unfair request? If you want to run around, you’ll have time later. But you can’t run now.” Try to avoid the threat, but as a last effort, it can be used. “Look, if you continue, I’m going to have no other choice but to give you a detention.”
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Simply following the above points will stop most casual offenders, although it will not stop a student “saboteur.” The teacher, however, should initially assume that basic disruptions and minor transgressions are motivated either by desire for attention, by boredom, or by inadequacy. If this is so, when the teacher gives attention to the task, not to the behavior, conflict is avoided. Concentrating on what the student is doing, rather than why he is doing it, can often defuse a potentially tense situation.
Even if the transgression is caused by a student’s personal animosity, all but the most determined seekers of confrontation will be diverted by the above simple manoeuvres. If a confrontation seems to be looming, avoid itsomehow or another.
Remember . . .
Remember that a student always engaged in Krsna conscious activities will have less tendency towards mischievous activities.
Srila Prabhupada: Just like, somebody, a child. A child is active, but his frivolous activities, or mischievous, have to stop when he’s active in taking education. You see. The same child, his energy for becoming active is transferred for taking education. He’s no more acting mischievously, breaking this, doing this, doing that. The activity is there. Now that is purified. Similarly, spiritual life means the spiritual activity, that is purified activities. These boys, they have given up drinking, meat-eating. That does not mean they stop eating. They’re eating better things. Therefore they have given up the nonsense eating. So that is spiritual life. Spiritual life means purified activity.
SYAMASUNDARA: Rationally, I was thought to be intelligent. I went to college, got so many degrees, but I could not in the least control my senses and control my mind, even though I tried. I studied philosophy so hard. But, by simply chanting Hare Krsna and coming to the platform of service for God, all my activities became dovetailed in one direction so that the other things were automatically brought under control as a result.
Srila Prabhupada: Param drstva nivartate. The exact word is there that if one gets good engagement, he can give up bad engagement. But he cannot make it inactive. That is not possible because the soul is active. It is living. How he can make it inactive? That is not possible. Nirvana means stop nonsense, but take to spiritual life. That is next: athato brahma-jijnasa. Nirvana does not mean to stop activities; to stop nonsense activities. Come to the real activity.
Conversations, Vol. 3, London, September 4, 1971