By Krpakara dasa (ACBSP)
When is a person Krsna conscious enough to preach? Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to preach immediately, regardless of our degree of realization. By preaching we cement our understanding. Hearing is the first step in devotional service, and the second step is chanting. Either privately or Congregationally. Preaching really means teaching.
It is commonly accepted that by teaching others your own understanding becomes enhanced. They also say your retention levels increase when you pass on to others what you have read or been instructed in. I want to share some quotes on preaching sic teaching I have unearthed.
The more you teach positive ideas to others, the better you learn them yourself. ‘Brian Tracy’ Teaching is the highest form of understanding. ‘Aristotle’ Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand. “Chinese proverb” What we learn to do, we learn by doing. ‘Thomas Jefferson’
Lord Caitanya encouraged all His disciples and followers to preach Krsna consciousness widely-to every town and village. The Krsna consciousness movement following in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya is very much a missionary movement, and our founder Srila Prabhupada exemplifies that preaching spirit. Prabhupada travelled to the West to introduce Krsna Consciousness for no other reason than to fulfill the desires of his spiritual master, the previous acaryas, and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those desires are to give everyone the chance to know about Krsna, to give everyone the benediction of Krsna Consciousness. That desire of the acaryas is so strong because they see the suffering of the people without Krsna Consciousness.
Preaching simply means to tell others about Krsna; what you know about Krsna, or what you have heard about Krsna from authorities. It is not difficult and we can all do this to some degree or another regardless of our situation or station in life. In the early days of ISKCON Srila Prabhupada described a devotee child Sarasvati as a preacher. Sarasvati would say ‘Do you know who is Krsna?, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead’ In this way even an uneducated child can preach Krsna Consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada said a preacher is like the postman in that we simply deliver the message of Krsna without adulteration. We simply have to deliver the message nicely so people will be appreciative, and there is no room for interpretation or changing the message. Therefore devotees, as Srila Prabhupada says, must be perfect gentleman, so others will say, ‘yes this person is very nice, so let me see what is the message they have for me’. The message of Krsna Consciousness is simple yet sublime; we are all of us eternal part and parcel of Krsna and forgetting this we are struggling in this material world. As Srila Prabhupada would say ‘ we are not introducing anything new, we are simple reminding you of what you have forgotten’.
In the course of a day we all have many opportunities to introduce Krsna to others and we should take those opportunities when they arise. The other day I was inquiring about enrollment for a creative writing course, so I could improve my writing skills, and somehow or other I ended up in an email correspondence with the director of the entire institution! So I took this opportunity to explain that I wanted to do the course his college was offering because of my affiliation to the Hare Krsna movement, and my desire to write interesting Krsna conscious articles for Hare Krsna publications and online sites. He appreciated that, and thanked me for sharing my thoughts with him. So now that gentleman who has probably never spoken to a devotee, or read a Krsna conscious book has now had a favourable contact with a devotee, and has been reminded about Krsna.
Sometimes as devotees we forget the simple things and become caught up in all the hoopla of day to day expectations on us. We can lose focus of what is really important and lasting and pleasing to the community of devotees; that is to remind others about Krsna as best we can, and whenever we can.