1. Giriraj Swami lecture — don’t compromise when preaching

    I shall tell you one story from Madras. It is not a good one, because I am using myself as an example, which is not very becoming, but ultimately what happened was all Prabhupada’s mercy. I was the first devotee from ISKCON to go to Madras, in 1971. In Madras there are many Shaivas and Vaishnavas, who have a long history of debate, and many impersonalists who think, “The Vaishnavas are arguing that Vishnu is the Supreme, and the Shaivas are arguing that Shiva is supreme. How silly! Actually, God has no form. He just assumes the form of Shiva or Vishnu or Durga. So why all these petty arguments?” They are some sort of jnanis, and they really consider themselves superior, to both the Vaishnavas and the Shaivas.

    In Madras I began to preach in the same way I had heard Srila Prabhupada preach everywhere. We had programs, and we enrolled life members. Srila Prabhupada was very eager for us to enroll life members, mainly as a way of distributing his books to them, and also as a way of giving them the association of devotees. After a few weeks, I found that there was an undercurrent of protest against the way I was preaching, and even friends began to advise me, “You should not criticize others. Whatever you want to say positively about what you are doing and about Krishna consciousness, say. But don’t say anything negative about anyone else or any other process.”

    So I thought about it. Over the six or eight weeks I was in Madras, I stayed at different places, and one of the men I stayed with Mr. Krishnamurti, who was favorable, said the same thing: “Don’t criticize others. Just say whatever you want in a positive way about Krishna consciousness.” So I was getting the same thing from all sides, and I thought, Maybe Krishna is trying to tell me something. There are too many signs that I am doing something wrong. So I wrote a letter to Srila Prabhupada and continued with my service.

    One Saturday I had an appointment with an industrialist, and I decided that I was not going to get into any controversy or debate. I was just going to show the pictures of our activities, show the books, tell him about Krishna consciousness, and not make any comments about anything else. So I went to the man’s office. He had a large compound, with his office and his factory and his residence. I showed the pictures, showed the books, took out the life membership forms, and asked him to become a life member. He said, “What about Shankaracharya? You said so many things. Why haven’t you said anything about Shankaracharya? He is one of the great acharyas of India.” So I said, “Yes, he is one of the great acharyas of India.” He said, “Well, why don’t you say more about him? You haven’t said anything about him.” I tried to be very tactful and avoid any argument, but he kept provoking me, probing more and more.

    Finally I had to explain that Shankaracharya was an incarnation of Lord Shiva who came to bewilder the atheists and drive Buddhism out of India, but that in order to drive Buddhism out of India he had to preach a false interpretation of the Vedas. The man kept arguing, more and more. I even took out the Teachings of Lord Caitanya (we didn’t have the Caitanya-caritamrta then) and showed him the verses about Shankaracharya. But he was becoming more adamant in his position, and I remained adamant in mine. Finally I decided, Okay. I’ve wasted enough time here. I put away the pictures, put away the books, closed the briefcase, and said, “Well, it was nice meeting you.” He escorted me to the door and then said, “Before you leave, I want to show you my temple room.” I thought, Oh, no. There is going to be a Shiva linga, and he is going to want me to offer my obeisances, and if I don’t he is going to become offended. He said, “Really, I insist. I want you to see my temple.” So I went to see his temple.

    It was quite big. There was a large marble altar, the base of which was at least three feet high, with big marble Radha-Krishna Deities. I was shocked. It was very hard to find Radha-Krishna Deities in Madras. In fact, I think They were the only ones I saw. There were one or two Deities of Krishna, but most of the Vaishnava temples had Deities of Vishnu. So I was delighted, and I offered my obeisances and prayers. Then I looked at the man. “Swamiji,” he said, “myself and my family and all of my ancestors are devotees of Radha and Krishna. Actually, I was just testing you. I am very pleased with you. You have passed the test. You did not compromise. I will be happy to become your life member.” Then he took me back to his office, wrote out the whole amount in one check, and that was that.

    Then I started thinking that maybe I wasn’t doing the wrong thing after all. I returned to the place where I was staying in Egmore, and there was a letter from Srila Prabhupada, replying to my concerns about how I was preaching. Excited to read his response, I opened the letter, and right in front of my eyes his words seemed to jump off the page: “The fact is that I am the only one in India who is openly criticizing, not only demigod worship and impersonalism, but everything that falls short of complete surrender to Krishna. My guru maharaja never compromised in his preaching, nor will I, nor should any of my students. We are firmly convinced that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all other are His part and parcel servants. This we must declare boldly to the whole world, that they should not dream of world peace unless they are prepared to surrender fully to Krishna as Supreme Lord.”

    That was Srila Prabhupada’s mood, and that was his message. And for his service, he is the dearmost servant of Radha and Krishna. Srimati Radharani has no desire other than the pleasure of Krishna. And who has given Krishna more pleasure — within the material world at least — than Srila Prabhupada? Consequently, he has given the greatest pleasure to Srimati Radharani. And so, Srimati Radharani would do anything for him. So if we do even some little service to Srila Prabhupada, his heart is so magnanimous that he will take it as a big service. And he will be very pleased. And when we please him, Srimati Radharani is pleased. And then our lives are successful.

    16th September 2018 Radhastami Lecture by HH Giriraj Swami http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=13411