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Article by Upendranath Dasa 

“REACH IN ENGLISH”: Base on Srila Prabhupada’s Lecture on Srila Bhakti-siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s Appearance Day, Los Angeles February 7, 1969

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Segment 7

What is The Definition of Truthfulness, According to Srila Prabhupada, & What is the Meaning of “Being Humble”?

Srila Prabhupada wrote in his Purport to Bhagavad-gita 10.4-5:

Satyam, truthfulness, means that facts should be presented as they are, for the benefit of others. Facts should not be misrepresented. According to social conventions, it is said that one can speak the truth only when it is palatable to others. But that is not truthfulness. The truth should be spoken in a straightforward way, so that others will understand actually what the facts are. If a man is a thief, and if people are warned that he is a thief, that is truth. Although sometimes the truth is unpalatable, one should not refrain from speaking it. Truthfulness demands that the facts be presented as they are for the benefit of others. That is the definition of truth.”

Following in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada and his guru, a Gaudiya Vaisnavas preacher today, in 2022, may write or speak, using words that some may find “unpalatable”.  Nevertheless, because they are the “Truth”, that preacher should do what Srila Prabhupada instructed, which is,

“Although sometimes the truth is unpalatable, one should not refrain from speaking it. Truthfulness demands that the facts be presented as they are for the benefit of others.”

So, please, I humbly request you, to understand the following:

If the preacher is sincere, and if the preacher is inspired by the definitions of a preacher, given by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Prabhupada; They are not trying to intimidate you, or lord over you. 

They are just following the orders and instructions given by these two superlative personalities.

 Understand that Gaudiya Vaisnavas preachers, desire to follow in foot-steps of their own guru and the Past Acharyas. 

Understand that especially the devotees from the Western World, they have a lot of “excess-phycological-baggage”, if you will.  So please, never ever, not even for a moment, and not even for a nano-second, take offense in their preaching, if you find some traits of their material excess-baggage; in either of their written or spoken words.  However, if they can back up their preaching, with the principle of “Guru”, “Sastra”, and “Sadhu”, you should definitely consider it.

An aspect of English language grammar, is that there is a type of “word” known as an “adjective”, a word or phrase naming an attribute, added to or grammatically related to a noun, to modify or describe it.   Adjectives, are required in forming sentences, and you all do this when you speak, and write English. 

These Adjectives, can be “words” that in the field of writing, are called “Emotionally Charged”; because they excite an emotion; they are words, or phrases, used to influence an audience, by using words and phrases with strong connotations.

For example, the adjectives “Useless” and “Ruined”.  

Did Srila Prabhupada say, that because of certain conditions, something will become “Ruined”? 

Did he say some one is “Useless”, if they conducted themself in a particular way, or did not do something they should have done?

If these words are “true”, Srila Prabhupada said that some may find these words “unpalatable”; nevertheless, we must speak or write them, for the “welfare of all”.

When a Gaudiya Vaisnava preachers also understands, that Srila Jiva Goswami, also used the word “Useless”, in which he qualified it with a particular condition; they become even more enthusiastic.  That encourages, and enlivens them to be Bold and Courageous”, or at least they try to be.

On the other hand, it would be expected, that those, that the “shoe-fits”, if you will; that kind of preaching just might “Ruffle” their “feathers”.

Moreover, those devotees, who are truthful, honest, and decent human beings, should not have any problem, reading or hearing such preaching in English.

Many devotees may cry,

“Prabhu! Why can you not just be a humble; Vaisnava?  Are we not supposed to be humble?”

Srila Prabhupada gives the answer to this question in the following true story that was told to me by a junior godbrother, who I accepted as a siksa-guru.  He personally witnessed the following:

Once in Vrindavan India, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada asked him.

“Srila Prabhupada!  What does it mean to be humble?”

Srila Prabhupada thought for a moment. And then in one very rapid motion, he clenched his fist, raised his arm up in the air, and slammed his fist on his desk.  This startled everyone.  At the exact same moment that Srila Prabhupada fist slammed on the desk, with a loud thump, Srila Prabhupada said,

“Be Bold for Krishna!”

The word “bold” at first glance, does not seem to be the same as “humble”.  The dictionary defines “humble” as,

“Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.”

Vaisnavas have 26 qualities.  Number 2 on that list is that “they are humble”. In this story just told, Srila Prabhupada said that “humble” means to “be bold for Krishna”.

Let us see what the word “bold” means:

“Showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous”.

So, when Srila Prabhupada said, “be bold for Krishna”.  He is saying that, as preachers of Krishna consciousness, we must take risks for Krishna with confidence and courage; and that is being humble.

If I show modesty, because I have a low estimate of my importance; and I lay-low, and ignore the “Truth”, for the purpose of showing “humility”.  That is not being “truthful” according to the definition Srila Prabhupada gave in the purport just sited.

Therefore, Gaudiya Vaisnava Preachers “Should be Bold for Krishna”, in the same way as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada’s and Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada were.

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