Prabhupada Famous Quotes

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

For forty years we repeatedly heard the following popular sayings. We were told that Srila Prabhupada personally spoke or wrote these sayings in his books. Being curious we recently searched the BBT Folio complete collection of all of Srila Prabhupada’s actual “AS IT IS” original words and writings.

The truths revealed by our research are most surprising and eye-opening. We herein share these truths with you for your reflection and consideration.

In one handbooks and references publication on the BBT Folio titled “Leadership Excellence Newletters” we found the following title and list:

Srila Prabhupada’s Principles

  1. “Work now samadhi later.”
  2. “Preaching is the essence; books are the basis; utility is the principle; purity is the force.”
  3. “Do the needful.”
  4. “First deserve than desire.”


Although very popular in some places, the following sayings were


  1. “Work now samadhi later.”

This phrase is found only 20 times in the entire BBT Folio archive collection. And most surprisingly, it is only mentioned by devotees in their personal publications or Vyasa-puja offerings to Srila Prabhupada. Here’s a sample of devotee quotes:

— ”He [Srila Prabhupada] had always urged us on, saying, “work now, samadhi later.”

— “Srila Prabhupada coined the phrase, ‘work now, samadhi later.’”

— “Srila Prabhupada, you always stressed “work now, samadhi later.’”

— “By teaching us ‘work now, samadhi later’ you [Srila Prabhupada].”

— “Srila Prabhupada instructed us, ‘Work now, samadhi later.’”

— “You [Srila Prabhupada] said, ‘Work now, samadhi later.’”


SRILA PRABHUPADA HIMSELF NEVER PERSONALLY WROTE OR SPOKE THIS popular saying, “Work now, samadhi later”, which has so deeply molded the minds, and influenced the entire lives of legions of sincere bhaktas! Indeed, this is most amazing.

  1. “Books are the basis, preaching is the essence, utility is the principle and purity is the force.”

According to the BBT Folio, this popular saying originates with an unnamed person called “Devotee” who said: “Prabhupada, this is a Chinese character scroll. It says, “Books are the basis, preaching is the essence, utility is the principle and purity is the force.” It was translated poorly by myself, and the characters were written by… (BBT Folio 770225ED.MAY)

Although the saying does contain some valuable and relevant truths, the fact is that it was NEVER EVER SPOKEN OR WRITTEN BY SRILA PRABHUPADA. What Srila Prabhupada did write but never spoke on this subject is this:

** “Practically, books are the basis of our Movement.” (Letters 72-01-20 Mandali Bhadra; 76-01-09 Tusta Krishna)

Only the following two of the four popular sayings listed above in the Folio collection were actually used by Srila Prabhupada.

  1. “Do the needful.”

The BBT Folio contains 813 entries of this saying (470: Srila Prabhupada; 343: devotees).

This popular saying which was actually used hundreds of times by Srila Prabhupada is a very clear and practical universal principle followed by most everyone in the world.

  1. “First deserve, then desire.”

For many different purposes, this phrase is being used and has been said thousands of times by various devotees. However, during his entire preaching campaign, Srila Prabhupada spoke it only 8 times! And he used it only in very specific circumstances. It is not meant to be a universal axiom to guide everyone’s spiritual lives.


The conclusion of our BBT Folio Archival collection of all of Srila Prabhupada’s actual words and writings is that Srila Prabhupada NEVER even once spoke or wrote two of the four popular sayings.

Of the balance, Srila Prabhupada hundreds of times used “Do the needful”. As for the saying “First deserve, then desire”, Srila Prabhupada used it a mere 8 times, which clearly indicates that it is not very significant. And nor is it a universal principle to be used in the many ways it is used today.

We hope these truths will bring you the comfort, confidence and hope that the light of knowledge brings to sincere seekers of “reality distinguished from illusion” (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.1.2). As one poet rightly said, “May the truth set you free!”

Srila Prabhupada said ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

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