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Mahanidhi Swami

HEAR THEN PREACH:

Srila Prabhupada:

“The first principle of practicing bhakti-yoga is hearing. And as you become experienced in hearing, then you become a preacher—Kirtanam.” (700312BG.LA)

“Only one who has properly grasped the transcendental knowledge from the right source by submissive hearing can properly explain the subject.” (SB 1.1.6)

Disciple: “Srila Prabhupada, “I preached good arguments and philosophy to him, but he did not accept. So I told him just chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.”

Srila Prabhupada: “No, hearing is the first [practice]. Give him a chance for hearing.” (730811rc.par)

“Hearing is the first step in God realization. Thus, if we can simply convince these big men to hear, then gradually they will come to the point of accepting [Krishna consciousness].” (73-02-21 letter to mukunda)

WHAT SHOULD I HEAR OR READ?

Srimad Bhagavatam (11.3.48) says, “You should worship Sri Krishna in the particular personal form of Krishna that you find most attractive.” Commenting on this Sri Jiva Goswamipada says, “In the same way, one should AGAIN AND AGAIN HEAR DESCRIPTONS of the form of Krishna that one finds most attractive. (Bk.San. 262)

In other words, follow your taste and attraction. If you have a natural liking and curiosity for philosophy, then spiritualize it by reading Gita. If you like amazing stories with a message then read the immaculate and transcendental Srimad Bhagavatam.

And if you are crazy about Radha-Krishna, then read Srila Prabhupada’s KRSNA BOOK and other books like Govinda Lilamrita, Krishna Bhavanamrita, Krishnanika Kaumudi, Ananda Vrindavana Champu, Bhavana Sara Sangraha and many others per your adhikara.

BEST TO HEAR AND READ SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM

Sri Jiva Goswamipada:

“As far as hearing about Krishna, hearing Srimad Bhagavatam is the best since its words are most powerful and it is the tastiest. (Bk. San. 260)

Srila Prabhupada:

“Hearing of the Bhagavad-gita and, later on, Srimad Bhagavatam is essential for the serious candidate who wants to attain the stage of perfection at the end.” (SB 1.9.43)

“Hearing is the first experience [of Sri Krishna]. If you want to get experience of the planet where Krishna lives, then you have to hear. There is no other way.” (661012BG.NY.)

HOW TO HEAR SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM

Srila Prabhupada:

“Patient and submissive hearing is definitely essential. With great respect and attention, one should receive the message and lessons imparted by the Srimad Bhagavatam.” (SB 1.1.3)

BENEFITS OF HEARING

Bhagavan Sri Krishna:

“Brahmaji, one should regularly hear the Srimad Bhagavatam with faith. Hearing the Bhagavatam is the only means of satisfying Me.” (SB Mahatyam 5)

Srila Prabhupada:

“Without hearing, nobody can understand the science of God.” (lec montreal 16/8/68)

“By the hearing process, one can realize the presence of the Lord in the temple Deity. Thus hearing is the essential point!” (SB 2.3.21)

This is our last quotation about hearing as the primary limb of devotion. For those readers who are still a little attached to their material comfort zones, we suggest you don’t read any further.

What follows are the confessions and realizations of the greatest lover of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, namely Srimati Radharani. Sri Radhika lovingly spoke this in the state of divine delirium (divyonmada mahabhava) while feeling the bitter pain of separation from Her beloved Shyama, who had gone to Mathura—never to return. This verse appears in the famous “Bhramara Gita” of the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.47).

Srimati Radharani:

“To hear about the pastimes that Krishna regularly performs is nectar for the ears. For those who relish just a single drop of that nectar, even once, their dedication to material duality is ruined.

“Many such persons have suddenly given up their wretched homes and families and, themselves becoming wretched, traveled here to Vrindavana to wander about like birds, begging for their living.” (SB 10.47.18)

Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada Sarartha Darshini tika:

In these verses, Srimati Radharani is saying, “Just hearing about the pastimes Krishna performed at every moment (anucaritam) is nectar for the ears, what to speak of the joy one gets by understanding their meaning. Even one drop of this nectar completely destroys (vidhutah:visheshena khanditah) the propensities of duality, and the propensities of mutual friendship between women and men.”

Sri Radha continues, “If a wife hears discussions about Krishna, she immediately gives up affection for her husband. And if a husband hears them he gives up affection for his wife. The same is also true for a child in connection with his mother and father. If a mother hears about Krishna, she loses all affection for her children. Thus, by this mutual rejection they all become totally ruined (vinastah).” (tika: SB 10.47.18)

Srimati Radharani Uvaca ki jai! Vraja Prema Bhikhari ki jai!

Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

Many newcomers to Krishna consciousness are confused. “Should I start my spiritual life by reading books like Gita and Bhagavata and hearing from learned devotees? Or should I chant japa of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra?”

The confusion arises from the Chaitanya-caritamrta verse (3.4.71) which says, “Of the nine limbs of bhakti, the most important is nama-sankirtana [which means chanting japa or kirtana]. If one chants without offenses, he gets the wealth of Krishna prema, sarva-shreshtha nama-sankirtana, nir aparadhe nama laile, paya prema-dhana.”

Of course, this is a fact, but in bhakti-sadhana there are nine steps to prema. The first one is hearing, then comes chanting, remembering and on to absolute, total surrender and dedication in Krishna prema, shravanam, kirtanam, atma-nivedanam.

This is a logical sequence based on common sense. In this world, you cannot do anything without knowhow, and that comes from hearing and reading. Hearing is the source of inspiration, which at one point arises in your mind. That is why hearing is the basic principle of Krishna consciousness. Hear first, then act; act and then realize!

By hearing, you become enthused to surrender to Sri Guru, serve Sri Krishna and chant Hare Krishna in japa and kirtana. Your heart thrills with a new, fresh and tasty cherished ideal: “Someday, little old me will attain Sri Krishna’s sweet love in the land of eternal play, Sridhama Vrindavana!”

Many things happen to us when we passively read about Krishna or hear Hari katha. Our hearts become purified of lust, anger and greed; clarity, conviction and determination arise in our minds to destroy our doubts and confusions; and most importantly, our solid, iceberg hearts start melting with drops of affection and loving attraction to that beautiful, sweet and charming Prince of Love named Krishna.

Without a strong foundation in hearing and reading, no one will be able to sustain his effort to chant Hare Krishna japa. Hearing about Krishna results in detachment from worldliness. If you are hearing new facts and truths of reality, and other exciting, amazing, interesting and sweet topics, then your mind will naturally and effortlessly become absorbed in them. This is the logical, solid and most beneficial way to begin the practice of Krishna consciousness—hear and read about Sri Krishna.

After one is firmly established in the teachings of Krishna bhakti, then he can intelligently and enthusiastically begin bhakti sadhana. At that time, it is certainly a fact that among all the practices, chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra is the best of all, sarva shrestha sadhana!

However, Srila Prabhupada and all our Gaudiya Vaisnava acharyas agree that in the beginning of bhakti-sadhana, HEARING IS MOST IMPORTANT!

So now let’s hear/read their insightful and realized statements on this topic:

HEARING/READING IS FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT

Sri Jiva Goswamipada:

“Hearing comes first, before glorifying or the other limbs of bhakti [like kirtanam, chanting japa and so]. Without first hearing one cannot attain knowledge of Krishna or the different activities of bhakti.” (Bhakti San. 262)

Srila Prabhupada:

“Hearing is the basic principle for understanding.” (Bg. 4.26) “The first item, hearing [also means reading scriptures], is the most important item of all.” (Bg. 4.26) “The Vedic literature is called shruti-shastra. Shruti means to hear or listen. If you simply hear [the shastras], then you will become perfect.” (661201BG.NY.)
“But out of all the nine different methods [nava-vidha bhakti], the first one, namely hearing [shravanam], is the most important function in the process of bhakti-yoga. Without hearing sufficiently and properly, no one can make any progress by any of the methods of practice [i.e. chanting japa].” (SB 2.2.36)

“Serious devotional service can develop by hearing for long periods of time. One should associate with devotees and hear from them about Krishna’ transcendental appearance, activities and instructions.” (SB 3.27.21)

“One begins spiritual activities for advancement in devotional service, or Krishna consciousness, by hearing. Indeed, hearing is the most important method for advancement in Krishna consciousness, and one should be very eager to hear favorably about Krishna.” (TLC 12)

Hearing Krishna-katha ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!