EXCERPTS FROM CONVERSATIONS WITH LEADERS - PART 1

(Interview with HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj on "Importance of Devotee Care for Preachers Involved in Outreach")

On experiences with Srila Prabhupadarelated to outreach

Srila Prabhupada mentioned that the temple is the home of Krishna who is everyone’s father. No one should go hungry in the presence of one’s father.He said that no one should go hungry within 10 miles radius of the temple. He encouraged us in Mayapur to take care of the local people. When we started the namahatta, Srila Prabhupada said to bring people to the temple, let them stay in our temple for a few days and see them how we worship the deities, offer aratis, and they should do the same in their villages. He encouraged us to take initiatives so that people become Krishna conscious. He told me to expand our Krishna conscious outreach unlimitedly.

On giving a sense of belongingness to the mission for the preachers

I could encourage preachers to appreciate other preachers for their services as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu teaches us to give all appreciation to others and not for oneself. By doing this I am able to encourage them. We should see that everyone is connected to Lord Chaitanya’s tree. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhusaid that I alone can’t distribute the fruits of Bhakti to everyone, so He is asking help from all of us.

On the care system for providing creativity & freedom and check & balance

As individuals, everybody may have a particular hobby and we need to give them space to engage them in Krishna conscious activities. And this freedom is provided as per the possibility of circumstances similar to how Srila Prabhupada did. He didn’t reject but engaged the qualities and skills in the service of Krishna. It is also important for us to be able to identify what we can do and what we cannot do, find others who could possibly do what we can’t. That way, one also takes responsibility for one’s life which is another aspect of care.

On how other spiritual organizations care for their preachers

In Christianity, they have big offices called Dioceses where there are Bishops, Archbishops, assistant Bishops, and a whole setup with different departments including finance. We don’t see such a setup in our society, it would be nice for ourselves to be more organized. Each zone should have such a kind of facility to manage different temples.

On caring for preachers during preaching interactions between different ashrams

Srila Prabhupada instructed me that being a sannyasi I shouldn’t enter into any grihasta disputes or conflicts at a personal level. Philosophically or spiritually it is alright. I think brahmacharis and sannyasis should stay out of grihasta affairs. If a brahmachari or sannyasi starts to counsel, first they may not have practical experience and it could be very dangerous. Srila Prabhupada, despite being in grihasta ashram previously didn’t want to counsel grihastas on grihasta affairs. He told them to seek guidance from their senior godbrothers who are grihastas. After all, husband and wife have a conjugal relationship and as brahmacharis or sannyasis can’t really understand. So, they can give spiritual guidance but shouldn’t get into their grihasta affairs.

On the care for preachers in the cultural context of India compared to the western conditions

Definitely, preachers in India have a certain advantage that by wearing the saffron cloth, people expect a certain standard of activity and they give respect which preachers may not get largely in the west. In the west, there are very few brahmacharis because the ladies there are not shy. In one sense, it is easier to be a brahmachari or sannyasi in India, but one should be very careful wherever they are. Krishna consciousness has the greatest philosophy, but people who are brainwashed into thinking west is the best – that’s not true, India is great.

On caring for the other branches of the Saraswat Gaudiyafamily

Many of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers do the meetings of Saraswat Gaudiya Vaishnava Association (SGVA) and mentioned that charity begins at home. They appreciated our effort to unite the Saraswat branches. Some people are helping us.  Many temples are very small and don’t have much help during the lockdown, we are offering some help with Bhoga. One of the matha mentioned that ISKCON is like a banyan tree giving unlimited shade due to which they are able to survive the tribulations. We are trying to unite the branches of the Saraswat family, we observe the disappearance and appearance days of Srila Bhakti SiddhantaSaraswati Thakur and Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur by conducting joint programs where many speakers speak for 10 minutes.

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