06 August 2014

Dangers of Fermented Knowledge

Roughly one remembers only 10 to 20 % of what he or she reads. As a new devotee when we read Srila Prabhupada's books, 50 % for the contents would have bounced over our heads. With great enthusiasm of having found the holy grail of spirituality, we would have read the entire Bhagavad-gita in a few sittings trying to assimilate the contents of the great book.

We wouldn't have, at that time, been keen on taking notes or even bookmarking those pages that may have required re-reading. We may have ignored expressions such as 'three types of miseries' that didn't have an explanation close to it, and may have also forgotten to later find out more about it.

In great enthusiasm, which is the topmost qualification in spiritual life that is mostly found in new bhaktas, we all would have devoured Srila Prabhupada's nectarean books written for the benefit of souls for the next ten thousand years to come.

Later on we have all attempted to become preachers in our own capacities. We classified ourselves into various categories of preachers depending on the mode of transport we use. Nevertheless, the very attempt made to preach the Holy Name of the Lord is commendable. All glories to those devotees who are active preachers.

Now, that said and done, what about the content we are actually preaching? Coming back to the fact that one roughly remembers only 10 to 20% of what he or she reads, preaching based on initial reading is no doubt inadequate.

Then comes hearing: how many of our senior devotees actually read Srila Prabhupada's books every day or at least study and prepare for a Bhagavatam class before actually delivering a lecture to eager devotees?
So, if all of us are dependent on our weak memory to deliver lectures and to fuel our short preaching endeavours, what gain is there to the listener? With very little of what we remember our tricky minds would most probably fill the gaps with self-made or somebody else's speculation. This is a dangerous trend. And I call it fermentation of knowledge. Yoghurt that ferments goes bad after a period of time. But one spoon of yoghurt mixed with fresh milk would give more tasty fresh yoghurt. Similarly, if our knowledge is cultured daily with fresh first-hand reading and studying of Srila Prabhupada's books, our preaching will be authentic.

Hence Srila Prabhupada wrote:
"If there is lack of knowledge, or if there is forgetfulness, everything will be spoiled in time. So especially you must encourage the students to read our books throughout the day as much as possible"
(Letter to Hamsaduta -- Los Angeles 22 June, 1972)

If not we will be vomiting the stale fermented knowledge over and over again to innocent newcomers and this unhealthy trend will go on. Maybe this is why Srila Prabhupada insisted on book distribution rather than our two minute preaching.

He wrote:
"If these books are read, there is no doubt that many sincere souls shall be attracted and will join you in your work for Krishna. So please try for selling these books, it shall be considered as the greatest service"
(Letter to Gurudasa -- Los Angeles 1 December, 1968)

The words of the Acharya are so powerful that simply repeating like a parrot can liberate one from the vicious cycle of birth and death. Let us on a mission mode make reading Srila Prabhupada's books a must for all the devotees. Let this be a pre-requisite qualification for initiation like chanting 16 rounds.

Srila Prabhupada insisted:
"If they will simply take to reading this transcendental literature we are presenting, the same reading capacity will elevate them to the highest perfection of spiritual life"
(Letter to Harer Nama -- London 6 November, 1969)

"If we remain strong in our own literature, we can meet anyone else without any fear"
(Letter to Damodara Pandita -- New York 17 July, 1976)

If we do not insist on reading, our mission will end up as another sentimental cult bereft of any value. And that would be the greatest disservice done to His Divine Grace.

Source: http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/07-14/editorials11966.htm

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