Importance of receiving guests – Excerpts from a lecture by HH
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
HH Indradyumna Maharaj in his Vyasa Puja offering writes his first experience coming to a temple. “I vividly recall Vishnujana Maharaja saying, ‘Come sit, young man, and I will tell you of my spiritual master!’. His love for you was contagious, and within moments, by the power of his words, I too was your disciple – ready to fulfill all your desires”.
Amazing anh ! Iam sure it was the association of the devotees that has attracted most of us and keeps us inspired ! If it weren’t for the association of devotees in Gita Nagari, I sure wouldn’t have even given spiritual life a second thought. It was just the feeling, Gosh they are so awesome. I want to be like them … that just got me interested.
Anyway, I just heard this amazing lecture by HH Radhanath Maharaj and I thought I’d share it with you … Sorry for being long, but hope it inspires you ! Hope you can spend a little time reading it !
Hare Krishna !
Yours in service,
How to welcome guests … Lecture by HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj. Dec 8, 1997, Heidelberg
Srila Prabhupada explains that the purpose he hopes to achieve by opening centers or temples all over the world was to give people the opportunity for people to associate with devotees. Because it is the association of devotees that changes a person’s heart.
In many temples there are beautiful deities. But how do people know how to see the deity. Certainly anyone who the deities cast Their glance upon or anyone who sees the beautiful form of the deity who is presiding in a particular temple, gets spiritual benefit.
But Krishna explains that “as you approach Me, as you surrender to Me I reveal Myself to you accordingly”. So we can only appreciate the form of the Lord to the degree the Lord reveals Himself to us. We cannot see Krishna properly in His true form with material eyes. Sri Bramha Samhita explains that only when the eyes are anointed with the salve of love, does Krishna reveal Himself as He is.
The association of the devotees is there to give us Krishna’s mercy. Krishna is standing on the altar, but unless we are very very advanced, practically on the state of purified soul, we cannot truly experience the Mercy that Krishna is trying to give us. And that is Krishna’s own arrangement. Krishna’s arranges that He reveals Himself through His devotees.
Therefore it is the compassion, the concern, the devotional qualities of vaisnavas that actually gives us the Mercy of the deities and through their devotion to the deities they give us the understanding of how to approach the deities and by their teachings and understanding, we can learn how to be a devotee in such a way that it pleases Krishna.
In India there are 1000s and 1000s of temples. Each one has deities. And practically all of these temples, people come – sometimes 10’s and 1000’s and even 100,000s a day. They see the deity, they bow down, give some money, and get puja offered and then take little caranamrita and prasadam and they go home. And they consider themselves to have become purified and become pious.
So there’s very minimal benefit. And even the churches and synagogues today we see so many people are coming, but only a very few people are really learning the science of service to the supreme lord. It is the association of devotees that can implant that real understanding and realization in our heart.
In New York City, there are so many 100s and 1000s of churches and synagogues and temples. And yet people were lost and didn’t know what to do, where to go. And they met Srila Prabhupada. He didn’t have a big temple or church. All he had was a little storefront. But just by association of this person, not in a church, but in a broken down store front, in a very poor neighborhood, people were inspired to surrender their lives to the loving service of the Lord.
Mahaprabhu declares that even a moment’s association with a sadhu is so valuable that it can open door to liberation in our hearts. After wandering through material universes, through so many millions of species of life, one finally becomes ready blessed by the Mercy of the Lord, and gets the association of a devotee. And Guru Maharaj plants the seed of devotion within our hearts. That seed is not planted by going to the temple; that seed is planted by the association of devotees.
And the representative of Gurus, on his behalf are planting those seeds and that effect is very much the same. Srila Prabhupada ordered us to open these temples and the purpose of these temples is to give Srila Prabhupada’s association through our activities, our concern and service to the people. And this is Srila Prabhupada’s Mercy. It is Krishna’s Mercy. It is the Deities Mercy.
Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Sri Radha Madana Mohan – we cannot approach Their Mercy directly. But Their Mercy is coming through the parampara. Srila Prabhupada is giving that mercy and teaching us how to give Krishna’s Mercy to others and that is why the temples are established, so that we can approach the deities.
So when guests come to the temple or when devotees come to the temple the Lord is living in, they are completely dependent on nice association to make spiritual advancement. Therefore we should consider every resident of the temple as Krishna’s own personal associate. And every guest who comes to the temple as Krishna’s own personally invited friend.
And it is a fact. Srila Prabhupada said no one comes to our temples by accident. Krishna is in everyone’s heart and it is Krishna who is directing the wanderings of every living entity and it is Krishna who is sending people to come. Understand that most of them have wandered for millions and millions and millions of birth and somehow or other by the inconceivable Mercy of the Lord they are being directed to the temple so that the seed of bhakti can be planted, and watered in their hearts.
And it is the representative of Guru, it is the devotees of the temple, that must plant that seed and honor Krishna’s guest with great attention. And this is how our movement will grow.
We’re distributing so many tens and millions of books all over the world and we must continue doing so. But when people take interest in the book and decide let me go to the temple, their philosophy makes sense, this is changing my life, I want to do it, I want to learn how, I need people to show me to live by these books and when Krishna sees that interest, He sends them to the temple.
And unless we’re prepared to welcome, to greet them, and teach them how to live by these books, they will never make much spiritual advancement. Because in the books it says, you must have the association of devotees.
Our temples, it is so very important that we learn the science of properly giving and receiving the association of devotees. Actually every guest that comes is Krishna’s specially invited guest. And it is our duty to give them every possible opportunity to make spiritual advancement. It is the first priority.
Why are we spending so much money building big big beautiful beautiful temples all over the world. It is to attract people to come. It is not just to attract them to come, it’s to attract them to come but also to meet devotees and learn how to surrender to Krishna. If after spending millions of dollars to build temples, and when people come and we don’t have time to teach them how to be devotees, because we need to pay the bills, better we stay in the little storefront or better we don’t even have any temples. Just sit on the street and meet people and teach them how to become devotees.
And this is a fact. But BEST, we have our beautiful temples and we have beautiful devotees to say HARI BOL ! Welcome. Please meet our deities. Please chant Krishna’s name and be happy. Have prasadam my friend … Haribol !
Who would want to even leave such a temple. We should be blissful … “Thank you for coming” …
Prabhupada on Ratha Yatra – submitted by Hardik
Yatra from the Nectar of Devotion – submitted by Hardik