Saturday, May 3rd, 2003
Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
A time for sravan and a time for kirtan
When I leave for Johannesburg next month, it will be almost nineteen years to
the day since I left South Africa to live in Goswami Maharaj's temple in San
Jose, to help with the layout of Srila Sridhar Maharaj's
Golden Volcano of Divine Love and other books
which were published by the Guardian of Devotion Press.
I used to "preach" in South Africa, in the early days (1981-83). I used to
visit about ten nama-sanghas every week for an hour-long program of
kirtan, lecture, and prasadam.
I thought that I was a big preacher, that I was doing good by trying to
attract others to Krishna consciousness, by giving them tulasi-mala
(as was the practice at that time) so that they could chant the maha
But when Srila Guru Maharaj heard about this, he was not pleased. Rather, he
censured me for distributing japa-mala, or chanting beads, to the
uninitiated: "Japa-mala is to be given only after connection with
Of course, my intentions were good, but as Emerson says, "The road to hell is
paved with good intentions."
Because Srila Guru Maharaj had so much affection for me, because he did not
want me to "spoil" my life, he chastised me:
"Try to save yourself first. Don't be so eager to uplift others. Save
yourself first, then you will know what to do... Dive deep into the study of
the scriptures. Realize yourself, and from that plane you will speak... First
know what the truth is, then go to distribute, otherwise in the name of
distribution, you will distribute poison. Half-knowledge, half-truth is more
dangerous than falsehood."
To save myself — to get a proper conception of Krishna consciousness
— I went to live in the San Jose temple, to help Goswami Maharaj in his
service to Srila Guru Maharaj. Living in the superior association of the
temple devotees and serving Goswami Maharaj gave me a much deeper
understanding of Krishna consciousness and a profound appreciation for
For almost twenty years I did no preaching at all; I just listened
(sravan dasa). Now — in Russia and in South Africa — the
order has come from Srila Gurudeva: "Preach!"