Published on March 1st, 2023 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Must All Devotees Live in the Temple?

Follow the instruction. Wherever you remain, it doesn’t matter. You are secure. Follow the instruction. Then you are secure anywhere. I saw my Guru Maharaja not more than ten days in my life, but I followed his instruction. I was a householder, I never lived in the temple. It is practical.

Prabhupada: Hm?

Devotee: Nature’s law?

Prabhupada: Yes, how the nature is working.

Guru-krpa: It’s working, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Guru-krpa: Acting under Krishna’s…

Prabhupada: Under Krsna’s plan. Therefore you cannot violate Krsna’s law. As soon as you violate nature’s law, then you have to be punished. (pause)

Guru-krpa: Bhagavad-gita, that prakrteh kriyamanani…

Prabhupada: …gunaih karmani sarvasah. Yes, and prakrti is working under the direction of Krsna. That means, nature’s law means Krsna’s law or Krsna’s plan. So what is the Krsna’s plan? What Krsna wants?

Guru-krpa: Krsna wants every living entity to come back to home, back to Godhead.

Prabhupada: Thank you. This is the plan. If this plan is not executed, then there is suffering. So this human life is given to the living entity for understanding this plan and do the needful. If they do not understand, then they are punished. (break)

Guru-krpa: …today is that because the people have never been given any information what Krsna’s plan is, either they’re too old or too… They’re attached. They can’t understand anything. That’s the majority of the people. Once they get past thirty years old, it’s very difficult for them to accept something.

Prabhupada: No, that is not. Thirty, forty, fifty or one year, that doesn’t matter. One can understand if he wants to understand. Ahaituky apratihata. It is not limited by any age. Otherwise how Prahlada Maharaja was great devotee, Dhruva Maharaja was great devotee?

Yasodanandana: I think he just wants to mention that it is more difficult for people who are elderly to understand, those who are more set up in their ways.

Prabhupada: Yes, yes. That is the difficulty. They are trained up in such a way that it’s very difficult to forget what they have learned. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja says, kaumara acaret prajnah, from the very beginning of life one should learn this art of understanding Krsna and Krsna’s plan.

Devotee (1): Srila Prabhupada, usually on sankirtana I avoid old people because they just don’t understand, and it’s very difficult to approach them.

Prabhupada: Yes, yes, yes. Old people should be instructed to forget what they have learned. He sadhavah sakalam eva vihaya durad caitanya-candra-carane kurutanuragam.

This is the formula of preaching. Prabodhananda Sarasvati, he is begging to the people, dante nidhaya trnakam padayor nipatya kaku-satam krtva caham bravimi: “Taking a straw in my mouth, with folded hands and flattering you hundred times, I am submitting one request.” “What is that?” This is the process of approaching these rascals, old fools who have learned something and does not like to forget. So he says, he sadhavah: “Oh, you are such a nice learned scholar-devotee, so my request is that whatever you have learned, please forget.” Sakalam eva vihaya durat: “Kick them out.” “Then? What shall I do?” Caitanya-candra-carane kurutanuragam: “Please turn your attention to the teachings of Lord Caitanya.” He sadhavah sakalam eva vihaya: “You are very great personality. So my request to you: you forget or kick out whatever you have learned.” That is the first business.

Guru-krpa: It is a very humble approach.

Prabhupada: Yes. Humble approach for giving a slap, (chuckles) that “You forget everything, what you have learned.” First of all, this is the first condition. He sadhavah sakalam eva vihaya durad caitanya-candra-carane kurutanuragam. We can go this way. This is our business. We know they are all rascals, but they are thinking that “We know so many things. We are learned scholars.” So humbly approach them and flatter him that “You are so nice man, such a learned scholar.” Just like a child is flattered, “My dear boy, you are such a nice boy. You take these lozenges and return me the hundred dollar note. Don’t spoil it. You are such a good boy, yes.” This is our… Therefore to approach these rascals we have to learn trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna. That is the preaching method. Everyone is puffed up. Even most insignificant man, he is also puffed up: “Oh, I am so rich man, I know everything. I have got so much bank balance. These poor fellows, they cannot earn livelihood; therefore they have become Vaisnavas.” ^ This is their policy. (break) You immediately print 100,000, that “Scientific Basis.”

Ramesvara: Immediately reprint.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Ramesvara: I am planning to do that as soon as I go back to Los Angeles. And Jayatirtha said you want us to send these to the professors.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Ramesvara: Complimentary copies for them to study that another scientist has accepted your teachings.

Prabhupada: He has very nicely slapped Darwin. (chuckles) He is a mental speculator. How is that, the scientists accept a mental speculator’s theory? (pause)

Devotee (2): What is it called?

Prabhupada: Gandharvapur.

Devotee (2): What does it mean?

Prabhupada: Sometimes… Means this is false thing. It appears as a big city. Similarly, this is also. This material world is like that. It is a false cloud only, but we have taken it as fact. Just see, it appears just like big New York City. If you go to the forest, you will find some illusion, that just after that tree there is a big house. Have you experienced that?

Devotee (2): Yes.

Prabhupada: That is called Gandharvapur. So if anyone wants to enter that big city, then what is his position?

Devotee (2): Illusion.

Prabhupada: The same thing: the conditioned soul enters the big city of material world, and he struggles. (pause)

Ramesvara: I have heard there is a philosophy here amongst some of the devotees that if you chant Hare Krsna, you can go back to the spiritual world even if you do not give up your independence.

Prabhupada: What is that?

Ramesvara: Many devotees who have moved outside of the temple are feeling that if they just continue to chant Hare Krsna, they can go back to the spiritual world, but they are not giving up their independence.

Prabhupada: So? What is your philosophy?

Ramesvara: Well, it seems somewhat hypocritical because chanting Hare Krsna means you are praying to Krsna to please be engaged eternally in His service and to become completely dependent on Him. So we try to explain like that. And to follow all the teachings and instructions, attending mangala aratik and morning and evening class.

Prabhupada: So they are doing that or not?

Guru-krpa: No. They are not even following regulative principles.

Prabhupada: Then?

Ramesvara: They think just by chanting, they will go back to the spiritual world. That is enough.

Prabhupada: Then what is the meaning of the ten kinds of offenses? If he is chanting without offense, then it is all right, but if he is committing offenses, it will not be effective. There are ten kinds of offenses. Whether he is strictly offenseless? Then it is all right. If he is offender, then it will not be fruitful. It will be fruitful; it will take long time because first of all you have to become offenseless. Then you will be admitted. (aside:) Don’t come very near. That’s it. So they are committing offenses, so how they can become perfect? He is committing not following the rules and regulation.

That means he is thinking that “Whatever I do, it will be adjusted by chanting the name.” Is it not?

Guru-krpa: Yes. That’s one of the offenses.

Ramesvara: That is their philosophy.

Prabhupada: That is their philosophy. That is the greatest offense, namnad balad yasya hi papa-buddhih, that “I can go on committing sinful activity, but by chanting Hare Krsna mantra, it will be adjusted.” That is the greatest offense. So explain to them.

Guru-krpa: So they say, “Then my chanting is useless? So I should stop?” That’s what they say.

Prabhupada: No, not useless. But just like if you kindle fire and at the same time pour water, it will take long time. To kindle fire, make it dry, keep it dry. Then it will be very quickly successful. So you are committing offenses, at the same time chanting, so by chanting effect, you will come to that stage, but it will take time. If you want to be transferred to the spiritual world quickly, just like if you want to ignite the fire very quickly, you must keep it dry. If you simply put on the wet wood, then the fire will not be very powerful. It will be… It will take time. The fire will be blazing fire. Then it will dry. It will take… Better put dry wood to make it successful. This is the process. The effect of chanting Hare Krsna will not go in vain, but it will take time. Namnad balad yasya hi papa-buddhih. Because he is thinking “By the strength of chanting Hare Krsna mantra, I can do anything, all sinful activities, and it will be adjusted,” that is the greatest offense, not only offense, the greatest offense. Namnad balad yasya hi papa-buddhih.

Siddha-svarupa: It is very difficult to put everyone who is living outside of the temple in one category. Some people, they are, many people that I know living outside are following strictly the regulative principles, and they are…

Prabhupada: Huh?

Siddha-svarupa: They are strictly following regulative principles and chanting their rounds and having morning aratik in their homes. And evening also, they are chanting. So instead of fighting, I think we should only try to encourage everybody to chant and follow the regulative principles.

Prabhupada: No, that is… Whether you live in temple or outside temple, the rules and regulation and the process must be followed. Then you are successful. It doesn’t matter that you have to live in the temple. Grhe thako vane thako, ‘ha gauranga’ bo’le dako. Not that everyone has to live in the temple. If he does not agree with other Godbrothers, friends, he can live separately. But he must follow the rules and regulation. That is wanted. But if you live with devotees, it will be automatically done.

Siddha-svarupa: Easy.

Prabhupada: Therefore it is recommended that you live with devotees. But if you cannot agree with the devotees, you have got your own opinion, then you cannot make a new opinion so far the process is concerned. That must be followed. This is not good idea, that “Whatever I do, it is my independence, and I will chant.” So that is good in sense that some day he will come to senses. Otherwise, for the time being, the chant is not very powerful. The fire in wet wood is not powerful. It will create some smoke. Although the fire is there. But if you put dry wood, immediately it will be blazing, and your business will be quickly done. This is intelligence. There are many examples. A patient suffering from disease, a doctor said, “You should do; you should not do.” So if we follow “You should not do,” then it becomes quickly recovered. But if he becomes under the treatment of the doctor at the same time he does all nonsense, then how it can be successful? It will take time. That is stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta. Papi jane aparadha achaya pracura. Papi jane aparadha achaya… Offenseless chanting is the ultimate goal. In the beginning we are not offenseless, but by chanting, chanting, by practice, we gradually become offenseless. But this is necessary, that you should be offenseless.

Devotee (3): Srila Prabhupada, it’s very difficult to control my mind when I chant. It wanders.

Prabhupada: So what is the controlling of mind? You have to chant and hear, that’s all. You have to chant with your tongue, and the sound you hear, that’s all. What is the question of mind?

Ramesvara: Srila Prabhupada, it seems unfortunate that if the devotees cannot live in the temples, then they have to work for some karmi just to support themselves, and then they do not have time to go on the sankirtana party. So it is such mercy to be on the sankirtana party. So it seems very unfortunate that they do not have the time.

Prabhupada: No, then they should live in the temple if they want to give service in the sankirtana party.

Ramesvara: We always try to encourage them to come back to the temple.

Prabhupada: Yes. If he does not join the sankirtana party, that does not mean his spiritual life is hampered. He has to follow the rules and regulation. He may not be able to join the sankirtana party, but he must follow the process, rules and regulation. That is wanted. And because he is living outside the temple, therefore he will forget all rules and regulation and do whatever he likes–then it will ruin the whole thing.

Devotee (1): Srila Prabhupada, is it faster if one lives in the temple and goes on the sankirtana party. Is it faster?

Prabhupada: That depends on him. Even in the temple, if his mind is in a different subject matter, then how it will help him?

Bali Mardana: The temple authorities like to preach that anyone who’s living outside the temple is going to hell.

Prabhupada: Generally.

Bali Mardana: But even devotees who are following. They like to preach that.

Prabhupada: No, that is not. That is not. Just like even in ordinary business, if you transact business in the stock association, you get good business. And outside the stock association you don’t get. Because association is there, there are many purchaser and many seller. So if you have to sell, you get immediate purchaser. And if you have to purchase, there is immediate seller. That is… Therefore the stock exchange is there. That is the way, that if we live together in the stock exchange of devotional service, then you can help me; I can help you. So our business will go on nicely. And outside the market, you can live three hundred miles away from the stock exchange. You will not get so many business. Like that.

Devotee (2): You’ll miss the opportunities.

Prabhupada: Yes. Therefore it is helpful. If you want to do business, you must take the first opportunity, the greatest opportunity, do your business. That is intelligence. And if we think, “All right, I shall do slowly. In seven hundred lives I shall become perfect,” that is another thing.

Bali Mardana: It is riskier to stay outside.

Prabhupada: Oh, yes. Otherwise why you are opening so many centers and making arrangement that “We shall provide you with shelter, with food. These are the facilities. You live here, do whatever is your capacity. Don’t sleep, but work.” This is our teaching. Satam prasangat, this is also, and Rupa Gosvami says, sato vrtteh sadhu-sange sadbhir bhaktih prasidhyati: “If you live with the association of sadhu, devotee, then it will be quickly fruitful.” And if you live with these ordinary men, then whatever you have got will be finished very soon. There is another verse. It is said there that it is preferred to live within the cage surrounded by fire than to live with the nondevotees. It is preferred.

Bali Mardana: Or with those who are too much attached to women also.

Prabhupada: Yes. Nondevotee means too much attached to woman. That is the plain fact.

Yasodanandana: Also one time in Bombay you told this verse from Caitanya-caritamrta, sadhu-sanga, sadhu-sanga…

Prabhupada: Sarva-sastre kaya, lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya. For me, personally, I had the opportunity to talk with my spiritual master not more than ten times in my whole life, not more. It may be less than that. But I tried to follow his instruction, that’s all, although I was a grhastha.

Bali Mardana: You are a much better student than us.

Prabhupada: So this is the process. That is the… You sing every day. Guru-mukha-padma-vakya, cittete koriya aikya. That is the process. Wherever you live, if you follow strictly the instruction of guru, then you remain perfect. But if we create, concoct ideas against the instruction of guru, then we are doomed, hell. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ‘pi. There is no more shelter, finished. Yasya prasadat. If guru thinks that “This person, I wanted to take him back to home, back to Godhead. Now he is going against me. He is not following,” aprasadat, he is displeased, then everything is finished.

Bali Mardana: Vaisnavaparadha.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Devotee (1): Srila Prabhupada, where does someone derive his authority…

Prabhupada: The guru is authority.

Devotee (1): No, I know, but for his actions other than just following the four regulative principles and chanting sixteen rounds. He does so many other things during the day. Where does he derive his authority if he’s not, let’s say, living in the temple?

Prabhupada: I do not follow. The authority is guru. You have accepted.

Bali Mardana: For everything.

Jayatirtha: Say I have some outside job, I’m living outside, but I’m not giving 50% of my income. So then that work that I’m doing, is it actually under the authority of the guru?

Prabhupada: Then you are not following the instruction of guru. That is plain fact.

Jayatirtha: So that means that whole activity during the day, working, that means I am not following the instruction of the guru. It’s unauthorized activity.

Prabhupada: Yes. If you don’t follow the instruction of guru, then you are fallen down immediately. That is the way. Otherwise why you sing, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado. It is my duty to satisfy guru. Otherwise I am nowhere. So if you prefer to be nowhere, then you disobey as you like. But if you want to be steady in your position, then you have to follow strictly the instruction of guru.

Devotee (1): We can understand all of your instructions simply by reading your books.

Prabhupada: Yes. Anyway, follow the instruction. That is required. Follow the instruction. Wherever you remain, it doesn’t matter. You are secure. Follow the instruction. Then you are secure anywhere. It doesn’t matter. Just like I told you that I saw my Guru Maharaja not more than ten days in my life, but I followed his instruction. I was a grhastha, I never lived with the Matha, in the temple. It is practical. So many Godbrothers recommended that “He should be in charge in this Bombay temple, this, that, that…” Guru Maharaja said, “Yes, better he lives outside. That is good, and he will do what is needed in due course of time.”

Devotees: Jaya! Haribol!

Prabhupada: He said like that. I could not understand at that time what does he expect. Of course, I knew that he wanted me to preach.

Yasodanandana: I think you have done this in grand style.

Devotees: Jaya, Prabhupada! Haribol!

Prabhupada: Yes, done grand style because I strictly follow the instruction of my Guru Maharaja, that’s all. Otherwise I have no strength. I have not played any magic. Did I? Any gold manufacturing? (laughter) Still, I have got better disciples than the gold-manufacturing guru.

Yasodanandana: Before you came, many gurus came, but they did not make any pure devotee of Krsna.

Prabhupada: How they can? He is not pure devotee of Krsna. How he can do? Krsna-sakti vina nahe nama pracara: “Without being empowered by Krsna nobody can turn a person to become devotee of Krsna.” It is not… Artificially, you cannot make. He may make show of gold manufacturing, but he cannot make a devotee of Krsna. That is not possible.

Jayatirtha: So the purpose of having the Society is to show the devotees how they can always be twenty-four hours engaged according to your instruction.

Prabhupada: Yes, that is helping one another. If I am deficient, by seeing your example I shall correct myself. This is the idea, not that a fool’s paradise: all fools and join together.

Not like that. There should be ideal life, at least the leaders, the president, the GBC. They will show the example, and they will follow. Then it is beneficial. And all of them are fools? Then it is fool’s paradise. At least, in the blind association, at least if one man has got eyes, then he can lead all the blind men. But if all of them are blind, then it is fool’s paradise. So somehow or other, we have got now a position. People likes us. So we should not spoil by personal sense gratification. That is my request. If we can maintain this institution rigidly according to the order, then many people will be benefited. By seeing our behavior, by character, they will become. Apani acari prabhu jiveri siksaya. The leader should be ideal.

Devotee (1): We should dedicate our lives to preaching this message of Lord Caitanya.

Prabhupada: Yes, preaching, preaching, you will become perfect preacher. Preach only what you have heard from Krsna and guru, that’s all. Don’t add and subtract. Then you are secure. And if you add some concoction just like somebody says that “I may do whatever I like independently. If I chant, then everything is all right,” this is nonsense addition. It is not the fact. That is the danger. Some inexperienced man, he introduces some concoction. Sometimes they say, “Prabhupada said it.” More misleading. Yes. (end)

[750203mw.haw] Morning Walk February 3, 1975, Hawaii

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

2 Responses to Must All Devotees Live in the Temple?

  1. John says:

    Hare Krishna
    I have a question with regards to the modes of material nature controlling ones life.
    It seems that since a person is born of some particular qualities and as long as one’s deluded by false ego then whatever they have done, become etc. it is the result of these modes they acquired at birth,is it not so? And that would mean that everything that happens in a persons life can be considerded predetermined, one’s destined to be, say have a successful career (mode of passion) or not to be so successful in their material life but as long as they don’t surrender to Krishna then their life’s outcome in the mundane world has already been determined no matter what they try or try not to do.
    Even surrendering to Krishna is not actually ones choice to make.
    Is my understanding correct here?

    Can you talk on this subject for me.



    • Hare Krishna John

      Yes. You are correct. From the materialistic point of view at the time of our birth our whole life’s destiny is already predestined. It is already determined if we are going to be rich or poor, intelligent or foolish, successful or a failure.

      We are not in control of anything in the material concept of life and we have no independence or freedom at all. We are forced to act in a particular way by the modes of material nature. There is no independence or freedom at all.

      And as far as becoming Krishna conscious that is also not possible on our own strength. But it is possible by the mercy of a pure devotee of Krishna that we can become Krishna conscious. This is not predestined, it is not part of our karma, by the mercy of a pure devotee of Krishna anyone can become a pure devotee of Krishna. So by Srila Prabhupada’s unlimited mercy we have this chance.

      Of course it is also a fact that of course Srila Prabhupada is offering his mercy to everyone but only a very small number of people actually are prepared to surrender to him and accept this mercy. And it is true of course that those souls who have already had some connection with Krishna consciousness are more likely to be attracted to Krishna consciousness in this life to finish what they have already started in previous lives.

      However, the mercy of a pure devotee of Krishna is not part of our Karma, we become Krishna conscious by his mercy, not because of Karma.

      So really our only independence is to choose between serving Krishna and serving maya. We are servants eternally and there are only two possible masters, Krishna and maya. So we can choose our master. That is all. That choice we always have. That is our limited independence.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

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