Published on November 11th, 2022 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Preaching–First Become and Ideal Devotee

Lord Caitanya said that one should first make himself perfect and then attempt to instruct others. There is no point in telling another man to stop smoking if you yourself are smoking cigarettes.

Hyderabad, 23 April, 1974

Glasgow, Scotland

Dear Niranjana,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 9th April from Scotland.

You are asking what should your preaching work be now that you are attending the university. So the first preaching work is that yourself should become an ideal devotee. Lord Caitanya said that one should first make himself perfect and then attempt to instruct others. There is no point in telling another man to stop smoking if you yourself are smoking cigarettes. Even though you are mixing with all kinds of the student class at the university, you must strictly refrain from the four prohibitive sinful activities, and as an initiated student you must not let a day pass when you do not chant at least 16 rounds of Hare Krsna Mantra. If you can follow just these things nicely that in itself will be strong preaching by behavior. You should also always wear Kunti beads around the neck and wear the marking of tilak.

People will inquire from you and you can tell them about Krsna Consciousness and sell them books also.

You should also try to associate with the devotees in England and Scotland. If possible, visit the temple on Sundays and whenever you can, and always read my books.

I will be coming to London in the first week of Maya and if you can come and see me at Bhaktivedanta Manor that will be very nice.

Your ever well-wisher,

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami


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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.

16 Responses to Preaching–First Become and Ideal Devotee

  1. Dustin Lund says:

    Prabhu, I have not been initiated by ISKCON but I wish to devote my life to Krishna I have been studying the Bhagavad Gita and reading Prabhupada’s books. I am following the four regulatory principals and chanting my Rounds everyday, I am doing all I can to please Lord Krishna. I am told adorning Kunti beads and Tilak on forehead will bring me closer to Krishna do I need to be initiated to do so? I am on a small island and far from any temples or devotees. I dream to travel and meet fellow devotees some day.

    Thank you so much for your time
    Hare Krishna friend

    All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    • Hare Krishna Dustin

      You become initiated by surrendering to Srila Prabhupada through reading his books and following the instructions you find Srila Prabhupada giving you as you read his books. So if you are doing this and you have faith in Srila Prabhupada and are trying to follow his instructions in your day-to-day life you are already initiated.

      Yes, certainly, wearing the tulsi neck beads and tilak on the forehead is very important and will help you come closer to Krishna so please do it and as you are already initiated by Srila Prabhupada then you have every right to do this.

      Remember initiation means the beginning. Initiation is not any particular qualification, it just means we have accepted Srila Prabhupada as our spiritual master and have surrendered to his basic instructions of following the four regulative principles [no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication] and chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and reading his books… That is the starting point and if we sincerely continue with these things every day will will make rapid advancement in spiritual life.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  2. HN says:

    Prabhu, I am in great dillema and filled with tremendous guilt. It so happened that one girl who was attracted to me texted me saying about it. She is a meat eater and gross materialist.
    I fell in the trap and texted her back and I started flirting with her. It went for many days and I was filled with lust those days. Although I didn’t have any physical relation with her. But in my mind I thought about various ways how I can have physical relation with her.

    After sometime I realized my mistake and stopped it all together. I have no longer connection with that girl. I am very very guilty for this sin I committed.

    Now I am very scared. I am feeling like there is no hope of Krishna Consciousness in this life. I will have to take another birth. I destroyed my Krishna Consciousness.

    What should I do Prabhu. Please give me some guidance and save me. I can’t even disclose my name. I am very ashamed.

    • Hare Krishna Prabhu

      It is natural, we have these material bodies and they are attracted to the opposite sex. This is the problem from time immemorial for the aspiring transcendentalist. So that you have realized it is a problem and stopped it is very good. So all you have to do is get back properly situated in Krishna consciousness, chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily, read Prabhupada’s books, follow the regulative principles.

      Trying to become Krishna conscious in the material world is like declaring war against maya, and we are nowadays all very separated, actually for strength we really need to live in the association of devotees, but due to unfortunate circumstances that association of devotees that Srila Prabhupada created in the name of ISKCON has morphed into something completely different, so the association of sincere devotees wanting to serve Srila Prabhupada, follow his instructions and advance in Krishna consciousness, is no longer available.

      So without the strength that comes from living in the association of devotees we will be attacked by maya in so many ways. So we have to resist these attacks at all times, but if sometimes we fail, then that is not the end of the world. We just have to pick ourselves up and get ourselves again properly situated in Krishna consciousness.

      Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is ‘Patita Pavana’, He is the deliverer of the most fallen, so even if we fall down, but are still sincerely wanting to serve Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, Lord Caitanya will save us.

      So don’t worry about the past, what has happened has happened and we can not change that. But the future we can change. So we just have to get ourselves properly situated in devotional service again and move forward.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

      • HN says:

        I will do as you say Prabhu and I will never commit such sin again in future.

        All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

      • Vishnu says:

        Hare Krishna Madhudvisa dasa prabhuji. I know iskcon is bad. I have read a lot of comments and articles regarding iskcon. But the comments do not say(at least the ones i have read) how we all together can that are already aspiring come together and/or go to a temple to be trained. You said presently they are not but my question is why do not you establish a temple somewhere on earth in any of the countries on this planet where people will flock to learn and be trained and after being trained either live regular householder life if that is what their circumstances are and/or be full time devotees maintaining the temple or be full time devotees and going all around the world preaching and opening new temples as of then. Preaching online about Krishna Consciousness and preaching about reading books and selling books like you do from krishnastore is good. But why don’t you open a temple or center for people to learn and trained. From experience i feel a neophyte devotee in his neophyte stage can learn and be trained to be Krishna Conscious best in the association of fellow aspiring devotees or association of devotees or in the association of devotees in a environment free or at least with very minimum or negligible amount of distractions and obstacles. According to Srila Prabhupada’s biography he was peniless but within 11 years he established countless temples. Now i am not saying any of us including you is Srila Prabhupadda. But you seem like a good preacher and a sincere devotee so i feel you can at least establish one temple anywhere on this planet where people like us who come on krishna.org wanting or desiring to become sincere devotees can turn to. There are countless groups and organizations that are more organized and providing more resources to people to be fluent in the philosophy and values and beliefs they are preaching or helping to instill like christian church, hindu temples, islamic mosques or instill values or help solve a problem like addiction like support AA(ALcoholics Anoymous) or NA(/Narcotics Anonymous) to help each other stay on the path of sobriety. Truth to be told these groups are good in the sense that if people have particular problem or particular philosphy or values and beliefs they can turn to. Now besides the internet and obviously books that issold on krishnastore.com what particular groups and organizations exist out there that can do it. Iskcon is out of the picture because they have turned into something different. So what choices are people left with. Try to come to the standard of chanting 16 rounds, follow four regulative principles and reading srila prabhupada’s books. You must be or might be right that these things can establish you in Krishna Consciousness but organizing your life to do these things on top of the obstacles and distraction you have to face makes it very hard. I think people deserve to know if you have a plan to build a temple or center to do exactly as iskcon was created to do. If you do not have a plan or cannot make the choice to establish a temple or center to do as iskcon was created to do why can you not?

        • Temples tend to attract a lot of lazies and crazies unfortunately. And lazy people and crazy people can not become Krishna conscious. Real thing is Sankirtan, Lord Caitainya’s movement is a Sankirtan movement, not a temple movement. Sankirtan happens out on the streets where the general public are, not in the temples.

          That is because in this Kali-yuga actually the people have no interest in going to temples. So if you start a temple you collect a few lazies and crazies only, who are useless for preaching, so there is not much point in that.

          We need to start sankirtan parties, book distribution, prasadam distribution and Hari-Nama sankirtan for the general public.

          So that we are interested in serious devotees who actually want to surrender to Srila Prabhupada and go out on the streets every day distributing his transcendental books and chanting Hare Krishna. Not temples.

  3. Aman says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhu
    Dandavat pranam
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    Can a neophyte devotee also preach to girls? Because I’m not completely aloof from association with females (sisters, etc. ) I try to tell them about Srila Prabhupada and Krishna and young girls are equally as much interested in knowing about Krishna and Krishna Consciousness as boys are if not more due to their being soft-hearted.

    Please tell me how should a neophyte devotee preach to girls if he should at all.

    Hare Krishna
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    • Better not to associate too much with girls as the relationship can very quickly switch from transcendental to completely materialistic, then everything gets spoiled.

      Actually neophyte devotee can’t preach to anyone. Preaching platform is madhyama, middle platform.

      So we have to raise ourselves to the madhyam platform at least before we can preach with any potency. Of course neophyte can distribute Prabhupada’s books and beg the people to read them so Prabhupada can preach to them…

      • Aman says:

        Hare Krishna Prabhu
        Please accept my humble obeisances
        All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

        Should I meet a girls whom I know because of friendship in the past to give Srila Prabhupada’s books to them? I don’t want to meet any marerialistic people except for giving Srila Prabhupada’s books or some other Krishna Consciousness purposes.

        • We can not avoid meeting people. But not that you go out of your way to look up your old girl friends on the excuse of selling them Prabhupada’s books. There are so many people you can sell Prabhupada’s books to, you don’t have to specifically sell them to your old girlfriends. But we can preach and sell books to anyone.

  4. Aman says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhu
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
    Dandavat pranam

    Prabhu, people of upto what age can I convince to chant Hare Krishna and Srila Prabhupada’s books?

    • Anyone, any age. Krishna consciousness is not on the bodily platform, it is a spiritual thing, has nothing to do with the body. Only thing is you may find younger people more likely to take to it because they are still open to new things, whereas older people tend to become fixed in their ways and resist changes.

  5. gargamuni das says:

    Prabhupada: Fight… Without fight where is life? If there is no fighting, then what is that life? That is dead stone. Fight must be there. Krsna’s whole life is fighting from the very birth. His father carried Him to Gokula where He is still living, and He fell down from the Yamuna . Just born, fighting began. Just born. And at Yasodamayi’s house, Nanda Maharaja’s house, so many demons daily coming — Sakatasura, Aghasura, Bakasura, Putana, so on, so on, so on; ultimately Kamsa, when He was young boy. Vrndavana, so many asuras came. You have seen the pictures? Krsna is fighting with the horse demon, with the bull, fighting. If Krsna is fighting, why not Krsna consciousness the same thing? You cannot expect peaceful life. No, there must be fighting, then think, “That is Krsna’s presence, His fight.” So this fighting means they’re feeling the presence of Krsna consciousness movement.

    >>> Ref. VedaBase => Room Conversation about New York Court Case — November 2, 1976, Vrndavana

    Then you become madhyama-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari, advanced devotee. Just like these people, either in India or here, they remain simply Churchianity, going to the church without any understanding. Therefore it is failing. Churches are being closed. Similarly, if you do not keep yourself fit to preach, then your temples will all be closed in due course of time. Without preaching, you’ll not feel enthused to continue the temple worship. And without temple worship, you cannot keep yourself pure and clean. The two things must go on, parallel. Then there is success. In modern time, either Hindus, Muslim or Christian, because in these places there is no teaching of philosophy, therefore they are closing, either mosque or temple or church. They will close.
    Prajapati: They can show no good result for their activities.
    Prabhupada: Yes. That is preaching. Therefore we are writing so many books. Unless we take care of the books and preach and read ourself, understand the philosophy, this Hare Krsna will be finished within few years. Because there will be no life. How long one can artificially go on, “Hare Krsna! Haribol!” That will be artificial. No life.
    Yasomatinandana: That’s right, Prabhupada. We are so foolish, we never realize anything you tell us like that. Without the preaching…
    Prabhupada: Without preaching, without understanding philosophy, you cannot keep your strength. Everyone should be thoroughly well conversed with the philosophy which we are putting… That means you must read thoroughly every day. So many books we have got. And Bhagavata is so perfect that any verse you read, you get a new enlightenment. It is so nice. Either Bhagavad-gita or Bhagavata. But it is not ordinary writing.
    Ref. VedaBase => Morning Walk — December 12, 1973, Los

  6. Hunter says:


    I am 18 years old and just got out of High School. I am not sure if I want to go to college, but should I follow these same directions? Should I wear Tilak when I go to work? If it is something Srila Prabhupada wants, I will surly try to do so!

    Thank you!

    • sanil says:

      hare krishna hunter,
      if you ish to follow krishna consciousness strictly in your life then you must wear kunti beads round your neck and tilak on the forehead. in this way you will quickly achieve perfection and go back to godhead.

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