Temple Worship not as important as Sankirtan

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BY HIS DIVINE GRACE A. C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA

My advice to you under the circumstances is that at least for one hour you must all go to have sankirtana outside on the streets or in the park. That is your life and soul, first business. The next business is completing the chanting of 16 rounds every day. The next business is your editing. And if you find extra time then you can attend the temple ceremonies. Otherwise you can stop these activities. But outdoor kirtana, your editing work, and chanting of 16 rounds must be done. Outdoor kirtana must be done, even at the cost of suspending all editorial work. That is your first and foremost business. Temple worship is not so important. If need be, the whole temple can be locked. But the outdoor kirtana cannot be stopped.

(Letter to Rayarama, 17 May 1969)

We are not much concerned about the temple because temple worship is not the primary factor in this age. The primary factor is sankirtana. But sometimes we want a center where people may gather and see, so a temple is required secondarily.

(Letter to Mukunda, 27 May 1969)

Actually, temple worship is for the neophyte devotee, and the preacher is in a higher position than the neophyte. That is the definition given in Srimad Bhägavatam. The advanced devotee should be very much enthusiastic in preaching the transcendental message of Lord Chaitanya, and temple worship should be entrusted to the newcomers or neophytes.

(Letter to Yamuna, 12 August 1969)

Sanknrtana and distributing BTG and our other literatures is the fieldwork of this movement. Temple worship is secondary. People are invited to come to the temple to see the behavior of the devotees specifically in the matter of purification. There are two kinds of purification methods, external and internal. In our Krishna consciousness movement, deity worship helps to keep us externally purified and sankirtana helps to keep us internally purified. So as far as possible we should execute both of these processes simultaneously.

(Letter to Cidananda, 15 December 1969)

That is a fact. This plan of sankirtana is the only way, the only way for our success. Sankirtana, love feast,and selling BTG, they are our primary engagements, and next is temple worship. Temple worship is needed for the inner section. In the beginning, sankirtana is more important for drawing the attention of the people in general.

(Letter to Sudama, 8 January 1970)

If there is a scarcity of qualified püjäris , then each center should be satisfied by only worshiping the panca-tattva of Lord Chaitanya by performance of sankirtana…. I am glad to learn that you are continuing your mahä-sankirtana. This is our main business. Temple worship is not as important as sankirtana on the public roads and selling our literatures.

(Letter to Damodara, 1 July 1970)

So far as a location for a temple is concerned, even there is no place, we can sit down underneath a tree and chant as I did in New York. Krishna will give a nice place…. Our technique is that we work sincerely and the dictation will come from within; Krishna is seated there.

(Letter to Bali-mardana, 24 November 1970)

Your proposal for a grhastha traveling  sankirtana  party   is   a   very   good   one,   but   the   temple work should not be neglected. Both things should go on simultaneously. Our process is to work on bhägavata  and päncarätrika  systems  simultaneously. Deity worship is päncarätrika system and preaching is  bhägavata system. If we keep both systems in a regular way that will solidly help us in our advancement in Krishna Consciousness.

(Letter to Makhanlal and Tilaka, 24 September 1971)

Two men may remain at the temple and clean thoroughly every day, and the rest should go to the streets for sankirtana. For spiritual life, chanting Hare Krishna is sufficient. But because we are habituated to unclean habits we must have temple worship. Sankirtana will keep everyone’s mind clean, and surely this quarreling will cease.

(Letter to Visnujana, 4 November 1971)

Concerning   installing new  deities,   I think it   is best if you concentrate our energy on saìkértana and book distribution for now; and as your temple grows and facilities are there for very opulent deity worship, then this can be considered. I have made it a policy that there must be at least ten initiated brahmins in a temple before deities are installed.

(Letter to Patita Uddharana, 25 March 1972)

The actual fact is that worshiping the deity and chanting the glories of the Lord are both within the nine processes of devotional service recommended by Rupa Goswami. Besides chanting and hearing and remembering there are six other recommended activiies in devotional service. So if we are able to practice even only one of these activities perfectly, the result  will be the same. Or we may execute more than one, we may execute several, or even all nine activities in devotional service. But even if we execute one per-fectly we shall be completely successful in devotional service. So there is no question that one activity is  more important than another or that deity worship is  more important than sankirtana, but one individual may be able to perform one activity more satisfactorily than another, so to him that activity will be more important. But in general we cannot say that any of  the nine processes is more important than the others,except that if hearing, chanting and remembering are  there, that is the most vital consideration for the general class of men in this age. Service to the deities, as you are asking me, begins whenever you remember them and offer all your services by remembering at the same time. All activities, words, everything should be offered as service to the deities, and this offering with remembering will gradually increase as you practice it.

(Letter to Prajapati, 16 June 1972)

If you close the temple, what is the management?  Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu pushed the saìkértana movement, but he never said to close the Jagannath   temple or the Govindaji temple.

(Letter to Hamsaduta, 12 September 1974)

The reason book distribution is greater than chant- ing is because the effect is wider. A purchased book goes into a person’s home and will be read by others, whereas street kirtana only benefits those in the vicinity who hear. Two cases are cited: In Portugal,one boy, only 11 years old, has become a devotee. He offers prasädam and is translating Bhagavad-gitä As It Is into Portuguese with the help of his mother.  He has asked his father who is just now coming to the USA to get him all the available Srimad Bhägavatam. Prabhupada remarked that our books went to Portugal, we did not go, but still he has become a devotee.

Then in the Tokyo airport, Prabhupada told how one Japanese youth asked him, “Where do you get all the knowledge that is in your books?” So by comparative study, book selling is more important.The birthplace of the Lord is not as important as the  place of his activities. Kurukshetra is more important  than Mathura because the whole world knows the Bhagavad-gitä. It is because of the activities of the Lord that people take interest in his birthplace. The “karma” is more important than the “janma.” Even when Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was present, people went to see him at Jagannath Puri. But they did not come to his birthplace because his activity was more important. To birthplace because his activity was more important. To place of his activities we get inspiration. And what was the Lord’s activity at Puri? It was preaching. Our temple must be active with preaching and not a dead place.

(Letter   to   Ramesvara,   25 October, 1974, initialed by Srila Prabhupada and written by his personal secretary Brahmananda Swami)·