The books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Srila Prabhupada) are the most important contribution of this Krishna consciousness movement. Everything else is superfluous, a by-product of these books. Even the temple and the Deity are secondary. Krishna consciousness, or the spiritual revolution which Srila Prabhupada envisioned, is based upon the publication and distribution of Vedic literature.
Until people have these books in their homes, we cannot expect a significant turn in their lives. The books will act where we cannot. With the printing press, one man’s effort can very easily expand a millionfold.
Five thousand years ago, Vyasadeva, the author of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, foresaw the hellish situation of this age in which we live. Therefore he recorded the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Prior to Vyasadeva, the Vedas existed only orally. Vedic knowledge was handed down from spiritual master to disciple. In Lord Chaitanya’s time, when there was no printing press, the Srimad-Bhagavatam was written by hand. It was considered a great gift to offer a copy of Srimad-Bhagavatam to a learned scholar, king or gentleman, because it was very difficult to obtain.
We have the facility to reproduce the Srimad-Bhagavatam by the millions with the printing press. Because we are not qualified scholars and are thus unable to translate Vedic literatures, it is obvious that our contribution to our spiritual master, or to the mission of Lord Chaitanya, is to publish what has been given to us by our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, and to make a world-wide scheme for advertising, promoting and selling these books to the public.
Srimad-Bhagavatam must be placed in the home of every respectable person in the world. Just as we find the Oxford Dictionary, Encylopaedia Britannica, Shakespeare collection or any other important literary work in a respectable person’s home, so also the Srimad-Bhagavatam and all the other books published by Srila Prabhupada must be placed in the homes of people all over the world.
These books are the basis of a spiritual revolution.
God comes from time to time. He appears, and He exhibits Himself, and He speaks about Himself. That is Bhagavad-gita.
Scientists say, “This is a book. How do I know?” And yet the same scientist will put all his faith and give all attention to archeological findings. He will study and try to determine what they were doing five thousand years ago—”Here’s a cup, here’s a spoon, here are some bones.” We study books. They study bones. Which is more helpful? The book. The scientist has become such a cheater that in order to maintain his prestige, he will remark disparagingly, “What is this book?” But he will study bones. How much can we know… if we want to know about our grandfather, would we look at his bones? Or would we look at his book or maybe read his letters? We may learn something about our grandfather from our grandmother. Why should we look at his bones? How much can we actually know? If we want to know Henry Ford, should we study his automobile? Or would I study his book, if he left one—or his diary? Or persons who were his associates and wrote down, “Oh, he said this, he said that, then he did this….”
We have accepted books (shastras) as authority for understanding. Two words: shastra and ashtra. Ashtra means weapon, and shastra means instruction. Animals are controlled by weapons, by force, and human beings are controlled by instructions. So shastra means especially instructions given by either God directly or by those who are His representatives, like the rishis, sages and yogis.
In this way, we have the descending process. Descending, coming from God, Krishna, then through the acharyas, or those who have received the teachings, practiced and realized, and they have in turn passed them on. This is called disciplic succession. The importance of the disciplic succession is that the conclusion and teaching of every teacher in the line will always be corroborated by those who precede him. There will not be any controversy, no discord. Just like your father teaches, “This is a watch,” and you tell your son, “This is a watch.” Your boy has nothing to experiment. He just hears from his father, “This is a watch.” Now, he may not know what is a watch, but if he goes to his neighbor and says, “This is a watch,” they say, “Good boy,” and after some time, because he repeats what you say, he comes to understand what a watch is. “This is watch, this is a ring, these are beads, this is a book.” He doesn’t know. The child only hears it and accepts you, because you act as his authority. He accepts what you say, and he repeats it. After some time of repeating, because the environment always confirms, then he understands, “Oh, book is this. Beads are these.” Like that.
GUEST: Yes. So what you are saying is that we should start experiencing the books’ knowledge, and then the environment will confirm the truth of these teachings?
HANSADUTTA: Yes. Exactly. If you read Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, I guarantee money back—double money back guarantee—that after reading these books, you will become a fully God-realized soul, and you will be capable of convincing others and helping them to realize. I can make this claim. So the qualifying clause is that you should read, and whatever the instruction, you should follow that. Then you will realize. Just like this machine or video machine… the manufacturer gives a guarantee that if you use this machine like this, then you’ll get this result. We guarantee, money back. But you have to follow the instructions. You cannot whimsically. That is actually fact. If the person will follow the advice and instructions, he will actually become fully realized, just as a student in the science class learns that hydrogen and oxygen combine to produce water. The professor gives the procedure: “Do it like this.” If the student follows the procedure, he will get the result.
The literary legacy left by Srila Prabhupada numbers some 160 published works, as can be seen in this more complete listing of Srila Prabhupada’s books.
The complete library of Srila Prabhupada’s books and teachings is available online at www.prabhupadabooks.com, where the reader can read by browsing through the collection or search for a topic or keywords, or save as and print for offline reading and research. These are the original, unrevised editions of Prabhupada’s books, essays, lectures, conversations and letters. The website is hosted by Madhudvisa das.