“The root cause of devotional service to Lord Krsna is association with advanced devotees (sadhu sanga). Even when one’s dormant love for Krsna awakens, association with devotees (sadhu sanga) is still most essential.” CC Madhya 22.83

You may be familiar with Rupa Goswami‘s explanation of the development of pure devotional service.  It starts with a little attraction or faith (sraddha) which brings us to the temple or sanga gatherings.  Then we need to engage in sadhu sanga, association with advanced devotees.  By such association we should develop strong faith, and commitment to the process of bhakti yoga.  Through continual sadhu sanga, we should  gradually make advancement in spiritual consciousness, rise above the miseries of material existence, and become increasingly peaceful and happy.

For many people, everything develops as it should.  But some of us can remain unhappy, even depressed, and feel as if we are stuck in a spiritual rut?  For some of us, association with other devotees may be sullied with petty differences and some of us may feel very discouraged and alienated by such experiences.  Why do these difficulties occur?

Srila Prabhupada tells us it is because we are not properly trained in the culture of sadhu sanga. He says, “unless and until one is trained in the culture of good association, one cannot become good.” (SB 3.3.6 purport)

On this webpage we examine some of the many instructions that Srila Prabhupada gives on the subject of sadhu sanga.  We suggest those instructions embody different principles of good sadhu sanga.  You can find 16 principles in the menu bar above.  We support each principle with numerous quotes from Srila Prabhupada.  We suggest that if you are feeling spiritually stuck that you start with having a read of these principles.  If they make sense to you, then you may be interested to look at the 18 Useful Tips we share from our own personal experience of daily applying the Principles.

We encourage everyone to begin regularly discussing at least Bhagavad-Gita As It Is with their family or friends.  If you can’t find a discussion partner, then we have a Discuss With Me menu which we hope will help you.  Below this home page there is a blog where I will share instructions from Srila Prabhupada which I hope will inspire you to take your sadhu sanga more seriously.

Offering our humble obeisance at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Nita Gauranga, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, and to all sincere devotees of the Lord, we beg that you will kindly bless our small effort to serve.  Please forgive us if you find some fault in our endeavor.

OM TAT SAT

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Anyone who tries to understand these books will become self-realised in time

“I am so much grateful that you have enjoyed studying my books. Many young intelligent persons such as yourself are studying these books in the colleges and universities all over the world. Actually anyone who tries to understand these books will become a great realized devotee of Lord Krishna gradually. The original potency of the sastra remains in these books because I have not added or opinionated anything of my own. I have simply presented the scriptures such as Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam as they are. Therefore just see the effect they have on the world. At present, we have about 100 centers worldwide and about 10,000 fully dedicated students in those centers.”

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, March 19, 1975)
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If we want to be always joyful, this is what Rupa Goswami and Srila Prabhupada recommend we do:

“The gradual process of development to the stage of devotional service is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto: “The beginning is to hear about Lord Krsna in the association of devotees who have themselves cleansed their hearts by association. Hearing about the transcendental activities of the Lord will result in one’s feeling transcendental bliss always.” It is also explained in Bhagavad-gita that for one who has actually come to the spiritual platform, the first symptom visible will be that he is always joyful. ”
NoD 20: Transcendental Mellow

Husband means pati-guru

“So why don’t you become real guru to your wife, to your children, and instruct Bhagavad-gītā as it is? This is our mission. You sit down in the evening, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and teach little instruction from the Bhagavad-gītā. See how the life changes. Is that very difficult task?”  Room Conversation in Tehran, March 1975

This post by HG Hari Parsada Das Adhikari supports Principle 7

Hari Pārṣada Dās
26 April at 19:59 ·
~ When the disciple speaks differently from the Guru ~
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The tenth verse of the first chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā is an interesting one to study:
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अपर्याप्तं तदस्माकं बलं भीष्माभिरक्षितम्
पर्याप्तं त्विदमेतेषां बलं भीमाभिरक्षितम्
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aparyāptaṁ tad asmākaṁ
balaṁ bhīṣmābhirakṣitam
paryāptaṁ tv idam eteṣāṁ
balaṁ bhīmābhirakṣitam
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Translation (by Srila Prabhupada): Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhīṣma, whereas the strength of the Pāṇḍavas, carefully protected by Bhīma, is limited.
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In this verse, Duryodhana is describing his army and the Pāṇḍava army to Dronacharya. For describing his own army he uses the adjective : “aparyāptam”. For describing the Pāṇḍava army, he uses another adjective : “paryāptam”.
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Both these adjectives are examples of contronyms. According to language theory, a contronym is a term that can take two meanings that are complete opposites of each other.
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For example in English, the phrase — ‘to dust’ can mean ‘to remove dust’ as well as ‘to sprinkle dust’. Another example is the term ‘sanction’, which can mean — ‘to approve’ as well as ‘to boycott’.
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Contronyms are thus also sometimes known as ‘auto-antonyms’.
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Coming back to the verse, the term used by Duryodhana to describe his army is — aparyāptam. This term is a contronym and can mean ‘insufficient’ as well as ‘unlimitedly sufficient’.
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Similarly, Duryodhana describes the opposing Pāṇḍava army using the adjective — paryāptam. This term is also a contronym, which can mean ‘sufficient’ as well as ‘limited and insufficient’.
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While commenting upon this specific verse, Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakura and Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana take interpretations that are complete opposites of each other.
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Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakura interprets aparyāptam as ‘aparipūrṇam’ (insufficient) whereas Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana interprets it as ‘aparimitam’ (unlimitedly sufficient).
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Similarly, Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakura interprets paryāptam as ‘paripūrṇam’ (complete and sufficient) whereas Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushana interprets it as ‘parimitam’ (limited and insufficient).
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Thus, according to Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakura’s commentary, the interpretation of the verse will be completely different from the interpretation taken by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushan and Srila Prabhupada.
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According to Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakura, the verse should be interpreted as follows — Our strength is insufficient, even though we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhīṣma, whereas the strength of the Pāṇḍavas, carefully protected by Bhīma, is sufficient.
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Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakura and Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushan are related to each other as śikṣā-guru and disciple. From this example, a few things can be understood:
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(1) A variety of interpretations of śāstra are possible, and sometimes these interpretations may be total opposites of each other.
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(2) All these interpretations are justified as long as they are strictly in line with grammar, lexicons and other branches of Vedic knowledge.
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(3) Mahaprabhu emphatically declares in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya, 24.318) that every verse of the Bhāgavatam can have various interpretations.
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(4) One can take a different interpretation from one’s predecessors provided that one’s intentions are holistic and not antagonistic to them.
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(5) Srila Baladeva Vidyabhushan knew that his interpretation is different from his guru’s. Yet his mood is not to falsify the interpretation of his guru. He knew perfectly well that the other interpretation is also correct. His purpose in interpreting differently is to show another angle of understanding the verse.
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Conclusion by Srila Prabhupada: I am very much stressing at this point that all of my students shall be very much conversant with the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness, and that they should read our books very diligently at least one or two hours daily and try to understand the subject matter from varieties of angles.
We are holding our morning class here in Los Angeles in the temple and I am speaking from 7 to 8 am, and the process is that we are going through some chapters of Śrīmad-bhāgavatam by taking one śloka each day, and reading the Sanskrit aloud, each word is pronounced by me and repeated by the students and then altogether we chant the śloka several times until we have learned it. And then we discuss the subject matter very minutely and inspect it from all angles of approach and savor the new understandings. (Letter to Madhudvisa, 16 June 1972)

We have to learn something

“We should have regular classes, just like school and colleges, eight hour, six hour. Be engaged always in reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, discussing amongst yourself. Then you’ll make progress. Otherwise, if you take it as an official routine work… You should take as routine work, but with consciousness that “We have to learn something,” not simply attending the class, but to learn something. In this way make your life successful.”

Lecture on SB 3.26.41, in Mumbai, on January 16th, 1975