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On Speaking Strongly in Śrila Prabhupāda’s Service

By Bhakti Vikāsa Swami

On Speaking Strongly in Śrila Prabhupāda’s Service was written for the perusal of all members of Śrila Prabhupāda’s ISKCON, especially for devotees who feel impelled to follow Śrila Prabhupāda’s example of preaching Kṛṣṇa’s message in a strong, clear, and provocative manner. Speaking Strongly is particularly for those who maintain Śrila Prabhupāda’s vision of ISKCON as a revolutionary movement with a mission to change society, to rouse people to think about life’s important questions, and to get them to embrace the only permanent solution to life’s problems: Krishna consciousness.

In Speaking Strongly, Bhakti Vikāsa Swami submits hundreds of quotes wherein Śrila Prabhupāda indicates that his followers should speak strongly for the benefit of the world and not shy away from embracing the uncompromising, realistic style of śastra, which presents not vague notions such as “spreading love” but solutions to the undeniable problems of material existence, and is especially relevant to the current disastrous condition of human society.

Taking a holistic and practical approach, Bhakti Vikāsa Swami carefully examines the pros and cons of speaking strongly under various circumstances. Drawing on almost forty years of personal experience, the author discusses issues such as:

  • Who is qualified to speak strongly?
  • When should strong speech be used?
  • Is the strong preacher a fanatic?
  • Is strong speaking contrary to humility?
  • When and how should tact be employed?

The ultimate merit of On Speaking Strongly in Śrila Prabhupāda’s Service is that it reminds the reader of what ISKCON is supposed to be—a distinct vital spiritual movement—and offers a philosophical basis from which to help restore ISKCON to its original glory.

Also available in Hindi

NameOn Speaking Strongly in Śrila Prabhupāda’s Service
PublisherBhakti Vikas Trust
Publication Year2012
Weight510 gms
Table Of Contents
  1. Preaching Means Fighting
  2. No Compromise
  3. Loyalty to Krsna
  4. Use of Strong Terms
  5. The Duty of Preachers to Present the Truth
  6. Fight with Śastra
  7. Convinced, Bold, Clear, Provocative, Fresh
  8. Who is Qualified to Speak Strongly?
  9. A Lonely Path
  10. Absolutism, Relativism, Conservativism, Liberalism
  11. Fanaticism and Fundamentalism
  12. Learning How to Preach Strongly
  13. Scientific, Not Dogmatic
  14. The Decline of Strong Speaking in ISKCON
  15. Disturbing Others is Inevitable
  16. Public Opinion: Oposition Is Our Victory
  17. Criticism, Faultfinding, Judgmentalism
  18. Love and Compassion
  19. Humility, Aggression, and Anger
  20. Sentimentalism and Pseudo-saintliness
  21. Ideal Behavior, Sweet Speech, and Artificial Politeness
  22. Restraint, Caution, and Indirect Preaching
  23. Soft and Hard
  24. Positive and Negative
  25. Unpalatable Truth
  26. Discretion and Tact
  27. To Name or Not to Name
  28. Milder Techniques
  29. Preaching via Writing
  30. Truth Will Prevail
  31. Preach Strongly or Perish
  32. Summary
  33. Afterword

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Explanation of guidelines required for preaching boldly by HH BHAKTI VIKAS SWAMI MAHARAJ.

Atmavidya das

I admit that I usually do not read books written by my godsisters and godbrothers, save and except for publications that share personal memories of Śrīla Prabhupāda. Time is precious. Therefore I prefer to read the literature of my spiritual master almost exclusively.

That said, I am glad that I picked up this book. Sure, one reason was that I was intrigued by the fact that this publication is considered controversial by many. Which is astonishing. For it becomes crystal clear after reading the first few paragraphs that the author is reminding the reader of the most precious thing in this miserable world: The very essence and purpose of the original undiluted mission of our Śrīla Prabhupāda, the Hare Krishna Movement, and the entire Sampradaya. And the genuine bliss and ecstasy that comes with delivering the message As It Is.

I consider this publication a highly responsible undertaking. I fail to see any controversy. There is not a single sentence that would suggest that the author tends to be fanatic or, in ISKCON-devotee vernacular, “too heavy”.

Quite the opposite is true. Bhakti Vikāśa Maharaj lucidly and eloquently encourages the use of our discretion and intelligence when delivering the urgent message of the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa to the suffering Jīvas. Just as our Ācāryas did, but in our own individual capacity – and based on an honest assessment of our own stage of realization; but never to compromise – as we would be failing in our duty to Śrīla Prabhupāda if we did. The truth is unpalatable to almost every conditioned soul, there is not much we can do about it. Bhakti Vikāśa Swami warns his readers of the traps of speaking to people what they like to hear, rather than what they need to hear – and that the dangers in doing so are real. Both for the speaker and the listener.

The entire book is articulately written in illustrative language. Yet perfectly sober and uncompromising as you would expect from Bhakti Vikāśa Maharaj. Be assured that the book is refreshingly free of any personal opinion. Each and every statement is thoroughly supported by Guru, Sādhu, and Śastra. In addition, the author delivers the proof that humility and speaking strongly do not necessarily exclude each other.

In conclusion, I can only humbly suggest that you get your copy. I go as far as saying that this publication is a must-read for every Śrīla Prabhupāda follower worth his salt. The book stands out as a highly potent reminder of what our sacred duty is and shows how to put it into practice. “Back to the roots,” you could say – which does apply – if by ‘roots’ we understand the undiluted, unobscured, and uncompromised words of Guru, Sādhu, and Śāstra.

Janananda Goswami

I have just read your recent book On Speaking Strongly. Congratulations on doing exactly that. It is quite a wake-up call, and I hope it awakens within many a reassesment of where they are at or going. Perhaps it will also evoke some meaningful and beneficial counter-approaches for further understanding. So many relevant and well-chosen quotes. At least a desire to study and hear from Çréla Prabhupäda resulted from my reading. It struck me that the strong speaking was first to be applied to myself - cut out compromise. The influence of reading so many other books by outsiders appears to affect our way of thinking and acting a lot - everything from rasika to science, other sampradäyas, other religions. Devotees who are scholars seem to be directing the ways of the movement in terms of the preaching approach and application of the philosophy often at the cost of pure bhakti. Heavy saìkértana, pioneering, challenging situations, difficulties are not in vogue.
By preaching strongly we have to become strong. We have to let go of the anarthas within.
Sometimes ulterior motives dictate our modus operandi. We do not want to expose, accept, or remove shortcomings.
I believe we need to be on the preaching front, and if we are not, there is more likelihood to adopt an indirect approach to preaching.

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