Giriraj Swami: In Gorakhpur, in 1971, Srila Prabhupada was speaking from the Bhagavatam on the history of Ajamila and the significance of the Holy Name, reading from the original Sanskrit commentary of Sripada Sridhara Svami. After one class, Hamsaduta said to Srila Prabhupada, “That was a wonderful lecture.” Srila Prabhupada remarked, “Do you think so? What do the other devotees think?” Hamsaduta replied, “Well, frankly speaking, Srila Prabhupada, most of the devotees were asleep in the class.” “Yes, I know,” said Srila Prabhupada. “Practically, I am speaking to only a few sincere disciples.” Day after day, the problem persisted: So many devotees - including me - were falling asleep during class.
During one morning class, when Srila Prabhupada noticed a devotee dozing, he stopped speaking from the Bhagavatam and told him, “You can go and lie down. Why you are sitting and sleeping? This is not good. Sleeping from ten to four is not sufficient? Why do you do like this - whole day and night, whenever you sit down? What is this? Every one of you more or less. What is the reason?” Yamuna-devi ventured, “Inattentive.” But Srila Prabhupada responded, “Inattentive means like this? No. Unless one is tired or has had no sufficient sleep, one will not do like that. It is not inattentiveness.” Then Guru dasa suggested, “Not enough sleep.” But Srila Prabhupada retorted, “Enough sleep. You require twenty-four hours sleep? If you sleep for ten hours, that is not sufficient? Your business is to sleep only. So ten hours’ or eight hours’ sleep is not sufficient. Kumbhakarna. Just like Kumbhakarna. He was sleeping six months.” Tamal Krishna interjected, “Hibernation.” Srila Prabhupada chuckled and continued, “We are also sleeping six months in a year, because we generally sleep ten to twelve hours. So if you sleep half day, that means half year. We are all Kumbhakarnas. Anyone who sleeps more than six or seven hours is a Kumbhakarna. Kumbhakarna was the brother of Ravana. He was sleeping six months, and six months he was awake. That means that anyone who sleeps half the time, twelve hours out of twenty-four, he’s a Kumbhakarna.”
“One should not sleep more than seven hours utmost. That is sufficient. You can sleep six hours at night and one hour to rest in the daytime. That is sufficient. And if you sleep more, you are Kumbhakarna.” “So you should adjust things. Nidrahara-viharakadi-vijitau. That’s the Gosvamis. sankhya-purvaka-nama-gana-natibhih kalavasani-kritau / nidrahara-viharakadi-vijitau catyanta-dinau ca yau / radha-krishna-guna-smriter madhurimanandena sammohitau / vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau [‘I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Six Gosvamis, namely Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, who were engaged in chanting the Holy Names of the Lord and bowing down in a scheduled measurement. In this way they utilized their valuable lives, and in executing these devotional activities they conquered over eating and sleeping and were always meek and humble, enchanted by remembering the transcendental qualities of the Lord.’ (Shad-gosvamy-ashtaka 6)]”
“We are followers of the Gosvamis. Their whole time, twenty-four hours, was used in Krishna consciousness by chanting Hare Krishna mantra regularly, fixed up, on big beads. So, we have reduced that to sixteen. Haridasa Thakura was chanting three times sixty-four, or one hundred and ninety-two, rounds. And we are giving you only sixteen. We don’t ask you to imitate Haridasa Thakura. But he would not sleep or eat unless he had finished his 192 rounds. And Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was offering obeisances around the whole Radha-kunda: ‘So many times I shall fall down.’ He was falling down, dandavat. From the point where your head is touching, you have a line, stand there, and again fall down. Again stand, and again fall down. Just see how much good exercise it is.”
“This is called tapasya, austerity. We should not take it very easily that we are going back to Godhead. Of course, there are so many concessions. But at the same time, we should be very much aware of the responsibility that we have decided to go back to Godhead after leaving this body, so we have to perform some austerities. The austerity in our Gaudiya-sampradaya is very simple: following the four principles, restrictions, avoiding the offenses, and chanting regularly on beads. And hearing. Chanting and hearing, both. Not only chanting; we have to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way we should engage twenty-four hours. Hear and chant. When you speak, when you go to lecture for preaching, that is also chanting. And automatically there is hearing. If you chant, there is hearing also. Sravanam kirtanam vishnoh smaranam. (SB 7.5.23) And there is memorizing also. Unless you memorize all the conclusions of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, you cannot speak. Sravanam kirtanam vishnoh smaranam pada-sevanam arcanam. Arcanam, this is arcanam.” Srila Prabhupada indicated the Deities of Radha-Krishna that were traveling with him and then continued: “Vandanam, offering prayers. Hare Krishna is also prayer. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna: ‘O Krishna, O energy of Krishna, please engage me in Your service.’ This Hare Krishna is simply prayer. So, sravanam kirtanam vishnoh smaranam pada-sevanam arcanam vandanam dasyam. Always remain engaged as a servant, dasyam. Sakhyam - always think that Krishna is your best friend. And atma-nivedanam - dedicate everything to Krishna. This is our process. And we have to be engaged in these processes twenty-four hours.”
“Because we have got this body, it requires eating, sleeping, mating. So the arrangement is there: eating is there; sleeping is there; mating is there; defending is there - but not excessively. Nidrahara-viharakadi-vijitau. The very word is used, vijita. You should not be conquered by them. Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending are required, but you should not be conquered by them. You should conquer them.” “So we should be always conscious of our responsibility. That will help us. We must stay awake. Uttishthata. Always remain awakened.”
Srila Prabhupada was referring to a Vedic injunction: uttishthata jagrata / prapya varan nibodhata / kshurasya dhara nisita duratyaya / durgam pathas tat kavayo vadanti “Please wake up and try to understand the boon that you now have in this human form of life. The path of spiritual realization is very difficult; it is sharp like a razor’s edge. That is the opinion of learned transcendental scholars.” (Katha Upanishad 1.3.14)
He continued, “So, regularly, seven hours sleep is sufficient. Why more? What is the cause? One cause may be that if we eat more, then we sleep more. So to reduce the sleeping process, the eating process should be reduced. If you fast for one day, don’t take anything, you will see that there will be less sleep. Is it not? Yes. So six hours, from ten to four, is complete, and one hour during daytime. Then no more sleeping unless you are sick. But why you young boys and girls should fall sick? There is no question of falling sick.” “When one is engaged in some serious business, he sleeps less. So one should be engaged in serious business; then sleeping will be less. If we become lazy, if we have no sufficient engagement, then sleeping will come.” “We have to adjust things personally, not by dictation or by rules and regulations. Personal affairs cannot be adjusted by rules and regulation. They can be adjusted by oneself. And then everything will be all right.
sankhya-purvaka-nama-gana-natibhih kalavasani-kritau / nidrahara-viharakadi-vijitau catyanta-dinau ca yau / radha-krishna-guna-smriter madhurimanandena sammohitau / vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau The Six Gosvamis used their time in this way. And radha-krishna-padaravinda-bhajananandena mattalikau. They were jolly in the service of Radha-Krishna, bhajanananda. That should be the basis of jolliness. Our real pleasure should be in radha-krishna-padaravinda-bhajana.”
“We have taken a very serious job. In this life we want to finish this material existence for good. If you take responsibility in this way, everything will be adjusted. My guru maharaja used to say, ‘Finish this business in this life. Don’t delay for the next life.’ He also said, ‘Don’t give me trouble to again come here to deliver you.’ Serious. We have taken a very, very responsible task, to finish this so-called lording over this material nature. Our business is not to lord it over but to serve Krishna.”
“We have to become Vishnudutas. Our preachers are Vishnudutas, just to give protection to any person who is slightly inclined to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We shall give all help, all assistance, to such persons. That is our business - not sleeping business, not lazying business. We should be always active. We shall always make plans, think how to protect people from this miserable condition of material existence. They cannot understand. They are fools. They are rascals. So you have to give them knowledge. You have to give them help. That is missionary activity. Missionary activity is not laziness or sleeping. My guru maharaja used to say, prana ache yara sei hetu pracara: one who has life will preach. ‘I have got some disciples, I have got a temple, and people are contributing. Now I have got good arrangement for eating and sleeping. Now I am perfect. Because I am getting some food without any work, and honor, I am perfect’ - this is not the mentality. Prana ache yara. You must be engaged continually for these missionary activities. The Gaudiya Mission failed in preaching work because they adopted this principle - as soon as they got a little shelter under the name of Matha, or temple, and a few dozen - not a few dozen, one dozen - disciples, then he is settled. And he is doing bhajana, ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,’ showing that he is very great chanter. And what is your preaching? Lord Caitanya ordered, prithivite ache yata nagaradi-grama sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama: ‘In as many towns and villages as there are on the surface of the earth, My Holy Name will be preached.’ Why don’t you go?”
“Therefore my guru maharaja condemned this policy. Mana, tumi kisera vaishnava: ‘What kind of Vaishnava you are?’ Prati-shthara tare, nirjanera ghare: ‘Simply for cheap popularity - ‘Oh, he is a Vaishnava. He is chanting. All right.’ No botheration. If there is no preaching, there is no botheration. You can sit down and show people, ‘I have now become a very liberated soul’ and chant and meditate. That means sleeping. This sort of business is condemned by my guru maharaja. This is simply cheating. dushta mana! tumi kisera vaishnava? pratishthara tare, nirjanera ghare,tava hari-nama kevala kaitava ‘My dear sinful mind, what kind of devotee are you? Simply for cheap adoration you sit in a solitary place and pretend to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, but this is all cheating.’” “He did not approve of this kind of business. He wanted to see everyone engaged in preaching work, some sort of preaching work, either indoor or outdoor. Indoor you have to be busy writing articles and proofreading and so many things. And outdoor you have to go door to door, make people members, interest them in this movement, collect money for expenses.”
“Preaching means you have to meet opposing elements. So many will criticize; so many will attack. Nityananda Prabhu was hurt personally, but still, outdoor. This is missionary work, not ‘Whenever I find some opportunity, go to some solitary place and sleep.’ This is not missionary life.” “So we should adjust things. You have got very responsible business, this Krishna consciousness. It is genuine, it is authorized, and Lord Caitanya wants us to do it all over the world. Things should be adjusted to keep us always alive to our responsibility. That is missionary life.” While Srila Prabhupada was speaking, I was struggling to stay awake. But he spoke so strongly, so ferociously - like a lion, like Nrisimhadeva - that we were practically forced to stay awake and be attentive to his words. After the talk, I commented to Tamal Krishna that Srila Prabhupada had spoken so forcefully that we were almost forced to stay alert and pay attention, and Tamal Krishna replied, “Yes, by our own power we cannot even stay awake. It is only by Srila Prabhupada’s potency and mercy that we are able to stay awake.”