Ācāra u Pracāra (Good Conduct and Preaching)

Bāula-matera Vicāra (A Discussion on the Beliefs of the Bāūlas)Bāula-matera Vicāra 
(A Discussion on the Beliefs of the Bāulas)
Vaiṣṇava Sevā u Pracalita Mahotsava Prathā (Service to the Vaiṣṇavas and the Practice of Festivals at Present)Vaiṣṇava Sevā u Pracalita Mahotsava Prathā (Service to the Vaiṣṇavas and the Practice of Festivals at Present)

This article, Ācāra u Pracāra (Good Conduct and Preaching) was first published in Sajjana Toṣaṇī Vol 4. Issue 2 in 1892. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura writes about the three types of devotees in relation to proper personal conduct and preaching and explains who is the best.

Ācāra u Pracāra
(Good Conduct and Preaching)

by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura
(translated by Swami B.V. Giri)

After visiting the topmost devotee, Śrī Haridāsa Ṭhākura, the best of scholars, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī said this. It is said in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta:

āpane ācare keha nā kare pracāra
pracāra karena keha nā karena ācāra
ācāra pracāra nāmera karaha dui kārya
tumi sarva guru tumi jagatera ārya

(“Some behave well but do not preach, and others preach but do not behave well. In relation to the Holy Name you perform both duties of proper personal conduct and preaching. You are the guru of all, for you are respected by the whole world.” – Cc. Antya-līlā 22.102-103)

Pious readers! Consider this quote of Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī carefully. There are three types of devotees according to their inclinations, namely, devotees who mostly execute good conduct (ācāra), devotees who stress preaching (pracāra) and devotees that are endowed with both good conduct and the desire to preach. By deliberating upon the uttama, madhyama and kaniṣṭḥa, we can understand that one who has good conduct and preaches is the best of all. That devotee who only executes good conduct is a madhyama. A devotee who only preaches is a kaniṣṭha. The dharma of sādhus is called ācāra. When that dharma is propagated to other jīvas, it is called pracāra. In order to be engaged in ācāra or pracāra, it is necessary that one must first learn the dharma of sādhus. After learning it, some people begin to preach even before they themselves follow it. Such persons attain insufficient results. Thus, it is said in the Brahma-vaivarta:

upadeśaṁ karoty eva na parīkṣāṁ karoti yaḥ
aparīkṣyopadiṣṭaṁ yaṁ loka-nāśāya tad bhavet

(“If one offers instructions, but does not test the student, then such teachings without examination only leads to the ruination of society.”)

If you preach about dharma without following it yourself, various problems will arise in the world. There are many examples of this in everyday life and in the history of mankind. It can be seen that when gṛhastha devotees become ācāryas and award the paraphernalia, mantras etc. of sannyāsa, then considerable misfortune befalls the recipient of sannyāsa. The true gurus of the renounced order (bhikṣa-āśrama) are those who have taught the practice of sannyāsa-dharma by themselves accepting the renounced order. Amongst the gṛhasthas, only those who are expert in the nine processes of devotion (nava-vidha-bhakti) are eligible to accept the position of an ācārya of the bhakti-kāṇḍa (the path of devotion). Some people do not practice śuddha-bhakti themselves but follow the philosophy of the smārtas, who respect the karma-kāṇḍa. The instructions they give on bhakti-tattva are totally opposed to all the śāstra. In order to preach, initially it is required that one should follow. One who preaches is more beneficial to the world than all those devotees who are inclined to become absorbed in bhajanānanda (the bliss of bhajana) while neglecting preaching to follow the dharma of sādhus. Thus, in the Śri Caitanya-bhāgavata, Śrī Haridāsa says:

japa-kartā haite ucca-saṅkīrtana-kārī
śata-guṇa adhika se purāṇete dhari
śuna vipra mana diyā ihāra kāraṇa
japi āpanāre sabe karaye poṣaṇa
ucca kari karile govinda-saṅkīrtana
jantu-mātra śuniyā pāi vimocana

(“One who performs loud saṅkīrtana is a hundred times greater than one who performs japa – this is given in the Purāṇas. O brāhmaṇa, listen carefully to the reason for this. One who chants japa only benefits himself. One who loudly performs govinda-saṅkīrtana, liberates himself and those living beings who hear him.” – Caitanya-bhāgavata, Adi-khaṇḍa 16.284-286)

Therefore, we offer millions and millions of daṇḍavat-praṇāmas to those Vaiṣṇavas that are endowed with both good conduct and the desire to preach.

Bāula-matera Vicāra (A Discussion on the Beliefs of the Bāūlas)Bāula-matera Vicāra 
(A Discussion on the Beliefs of the Bāulas)
Vaiṣṇava Sevā u Pracalita Mahotsava Prathā (Service to the Vaiṣṇavas and the Practice of Festivals at Present)Vaiṣṇava Sevā u Pracalita Mahotsava Prathā (Service to the Vaiṣṇavas and the Practice of Festivals at Present)

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