Reading and Hearing by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
All the devotees connected with the Krishna consciousness movement must read all the books that have been translated (the Caitanyacaritāmṛta, Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, and others); otherwise, after some time they will simply eat, sleep and fall down from their position. Thus they will miss the opportunity to attain an eternal, blissful life of transcendental pleasure.
— Purport to Cc. madhya 25.278
The more we become renounced from this material world the more we advance in Krishna Consciousness. But we are only able to make such sacrifices and perform tapasya if we have got knowledge. So first thing is to become knowledgeable in Krishna Consciousness, then the tapasya or voluntary life of austerity will result automatically. So I am requesting all of my students to read my books very seriously every day without fail. In this way, if your mind becomes absorbed at least one or two hours daily in the transcendental subject matter of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, and other books then very easily you will make your advancement in Krishna Consciousness.
— Letter to Bhargava, 13 June, 1972.
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 have got ample stock for acquiring knowledge. And if the students get knowledge more and more they will automatically become convinced and very easily perform their duties for tapasya or renunciation of the material bondage, and that will be their successful advancement in Krishna Consciousness.
— Letter to Madhudvisa, 16 June, 1972.
The Purāṇas are also parts of the Vedas. And histories like the Mahābhārata or Rāmāyaṇa are also parts of the Vedas. The ācārya or the gosvāmī must be well acquainted with all these literatures. To hear and explain them is more important than reading them. One can assimilate the knowledge of the revealed scriptures only by hearing and explaining. Hearing is called śravaṇa, and explaining is called kīrtana. The two processes of śravaṇa and kīrtana are of primary importance to progressive spiritual life. Only one who has properly grasped the transcendental knowledge from the right source by submissive hearing can properly explain the subject.
— Purport to Bhāg. 1.1.6
– Reading and Hearing by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
– Nama is not inferior to Diksa
– From the life of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada
– Plow and Flute by Srila Gour Govinda Swami
– Vrindavan is like Lotus from Prema-Vilasa
…if one wants to learn the meaning of ŚrīmadBhāgavatam, one must take lessons from a realized soul. One should not proudly think that one can understand the transcendental loving service of the Lord simply by reading books. One must become a servant of a vaiṣṇava. As Narottama Das Thakur has confirmed, chāḍiyā vaiṣṇava-sevā nistāra peyeche kebā: one cannot be in a transcendental position unless one very faithfully serves a pure vaiṣṇava. One must accept a vaiṣṇava guru (ādau gurv-āśrayam), and then by questions and answers one should gradually learn what pure devotional service to Krishna is. That is called the paramparā system.
— Purport to Cc. antya 7.53
Indian lady: How does one contact the spiritual master? Through a book can you contact the spiritual master?
Prabhupada: No, Prabhupada: you have to associate.
Syamasundar: “Can you associate through a book?” she asked.
Prabhupada: Yes, through books, and also personal. Because when you make a spiritual master you have got personal touch. Not that in the air you make a spiritual master. You make a spiritual master concrete. So as soon as you make a spiritual master, you should be inquisitive.
… if you simply try to understand what is God by reading scriptures, you cannot achieve. You must approach a guru. Just like a medical book. It can be available in the market. If you purchase one medical book and study and you become doctor, that is not possible. You must hear the medical book from a medical man in the college, medical college. Then you will be qualified. And if you say, “Sir, I have read all the medical books. Recognize me as a medical practitioner,” no, that will not be.
— Lecture on the Appearance day of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, 23 Sept 1969, London
Madhudvisa: One cannot become a medical practitioner by simply reading the books. He must study under a medical practitioner. So in the case of your books, is it possible to become a devotee without actually having personal association with you? Just by reading your books?
Prabhupada: No, it is Prabhupada: not that you have to associate with the author. But one who knows, if you cannot understand you have to take lesson from him. Not necessarily that you have to contact with the author always.
Devotee: Just like the text Devotee: books are not written by the teachers; they’re written by other professors.
Devotee: Usually you don’t even meet the author.
Prabhupada: Simply one who knows the subject matter, he can explain.
Madhudvisha: But can your, would your purports, would that serve as explanation besides…
Prabhupada: No, no, Prabhupada: anyone who knows the subject matter, he will be able to explain. It is not necessary that the author is required to be present there. [break] …to study from a medical man, I never said you have to study from the author. Or one who understood the author’s purpose. Just like we are explaining Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Not that one has to learn directly from Krishna. One who has understood Krishna, from him. That is the paramparā system.
— Morning Walk, 21 May 1975, Melbourne
– An expert from Sri Krishna-kathamrta Bindu, a free bi-monthly magazine service provided by Gopal Jiu Publications