Public Opinion as a Secondary (Not Primary) Consideration

Surely public opinion is a secondary consideration as reflected in this conversation with Srila Prabhupada:

Hari-Sauri: One of the differences that first sprung up between the two groups was that one group was going out when you were saying “Go out and distribute books profusely,” so they were going and distributing. And they had various means of doing it. Some were not so good, but still the books were going out. Then the group that split away, they were saying, “Ah, you’re disturbing the public by these methods of book distribution. We don’t want…” This is what happened in Australia, the one temple in Brisbane. They became very much against the sankirtana methods, and as a result they gave up the sankirtana program altogether and then went to live on farms like this, and they left the temple and the temple was finished. So like this, they were saying that “We’re still following Prabhupäda’s instructions, but we…” But they were saying that the devotees who were distributing the books, they were not following instructions. Like that.

Prabhupäda: His Divine Grace has said that “You distribute book,” and why do you say that?

Hari-Sauri: Well, their idea was that because sometimes the public is becoming disturbed by the book distribution, then therefore it’s not being done correctly. So it should be stopped.

Prabhupäda: Public may disturb, but we are following our own course of action. It is not obligatory. We are requesting you, “Take this book.” That is not obligatory. “If you like, you can take. If you don’t like, don’t take.”

Siddha-svarüpa: I think that…

Hari-Sauri: So what their idea was that we shall build some public relations, like you said with this store. They prefer to try to spread Krishna consciousness by public relations, give good impression, and then people will come.

Prabhupäda: Then you are dictated by the public, not by the dictation of your spiritual master.
Spiritual master has ordered to distribute books; you shall do that. That is obedience. Now the public may take or not take, that is public’s option. But my duty is—because spiritual master has said—I must try my best. Spiritual master has not said that “You must sell so many books daily, otherwise I will reject you.” He has not said that. So everyone may try his best, that’s all. The public may take or not take, it doesn’t matter. And if you are, want to please the public, public says that “You dance naked, I will be very happy with you, I’ll give you (indistinct).” So I’ll have to do that. Then what is the use of making a spiritual master? Public, they have got their whims, how to become pleased. So we are to follow all these things? We have to follow our instruction of the spiritual master. That is… (indistinct) Why to manufacture “The public will be pleased like this”? Public may or may not give you, what you can do?

Hari-Sauri: Our success is in the spiritual master’s pleasure, not the public’s pleasure.

Prabhupäda: Yes, that is bhakti. Otherwise why Krishna says, sarva-dharmän parityajya mäm ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]? “You haven’t got to please so many religious instructions. You simply please Me.”


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