We're involved with something bigger than us.

Here's a letter that puts things into perspective a bit. The real force behind our preaching efforts is much bigger than us. When we presume that our manipulative endeavours to attract folks is where its at then we are only seeing the external situation.

As initiates into Caitanya Mahaprabhu's sampradaya we have a tremendous responsibility to be instrumental to the previous acaryas and not dilute their message with our own limited perspectives on 'what people can handle'. When we pray to become instrumental to their desires we then have a duty to faithfully represent them without interference. We also have a duty to the people we come in contact with to give them the opportunity to hear the teachings of self-realized souls with as little distortion from our conditioned perspective as possible. This outlook is where I understand empowerment to be available to us. Outside of this paradigm I only see short-lived manipulative endeavours that usually end up exploitative and disapointing for all participants.

Time, place and circumstance are only secondary and disposable considerations in relation to the above stated principle of transparent via-mediumship. Why imagine ourselves to have some special insight as to what attracts people? The world is filled with over 6 billion individuals with as many different perspectives. Why project our taste as an homogenously shared aspect of others' vision? Atmavan manyate jagat. (This refers to the illusion that 'the whole world thinks like me.')

So here's the letter from Srila Prabhupada to Madhudvisa (bolding added by me of course).

8 July, 1972 - London

My Dear Madhudvisa,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated June 30, 1972, and I have noted the contents.

I am very much pleased to see the photos of the Jagannatha cart being made by you in Melbourne, and I can understand that your energy and experience are being put to good use there in Australia. That is the secret to success, utilizing our God-given energy to please Krishna.

Regarding your question of dancing-show; whatever it may be, it may not deviate from the real Krishna Consciousness program. We are Hari Kirtana men, that's all. We can attract people by some gorgeous show, but inside there must be strict purity and seriousness, otherwise, we shall be attracted by the gorgeous show only.

There are two energies always working simultaneously, and Maya means when we diminish the spiritual energy, then automatically we become attracted to the external dress of Maya. So I do not care very much for these plays and dramas unless they are coming directly from the Vedas. If we can recite from Bhagavad gita the first chapter without any need for elaborate scenery or stage-props and gorgeous dresses, that is best.

Just like your Shakespeare. Macbeth may be recited by two men, without anything else, and simply by their acting ability and the meaningful words alone, they can very easily capture the entire audience and give them real substance. We have so many stories, like Jagai-Madhai, Krishna departing for Mathura, like that. Satire will not help us. Our message is very grave, and because it is the Absolute Truth, it will work without any artificial presentation.

Because they heard of our program in Bombay along with the Zavery sisters Manipuri Dancers, here in London they had arranged one program of lecturing by me along with a recital by one man playing on the vina just to attract attention to my speaking. I am not in approval of such arrangements, and it will be dangerous thing in future if we begin this type of program just to attract the masses.

Already I see this happening practically all over the Society, so better we stop it now and get ourselves firmly on the track chalked out for us by Lord Caitanya. We are simply Sankirtana men, our program is chanting, dancing, distributing prasadam, and speaking high philosophy, that's all.

Hoping this meets you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami