Does the Prabhuji Mission offer any social benefits in a practical way to the community?
Prabhuji founded his mission with the intention of serving humanity and benefiting it both spiritually and socially. One of the ways in which this noble aspiration is expressed is “Prabhuji Annadanam” or the “Prabhuji Food Distribution Program.” On a weekly basis, the Prabhuji Mission distributes food free of charge to anyone who comes to the Avadhutashram. There is no need to register or present documents.
The term annadānam is composed of two words: annam, or “food” and dānam, or “the act of giving and sharing.” Thus, annadānam means “feeding the hungry and needy.” Among the various kinds of giving, the act of sharing food is called māhādānam, or the “great act of sharing,” because satisfying hunger is a basic and essential service.
The Taittirīya Upaniṣad states, “All life force comes from food (annam vai pranah) and let food be produced in abundance (annam bahu kurveet).” The importance of charity is clearly explained in the Varāha-purāṇa. Among the different ways in which charity is expressed, sharing food is considered the highest. In the Varāha-purāṇa, Śrī Varāha says, “One who gives food, gives all that is worth giving in this world.” In the Bhagavad Gita, Śrī Kṛṣṇa states, “All beings evolve from food (annād bhavanti bhūtāni). Even in the Vedas, Upanishads, Rāmāyana or Mahābhārata during all these periods, feeding a hungry person was considered the greatest service to humanity.
“Give food, give food, give food” is Kṛṣṇa’s advice to Yudhiṣṭhira in the Bhaviṣya-purāṇa when referring to dānam, or “the giving.” Yudhiṣṭhira requests Kṛṣṇa to impart to him the essence of Bhīṣma Pitamaha’s discourse in the Śanti Parva of the Mahābhārata about dharma. Then, Kṛṣṇa says, “Both the animate and inanimate worlds are sustained by food. The bestower of food is the bestower of life and obviously of all the rest. Therefore, one who desires good in this world and beyond should especially strive to give food. He should offer food with venerable hospitality to the old man, the child, and the exhausted traveler.”
The Bible instructs:
“Then the righteous will answer him: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or נאמר in need of clothing and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and come to visit you?’”. (Matthew, 25:37–40)
Also the Qur’an says:
“They give food, for love of Him (Allah), to the poor, the orphans, and the slaves, saying, ‘We feed you only to please Allah; We desire not from you reward or appreciation.’” (Qur’an, 76:8–9)
For Prabhuji, service to the human being is service to God, giving food to those in need is equal to a yagña, or ‘the most elaborate ritual sacrifice’.
ayaṃ nijaḥ paro veti
“This is mine, that is his, say the small minded. The wise believe that the entire world is a family.” (Māhā Upanishad, 6.71–75)
How does Prabhuji view the different paths of yoga such as bhakti, karma, jñāna, rāja, tantra, karma, kuṇḍalinī, and so on?
Prabhuji accepts all the different yogic modalities as integral paths of Retroprogressive Yoga. If we wish to prepare a delicious meal, we will need the correct ingredients and the recipe explaining the preparation process. Time and interest are also required to carry out the task successfully. In the same way, Retroprogressive Yoga combines the different yogic modalities in an integral way. Sadhakas, or “aspirants,” should receive from their master the appropriate combination according to their particular situation.
What is the need for a temple like the Śrī Śrī Radha-Śyāmasundara Mandir in the Avadhutashram?
A temple constitutes a place where human beings gather with a selfless spirit and devotional attitude to worship God. It is the proper place for the practice of bhakti-yoga. It is a place capable of elevating us to the recognition of consciousness. Seeing the deities, praying, and leaving a donation are pious acts traditionally done when visiting a temple. A true mandir is not only a religious site, but also a spiritual one. There are many schools, colleges, institutes, universities, and educational institutions. However, temples are not only capable of informing us, but also of transforming us.
If Prabhuji is retired from public life, why do you publish his picture, make a site for him on the internet, and so on?
Prabhuji is our master and the founder of the mission. The tradition of the Sanātana-dharma religion advises the glorification of the guru by his disciples. As mentioned Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura:
yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo
yasyāprasādān na gatiḥ kuto ’pi
dhyāyan stuvaṁs tasya yaśas tri-sandhyaṁ
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
“By the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Kṛṣṇa. Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement. Therefore, I should always remember and praise the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my guru.” (Śrī Śrī Gurvaṣṭaka, 8)
By glorifying our master, we are just following our millennia-old tradition. The Śrīmad-bhāgavatam says:
rahūgaṇaitat tapasā na yāti
na cejyayā nirvapaṇād gṛhād vā
na cchandasā naiva jalāgni-sūryair
“My dear King Rahūgaṇa, unless one has the opportunity to smear his entire body with the dust of the lotus feet of great devotees, one cannot realize the Absolute Truth. One cannot realize the Absolute Truth simply by observing celibacy (brahmacarya), strictly following the rules and regulations of householder life, leaving home as a vānaprastha, accepting sannyāsa, or undergoing severe penances in winter by keeping oneself submerged in water or surrounding oneself in summer by fire and the scorching heat of the sun. There are many other processes to understand the Absolute Truth, but the Absolute Truth is only revealed to one who has attained the mercy of a great devotee.” (Śrīmad-bhāgavatam, 5.12.12)
Why doesn’t the Prabhuji Mission make an effort to preach its vision on a large scale and attract new monastic disciples?
For Prabhuji, the retroprogressive process is an individual, solitary, personal, private, and intimate searching and not a collective endeavor through a social, organized, institutional, and communitarian religiosity. To that end, Prabhuji does not promote or support proselytizing or public preaching. Instead, he shares his personal experiences, learnings, and realizations solely through books and lectures available on the Internet, by which he does not try to persuade, convince, or make anyone change their perspective, philosophy, or religion.
His intention is to share his own experience with whoever seeker that may be interested. This attitude of Prabhuji is in perfect harmony with the scriptures since Kṛṣṇa does not demand or promote proselytizing or persuasive preaching on a large scale.
इदं ते नातपस्काय नाभक्ताय कदाचन ।
न चाशुश्रूषवे वाच्यं न च मां योऽभ्यसूयति ॥ १८-६७॥
Idaṁ te nātapaskāya
na cāśuśrūṣave vācyaṁ
na ca māṃ yo ’bhyasūyati
“This is never to be spoken by you to one who is devoid of austerities or devotion, nor to one who does not render service, nor to one who does not desire listen, nor to one who cavils at Me.” (Bhagavad Gita, 18.67)
न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम् ।
na buddhi-bhedaṃ janayed
“Let no wise-man unsettle the minds of ignorant-people, who are attached to action.” (Bhagavad Gita, 3.26)
Prabhuji Mission does not actively seek to attract new congregants or monastic disciples. The public is welcome, however, to participate in the Śrī Śrī Radha-Śyāmasundara Mandir Hindu religious rites, services, festivals, and programs, as well as to access and learn from the Mission’s archival repository of Prabhuji’s interfaith teachings that are largely available online.
Why does Prabhuji Mission keep a low profile?
Prabhuji Mission is fully confident that Kṛṣṇa arranges everything according to His will. Therefore, we see no need for self-promotional initiatives. Prabhuji Mission does not seek profit or financial gain, nor does it seek to attract public through its spiritual activities.