By Her Grace Malati Devi Dasi
Developing congregations in ISKCON is actually something so important that enough cannot be said about it. Initially the temples were our homes, and if you were not living in the temple, then you were considered to be in maya. Thankfully that concept no longer exists. As wonderful and as big our temples may become, they are not going to be able to be big enough to accommodate the whole world.
Lord Caitanya’s movement is meant to encompass the whole world. The temple is a place to come to worship, to gather, and to honor Srila Prabhupada, Radha-Krsna, GauraNitai and all the other wonderful deities that are here in ISKCON. But our congregation is where our strength lies. The temples are benefited by the congregation because when the congregation come to the temple, there is life in the temple. This life enthuses people as they pursue Krsna consciousness.
The congregation is doing much of the work that is required in the temple. In many of the temples they come in and prepare the Sunday feast. They supply all the groceries and the cooks just have to cook it. This is a very wonderful service. They hold out-reach programs on a regular basis in their homes and they organize programs in other venues. They go out on book distribution and they do so many wonderful activities that bring life and light to the temple. They provide financial support to the temples so that the temple devotees can go out and preach.
Srila Prabhupada said different things at different times about devotees living outside the temple. In the beginning, he wanted everyone to stick together because there were so few of us. If we went outside, we would be crushed by material nature—we had only recently walked away from it. Gradually we grew in numbers and in strength. Devotees who are not living inside the temples are not living outside either. They have temples in their homes; their temples are places of worship.
When we say “outside the temple,” what do we really mean? All devotees live in the temple because their homes are temples. Wherever Krsna is glorified, that place becomes a temple. My message is, don’t become discouraged by looking for that which does not seem to fit. Prabhupada had so many reasons to be discouraged so many times. He suffered a heart attack on the way over, his typewriter and Bhagavad-gita was stolen but he pushed on. As a result we have this beautiful ISKCON.
(Excerpt from the book ‘The Nectar of Congregational Preaching’ by ISKCON Congregational Development Ministry)
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