“The spiritually powerful message of Godhead can be properly discussed only in a society of devotees, and it is greatly pleasing to hear in that association. If one hears from devotees, the way of transcendental experience quickly opens to him, and gradually he attains a taste in knowledge that in due course develops into attraction and devotion.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.25)
सतां प्रसङ्गान्मम वीर्यसंविदो
भवन्ति हृत्कर्णरसायना: कथा: ।
श्रद्धा रतिर्भक्तिरनुक्रमिष्यति ॥
satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
taj-joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati
Friend1: Why does the message of Godhead have restrictions in terms of proper audience?
Friend2: What do you mean? Is this in regard to the appropriate venue for discussion?
Friend1: I am assuming this is a warning against trying to explain Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam, for example, to an inimical audience.
Friend2: People of a different faith?
Friend1: That could be one category. They will think you are trying to convert them to a new religion. You are challenging their preferred book held in high esteem.
Friend2: Or they might label you a demon or say that you belong to a group that worships a false god.
Friend1: I always get a chuckle out of that one. Yeah, so you know what I am talking about. Is that the primary reason for having the proper audience?
Friend2: Think about it like trying to teach advanced algebra to students in the first grade. Children who have not yet learned the times tables.
Friend1: It would be a difficult endeavor.
Friend2: Difficult? You would be wasting your time, entirely. There is no chance the students would have any idea what you are talking about. They have not yet reached the proper maturity.
Friend1: Okay, but we are not talking about advanced algebra here. We are dealing with life and death, the position of the individual, action and reaction, the relationship to the Almighty, and so forth. Isn’t every mature adult qualified to hear such a message?
Friend2: If I can’t properly see my identity as Brahman and the illusory energy standing between me and the Supreme Brahman, how am I going to understand discussions about God as a person, how He creates, where He lives, what He looks like, and so forth?
Friend1: The proper qualification is devotion, then? We should discuss these topics in a society of like-minded individuals.
Friend2: As Shrimad Bhagavatam explains, with that kind of association the discussion is more pleasing. There is every chance of developing a higher taste, which will then not be relinquished. As if being addicted to an unprofitable substance, which then becomes difficult to be abandoned, so the more a person experiences the transcendental taste the stronger the bond will be.
Friend1: Okay, but isn’t this like a chicken and egg situation?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: If someone is not a devotee, how will they ever be qualified to hear such discussions?
Friend2: You are looking at it from a different angle. You are considering the perspective of the person teaching, right?
Friend1: Yes, in that they must seek a proper audience.
Friend2: Think of it from the other side. The recommendation is for someone genuinely interested in the truth. They are looking to connect with God, for some initial cause, but at least they are willing to go elsewhere, to break out of their comfort zone.
Friend1: Would they be considered a devotee?
Friend2: They should seek out association of devotees. They should not simply jump into reading a basic translation of the original Sanskrit texts. They won’t get the proper context. If they take association of impersonalists or atheists, who have the same facility in access to Vedic texts, then there won’t be a benefit to the experience.
Friend1: Oh, I see now. Basically, try to stay within a group that actually understands what is being taught. Otherwise, you are just reading the books and not gaining anything from the experience.
Friend2: And the tragedy is that there is everything to be gained. You will not find the same level of bliss, of transcendental upliftment, in any other area. This is the gift from God, who is a person. He has passed down these sacred sounds to rescue us from the illusion, to wake us up out of the slumber, to reach enlightenment, which we have every right to achieve.
To miss that chance came,
The greatest living shame.
Since produced for us these sounds,
Where transcendence abounds.
But for proper association meant,
Not in wasted time spent.
Where pleasing more and more,
Meant full enlightenment for.