Hearing in the Class was a Crucial Test

Srila Prabhupada’s daily lecture was the main opportunity for everyone to associate with him in person. In a large temple like Los Angeles, that meant about four hundred devotees would gather in the morning, and even the ladies on the balcony could see what color sweater Prabhupada was wearing, how he smiled and how he looked down gravely at the Bhagavatam page. Everyone could get everything they wanted by attending his class. Although Prabhupada spoke in public halls around the world, he mostly lectured to his disciples in the temple. His lectures were therefore very intimate forums for the spiritual master to speak and for the disciple to hear.

The morning lecture was treated by all devotees as one of the main ways to worship and be with Srila Prabhupada a grand occasion for vapuù. Although Prabhupada didn’t invite pomp, yet he behaved with formality in the morning class. Those who attended knew that it was a serious happening. The Bhagavatam volume had to be open for him in the right place, his servant had to bring his eyeglasses and a glass of water. The P.A. system had to be adjusted to the perfect pitch. The temple president made sure that nothing went wrong to disturb the sacred function. In a sense, it was the major reason that Prabhupada had come to visit the temple. When he went to the Berkeley temple and sat on the vyasasana with its lions on the armrests, he told the devotees that he was traveling to the centers in order to give his disciples inspiration. And the main way he did that was by lecturing in the morning. It was the only time when everyone could sit down and hear him speak.

Hearing in the class was a crucial test of how well a disciple was serving Srila Prabhupada. Even if one was an ISKCON leader and therefore entitled to sit up front, if he was not listening during Prabhupada’s lecture, then it would affect him adversely sooner or later. According to the bhakti science, no one could neglect hearing from Srila Prabhupada.