When my Guru Maharaj was selecting articles for The Harmonist, if he saw that the writer several times wrote the word "Krishna" or "Chaitanya," he would say, "All right, publish it. So many times he's written Krishna and Chaitanya."

"We're still afraid we don't know enough about Krishna to write very well," I say.

"No matter," he says. "You may not pronounce Sanskrit very well. You may call me "guru" or "gau," master or cow. But I know your meaning. Similarly if a book deals with Krishna's pastimes, it's for the swans, even if it's written in broken language. And if it doesn’t deal with Krishna’s pastimes, it’s for the crows, however well written.

"But you’ve said to try to make it like Time [magazine]," I say. “To appeal to a lot of people, we have to relate Krishna to contemporary ideas and events.“

“That you may do,” he says, “but just make certain that Krishna’s at the center. Now the problem lies with all these branches of knowledge. People are pursuing everything and anything, and everyone thinks his field is most important. People collect books, and there are great libraries filled with millions of books of mundane knowledge, and so much time and money is spent. But it’s not necessary to read a lot of books. Actually, it’s undesirable. Only one book is necessary.”

Prabhupada relates the story of a brahmin who was instructed by his spiritual master to read three chapters of Bhagavad-gita daily. Unfortunately, the brahmin was illiterate. Trying to follow the instructions, he sat in a temple and turned the pages of Bhagavad-gita one by one. Seeing this, many of his friends, knowing he couldn’t read, laughed and made fun. But the humble brahmin tolerated this and went on turning pages. When Lord Chaitanya saw this, He took compassion and approached the brahmin, asking, “My dear brahmin, what are you reading?”

Seeing that this was an elevated person, the brahmin replied, “My spiritual master told me to read three chapters of Bhagavad-gita daily, but, being illiterate, what can I do? Therefore I’m just sitting down here turning the pages.”

“But I see that you’re sometimes crying,” said the Lord. “You must be appreciating. How is this?”

“Oh yes, I’m appreciating,” said the brahmin. “When I open the book, I see a picture of Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna is sitting in the chariot, and Krishna is instructing Bhagavad-gita to him.

So I am appreciating how kind the Lord is to accept the post of charioteer for His devotee. When I see that the Lord has become servant of His servant, I feel some ecstasy, and I cry.”

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu immediately embraced the brahmin and told him, “Your Bhagavad-gita reading is perfect.”

“This is the perfection of yoga,” Prabhupada says. “Thinking of the activities of Krishna and Arjuna. You don’t need academic degrees to read Bhagavad-gita. If you understand just one sloka, just one verse, and meditate upon it, that is perfect meditation. But no. People must collect and read hundreds of books, going from topic to topic, like crows from garbage to garbage. Therefore you should carefully receive knowledge from the right source and understand it. This means hearing well.”

“Isn’t academic education almost an impediment?” I ask. “A whole way of thinking has to be changed.”

“Yes,” Prabhupada says. “Material qualifications become disqualifications when they’re used to help us forget Krishna. But those same qualifications can be dovetailed to Krishna’s service. For instance, you learned to read and write in school. Now, you can use these abilities to earn money for sense gratification, or to advance in Krishna consciousness. That’s up to you. But usually the effects of education are to entangle us more and more in the world. People lack guidance. Therefore we have founded this Society. We invite everyone -- educated and uneducated. Gaura-kishora could not even write his name, but he was so elevated that my Guru Maharaj, a great scholar of his time, accepted him as spiritual master. Transcendental knowledge is revealed to one who has unflinching love for Krishna and the spiritual master. One doesn’t have to be a scholar or even literate. The knowledge is revealed by the spiritual master, who is the mercy of Krishna.”

(Hayagriva dasa, The Hare Krishna Explosion, Chapter 18)
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