Superiority of Silence


In Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita purport to verse 10.38, he writes, “Among the confidential activities of hearing, thinking and meditating, silence is most important because by silence one can make progress very quickly.”
In all of his books, Prabhupada repeatedly states that hearing is the most important item of devotional service. Please explain why, in this purport, he glorifies silence.


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Here are the points:

  1. We should first look at the actual Gita verse. Krishna says, “Of secrets, I am silence.” So the literal point is clear.
  2. The word for ‘secret’ is ‘guhya’, a word Krishna often uses to describe Krishna conscious knowledge. So here are the applications:
    a) It is Nama-aparadha to preach the Lord’s glories to the faithless. Hence, silence in that context.
    b) A devotee does not speak useless, mundane words. This is another form of silence, as Prabhupada teaches.
    c) A devotee submissively hears from the Lord and His pure devotees. Silent listening can be a sign of humility.
    d) Sometimes it is nice to just keep quiet for a while and think of Krishna, instead of talking all the time.
  3. Ultimately, the statement in this purport does not, and is not meant to, contradict all of Srila Prabhupada’s and Krishna’s teachings. It is not a new philosophy or approach to life, but rather a statement to be taken consistently in context with what we know to be true.
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