(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 21 December 2010, Cape Town, South Africa, Lecture)
The family of vaisnavas is somehow or other our support. Prabhupada made this movement a very personal one. In the beginning, we overlook how important relationships are because we are not used to it. In the material world, when a relationship does not work, you just cut it off and try another one… then another one and another one.
Now I’m not talking just about friendships. So many friends came and went in our lives in the material world but spiritual relationships are very different. Spiritual friendships are different because devotees are very rare. Therefore, devotees are precious and the relationship with the devotee is precious and once broken it is difficult to repair; not like a broken pot that can be glued back together.
Therefore with devotees we cannot just afford the mentality that if it does not work, get rid of this one and get another one! Because the day will come when we will need all the devotees. The day will come when we will very much depend on devotees because the vaisnavas are sustaining us in our spiritual life and without them it becomes so difficult. The day will come when all artificial behavior in our relationships will have to go because that cannot sustain us and time will test us. As they say, “It all comes out in the wash!” It means that sooner or later, it has to get real.
In the beginning, maybe one can have a Shakespearean performance of Krsna consciousness but at one point we need genuine relationships and genuine friendships. This is very important therefore we must be very careful to make sure we avoid unpleasant exchanges between devotees even for the sake of service. Sometimes, it may be necessary that a devotee is not doing it proper and you have to straighten him out.
We sometimes have to chastise but it is an unfortunate thing to do because in the course of it we may break a relationship. That is just one thought that comes to my mind: friendship between vaisnavas. Friendship is not just by declaration, not just Facebook friends or face-value friends, friendship means more.