Conversation – London, August 14, 1971
Prabhupada: Yesam tv anta-gatam papam [Bg. 7.28]. One who has finished sinful activities, he can be engaged in God consciousness. One who is engaged in sinful activities, he cannot. Devil citing scripture. A devil cannot cite scripture. Angel can cite scripture. And according to our acharyas, Sanatana Gosvami, he says that "Don't hear scriptures from the devil." Avaisnava-mukhodgirnam putam hari-kathamrtam sravanam naiva kartavyam." If a devil's preaching about God, don't hear."
If you say, "God is pure, so let me hear about God. It doesn't matter whether he is devil or angel. It doesn't matter." No. The argument is sarpocchistam payo yatha. Just like milk is very nourishing food, but if it is touched by the lips, by the tongue of a serpent, it becomes poison. Sarpocchistam payo yatha. You cannot bring the milk which is touched by the serpent's tongue. So we should receive knowledge of God, message of God, from a person who is not a devil. Then it will be effective. Otherwise, it will act as poison.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's principle is apani acari prabhu jiveri siksaya. He first of all behaves himself, and then he preaches. So if the preacher is sinful, how he can deliver other sinful men by his so-called preaching. That is not possible. He must be pure, he must be sinless. Then his preaching will be effective. But in all conditions, if we, with faith and love we chant the holy name of God, we shall become gradually purified. There is no, I mean to say, cause of anxiety. Anyone who will chant this holy name, he'll be purified.
This statement about not listening to somebody who is devil-like is quite appropriate in this age of hypocrisy and quarrel. This is the general instruction. One also has to take this instruction as not just black and white, but at the same time acknowledging that sometimes some people will say things that are actually useful to the Vaisnavas. Even if they are not Vaisnavas. Chanakya Pandit tells us that an intelligent man can take gold, if it’s present from a stool-filled place. In other words, sometimes Krishna arranges valuable things to be said by somebody, maybe somebody we do not even know, and they will say something which can benefit us if we are listening. How will we know it is useful? By using Srila Prabhupada’s books and all the previous Acharyas’ books as the yardstick of approval. That means we have to actually read and re-read these books, in order to understand what is the benchmark or yardstick of Vaisnava siddhanta. Otherwise we will be cheated.