THERE is no harm in teaching others if the preacher has a commission from the Lord. Nobody can confound a preacher who teaches people after having received the command of God. Getting a ray of light from the goddess of learning, a man becomes so powerful that before him scholars seem mere earthworms.
What will a man accomplish by mere lectures without the commission from God? Once a Brahmo preacher said in the course of his sermon, ‘Friends, how much I used to drink!’ and so on. Hearing this people began to whisper among themselves: ‘What is this fool saying? He used to drink!’ Now these words produced a very unfavourable effect. This shows that preaching cannot bring a good result unless it comes from a good man.
A high Government official from Barisal1 once said to me, ‘Sir, if you begin the work of preaching I too shall gird my loins.’ I told him the story2 of people’s dirtying the bank of the Haldarpukur and of its being stopped only when a constable, armed with authority from the government, put up a notice prohibiting it.
So I say, a worthless man may talk his head off preaching, and yet he will produce no effect. But people will listen to him if he is armed with a badge of authority from God. One cannot teach others without the commission from God. A teacher of men must have great power. There’s many a Hanumanpuri3 in Calcutta. It is with them that you will have to wrestle. (165)