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Srila Prabhupada stresses the importance of Sravanam in several places. From http://www.prabhupada.org.uk/sp25.htm -

The bhakti-yoga process is practised by the devotees in different methods like hearing, chanting, remembering, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, worshipping, praying, rendering service in love, becoming friendly, and offering all that one may possess. All nine methods are bona fide methods, and either all of them, some of them or even one of them can bring about the desired result for the sincere devotee. But out of all the nine different methods, the first one, namely hearing, is the most important function in the process of bhakti-yoga. Without hearing sufficiently and properly, no one can make any progress by any of the methods of practice. SB 2.2.36

I want to know if reading Srila Prabhupada's books is also carrying out Sravanam. Are there any rules such as one has to read loudly and hear the vibration, or will mental sound suffice?

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Sravanam - hearing, is not the same as reading books, whether it is Prabhupada's or others. Sravanam technically refers to hearing Sri Krishna's name (during japa), hear about his glories, his leelas, his qualities and also those that of his devotees.

Reading the books should be done with focus. If reading it out loudly is what helps once focus, that's fine. But that is not the vibration meant in his instruction. The books are considered central to ISKCON and this is reiterated by how Prabhupada set the simple principles that should guide every devotee:

Books are the basis Utility is the principle Preaching is the essence Purity is the force

Reading about Sri Krishna or his devotees or hearing the books being read is certainly helpful. It will help cleanse the mind, and give a higher taste for the one hearing it.

https://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/2/2/37

pibanti ye bhagavata ātmanaḥ satāṁ kathāmṛtaṁ śravaṇa-puṭeṣu sambhṛtam punanti te viṣaya-vidūṣitāśayaṁ vrajanti tac-caraṇa-saroruhāntikam

Those who drink through aural reception, fully filled with the nectarean message of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the beloved of the devotees, purify the polluted aim of life known as material enjoyment and thus go back to Godhead, to the lotus feet of Him [the Personality of Godhead].

  • But Srila Prabhupada said "These are not ordinary books. It is recorded chanting. Anyone who reads, he is hearing." here - stillinsound.com/reading-is-hearing . There are other quotes on this page which support that reading is sravanam too. – Tiger Shroff Nov 29 '18 at 12:20
  • @TigerShroff Ok, If he has said, that then why the question comes up here? Here's my stand. I don't dispute it as I mentioned in my answer that reading aloud is also cleansing only. But, I also studied under a Gaudiya Vaishnava teacher and I can tell you that what Prabhupada would never have suggested that reading alone is sufficient as sravanam or it can be a full substitute. It includes a lot more activities. Reading is the first step. If you look up for his quotes on importance of chanting the mahamantra as well as attending the Gita and Bhagavatam classes, you will see what I meant. – Ambi Nov 29 '18 at 12:46
  • aren't those other limbs of devotional service? Srila Prabhupada does say that any one process of devotional service alone is sufficient to take one to Godhead and perfection. But more than one can be followed too. – Tiger Shroff Nov 29 '18 at 12:50
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    @TigerShroff It is true that those who stick to even one process can achieve perfection, but practically even Prabupada has given instructions to chant, hear bhagavatam class and read books for all. – user16618 Nov 29 '18 at 13:33
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    @TigerShroff I get what you are trying to say. Let me close with this... if Prabhupada had been around and his disciple says "Prabhupad, I will only read your books and not chant or attend classes", he would have only received heavy chastisement. So, while no one doubts the efficacy of each of those limbs of devotional service, we cannot just assume one would turn out to be sufficient. At least, I am not at the level where it is sufficient. – Ambi Nov 29 '18 at 14:00

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