Whenever a dignitary such as Srila Prabhupada would walk, who would dare to walk in front of him? A leader’s role is to set an example to lead others, and a true leader is shown respect befitting his position.

A reference to a historical Vedic story is relevant in this connection. The demigods deputed Brigu Muni, a mystic renunciant, to test the tolerance of Lord Brahma, the engineer of the material universe. When Brighu Muni arrived at the abode of Lord Brahma, he purposefully sat down with his back facing Lord Brahma. This greatly angered Lord Brahma, but he was able to control his anger with his intelligence. He tolerated this insult, but internally he had become angry because of the offense. Being the father of this universe, Lord Brahma is one of the greatest leaders and should have been shown appropriate respect.

It is customary in the temples of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to not sit in front of our seniors during class. We often look behind us, look around us, and then place ourselves in the appropriate spot. It is offensive to have our back to the Deities, the form of the Lord visible to our mundane eyes, the spiritual master or guru, or to elders, seniors, and other superiors. This consciousness breeds humility in the heart, which allows us to understand our position as spiritual servitor to the Lord and His devotees, and enables us to quickly progress on the path of self-realization.

Extracted from “God made this Land (Upcoming Book of Guru Maharaja)”