Meaning of the proverb Example is better than precept

We try to impress a thing on others. We may do it by words or by deeds. But the effect in both cases is not the same. We may give advice to others to do certain things. We may speak of many noble qualities. We may tell people that they should acquire those qualities. It may or may not have effect. But if we have those qualities ourselves, our advice will be more effective. An orator may ask the people to sacrifice their lives for the good of the country. His inspiring speech may produce some effect but it does not last long. If the orator himself does what he preaches, people will have faith in what he says.

If he sacrifices his life for the good of the country, others will follow him. Thus an example is more effective than thousands of words of advice. If a man does not practice what he preaches, his precepts will not carry weight. Parents may advice their children to be good and virtuous. If the parents themselves are not good and virtuous, the children cannot be expected to be good and virtuous. They will follow the examples of their parents. A teacher can have greater influence over the students if he himself practices what he preaches to them. Lord Chitanya’s preaching was –Practice a virtue yourself and then teaches others to follow your example. He did it himself and so he had so much influence over the people.