According to the Vedic principles, there are three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandha-jñāna, abhidheya and prayojana. Sambandha-jñāna refers to establishing one’s original relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, abhidheya refers to acting according to that constitutional relationship, and prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to develop love of Godhead (premā pum-artho mahān). If one adheres to the regulative principles under the order of the spiritual master, he very easily achieves the ultimate goal of his life. A person who is addicted to the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra very easily gets the opportunity to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. ( CC Adi 7.73P)
“Sri Govindaji acts exactly like the siksa-guru. He is the original preceptor, for Govindaji gives us instructions and an opportunity to serve Him. The diksa-guru is a personal manifestation of the Sri Madana-mohana vigraha. Both of these Deities are worshiped at Vrindavana. Srila Gopinatha is the ultimate attraction of spiritual realization.” (CC Adi 1.47p.)
(Sri Radha Madan Mohan, Karauli)
Srila Sanatana Goswami is the acharya of sambandha, the process of understanding our relationship with Lord Krishna. The deity for Sambandha is Madan Mohan.
By receiving the mercy of the Radha-Madana-mohana Deity, and by studying the writings of the sambandha-acharya Srila Sanatana Gosvami, a devotee will attain sambandha-jnana, or knowledge of one’s spiritual identity and his eternal relationship with Sri Krishna. Srila Prabhupada states, “Madana-mohana, Sanatana Gosvami’s Deity, helps us progress in Krishna consciousness. In the execution of Krishna consciousness, our first business is to know Krishna and our relationship with Him, which we can learn by worshiping the Madana-mohana vigraha.”
(Sri Radha Govind Devji, Jaipur)
Srila Rupa Goswami is the acahrya of abhidheya and he reveals how to execute devotional service. His Deity of Radha-Govindaji accepts service and gives inspiration for increasing surrender on the path of bhakti-yoga. By writing many books Srila Rupa Gosvami has very kindly established the scientific basis of bhakti. “Everyone should read this book, Nectar of Devotion, very attentively, because all the conclusive statements about the Kingdom of Bhakti are contained in this transcendentally valuable book. It is the essence of all Vedic scriptures enlightening about Krishna consciousness. If anyone reads this Nectar of Devotion very carefully, he will have all guidance in the Bhakti Cult.” (Srila Prabhupada lecture 6/27/70)
(Sri Radha Gopinatha, Jaipur)
Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is our prayojana acharya. The Gopinatha Deity is Krishna as master and proprietor of the gopis, the totally surrendered devotees . The Gopinatha Deity represents the prayojana-tattva (truth about life’s ultimate goal”pure love of Krishna. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami accepts the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami as his highest aspiration. He thus reveals the way to attain the perfection of one’s loving relationship with Sri Krishna. Through humble prayers and service to the Radha-Gopinatha Deity, and by imbibing the teachings and mercy of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, a devotee can quickly advance in devotional service and ultimately attain the goal of life, prema-bhakti. (MNS)
“The Gaudiya Vaisnavas who follow strictly in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one’s transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord (sambandha), and reciprocation of mellows of mutual affection (abhidheya), and ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service (prayojana). These three Deities (Madana-mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha) are worshiped in three different stages of one’s development. The followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.” (CC Adi 1.19p.)
In a seminar on bhakti culture HG Srimati Mataji shared three most beautiful verses to describe our relationship with Lord at above three stages, they are most practical for an aspiring devotee. We can recite these verses daily, also before our japa and even during the middle of our japa when the attentiveness seems to slip away. I am trying, and struggling, to follow the same but still reaping some benefits inspite of all my handicaps.
caitanyera dāsa muñi, caitanyera dāsa
caitanyera dāsa muñi, tāṅra dāsera dāsa
“I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, a servant of Lord Caitanya. I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, and a servant of His servants.” (cc Adi 6.86)
daśa aparādha yena hṛdaye nā paśe kṛpā kara mahāprabhu maji nāma rase
O Mahäprabhu, please be merciful to me so that the ten offenses never touch my heart, and I can always remain absorbed in the rasa of the Holy Name. (Harinäma Chintamani 13.59 Bhaktivinoda Thäkura)
“prema-dhana vinā vyartha daridra jīvana
‘dāsa’ kari’ vetana more deha prema-dhana”
“Without love of Godhead, My life is useless. Therefore I pray that You accept Me as Your servant and give Me the salary of ecstatic love of God.” (cc Adi .20.37)
As I write this blog, a verse which Krishnadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, wrote, comes to my memory
I offer my respects to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, by whose desire I have become like a dancing dog and suddenly taken to the writing of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, although I am a fool. (cc Adi 8.1)
I humbly seek forgiveness for any mistakes in compiling on this topic.
Today is the last in the three series of glorification of Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental qualities and the events leading to his departure to USA.
Lineage: Srila Prabhupada was an authorised spiritual teacher in an unbroken succession that can be traced back to God Himself – and his appearance was predicted. Sages in this line have learned and taught the pure wisdom of God’s original instructions for millennia, and include Vyasa, the author of the sacred scriptures, and Chaitanya, the propagator of the holy names of the Lord.
Simplicity: Humble, meek, truthful and pure – in his character, in his lifestyle and in the message he taught. Srila Prabhupada lived to serve mankind and inspired others to follow ‘simple living, high thinking’, a return to an uncomplicated lifestyle. Despite the success of his movement, Srila Prabhupada always remained modest and detached and gave credit to others.
Devotion: Srila Prabhupada epitomised and taught bhakti yoga: pure, absolute and unconditional love of the Supreme Lord. Giving up household life and adopting the renounced order, he became a travelling monk whose affection and compassion now extended to the whole of society. He circled the globe twelve times, spreading the message of pure devotion everywhere.
Following Mrs. Morarji’s instruction, her secretary, Mr. Choksi, made final arrangements for Bhaktivedanta Swami. Since he had no warm clothes, Mr. Choksi took him to buy a wool jacket and other woolen clothes. Mr. Choksi spent about 250 rupees on new clothes, including some new dhotīs. At Bhaktivedanta Swami’s request, Mr. Choksi printed five hundred copies of a small pamphlet containing the eight verses written by Lord Caitanya and an advertisement for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in the context of an advertisement for the Scindia Steamship Company.
Mr. Choksi:I asked him, “Why couldn’t you go earlier? Why do you want to go now to the States, at this age?” He replied that, “I will be able to do something good, I am sure.” His idea was that someone should be there who would be able to go near people who were lost in life and teach them and tell them what the correct thing is. I asked him so many times, “Why do you want to go to the States? Why don’t you start something in Bombay or Delhi or Vṛndāvana?” I was teasing him also: “You are interested in seeing the States. Therefore, you want to go. All Swamijis want to go to the States, and you want to enjoy there.” He said, “What I have got to see? I have finished my life.”
But sometimes he was hot-tempered. He used to get angry at me for the delays. “What is this nonsense?” he would say. Then I would understand: he is getting angry now. Sometimes he would say, “Oh, Mrs. Morarji has still not signed this paper? She says come back tomorrow, we will talk tomorrow! What is this? Why this daily going back?” He would get angry. Then I would say, “You can sit here.” But he would say, “How long do I have to sit?” He would become impatient.
Finally Mrs. Morarji scheduled a place for him on one of her ships, the Jaladuta, which was sailing from Calcutta on August 13. She had made certain that he would travel on a ship whose captain understood the needs of a vegetarian and a brāhmaṇa. Mrs. Morarji told the Jaladuta’s captain, Arun Pandia, to carry extra vegetables and fruits for the Swami. Mr. Choksi spent the last two days with Bhaktivedanta Swami in Bombay, picking up the pamphlets at the press, purchasing clothes, and driving him to the station to catch the train for Calcutta.
( Srila Prabhupada’s passport)
He arrived in Calcutta about two weeks before the Jaladuta’s departure. Although he had lived much of his life in the city, he now had nowhere to stay. It was as he had written in his “Vṛndāvana-bhajana”: “I have my wife, sons, daughters, grandsons, everything, / But I have no money, so they are a fruitless glory.” Although in this city he had been so carefully nurtured as a child, those early days were also gone forever: “Where have my loving father and mother gone to now? / And where are all my elders, who were my own folk? / Who will give me news of them, tell me who? / All that is left of this family life is a list of names.”
Out of the hundreds of people in Calcutta whom Bhaktivedanta Swami knew, he chose to call on Mr. Sisir Bhattacarya, the flamboyant kīrtana singer he had met a year before at the governor’s house in Lucknow. Mr. Bhattacarya was not a relative, not a disciple, nor even a close friend; but he was willing to help. Bhaktivedanta Swami called at his place and informed him that he would be leaving on a cargo ship in a few days; he needed a place to stay, and he would like to give some lectures. Mr. Bhattacarya immediately began to arrange a few private meetings at friends’ homes, where he would sing and Bhaktivedanta Swami would then speak.
Mr. Bhattacarya thought the sādhu’s leaving for America should make an important news story. He accompanied Bhaktivedanta Swami to all the newspapers in Calcutta-the Hindustan Standard, the Amrita Bazar Patrika, the Jugantas, the Statesman, and others. Bhaktivedanta Swami had only one photograph, a passport photo, and they made a few copies for the newspapers. Mr. Bhattacarya would try to explain what the Swami was going to do, and the news writers would listen. But none of them wrote anything. Finally they visited the Dainik Basumati, a local Bengali daily, which agreed to print a small article with Bhaktivedanta Swami’s picture.
( Srila Prabhupada’s Jaladuta ticket)
A week before his departure, on August 6, Bhaktivedanta Swami traveled to nearby Māyāpur to visit the samādhi of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. Then he returned to Calcutta, where Mr. Bhattacarya continued to assist him with his final business and speaking engagements.
Mr. Bhattacarya: We just took a hired taxi to this place and that place. And he would go for preaching. I never talked to him during the preaching, but once when I was coming back from the preaching, I said, “You said this thing about this. But I tell you it is not this. It is this.” I crossed him in something or argued. And he was furious. Whenever we argued and I said, “No, I think this is this,” then he was shouting. He was very furious. He said, “You are always saying, “I think, I think, I think.’ What is the importance of what you think? Everything is what you think. But it doesn’t matter. It matters what śāstra says. You must follow.” I said, “I must do what I think, what I feel-that is important.” He said, “No, you should forget this. You should forget your desire. You should change your habit. Better you depend on śāstras. You follow what śāstra wants you to do, and do it. I am not telling you what I think, but I am repeating what the śāstra says.”
As the day of his departure approached, Bhaktivedanta Swami took stock of his meager possessions. He had only a suitcase, an umbrella, and a supply of dry cereal. He did not know what he would find to eat in America; perhaps there would be only meat. If so, he was prepared to live on boiled potatoes and the cereal. His main baggage, several trunks of his books, was being handled separately by Scindia Cargo. Two hundred three-volume sets-the very thought of the books gave him confidence.
When the day came for him to leave, he needed that confidence. He was making a momentous break with his previous life, and he was dangerously old and not in strong health. And he was going to an unknown and probably unwelcoming country. To be poor and unknown in India was one thing. Even in these Kali-yuga days, when India’s leaders were rejecting Vedic culture and imitating the West, it was still India; it was still the remains of Vedic civilization. He had been able to see millionaires, governors, the prime minister, simply by showing up at their doors and waiting. A sannyāsī was respected; the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was respected. But in America it would be different. He would be no one, a foreigner. And there was no tradition of sādhus, no temples, no free āśramas. But when he thought of the books he was bringing-transcendental knowledge in English-he became confident. When he met someone in America he would give him a flyer: “”Śrīmad Bhagwatam,’ India’s Message of Peace and Goodwill.”
It was August 13, just a few days before Janmāṣṭamī, the appearance day anniversary of Lord Kṛṣṇa-the next day would be his own sixty-ninth birthday. During these last years, he had been in Vṛndāvana for Janmāṣṭamī. Many Vṛndāvana residents would never leave there; they were old and at peace in Vṛndāvana. Bhaktivedanta Swami was also concerned that he might die away from Vṛndāvana. That was why all the Vaiṣṇava sādhus and widows had taken vows not to leave, even for Mathurā-because to die in Vṛndāvana was the perfection of life. And the Hindu tradition was that a sannyāsī should not cross the ocean and go to the land of the mlecchas. But beyond all that was the desire of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, and his desire was nondifferent from that of Lord Kṛṣṇa. And Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu had predicted that the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa would be known in every town and village of the world.
Bhaktivedanta Swami took a taxi down to the Calcutta port. A few friends and admirers, along with his son Vrindavan, accompanied him. He writes in his diary: “Today at 9 a.m. embarked on M.V. Jaladuta. Came with me Bhagwati, the Dwarwan of Scindia Sansir, Mr. Sen Gupta, Mr. Ali and Vrindaban.” He was carrying a Bengali copy of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, which he intended to read during the crossing. Somehow he would be able to cook on board. Or if not, he could starve- whatever Kṛṣṇa desired. He checked his essentials: passenger ticket, passport, visa, P-form, sponsor’s address. Finally it was happening.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: With what great difficulty I got out of the country! Some way or other, by Kṛṣṇa’s grace, I got out so I could spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement all over the world. Otherwise, to remain in India-it was not possible. I wanted to start a movement in India, but I was not at all encouraged.
( Jaladuta, the cargo ship which Prabhupada boarded for his trip to USA)
The black cargo ship, small and weathered, was moored at dockside, a gangway leading from the dock to the ship’s deck. Indian merchant sailors curiously eyed the elderly saffron-dressed sādhu as he spoke last words to his companions and then left them and walked determinedly toward the boat.
For thousands of years, kṛṣṇa-bhakti had been known only in India, not outside, except in twisted, faithless reports by foreigners. And the only swamis to have reached America had been non-devotees, Māyāvādī impersonalists. But now Kṛṣṇa was sending Bhaktivedanta Swami as His emissary.
Last few days whatever I have been hearing, reading or even receiving from other devotees, there is one common thread: We should not desire any change in our karmic reaction from Krishna. As the coincidences built up I took them as a clue to share them with everyone.
It is not very uncommon to see that when we fall into difficult situations, we earnestly pray to Lord to remove it. It could be a simple cold to a serious illness or some other difficult situations. While this may be acceptable as a neophyte but as aspiring devotees we must endeavor to progress upwards from that level.
We are aware that almost all of our current circumstances have resulted from our past actions. But we should remember another very important point that nothing happens by chance, specially in the life of a devotee. We should have the firm faith that since Krishna is in control so whatever is happening in my life is for my own good.
HG Damodar Prabhu sent me the below two SMSs yesterday.
Sharanagati (surrender) is accomplishedonly when one can see the grace of the Supreme Lord in every situation -V.V.imp verse from SB below
“One who, in the hope of achieving Your grace, goes on enduring the inauspicious fruit of his own karma, and passes his days practicing devotion unto You in every thought, word, and deed- such a person is heir to the land of freedom: he attains to the plane of positive immortality.”(spiritual world)- Lord Brahma (SB10.14.8)
Few weeks back HG Padmalochan Prabhuji sent me the below verse from Mukunda Mala Strota
O my Lord! I have no attachment for religiosity, or for accumulating wealth, or for enjoying sense gratification. Let these come as they inevitably must, in accordance with my past deeds. But I do pray for this most cherished boon: birth after birth, let me render unflinching devotional service unto Your two lotus feet. (MM 5)
Then two days back I was hearing a lecture by HG Srimati Mataji where mataji quoted Srimad Bhagavatam on how devotional service could be in the mode of ignorance, passion & goodness, and finally above the modes of nature, which should be our target. Here are the verses:
Devotional service executed by a person who is envious, proud, violent and angry, and who is a separatist, is considered to be in the mode of darkness. (SB 3.29.8)
The worship of Deities in the temple by a separatist, with a motive for material enjoyment, fame and opulence, is devotion in the mode of passion. (SB 3.29.9)
When a devotee worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead and offers the results of his activities in order to free himself from the inebrieties of fruitive activities, his devotion is in the mode of goodness. (SB 3.29.10)
The manifestation of unadulterated devotional service is exhibited when one’s mind is at once attracted to hearing the transcendental name and qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is residing in everyone’s heart. Just as the water of the Ganges flows naturally down towards the ocean, such devotional ecstasy, uninterrupted by any material condition, flows towards the Supreme Lord. (SB 3.29.11-12)
Srimad Bhagavatam is calling the devotees in the mode of ignorance and passion as separatists, which we all know is not such a nice quality to possess.
So who is a separatist ?
Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport of SB3.29 that A separatist is one who sees his interest as separate from that of the Supreme Lord. Mixed devotees, or devotees in the modes of passion and ignorance, think that the interest of the Supreme Lord is supplying the orders of the devotee; the interest of such devotees is to draw from the Lord as much as possible for their sense gratification. This is the separatist mentality.
The mind of the Supreme Lord and the mind of the devotee should be dovetailed. A devotee should not wish anything but to execute the desire of the Supreme. That is oneness. When the devotee has an interest or will different from the interest of the Supreme Lord, his mentality is that of a separatist…The devotee has no interest but to fulfill the transcendental desire of the Supreme Lord.
We should note that Lord Caitanya also teaches us in Siksastakam verse 4:
“O Lord, I do not wish to gain from You any wealth, nor do I wish to have a beautiful wife, nor do I wish to have many followers. All I want from You is that in life after life I may remain a pure devotee at Your lotus feet.”
Srila Prabhupada writes: there is a similarity between the prayers of Lord Caitanya and the statements of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Lord Caitanya prays, “in life after life,” indicating that a devotee does not even desire the cessation of birth and death. The yogīs and empiric philosophers desire cessation of the process of birth and death, but a devotee is satisfied to remain even in this material world and execute devotional service.
By practicing Krishna Bhakti, or Krishna consciousness, we get aligned with Krishna. The firmer the faith we have in trusting Krishna to be my best well wisher, the sharper will be our realisation that everything that is happening in my life is designed for my spiritual progress.
Once Srimati mataji asked HG Jananivas Prabhuji `how does he manages to remain so much in Krishna consciousness despite so many ups and downs in Mayapur?’ Prabhuji replied that for any such `event’ he considers that this particular situation is best suited for my own spiritual progress, at my current stage !
Sometimes we see events, in our own or other devotee’s lives, which we may bewilder us but we should have firm faith that Krishna is doing something which is best for that devotee. The reasons could vary from fast forwarding some of our balance karmic reactions so we can quickly come back to Him or to show other devotees, by example, how to respond when calamities fall on us or it may be to complete our detachment from the material world or something else, we are too miniscule to comprehend the thought process of Supreme Lord but we must know that He is our best well wisher.
I remember during a workshop, two years back, HH Bhakti Brhat Bhagavat Maharaja asked devotees to first write down few `bad things’ that have happened in our life and then Maharaj asked us to think what message was Krishna trying to give us through that `event’. It was a wonderful experience as each devotee wrote and shared his realisation. An old devotee wrote how he felt very pained when his only child left him for a posting abroad and he now realise that it was Krishna’s arrangement to get prabhuji more attached to Him. Prabhuji now does a lot of service in the temple and is very happy internally!
So under such circumstances it helps a lot to pray to Krishna to please let me know what are You trying to convey or teach me in my current situation.
While writing this blog I also remember an earlier blog where HG Chaitanya Charan Prabhuji said how we have `half faith’ in Krishna. We believe in Krishna’s power but in our own intelligence, instead, we should have full faith in Krishna’s power as well His intelligence.
This is the second last blog in the series of last few blogs on Vaishanava etiquette and Vaishanava Apradha. We will read about three categories of devotees and what Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has to say on Vaishnava Apradha.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in `Vaisnava Ninda’ (Sajjan Toshani, 1893) that If we neglect to show respect to the ordinary jivas, special honour to the religious jiva, and proper respect to brahmana-jivas and vaisnava-praya-jivas, then we invite sin upon ourselves. But to show disrespect or dishonour to a vaisnava-jiva is an aparadha. Performing ordinary penances can erase so many sins, but an aparadha is not dispelled so easily. Sins influence the gross and subtle bodies. Aparadha specifically affects the jiva’s very soul and causes him to fall down. Thus, whoever wishes to perform bhajana of the Lord must guard against committing aparadha.
Three kinds of Vaishnavas
In NoI verse 5 Rupa Goswami writes :
kṛṣṇeti yasya giri taṁ manasādriyeta dīkṣāsti cet praṇatibhiś ca bhajantam īśam
śuśrūṣayā bhajana-vijñam ananyam anya-nindādi-śūnya-hṛdam īpsita-saṅga-labdhyā
One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [dīkṣā] and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others.
Prabhupada writes in his purport that
The kaniṣṭha-adhikārī is a neophyte who has received the hari-nāma initiation from the spiritual master and is trying to chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. One should respect such a person within his mind as a kaniṣṭha Vaiṣṇava.
A madhyama-adhikārī has received spiritual initiation from the spiritual master and has been fully engaged by him in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. The madhyama-adhikārī should be considered to be situated midway in devotional service.
The uttama-adhikārī, or highest devotee, is one who is very advanced in devotional service. An uttama-adhikārī is not interested in blaspheming others, his heart is completely clean, and he has attained the realized state of unalloyed Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
What does Srimad Bhagvatam says (Srila Prabhupada also quotes the same in his above purport of NoI verse 5) :
A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the Deity in the temple but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called a prākṛta-bhakta, a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position. (SB 11.2.47)
An intermediate or second-class devotee, called madhyama-adhikārī, offers his love to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord, shows mercy to ignorant people who are innocent and disregards those who are envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (SB 11.2.46)
The most advanced devotee sees within everything the soul of all souls, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Consequently he sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord and understands that everything that exists is eternally situated within the Lord. (SB 11.2.45)
What does Mahāprabhu says :
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then finally advised, “One who is chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is understood to be a Vaiṣṇava; therefore you should offer all respects to him.” cc madhya 15.111
“A person who is always chanting the holy name of the Lord is to be considered a first-class Vaiṣṇava, and your duty is to serve his lotus feet.” cc madhya 16.72
The following year, the inhabitants of Kulīna-grāma again asked the Lord the same question. Hearing this question, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu again taught them about the different types of Vaiṣṇavas.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “A first-class Vaiṣṇava is he whose very presence makes others chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa.” cc madhya 16.74
krama kari’ kahe prabhu ‘vaiṣṇava’-lakṣaṇa
‘vaiṣṇava’, ‘vaiṣṇavatara’, āra ‘vaiṣṇavatama’
In this way, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught the distinctions between different types of Vaiṣṇavas — the Vaiṣṇava, Vaiṣṇavatara and Vaiṣṇavatama. He thus successively explained all the symptoms of a Vaiṣṇava to the inhabitants of Kulīna-grāma.
So according to the above instructions of Mahaprabhu, simply by chanting Hare Krishna mantra, one attains the platform of a Vaisnava !
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Whoever chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa just once is worshipable and is the topmost human being. ( CC Madhya 15.106)
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then finally advised, “One who is chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is understood to be a Vaiṣṇava; therefore you should offer all respects to him.” (CC Madhya 15.111)
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to above verse that : A properly initiated Vaiṣṇava may be imperfect, but one who chants the holy name of the Lord offenselessly is all-perfect. Although he may apparently be a neophyte, he still has to be considered a pure, unalloyed Vaiṣṇava. It is the duty of the householder to offer respects to such an unalloyed Vaiṣṇava. This is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instruction
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura adds
O readers! Any faults that were previously in a Vaisnava before bhakti appeared within him should never be considered, unless there is some noble intention in doing so. A Vaisnava should never be criticized for the insignificant residue of his previous faults, which is why Sri Krsna has explained the following in Bhagavad-Gita:
Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes. (BG 9.30-31)
Through the influence of bhakti, all abominable activities that may have existed before the appearance of bhakti, which seemed to be one’s very own nature, are reduced day by day and are finally destroyed within a short time. Discussing the faults of a Vaisnava without a virtuous intention results in vaisnava-aparadha. If one sees some fault in a Vaisnava that appears due to divine providence, one should still not blaspheme that Vaisnava. In this regard, Karabhajana has said
One who has thus given up all other engagements and has taken full shelter at the lotus feet of Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is very dear to the Lord. Indeed, if such a surrendered soul accidentally commits some sinful activity, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is seated within everyone’s heart, immediately takes away the reaction to such sin. (SB 11.5.42)
Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura further emphaises in the end that :
Apart from well-intended discussions of those faults that may arise accidentally, one is liable to commit the offense of criticising a Vaisnava. The fundamental point here is that slandering and blaspheming a Vaisnava..leads to namaparadha, and if one commits namaparadha, then divine revelation (sphurti) of the Holy Name will never manifest. One cannot become a Vaisnava without such revelation of the Holy Name.
O readers! You must think carefully upon this serious subject matter. According to proper devotional conclusions, you must show honor to true Vaisnavas and without any hesitation whatsoever, abandon the company of non-devotees. If one blasphemes a genuine Vaisnava, then the transcendental truth concerning the Holy Name (nama-tattva) will never manifest within one’s heart.
So this is the punishment we receive if we blaspheme other devotees, the Holy Name withdraws the taste from us!
We can clearly see from the above that anyone who chants Krishna’s name is to be considered a vaisnava and he/she is worshipable. We also understood what are the serious consequences of criticism of a devotee on our bhajan and spiritual journey.
Please pardon any errors in the blog as I do not have too much realisations on this deep topic but I still felt inspired to share the same with devotees.
In the next blog, the final one in this series, we will find out what is the cause of Vaishnava Apradha? And how to avoid it!
All glories to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.