How to Handle Criticism ?
HERE ENDS YOUR
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(Compiled from notes on lectures of H. H. Mahavishnu Goswami)
Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.
Recently I was going through the diary which contained my conversations with our beloved Gurudev, HDG Mahavishnu Gosvami Maharaj. I seek the permission of the devotees to allow me to share the contents of one of the conversations. I will try and list down the points which I had taken down on my note book. The conversation was a question and answer session on the following verse sung by Madhavendra Puri. This verse was found in the purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 2.4.3-4
mugdham maam nigadantu neeti-nipunaa bhraantam muhur vaidikaah
mandam baandhava-sancayâ jada-dhiyam muktaadaraah sodaraah
unmattam dhanino viveka-caturaah kaamam mahaa-daambhikam
moktum na kshaamate manaag api mano govinda-paada- sprhaam
"Let the sharp moralist accuse me of being illusioned; I do not mind. Experts in Vedic activities may slander me as being misled, friends and relatives may call me frustrated, my brothers may call me a fool, the wealthy mammonites may point me out as mad, and the learned philosophers may assert that I am much too proud; still my mind does not budge an inch from the determination to serve the lotus feet of Govinda, though I be unable to do it."
I could see that Maharaj really liked this verse as he was very pleased to hear the translation and asked me to repeat it a few times.
Question 1: I find that I cannot handle criticisms. My mind becomes very unstable after I hear anyone criticizing my actions. How do I deal with this ?
Gurudev said : "The criticism that we receive is the medicine to cure our disease.If you do something wrong you must be prepared to face the music. You think that you are perfect and that is why you cannot handle criticisms. Krishna is so merciful that he is allowing you to get some criticism. If not how will you know your disease? Your chanting and reading of Bhagavatam has not killed your pride. Then what is the point of studying these things? You think that you are perfect."
Question 2: What happens when I get criticized even when I have done nothing wrong?
Gurudev's reply to this question is indeed a eye-opener for us. He said, "Why do you think that you are perfect? If smoke is coming then the fire must be burning somewhere. Even if you have genuinely not committed any mistake criticism will always be there. That is the nature of this age. Please remember that even our own family members will criticise. What to speak of our material relations, even in this line of devotion you will be criticised. You may not even know but even then they will criticize. Please read the verse. Please don't bother about these things. Everyone suffers his own vibrations. Krishna is not going to look at the list of criticisms that you have received. He only looks at your sincerity in pursuing uninterrupted Bhakti. The problem is that whenever everyone acts according to how we want them to act we praise them and we are friendly. The moment they act against our desires we speak harshly and our behaviour completely changes. We always have an agenda but we don't have Krishna. Please don't use Bhakti to satisfy your senses. Don't hide your agenda under Bhakti. We use Bhakti to carry out our material plans. This is the embarrassment." Then Maharaj quoted the following verse from Srimad Bhagavatam 5.19.7:
na janma nunam mahato na saubhagam
na vaan na buddhir naakritis tosha-hetuh
tair yad visrishtaan api no vanaukasash
cakaara sakhye bata lakshmanaagrajah
"One cannot establish a friendship with the Supreme Lord Ramacandra on the basis of material qualities such as one's birth in an aristocratic family, one's personal beauty, one's eloquence, one's sharp intelligence or one's superior race or nation. None of these qualifications is actually a prerequisite for friendship with Lord Shri Ramacandra. Otherwise how is it possible that although we uncivilized inhabitants of the forest have not taken noble births, although we have no physical beauty and although we cannot speak like gentlemen, Lord Ramacandra has nevertheless accepted us as friends?"
Gurudev continued - "It's because we want all these name and fame that we cannot take criticism. Krishna doesnt want your name and fame. He wants Bhakti. So why are we bothered about criticisms? Let them say - but you just hold on to Lord's feet. What else can you do? Promise me that you will never be bothered by these things. Dont waste your time. May Lord bless you."
I have tried to list down whatever I had managed to take down from the conversation. Please forgive me for my offences. Prabhus and Matajis - please kindly pray that I will never sway according to criticisms but only sway according to Gurudev's orders. In his purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 2.8.6 Srila Prabhupada mentions - Pure devotees like Narada and Nityananda Prabhu take up the order of the spiritual master as the sustenance of life. They do not mind what becomes of the future of their lives. They take the matter very seriously as the order comes from the higher authority, from the representative of the Lord, or from the Lord Himself.
Thank you very much.
Madan Mohan das,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Hare Rama Hare Rama
and be happy.