8th Feb, 2015. Gurgaon
`Vaishnava-aparadha’ is the last in the series of blogs based on `Madhurya Kadimbini’ and the seminar I heard on the same topic by HH Bhanu Maharaj. It is said that amongst all the offenses that a soul can commit, there is no offense more severe than criticism of a Vaisnava. Therefore, I decided to write a separate blog on it.
It is written in the Srimad Bhagavatam (10.74.40):
nindam bhagavatah srnvams tat-parasya janasya va
tato napaiti yah so ‘pi yaty adhah sukrtac cyutah
“One who does not leave a place where the Lord or the Vaisnavas are being criticised looses all of their sukrti (spiritual fortune) and falls down.”
One meaning of this word could be understood as Apa means against and radha means devotion; so it is an act against devotion or an act that stops devotion.
Maharaj said that though all apradhas are somewhat offensive towards the Lord yet Vaishanava apradha specifically is very damaging. Maharaj added that sinful activity is indulging in sense gratification, sinful activities are NOT directly against Krishna or directly against devotees therefore they are not harmful in the same way as Vaishanava apradha ! Sin, maharaj said, can give us suffering in terms of karma but it doesn’t necessarily destroy bhakti where as Vaishanava apradha can do that because they are directly against bhakti, against supreme Lord and against His devotees. So apradha have devotional effect, they harm our faith whereas when we indulge in sense gratification it doesn’t necessarily decrease whatever faith we have attained. So of the two apradha is more harmful than sinful activities because it is directly against devotional items !
Maharaj said they such apradha may slow down our process of bhakti if we do it inadvertently or by accidents rather than deliberately. But When the attitude becomes hostile then it becomes apradha with capital A. Which is very destructive. It will not only slow down our bhakti but can also destroy bhakti. Hostility towards Vaishanava becomes quite destructive and it is very harmful. Maharaj quoted Caitanya Mahāprabhu `this apradha is like a mad elephant which can wipe out bhakti‘. I realised that as devotee I am much more careful toward committing any sinful activity than towards committing Vaishanava apradha hence hearing Maharaj was an eye opener for me. Maharaj said something we accrued from 20 lifetimes and get the faith (via ajnata sukriti) can go away very quickly, then we may have to start again from another 20 lifetimes !!
Maharaj explained that one of the reasons for such sever reaction is because Supreme Lord is very affectionate towards His devotees and gives away Himself to His devotees and it is He who empowers His devotee to be able to preach. Maharaj added that we may not be able to see Krishna directly but through His devotees we can get Him and His mercy. Krishna gives them the shakti to preach. Maharaj said we can take the example of a powerhouse, we may not be able to see voltage in a powerhouse but can see the light bulb glowing. Similarly we may not be able to see Krishna’s mercy directly but can receive it via His devotee.
I was later browsing through Caitanya Bhagavat reading the episode of Jagai and Madhai on Nityananada Troyodasi. Though I have heard this pastime many a times still I read it repeatedly as it somehow gives me a solace that I too have similar `eligibility’ of receiving Nityananda Prabhu’s mercy and this particular episode is described in a very detailed manner in Caitanya Bhagavat. But this time I was was shocked to read it and my so called `eligibility’ too evaporated as I read the below lines carefully
`Although they committed every conceivable sin, they were still free from offence against Vaishanavas. They were just always intoxicated and had had no opportunity to criticise vaishnava (CB 1.2). This supplements what HH Bhanu Maharaj said that sinful activities means karmic reaction whereas Vaishanava apradha can even destroy our bhakti. A chill went down my spine as I read the above line multiple times. I don’t know if I can even count as to how many times I would have criticised Vaishanavas in my so called spiritual journey.
I flipped through pages and also coincidentally read another pastime in Caitanya Bhagavat where the incident about Lord Brahma’s son, Marici’s, six sons. Once, very surprisingly, Brahma was struck by Cupid’s arrow. Blinded with lust he chased his own daughter. The six young boys began to smirk and laugh seeing this scene, and this caused them to fall down instantly from their godly positions. Because they had ridiculed a great personality, they had to take birth in the family of the vicious demon, Hiranyakasipu, who had avowed to live by the sword and put everyone into subjugation. During the fight between the demigods and the demons, Indra vanquished these six with his powerful thunderbolt weapon. They died after much torment. Yogamaya then arranged for them one by one to be born as Mother Devaki’s sons.
Lord said `Take heed, O Bali Maharaja, The consequences of ridiculing a devotee of the Lord are very severe. Even perfected yogis suffer heavily if they disrespect a Vaishnava, what to mention about lesser humans. A Vaishnava offender has to pay a heavy price life after life. I am delving on this subject for your benefit so you may learn from this and never insult a Vaishnava. If a person worships Me and chants My name, but offends a Vaishnava, he has to suffer severe setbacks in his devotional life. And as for those who love and respect My devotees, I make Myself easily available to them.’ In the scriptures it says, `There may exist some doubt about the success in attaining perfection by serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but there is no doubt whatsoever in achieving perfection by serving the pure devotees of the Supreme Lord'(Varaha Purana). Further, in another place it states, `Those who only worship Lord Govinda, Krishna, but do not worship and serve the Lord’s devotees, are highly insolent. They never receive the Lord’s blessings.’ Dear Bali, you are dear to Me and you are My servitor, hence I have revealed these esoteric meanings of the scriptures to you.”
In the end I will quote a letter Srila Prabhupada wrote to Gopala Krsna (He could be HH Gopala Krishna Goswami Maharaj but I am not sure) (April 21, 1970) `You are always alert to see whether you are committing some offense. This is a very nice attitude. In rendering service to Lord Krsna and His representative, the Spiritual Master, we should always maintain this fearful attitude which means careful attention. This attitude will advance you progressively in Krsna consciousness.’
I will pray for all the readers to Lord today to kindly save us from committing this most dangerous apradha. After writing this blog I too feel inspired (and fearful) to add it in my daily morning prayers, to beg the Lord to save me from committing Vaishanava apradha.
And if we overcome this offence then Caitanya Mahāprabhu declares that
I will personally deliver anyone who avoids criticizing others and once chants ‘Krsna! I vow that this is the truth. (Caitanya-bhagavata 19.213-4)
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.