Thank you for joining in once again this week. I hope you all are faring well. It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another interesting topic.
Today I’ll like to share with you a short story from a collection of stories by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakur. This story, just like other stories by Maharaja comes with a moral lesson at the end. Those of you familiar with cultures from the Orient will know that it is a common practice to teach people ideals and moral values by telling stories. This is still very much in practices in some countries in Asia and Africa as well. In fact the Mahabharata and Ramayana are great epics that teach us a lot of lessons through wonderful stories.
I’ll begin by telling this short story and giving a little explanation in addition to what His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisidhanta Sarasvati Thakur Gosvami has given.
Once there was a kid who was rather spoilt and was always demanding things from his parents. In his usual tantrums, one day he asked his parents to give him the Moon. The Parents knew this was impossible, however to try to please him, they took him up a high rise building to give him a feel of being “closer to the moon”. Seeing that the Moon was still far away from his reach, the young boy began to cry, shout and curse at the Moon and Sky. He said “O foolish sky, why are you holding the Moon up there, don’t you see that I want to play with it? You should immediately let it go. If you do not let go off the Moon so that I can play with it, I shall immediately make you feel the evil consequences of disobeying me”.
As he was swearing and cursing thus, he started spitting upwards at the sky in great disgust, but obviously every drop of his spit fell back to his face.
In his commentary, Srila Bhaktisidhanta explains that “those who prefer to blaspheme the highest order of the spiritual maser and the Vaishnava’s are simply attracting utter disgrace upon themselves”. The key words here are spiritual master, Vaishnava’s and blasphemy. Just before I add to this short commentary I’ll like to remind us of the story of Hanuman who as a baby wanted to eat the Sun, thinking it to be a fruit. In his case, at least he had the power to fly to the Sun and had he not been stopped by Indra, it was certain that he would have achieved his desire. On the other hand the spoilt kid in this story has no power like Hanuman but has deluded himself into thinking he has some ability.
This is the position of those who criticize Vaishnava’s and disobey Guru’s instructions. When one disregards other Vaishnava’s he is said to commit what is known as the mad elephant’s offense. This offense is so dangerous that it destroys his devotional creeper and leaves him bereft of any devotion to the Lord. Yadi vaisnava aparadha ute hati mata/ uparie va chinde tara shukhi jaya pata// (If the maddened elephant of Vaisnava aparadha enters into the devotional garden, the creeper of bhakti will be uprooted and all its leaves will dry up) – Caitanya Caritamrta 2.19.156
To make this worse, if such a devotee disregards the instruction of the Spiritual master; which could range from general like following the regulative principles to specifics like personal orders, then his spiritual life is in jeopardy, his well-being is at stake, and if he doesn’t desist he is sure to meet with utter disgrace like the kid described in the story above. Criticizing Vaishnava’s is bad enough in itself, however worse than that is doing so in order to satisfy one’s selfish materialistic desires, and even worse than this is, to do both of these while simultaneously neglecting the order of the spiritual master. Another short story to illustrate the negative effect of criticizing Vaishnavas is the story of Ramacandra Puri, who was disowned by his own Guru; Madhavendra Puri when he also criticized him. Ramacandra Puri was the god-brother of Isvara Puri, Lord Caitanya’s guru, however he had one bad quality, he would criticize people and even went as far as criticizing the Lord for overeating and the Lord had to cut his food ration visibly. This was of great disturbance to the assembly of Vaishnava’s so much so that they also reduced their food rations.
One thing we can note here before going too far, is that once your actions become a source of disturbance to Vaishnava’s and you add criticism to that, it is not long before your devotional creeper dies out. The effects are seen visibly on such a person, as they have no taste for spiritual activities and whenever they are around, all they do is criticize other Vaishnavas, despite been with so much faults themselves. When one disobeys the order of the spiritual master, the result is that one begins to criticize and find faults with Vaishnavas, and this offence is said to eventually get to the Lotus feet of Lord Vishnu. How can one who spends his entire time criticizing others have any taste for spiritual practice? How can the pure name of the Lord appear in their Japa?
One may wonder does this mean if we see a misdemeanor we shouldn’t point it out. Of course, we should not hide under the fact that we shouldn’t criticize Vaisnavas and then begin to act capriciously. We can correct and point out misdemeanors in other Vaishnavas; if that is our duty, if we are their authority in some capacity, if they have solicited our advice, if we are senior to them and if they take instructions from us. If we do not fit into any of these categories we should be careful lest we go trying to correct someone more advanced than us and risk the pitfall of aparadha. May the lord grant us the intelligence to avoid acting like the spoilt kid or like Ramacandra Puri.
May we be so focused on improving ourselves that we have no time to see the faults in others.
Till next week, do share and follow for more.