Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: An aspiring devotee may be very good, simple, and humble at times. Yet, at other times he may become mad if anything happens against his desire, and he will begin to beat anyone who comes in front of him.
Sometimes he may be controlled by anger, and this is very harmful.
Let us be always humble and tolerant; not mad.
I hear that many devotees are very humble sometimes, and sometimes like red bulls; if you come in front of them, they will lift you up and throw you with their horns. Do not take on that quality of bulls. Instead, be like bulls when they serve and support like fathers; take on this quality. Never be like bulls when they fight with others or beat them.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: But I am especially giving you this lesson, as it is essential for you to follow all of this in your life. Understand, and try to follow. There should be no kāma. What is the meaning of kāma?
Madhuvrata dāsa: Lust.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: And anger. Can you control anger? You will have to control it. You can only have anger when someone criticizes your gurudeva, any pure Vaiṣṇava, Mahāprabhu, or Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Otherwise, if anyone is abusing or insulting you, then, oh, do not be angry.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You must arrange a place. First you can rent a house, and then you can get a bigger centre where Deities and all temple paraphernalia can be situated. There you can meet and perform ārati and all other functions.
Isa dāsa: It is okay to go to ISKCON until we get our own place?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If it is favourable. If it is not favourable, if those in the ISKCON temple criticize me or any pure Vaiṣṇava, then it is better not to go.
Kṛṣṇa-vallabhā dāsī: ISKCON is a large temple with a lot of devotees. Only a few people criticize.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: When we will have our centre, all should come there.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Śrīla Gurudeva, sometimes, when the people in ISKCON hear such very bold and powerful statements from you, they criticize your words: They say with disdain, “Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja says that there is no bhakti in ISKCON; only money.” Can we say that in their society there may be some sincere devotees and that they are trying…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: How can they be sincere? Their leaders are not sincere, so how can they be sincere? Those who are sincere will be attracted to me. It is inevitable that they will come, because their Gurudeva, parama-pūjyapāda Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja, personally told me to help them. Whom will I help? I will help those who are sincere. Those who want to make money will never come; they will simply protest.
In general, ISKCON leaders do not chant more than sixteen rounds, and some of them do not even chant sixteen. I chant one lākha (sixty-four rounds) daily. If for some reason I do not complete a lākha one day, I complete it on the next day. If on some days I am engaged all day, then, by tongue, I constantly chant, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa.” During airline flights I chant two or three lākhas (one-hundred twenty-eight or one-hundred ninety-two rounds).
Gokula dāsa: It always seems that some persons are there to persecute others, and sometimes I’m thinking that this is Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement to teach us to be more tolerant.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, this is not Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement. He never likes things like this. He is very merciful and kind.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: This is the arrangement of Kali (the personification of this age of quarrel and hypocrisy).
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Those who are selfish are simply cheaters.
[To Aniruddha dāsa] Don’t criticize ISKCON, as you have done. The ISKCON devotees are also my children. Don’t speak about them with such anger. Be calm and quiet, and perform bhajana. Don’t see anyone’s faults. See your own faults. Do you understand?
Aniruddha dāsa: But if we keep a humble attitude…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Try to follow these principles of humility and respect for all. These are not my words. Rather, śāstra is telling this and Kṛṣṇa is telling this. Whoever criticizes others will see that he has absorbed all the bad qualities he is criticizing. He will see that those bad qualities have entered his own being.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: I have a question in this regard. Suppose a devotee is hearing with strong faith, serving for some time, and repeating what he has heard. But then, possibly because he has committed some offense, he falls from his position. Is it possible that at one time he could have had this kind of śraddhā and then lost it?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes, it may be. Until the stage of bhāva-bhakti (The stage of bhāva-bhakti is the initial stage of perfection in devotion. It is compared to the first ray of the prema-sun appearing in the heart of the bhakti-sādhaka that marks the end of the stage of sādhana) a person may do something wrong. He may criticize guru, Vaiṣṇavas, or Kṛṣṇa, and then he may fall down.
Vicitrī dāsī: Last night you spoke this śloka:
pumān virajyeta vinā paśughnāt
[Glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the paramparā system; that is, it is conveyed from spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those who are no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?]
You were saying that hearing hari-kathā from the lips of a pure Vaiṣṇava is the infallible medicine to remove our anarthas and give us bhakti. Then you told the story of Ananta Vāsudeva [a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura]. You explained that he had been hearing hari-kathā from the lips of a pure Vaiṣṇava – he was following the formula – but that he fell down. So, what went wrong? Why didn’t it work?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I explained that he began to criticize Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: His own guru.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He claimed that Śrīla Prabhupāda does not understand madhura-rasa (Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s amorous love). He left Śrīla Prabhupāda and went to a sahajiyā bābājī. He gave away Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books to vendors [and disposed of them and destroyed them by various means]. It was because of this very great offense that a desire to marry came in his heart. He thus took poison and descended to Rasātala (one of the hells). So, you must all be careful.
Cāru-candrikā dāsī: You are always telling us not to criticize or hear criticism. If we are not sure if someone is criticizing, what should we do? Especially, what should we do if we think we are hearing criticism from a senior?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: There are so many śāstras, like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where you can receive Kṛṣṇa’s instructions. Thus, when you hear anything, you can judge, “Is it right, or not?” If it is not possible to judge yourself, then go to your gurudeva and ask, “I do not understand. What should I do?”
Cāru-candrikā dāsī: Should we perhaps glorify those who are being criticized?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If you are sincere, Kṛṣṇa will speak as a śikṣā-guru in your heart. He will inspire you with proper understanding. For those who are not so sincere, He will not do so.
Cāru-candrikā dāsī: I am not so sincere.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Try to become sincere.
Vrajanātha dāsa: You always say that the śikṣā-guru should not be less than the dīkṣā-guru.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, no. He will be in the same mood as your dīkṣā-guru, and favourable to your dīkṣā-guru. If he has an opposing idea, he cannot be your śikṣā-guru. If he criticizes your dīkṣā-guru and does not have affection for him, he cannot be your śikṣā-guru.
Padmanābha dāsa: Śrīla Gurudeva, yesterday you said that we should not criticize or praise anybody, but sometimes we criticize or praise people in our minds.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: I know that you criticize people. This is a very bad thing. We should not do this.
Padmanābha dāsa: By tongue we may not criticize, but criticism starts from the mind.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We should also try to take it out of our mind. Do not criticize. Try to see an individual’s good qualifications.
uttama hañā vaiṣṇava habe nirabhimāna
jīve sammāna dibe jāni’`kṛṣṇa’-adhiṣṭhāna
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 20.25)
Although a Vaiṣṇava is the most exalted person, he is prideless and gives all respect to everyone, knowing everyone to be the resting place of Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: A question came into my mind yesterday, when you quoted this verse:
yaḥ praśaṁsati nindati
sa āśu bhraśyate svārthād
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: One should neither praise nor criticize the conditioned nature and activities of other persons. Rather, one should see this world as simply the combination of material nature and the enjoying souls, all based on the one Absolute Truth.
Here it is said, “Do not criticize or praise.” You have also said that by criticizing, one builds a bridge to the other person’s bad qualities, which then come into the body of the one who is criticizing. But if we praise someone and build a bridge, and their good qualities come into us, what is the problem?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: This injunction applies to sense enjoyers. Do not criticize or praise any sense enjoyer. But it is essential to always glorify devotees.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Śrīla Rāmānujācārya said that when we wake up from taking rest every day, we should glorify our guru and guru-paramparā.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: One more thing: A guru or elevated Vaiṣṇava may give an instruction to his disciples or to general people by saying, “Do not be like that, otherwise you will be ruined;” or “Do not follow them;” or “He is not a good man.” For the bonafide guru and pure Vaiṣṇava, this does not fall in the category of criticism.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Many devotees have deviated from the proper path of bhakti, and some have committed vaiṣṇava-aparādha. Is it considered criticism to discuss that they have done wrong?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Only in a special case, to save our selves. In special cases we can do so, but do not criticize anyone with out this good reason. “Oh, he was this or that;” do not do this at all.
There was once a sādhu and a prostitute. They used to live nearby each other. That sādhu always criticized the prostitute, saying, “Oh, she is a prostitute, a very degraded person. She is selling her body and doing many nonsense activities. She will surely go to hell.” In contrast, the prostitute used to say, “Oh, fie on me, fie on me. How saintly that sādhu is! So many people go to him for good instructions on bhakti. His life is successful.”
After some time passed, one day the Yamadūtas, the constables of Yamarāja, the god of death, went to that sādhu and began to take him away. The sādhu objected, “No, don’t take me. I am not a sinful person. You’ve made a mistake. It is that prostitute you must take.” The Yamadūtas replied, “No, no, we are right. You always criticized that prostitute. You’ve never thought anything good.” They forcibly took that man to hell.
The Viṣṇudūtas, the messengers of Lord Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha, went to the prostitute, and she told them, “Oh, I am not the right person. Go to that sādhu.” The Viṣṇudūtas said, “We know that we have come for the right person. You have always thought about the good qualities of the sādhu, so we are knowingly coming to you to take you to Vaikuṇṭha.”
It is important to know this history. Do not criticize anyone, even if he is doing nonsense.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: My instruction is the same as the instruction of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in Śrī Upadeśāmṛta: never criticize anyone. If someone is doing bad things, he harms only himself. But if you criticize him, thinking, “What he is doing is wrong,” or “This fellow is very bad,” then the bad qualities you are contemplating will enter your heart. At the time of death, the Yamadūtas (representatives of the god of death) will come to punish you first. Always try to remember the good qualities of real Vaiṣṇavas and of Kṛṣṇa, by hearing, chanting, and remembering hari-kathā.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Extend my heartly blessings to them.
(To Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja) Late Mahārāja has come. How are you?
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: I don’t know. You will have to tell me how I am, Gurudeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Not good.
We should always remember this verse:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
(Śikṣāṣṭakam, Verse 3)
[Thinking oneself to be even lower and more worthless than insignificant grass that has been trampled beneath everyone’s feet, being more tolerant than a tree, being prideless and offering respect to all others according to their respective positions, one should continuously chant the holy name of Śrī Hari.]
This verse is not only for one person. It is for everyone, especially for all sannyāsīs. Sannyāsīs should give proper respect to others because Kṛṣṇa resides in everyone’s heart.
uttama hañā vaiṣṇava habe nirabhimāna
jīve sammāna dibe jāni’`kṛṣṇa’-adhiṣṭhāna
(Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 20.25)
[Although a Vaiṣṇava is the most exalted person, he is prideless. He gives all respect to everyone, knowing everyone to be the resting place of Kṛṣṇa.]
Be tṛṇād api sunīcena, taror api sahiṣṇunā. Give honour and don’t desire it. Is that okay?
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: Yes, Gurudeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Do you follow this principle in your life?
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: I am trying to follow.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: There is something wrong; I have received some complaints. We should give respect to disciples, what to speak of godbrothers; not only to sannyāsīs. We should be humble with everyone; then we are sannyāsīs, otherwise not. Suppose certain sannyāsīs think, “I am a guru and he is a disciple,” or, “I am a sannyāsī and my godbrother is a gṛhastha and therefore inferior.” Such persons are not really sannyāsīs, and it will be very hard for them to achieve bhakti.
One more thing: Don’t criticize anyone. Only if you can change someone can you correct him. For example, Nalakūvera and Maṇigrīva were doing wrong, so Nārada came to them and cursed them, out of pity. He did not pay specific attention to what they were doing. He considered only this: “Oh, their lives have gone in vain. How shall I reform them?” He had the power to do what was necessary, and that is why he pointed out their fault. Thus, his curse turned out to be a benediction.
So try to follow these principles; all sannyāsīs must follow them. I have heard some complaint, but I will not tell you from whom. I want all my sannyāsīs to be ideal by giving respect to others.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If a high-class, self-realized guru criticizes someone, that criticism is a blessing and a medicine. That person should not oppose him, thinking, “Now Gurudeva is against me.” Rather, he should understand that Gurudeva’s chastisement is like medicine; his curse and benediction are one and the same. When a guru chastises, he is thinking, “I should make this person so fortunate that he can realize all the truths of pure bhakti.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: If you find that your mind is criticizing others, simply turn it away and forcibly focus it on Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
It is very, very difficult to bring someone from the clutches of māyā. Whatever lust and other attachments are present in that person’s heart will go away very soon if he is chanting, remembering, and listening to hari-kathā. Be very careful. First look at your own condition and try to purify yourself. Is there any lust in you? Is there any deceit and hypocrisy in you? Be worried about that; do not worry about others. Guru and Kṛṣṇa are responsible for others. You cannot do anything to help them, so you have no right to criticize. This instruction is for all.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: We should try to advance. Do not waste your time in criticizing; do not try to control. Gurudeva can control. He is a controller, and Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu are controllers. We should think, “I am not the controller. I should be controlled by them, and I should try to control myself.” In this way we can develop our Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
If you see that a person is wretched, don’t associate with him. But don’t criticize, thinking you are masters to chastise, for only guru can criticize and chastise. Be very humble, hankering for bhakti, so that your hearts will melt. Try to serve Vaiṣṇavas and guru. If you chastise Vaiṣṇavas instead of honouring them, and at the same time you render a great deal of service to gurudeva, Gurudeva will not accept your service.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: Dāmodara Prabhu has a question. He says that he is always seeing faults in others and his mind meditates on others’ bad qualities. He is asking how he can get rid of this habit.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: (To Dāmodara dāsa) Has Gurudeva told you to criticize others? You are disobeying your Gurudeva if you do so. You must not disobey. If you find that your mind is criticizing others, simply turn it away and forcibly focus it on Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīpāda Sādhu Mahārāja: Dāmodara Prabhu says that he likes to study your books, Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja’s books, and the books of our ācāryas. Is it okay for him to chant only the minimum sixteen rounds so that he will have time to study these books?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Both are good, but especially give stress to chanting harināma.
Prakāśātmā dāsa: How can I curb my tendency to always speak prajalpa (mundane talk) and criticize others?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You can do so by always being in sādhu-saṅga and hearing hari-kathā. While Parīkṣit Mahārāja was hearing Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, he had no time to speak with anyone, or to sleep, eat, or drink. He was drinking only the nectar of kṛṣṇa-līlā.
Sādhu-saṅga is the best medicine. Chant the holy name in sadhu-saṅga, and don’t associate with persons who chatter and indulge in idle gossip. Read śāstra and engage your mind at all times. If the mind is not engaged by you, it will automatically engage itself in unfavourable thoughts. The mind is hungry for something to eat, so we should feed it hari-kathā – as much as you can hear and chant and meditate upon.
Ānandinī dāsī: How can I stop myself from criticizing?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: You can criticize yourself, but not others. This is an offense, and bhakti will go away. Be careful.
Śrīpāda Padmanābha Mahārāja: It is the nature of kaniṣṭhas (neophyte devotees) to quarrel and not offer respect to each other. Śrīla Gurudeva has warned us, “Don’t criticize each other, don’t commit offenses to each other, and even in your laughing and joking with each other, be careful because you may commit offenses unknowingly.” Śrīla Gurudeva has given the directions, and it is up to us to follow. We have to mature. We have to advance and to understand that we are here to take his mercy and his hari-kathā to purify ourselves and to advance in bhakti.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Where there is quarrelling, Lakṣmī-devī will leave, thinking, “I should not live here with all this quarrelling.” Why should she remain there?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: One should think oneself lower and more worthless than insignificant grass that has been trampled beneath everyone’s feet. One should be more tolerant than a tree, without pride, and ready to offer respect to all others according to their respective positions. In such a humble state of mind, one can chant the holy name of Śrī Hari constantly. All devotees should follow this principle, especially sannyāsīs, giving honour to others. Don’t worry about what others are doing. Don’t look to see whether others are doing nonsense or acting improperly. Don’t criticize anyone. Rather, ask yourself, “How well am I developing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness? Am I following tṛṇād api sunicena, taror api sahiṣṇunā, amāninā mānadena?”
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