Sincere Ego-Free Relationship
His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Question: It is said in Srimad Bhagavad-gita that when one makes even the slightest advancement on this path, there is no loss or harm for them, but what becomes of those who practise and commit some Vaishnav-aparadha? Does that deprive them from the progress they have made?
If you commit a Vaishnav aparadh, you cannot progress in your spiritual life. But you must always avoid Vaishnav aparadh. If you make some offence, you must try to ask that Vaishnav for forgiveness. That is humility and giving honour to others. This is Mahaprabhu's teachings. Vaishnav aparadh is an obstacle, it is not good. It will be better for you if you ask for forgiveness. Whether your accumulated benefit is destroyed or what happens with you later, it is not the time to say anything about it. However, we can say that we have seen many offenders (Vaishnav-aparadhi) who have eventually left Krishna consciousness—their life went to hell. I have personally seen so many Vaishnav-aparadhi in my life. You can see in the scriptures also—there are many offenders' examples given there. For example, we have heard about Ramachandra Puri, we have heard about Chapal Gopal who had made an offence to Srivas Pandit but later got a relief from his offences; there is also Devananda Pandit who had also committed an offence to Srivas Pandit but later asked Srivas Pandit for forgiveness. So, we see in the scriptures that if some Vaishnav aparadh happened, it is better for us if we ask forgiveness. That is the best solution.
It is not that the progress of the jiva soul will finish by an offence, but because of the offence it will simply not develop. We see also in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita that Nama aparadha (for example, making an offence to your guru) uproots the tree of your devotion—it cuts it at the root; as a result, your devotional tree will dry up. This is the effect of Vaishnav apradha.
yadi vaisnava-aparadha uthe hati mata
"Offences to Vaishnavs bring about a mad elephant that uproots or breaks everything. It makes the leaves of the creeper of devotion dry up."
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila, 19.156)
Srila Krishna Das Kaviraj Goswami mentions this in his Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. So, the amount of progress one has achieved will not be lost, it is true, but the jiva soul will just not be able to progress any further in the future—some obstacles can come in their spiritual life.
Question: Is there any rectification for such a devotee?
Yes. It is possible to rectify yourself if you ask for forgiveness. Sometimes, it happens so that we have made some offence to a devotee and that devotee has already died, so how will we ask them for forgiveness now? In such cases, you should earnestly ask them for forgiveness from within your heart.
Question: What should we do if see a devotee committing an offence against another devotee?
You can advise them not to make that offence. At the same time, it is said in scriptures that you are not to listen to any criticism about your guru—do not tolerate such things, you must leave that place.
বৈষ্ণব-চরিত্র, সর্ব্বদা পবিত্র,
vaisnava-charitra sarvada pavitra
"The character of Vaishnavs is always pure. Bhaktivinod keeps quiet and does not associate with those who are envious of Vaishnavs and who criticise Vaishnavs."
"If somebody criticises a Vaishnav, Bhaktivinod does not say anything, he always checks his mouth." So, if it is within your power, you can tell them not to do that (not to make that offence, not to create such a situation), but if they do not listen to it, then leave that place without any comments. That is better.
Question: Is there anything else we can do to have more respect among each other and to love every devotee like our own family member?
It is necessary to love devotees like your own family. This is the main thing in our spiritual practice. Everybody must give respect to each other. When you wake up early in the morning and see each other, you should greet each other—say, "Hari bol," pay obeisance to each other. This is the etiquette of the temple. Always address each other "Prabhu" and "Didi." Always talk to each other nicely, do not be rude to each other. You treat your parents and children with affection, and you must treat your godbrothers and godsisters with the same kind of affection. Always be humble, always follow your Guru's teachings. This is how you can teach others by your example, otherwise how will children learn? What will they learn from us?
"Pratihimsa tyaji' anye karabi palana (প্রতিহিংসা ত্যাজি অন্যে করবি পালন). Do not ill-treat others; care for each other." If somebody says something bad to you or swears you, you must not say anything bad in return. It is not good to be vindictive. If somebody says something bad, we will tolerate it and always remain humble. It is necessary to teach each other. Such should be the relationship among ourselves. Such a relationship should come.
Another thing is that everybody's focus must be one—everybody must think that we are all godbrothers and godsisters, and our main goal is to serve our Guru, to please our Guru. This is not a competition. This is not some fight. You must not think, "Oh, he is taking my service!" and get very angry. It is not good. Everybody must be given a chance. Do not become jealous thinking, "Oh, she/he has become a manager! Why not me?!" Do not think like this. Managers also should have a proper attitude. Such should be the relationship.
I was doing some correction of the Bengali translation of the book Original Source today, and it is also written there what this relationship is like. It is called Eternal Play, or nitya-lila. It is necessary to have natural feelings.
I was very happy to read this.
Actually, if envy, or jealousy, comes to your heart, it is a very big problem. If envy comes to you, then you yourself will be getting pain from that—you yourself will be losing. We must be careful. Somebody lives in the temple, somebody becomes the manger, but the manager must not think, "I am the boss here! I will control everything!" The only boss is the Lord. It is necessary to realise this. You are not the controller. Krishna is always the controller, but He has given some responsibility to you and Krishna can take it away from you also. Not only that, Krishna can also take you away from spiritual life. You must be always careful with this.
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