Anarthas and Offenses: This category covers quotes and excerpts by Swami B.G. Narasingha Maharaja that focus on the subject of anarthas and offenses in the practice of Bhakti yoga. These are quotes and excerpts that have been extracted from articles, lectures and letters by Swami B.G. Narasingha.


I remember when we left Iskcon in ’87, or we were thrown out – whichever way you want to look at it – a year or so later, one Indian sannyāsī, a guru in Iskcon, went on record saying that because we were severed from the main tree (Iskcon), we would dry up like an old stick. It was actually in writing in Iskcon World Review or some magazine. I cut out that quote and I kept it in my wallet for a couple of years, just in case I ever bumped into him so I could tell him, “I’m still here, by Prabhupāda’s mercy!” But that mentality he had – it’s actually envy. When you’re not in their institution, when they can’t control you, they just want you to just disappear or die. They don’t want to see you succeed in spiritual life. They want to see you fail just so they can say, “Ha! Just see! He wasn’t sincere! We were right!” Anyhow, God save us from that mentality, and God save us from such people…


All arrangements are Kṛṣṇa’s. But generally we think only those that are good for us are “Kṛṣṇa’s arrangements.” But there are many things which we may think are bad for – a chastisement, maybe the loss of something, difficulty with somebody – at that time, we want to forget about Kṛṣṇa and think, “Why is this happening to me? I have to remedy this! I have to adjust this situation!” At that time we abandon thinking about Kṛṣṇa completely and just struggle with the environment and that situation. Then it works itself out and we are happy to go ahead with Kṛṣṇa consciousness – just as long as everything is alright…


Mahāprabhu remained for 12 years, 24 hours a day, in an intensely love-sick mood, and it was like the waves of an ocean – sometimes down and sometimes so high that when He caught a glimpse of Kṛṣṇa in front of Him, He walked right through stone walls! And we think we have connected to kṛṣṇa-līlā because we can tell some Kṛṣṇa stories. We are sadly mistaken…


The fact is that _______ made many devotees leave Kṛṣna consciousness, and if we’re responsible for even one jīva to leave devotional service, then the reaction will be VERY severe! Kṛṣṇa is trying to draw all the jīvas back to Him to engage in His service, and if we create an obstacle for that to happen, we are actually going against Kṛṣṇa’s desire. I don’t even want to imagine the reaction for doing that….


The portion of my Anuvrtti commentary on Prakṛta-rasa Śata Duṣaṇī Part 2 that you so much dislike was actually a summary of the words of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, Śrīla Purī Mahārāja and Śrīla Prabhupāda. That is my ‘sin’… it is better to have those who are slow and retarded in proper philosophical conceptions criticize me rather than criticize our great ācāryas….


How we know that money is coming by Kṛṣṇa or coming by aparādha is what we use that money for. When a devotee receives money, it is going straight to his guru, going straight to Kṛṣṇa for prasāda distribution etc. and he’s spending everything like that. And when the money is coming from aparādha, then he’s spending it for sense gratification…luxurious living.


If there are no gurus, then that means there are no fit disciples either. If you cannot find a guru, that means you aren’t fit to have one. It means you don’t have any sincere desire. It means you have no proper vision. Now if someone limits their vision by saying, “The guru has to be black, they have to be white, they have to speak my language, they have to be born in my country, they have to be in my society, they have to be young or old” – then maybe they can’t find their guru. But if you’re looking for guru, then guru is always there. Kṛṣṇa never neglects a sincere soul. But what such persons mean to say is, “I am so sincere, but Kṛṣṇa hasn’t sent any guru – therefore Prabhupāda is my guru.” This is so self-centred. If you go and look for guru and you find no guru, then you have no eyes.


First deserve, then desire. To discuss confidential topics about kṛṣṇa-nāma and Kṛṣṇa’s rāsa-līlā in the presence of persons who do not have the required adhikāra, or qualification, constitutes an aparādha, an offence: aśraddhadhāne vimukhe py aśṛṇvati. Offences of this kind must be avoided by one who wants to progress in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But the higher subject matters must be discussed – they are not forbidden. For this discussion to be proper there must be a qualified speaker and a qualified listener.


Diversity doesn’t seem to be a bad thing, yet if aparādha is the reason that makes diversity, then that is not good. Even when dealing with those things that are opposite, one must be careful of aparādha.


Once a devotee was talking with Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and he said, “You know, I’ve done service for so many years, but I just don’t have a taste.” Then he said, “If Kṛṣṇa would just show Himself to me for even just a moment, just a second…”

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja immediately said, “Drive that thought from your mind!”

The devotee said, “No, I mean, if He would just for a second reveal Himself that,“I really am there.’”

Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja said, “Drive that thought from your mind. Beat it out with a stick! Drive it away to the extreme! It is for this very reason Kṛṣṇa is not coming. You’re a merchant – ‘I want something from you, my Lord. Please come close where I can grab You.’”

Kṛṣṇa is such a high thing that even that little demand from the devotee, which is meant for satisfying the devotee’s senses, will actually keep Kṛṣṇa very far away. You must drive this thought out with a stick from your mind! Don’t approach Kṛṣṇa with any demand. This is very very difficult because we live in a world of demands where, “I am the centre of all existence. I want, I want, I want!” From the time we are born – “I want, I want, I want.”


We had a problem once in Nairobi, the leader wasn’t following the principles. Prabhupāda sent three sannyāsīs there to rectify – he used this word ‘rectify.’ He didn’t just annihilate somebody if they had a problem. He had this word ‘rectify’. “Go there and rectify the situation, rectify the man, rectify the woman.” Rectification – not annihilation! But we’re like, “Annihilate! Go! Take them away! Push them out of their zone! Take away their zone! Drive them into oblivion!” Even for the worst and most heinous sin, Prabhupāda would first try to rectify someone – not annihilate them!

BAN IT!!!!

When I can’t deal with it, I just ban it!” This is a sign of weakness. We have a joke – we print a new book, but how to sell more? You put a little sticker saying “Banned by the GBC” – and you’re bound to increase sales 30%!


What kind of tests really come to the devotees in America that are so horrific? Americans have a cake-walk. The Russian devotees had some heavy tests – “Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and go to the Gulag! And before you go, we’ll fry your brain with some electric wires!” I know some devotees who had electric shock treatment on their brains. thirteen or fifteen times! That’s what this country suffers from – too much affluence, too much freedom, too much guarantee. It’s māyā. No one is taking away your religion in this country. Whatever it is, you’re free to do. That’s not true everywhere else – the government can just take it away, so people value it. In this country devotees don’t seem to value the opportunity they have – the wealth, the freedom. But many devotees are all out working, just doing the middle-class America thing. You go to poor countries and they can’t do that. In some temples in America, you go to maṅgala-ārati and nobody is there but the pūjārī – and he’s paid! I think we take many things for granted.


There are the ten nāmāparādhas and then there are also other types of cultivation which are unfavorable such as prajalpa. Even if we chant sixteen rounds, thirty-two rounds or sixty-four rounds, when we finish them, we are only interested to talk nonsense. This is an offense to the Holy Name.


But experience has shown us that three of the ten offenses are more difficult to avoid. Those are sādhu-nindā (Vaiṣṇava aparādha), guror avajñā (thinking the guru an ordinary man or neglecting his order), and aham-mamādi-paramo (continuing to be absorbed in thinking of one’s self and material possessions). If we commit any of these offences, then our taste for the Holy Name does not manifest.”


Gurus can steal a disciple’s money, change Prabhupāda’s books, touch the feet of Sahajiyās and beg for Rādhā-prema, hug Māyāvādīs, invite Hindu gurus to hold Bhāgavat-sapta’s in their temple, worship Gaṇeśa and Kālī, wear ridiculous clothes, do “ghost-busting” and all these things, and hardly anyone bats an eyelid! But I take śikṣā outside of Iskcon from a personality who was authorised by Śrīla Prabhupāda, and suddenly I’m the big deviant??? Go figure…


The feeling of gratitude to Kṛṣṇa and His devotees is an ever-increasing thing. Only one thing we have to avoid and that is nāmāparādha. So long as we can avoid those ten offences, then the devotional creeper only grows in a positive way, and ultimately it yields the fruit of love of God. It cannot go in any other place but the proper direction. It will not die, it will not whither. It will only grow and it will produce fruit. That is a given! That is the Lord’s promise, that is the promise of all the devotees. But if we offend the Holy Name, then our appreciation for the association of the devotees, the knowledge which they speak, and the lifestyle which they lead will reduce. Then we’ll think, “Those people…they’re this, they’re that. That lifestyle is not real…”


It used to be that a saint was understood by how little he had. Some saint’s didn’t even own anything. Nothing! They didn’t even have clothes! Ṛṣabhadeva didn’t even have clothes! Now how do you find a guru? You look around and see how much he has. How big his āśrama is, how many disciples are there, how fancy his car is, how much money he has in the bank. This isn’t even a joke! This is what people do. Because they don’t know how to understand what are the characteristics of someone who is spiritually absorbed. They don’t even look for the knowledge – they look for blessings! They want something magical to happen. And they say, “Oh yes, I went there and it was a very big āśrama. I went there and there were very many people.” In the ancient world, it got down to a water pot and a blanket, and sometimes less than that. But now it’s all focused on shimmering silks and big cars and big chairs. Everything has got to be big, and everything’s got to be numberful before it becomes meaningful. But in this way many people are deluded. Even the spiritual teacher himself becomes deluded, thinking that he is doing good to the people, when he’s simply encouraging their involvement in the material world.


The devotees should be informed that the only obstacle in our path are offenses. If we commit them, then we will not go forward with our chanting – rather we will go backwards and our chanting may produce all the opposite effects as opposed to what is our real interest. And what is that? Prema pumārtho mahān – Mahāprabhu has given that the ultimate goal of life is to develop prema or bhāva. To develop pure unalloyed love of God. That is the ultimate goal of life. And Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Himself described as the ultimate goal of life. How is that? Because He is abode of pure love of God.



he first time I ever sat privately with Prabhupāda in a personal darśana was in Māyāpura. There was a brahmacārī with me who was my saṅkīrtana partner in the Middle East and Africa. All of sudden, he just piped up and said, “Prabhupāda, I want to take sannyāsa!”
So Prabhupāda asked him, “Well, why do you want to take sannyāsa?”
Then the worst of all answers came, “Well, it’s my desire, Prabhupāda.”
I was just shrinking. Prabhupāda closed his eyes and said, “We must find out what is Kṛṣṇa’s desire. That is sannyāsa.”

So we shouldn’t be so anxious about we want, we want – especially going forward spiritually – “I wanna be a guru,” “I wanna be a sannyāsī! You’re a wannabe! Immediately a disqualification…


We hate the sin, not the sinner. But if we find ourselves hating the sinner – that’s an aparādha! So we’re defending a conception, a teaching of our Guru Mahārāja, but if we allow ourselves to be consumed with personal hatred, then even though we’re defending his conception, that may also make aparādha in doing that.


To measure our interest means how we will have some perception of our advancement in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness – not that we will say, “Oh, I am tasting love of Kṛṣṇa!” Never! Never think like that! “Oh, I am getting love of Kṛṣṇa.” Mahāprabhu is continuously saying “I don’t have a drop of love.” So we cannot say we have love of Kṛṣṇa.

I saw one sticker which said “I love Kṛṣṇa.” Mahāprabhu would never wear something like that! He’s telling “I have no love for Kṛṣṇa.” Actually, its misleading to tell someone you love Kṛṣṇa. That is the sahajiyā mentality. The real taste is in the negative side – “I have none, therefore I need some. I have no Kṛṣṇa.” That’s why Mahāprabhu is continuously saying “Where is Kṛṣṇa?” The Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, “He Rādhe Vraja-devike ca lalite…” They’re not saying, “Oh I have You, I have You.” They’re telling, “Where are You? where are You? My mistress Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī! O Kṛṣṇa! Where are You? Where are You?” They are constantly searching for Kṛṣṇa…


Preaching means Bhagavad-gītā. That is the standard shown by our ācāryas. Once Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja said to a few of us sannyāsīs, ‘There is a wave of sahajiyaism coming to the west and it is your duty to preach against the sahajiyā conception. That was in 1997. Since then we see so much sahajiyā influence in the western Hare Kṛṣṇa movement. It is understandable that neophyte devotees without sufficient knowledge and association can be influenced by sahajiyā preachers, but it is heart-breaking to see that even among the leaders that they are being influenced by sahajiyā tendencies.


Gossiping or spreading bad news, especially about devotees is counterproductive. Whether it’s true or false – that’s irrelevant. Because these things always have a tendency to spring back and bite us on the backside! There’s a saying, “When you point a finger at someone, four fingers are pointing back at you.” In other words, we can go on highlighting the faults in a Vaiṣṇava and think, “Oh, well I’m doing fine!” – until you’re not doing fine! Then we’ll suddenly find someone spreading our “glories” around, As they say, “The shoe is on the other foot.”

Think about it – how does it feel when others are bitching about you? Does it feel good when you make a mistake and everyone is pointing out or gossiping about your mistakes? No! So why are we so eager to engage in that with others? Actually, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta says we shouldn’t take the trouble. He says that if you’re not an ācārya or a preacher, you have no business in finding faults with other Vaiṣṇavas, and even then, you have to be very, very careful, very cautious. What’s your real motivation for doing that? Is it beneficial? Fault-finding is meant for correcting the person. So are we really trying to do that, or are we just trying to make ourselves look better or greater? Actually a Vaiṣṇava never tries to achieve greatness – but even if Kṛṣṇa wants them to become great, it is never thru humiliating or crushing other devotees.


Sometimes we get so wrapped up with what other people are doing, what other devotees are doing, we become blind to our own faults. There’s a saying – ‘Physician heal thyself!’ Work on your own anarthas first! If it’s not your service to find fault with others, then don’t! Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja once said that the faults in a devotee may have been put there by Kṛṣṇa to teach us something. Or, as they say in Bengal, ‘Oil your own machine!’


Young people say that they are trying to find out what they’re going to do with ‘their’ lives…my latest take on that is, “You don’t have a life. You only have the chance to become alive. Because right now you’re just dead. That’s it! You’re not living a conscious life.” Now you have a human life – try to find out what that consciousness is. Catch that consciousness! Read about it, learn about it, think about it. Practice the system of awakening consciousness and then you’ll understand that there is a conscious world. That is our home. Conscious beings in a conscious world.


In my own experience, you have different types of disciples – you have those living with the guru who listen very attentively – actually, those are rare. Then you have those who live with the guru, but don’t really pay attention to what he says – there’s a lot more of those. Then there are those who live outside who also pay attention to the guru’s instructions, and those that live outside, but don’t follow very much and don’t pay attention. So as with everything, there’s plurality. It’s not that all disciples are the same. That’s where the western mentality creeps in – “Everyone is equal, we’re all the same. We all have the same realisations.” How is that even possible? Everyone has their own personal anarthas to deal with and some are more and some are less. This idea that we’re all as equally advanced as each other is total nonsense!



here are some devotees who are as stubborn as mules and, no matter what evidence you show them – the śāstra, the words of their guru, so many things – they’ll never accept what you have to say. They just can’t! They’re blocked. Their minds are made up and not even guru and Kṛṣna will change it. And that’s just it – its their mind! They think that they know better than their guru, than Kṛṣṇa. They’ve figured it all out with their limited, tiny material minds and they just get stuck in the mud of making excuses, “No, but this…no, but that.” Their egos just won’t let them admit that its actually possible that they might have made a mistake. I guess the third verse of Śikṣāṣṭakam hasn’t really hit home with them.

So it’s better to let people like that go their own way, and you just carry on with your service. Let them argue on the internet and feel good about themselves. Otherwise you’re simply wasting your valuable time. “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”


When we come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we should come with no expectations. Its not that after being in the movement for so long, for decades, we suddenly get the mindset that, “I did so much service, so now I’m owed something!” or “I deserve this now because I am senior!” When that mentality sets in, you can be sure – that’s māyā! Kṛṣṇa consciousness doesn’t have a ‘retirement plan.’ We’re owed nothing – neither by Kṛṣṇa or the devotees! Our only reward for doing so much service is more service.

It doesn’t matter who you are – sannyāsī, guru, temple president, saṅkīrtana leader – whatever! No service is below us. Its not that, “Oh, now I am a guru or a sannyāsī, I can’t pick up a broom” or “I can’t cook, clean etc. That’s a lower thing! I’m above that!” Actually the more senior you are, the more you are servant. That’s the position. That’s the example a senior sets for the junior. When we start thinking that we deserve respect, a big position, all these things, then we’re going downhill and māyā sets in, anarthas grow. Basically, our advancement stops at that point…


One sign of advancement is that you have more tolerance for people’s mistakes, their anarthas. In the beginning its like, “Forget that guy! I’m trying to save Number One!” So we have to be fanatical in the beginning, a little bit hard, in order to protect ourselves. But when advancement is there, there’s no need to be hard. To be firm, you don’t have to be hard. To be attracted to Kṛṣṇa, you don’t have to manifest aversion to other things. Aversion, actually, is the flip-side of attachment.


How do we avoid making Vaiṣṇava aparādha? By not making Vaiṣṇava aparādha! Actually, it is not easy to make Vaiṣṇava aparādha. In order to make Vaiṣṇava aparādha, envy must be there. Devotees may have disagreements on management, siddhānta etc. but that is not always aparādha. Aparādha comes when there is envy. Envy means when we don’t want to see other devotees doing better than us. We don’t like to see others succeed or we have a deep-rooted dislike for another Vaiṣṇava. That’s envy. There’s a saying – crabs in a bucket. When you put so many crabs in a bucket, one crab may try to escape and starts climbing up the side, and the other crabs will pull him down again. Devotees want to see everyone succeed spiritually. Devotees are not crabs. So are we offending a Vaiṣṇava? Well, we have to look into our hearts and see what is our motivation. Are we really thinking of that devotee’s spiritual benefit and we want to help them, or are we just being a crab?


I’ve seen this for so many years since Prabhupāda left – the ‘Senior Devotee Syndrome.’ “I’m older, I’ve been around longer, I’ve got experience, I was in charge of this and that…so I should be respected!” That’s ok – all those things might be there, and the juniors should respect their elders. But what’s your realisation? Are you any more Kṛṣṇa conscious than when you joined? After all this time, do you have more of a taste for the Holy Name, or are you still just going on ‘auto-pilot’ because “I gotta finish those 16 rounds?” There’s plenty of ‘senior men’ out there who are still kaniṣṭḥas even after decades! At the same time, I’ve met many disciples of Bhaktisiddhānta, and they were all humble souls. They weren’t on a roll about, “I’m a senior devotee, You have to respect me because…blah, blah, blah!”

So age doesn’t mean anything! How long you have been around doesn’t mean anything! A new devotee of six months can be more advanced than a devotee who has been around for 50 years! So what’s the standard? Are we gonna measure spiritual advancement by how many temples we ran, how many books we distributed, how much money we collected and gave, how many teeth we have left, how many grey hairs we have, or how many pills we’re taking, or how many operations we’ve had – or is it by our taste and realisation?


Our first goal in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is to become a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Without becoming a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa one cannot enter into the mysteries of chanting the Holy Name. Professional kīrtana, frenzied dancing, and the mastery of knowledge (though popular in some societies) are not the symptoms of pure devotional service in love of God, nor do such things help us to progress in the right direction. One has to develop real detachment from wealth, sense pleasure, and the desire for popularity. To achieve that goal, we should be aware of the enemies within and with great earnestness we should strive to drive them out and not give them any opportunity to flourish.


Failure, the pillar of success. Materially that’s even known. But we think everything that’s negative in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness is a ‘real’ negative. Why do we think that way? When even in the world it’s seen that failure is the pillar of success. So Kṛṣṇa makes so many arrangements. Sometimes one may become very proud, very puffed up, it may be about the kitchen or about being a Guru, and Kṛṣṇa will humble that person. He can do that; he can make that person fall down! Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja used to say, we should not criticize the fall downs of others because it may be Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement. Then who are we actually criticizing? We try to fault this individual, but what’s the benefit? Śrīla Purī Mahārāja used to say ‘you point one finger and three are pointing back.’ The faults you find in the world may be your own. Again, even people in the world understand that fault finding is not a good thing. People who find faults often become like the person who’s faults they’re finding. And sometimes the faults might not even be there! They’re simply projection of our own self. So, fault finding is not a good thing.


Everyone is talking about the fall down of this one, and the fall-down of that one…in Śrīla Purī Mahārāja’s āśrama, he told, “If we talk about the fall down of these persons, what benefit will we get from that? Nothing! if we discuss how Jaḍa Bhārata fell down – from that discussion we will learn something very profound. We will become purified from that.” But if we discuss the unfortunate situation of any particular jīva – first, no good, and second, maybe bad things will come to us from that. Even discussing their māyā – that māyā may attach itself to us. Because enmity is like a magnet – it attracts bad qualities. So while discussing the fall down of some person, if in our own heart some enmity is there – maybe even unknown to ourselves, because one of the most difficult things in life is to come face to face with oneself, coming to grips with who you are and where you’re really at! That is one of the major milestones in life. So if we haven’t done that yet, then when discussing the fall-down of this swami or that mahārāja or whatever, the very things we are criticizing in him and saying, it acts like a magnet and draws that contamination to our own heart.

And Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja used to say, “What do you know of him? And what do you know of the Supreme Lord? You criticize his fall-down, but it might be directly ordered by the Supreme Lord. He may Himself have orchestrated this person’s fall down, and in criticizing him, you are indirectly criticizing the Supreme Lord. So we want to avoid ANY talk of fall down of other devotees – it is risky, risky business…



It’s interesting when you see devotee when he first takes sannyāsa. He may have been in the movement ten or fifteen years, and up to then everybody calls him ‘prabhu.’ Then he takes sannyāsa, and the next day he meets one of his old friends who, out of habit, calls him ‘prabhu,’ and the new sannyāsī says, ”Hey! Don’t call me prabhu! Call me Mahārāja!”

But we call Lord Nityānanda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu – but we can’t call this new sannyāsī ‘prabhu.’ I have seen it many, many times. To me, it means something is missing, somebody is not satisfied.


Only Kṛṣṇa is controlling everything – everyone else is simply trying to whittle down the ego and discover who they really are. I am a servant of Krsna! To actually be Kṛṣṇa’s servant, one must be the servant of His devotees. We should be saying, Call me a servant – not Call me Prabhu! That is a spiritual defect. We clamour for things that are not good for us. We should understand what it means to be a servant – that is the deeper understanding. To make spiritual advancement requires an appreciation for having a proper service attitude.


A few years back, one of our godbrothers in Vṛndāvana fancied himself as a gopī, and he used announce to some devotees that he fancied conjugal union with Kṛṣṇa. Then one day he asked one householder, “Oh, you see that brahmacārinī over there – please ask her how old she is?”
Then that man asked, “You’re a brahmacārī. Why do you want to know how old this girl is?” She was maybe 13 or 14 years old and he was about 40.
He said, “Oh, I just want to know what is her shape and age so I know how to think of myself as a gopī.”

When some ācāryas of our sampradāya heard this report, they immediately said, “This man has understood nothing! First he is a sambhogī – he himself is trying to have union with Kṛṣṇa. He has not understood that vipralambha is the teaching of our sampradāya. Even by mentally imitating, everything is spoiled!”


We can even be in ‘comfortable māyā’ living in an āśrama. If the devotees in the āśrama are not busy 24-7 in serving Guru and Kṛṣṇa, it will just become a place for sleeping all afternoon, eating nicely, getting fat and talking prajalpa. Oh, the externals may all be there – the maṅgalārati, offerings, the classes, all those things. But when you get complacent and your hearts just not into it anymore, then there’s no real advancement happening. Then things start dropping off…you’re not chanting many rounds, or ANY rounds, you don’t feel like waking up on time, service becomes a chore…everything you do at that point is just external. It’s done out of duty and not out of love. Then Kṛṣṇa consciousness just becomes like any other external mundane religion. So enthusiasm is the key. We have to associate with those devotees who are enthusiastic about Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Otherwise we’re just running our engines and going nowhere.


I am required! I am necessary for this to go on!” That is part of the illusion. This world goes on without us. It is not important. The whole universe is like a mustard seed in the eyes of Kṛṣna, and there are hundreds of millions of such mustard seeds. So what is the value that we will play in the world? One person? Very little, if any significance…


Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to give love of God and He’s the most merciful incarnation. Namo mahā-vadanyāya – the most merciful! But sometimes it seems we forget how to be merciful. We can be kind to our friends and family – that’s easy. But we can’t extend that kindness to others. We’re very hard-hearted. ‘Oh, it’s their karma!’ or ‘ This person is like this, so I won’t talk to them’ or ‘She did this and that, so she deserves to suffer!’ If we’re so hard-hearted, how can we say we’re followers of Mahāprabhu? We’ve got it totally backwards – we should be harsh with ourselves and kind in dealing with others.


You’ll give a quote, then I’ll give a quote, then you’ll give a quote – and this goes on and on and on!! There’s no end to that! There’s a saying in English – “Even the devil can quote scripture!” At the end of the day, all we can do is take a deep look inside, past our false ego and analyze why we take the stance that we do. Is it to glorify our guru and Kṛṣṇa, or are we doing this for some other motivation? It takes a lot of sincere soul-searching and real honesty with ourselves. And some people just can’t do that – they’re actually incapable of any kind of self-analysis. They’re afraid of what they might find deep down, so they avoid it. They’d rather live in ignorance and make no real advancement.


Some devotees complain that we all deserve to be dealt with equally. Why do you feel that way? Show me one Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava prayer that says, “O Lord! Please, I want to be equal!” No – they all say, “I only want to be a servant, I want to be lower, in the lower position.” Not equal! Nobody should aspire to be equal. Everyone should aspire to be servant. Servant of the prabhus…dāsānudāsānudāsa.


There was one devotee who came to Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and said something about being fallen. Yes, that is good.
No. I am fallen. Yes yes. That’s good.
No, I’m not just saying I’m fallen, I am fallen.
And Śrīdhara Mahārāja said, If you sincerely feel it, it doesn’t matter how you got there, so long as you sincerely feel it. And if you sincerely feel it, that is good.
If it takes falling down, whatever ‘falling down’ means. That will be different. Whatever it takes for that genuine feeling to arise. That is good. But if you’re really pukka in everything, but you’re only falsely humble, what’s the good of being really pukka? Then maybe Kṛṣṇa will make you fall down. And Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja used to say, When we fall to the ground, that is the ground that we stand on. If we’re actually accepting the guidance of Kṛṣṇa and we’re on the proper path, then even that will become favourable to devotional service. How we regard a fall down? We just curse them to hell. He fell down! They fell down! We just crucify them. Very terrible. Because who’s doing that? The kaniṣṭhas! They never get out of that! They just consider that God is in the Deity. That’s it! And the guru is perfect! And that’s it! And perfect means…well, they have their own idea of perfect.


The spiritual intelligence of the kaniṣṭha-adhikarī disciple is always bewildered by māyā, but he is nonetheless very expert in making excuses why he has failed to live up to, or why he has abandoned his duty to the spiritual master.


Did you ever see when you get a nasty cut on your hand or foot? Especially in India, suddenly you get flies landing all over it. And those flies can spread disease. Sometimes we see that when a devotee makes a mistake, we are very eager to spread that devotee’s “glories” to anyone and everyone. We want to preach their faults in every corner of the earth, like we are doing everyone a big favour, warning them about how bad this guy is. This is like a fly – fault-finding and spreading the disease of other devotee’s mistakes. Fault finding’s really easy! It’s easy to find fault with others. Śrīla Prabhupāda once said, “If you have that mentality, you can even find fault with me!” And that’s true! You will even find fault with the guru…”Oh, Why did my guru do this?” “Why did Guru Mahārāja say that?” So its easy to find fault in others – but its difficult to see your own faults. We always think our faults are very small, and everyone else’s faults are much worse, much bigger. “Yeah, I’m not perfect, but THIS GUY – he’s MUCH WORSE than me! So let me tell everyone how bad he is! Then I’ll feel much better about myself!” (laughs)
We don’t want to be flies sucking up the blood and pus of fault-finding – we need to be like bees looking for the honey, the nectar. That is helpful – finding the nectar and distributing that, not spreading disease and being a nuisance.


It’s very difficult to judge. So the thing is to be a judge of yourself. ‘Improve thyself!’ Not judge others, and worry about everything others are doing. Don’t be so quick to judge. In the words of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, ‘Wait and see!’ Is it the play of Kṛṣṇa? The drama of Kṛṣṇa? Or has that person gone from Kṛṣṇa? But people just want to pass momentary judgements, and they’ve created a mess all over the world.


What about the quality of forgiveness? What do you think? Were you were born with the wings of an angel, or born wearing a golden kavaca? No! We should understand that we have done so many wrong things in this world. We have even killed people, what to speak of cheating! We did these things and that’s why we’re still here in this material world. The general rule is forgiveness – don’t be offensive, don’t attack others. You may have the right to, but you don’t have to exercise that right. If you exercise that right, the wheel of karma just keeps going round. Revenge is not part of Vaiṣṇavism!


Please accept my humble blessings. ______ Mahārāja has informed me that M____ Dāsa is in a very inappropriate mood and he has got many bad things to say about ______. Unfortunately this is not the work of a Vaiṣṇava to examine the defects of another godbrother or godsister. I am very disappointed and sad to hear that he is going on with this type of program.

Actually this program gives me the greatest pain. I humbly request all of you not to give your ear to his complaints and if you have any questions or doubts I will gladly speak with you when I return to Bangalore next week.

Unfortunately, when one goes on a campaign to destroy another devotee’s reputation and devotional service, it is usually the former that is captured by māyā and who’s reputation is tarnished. Before examining the defects of someone else we should first try to see that devotee’s good qualities, and if we want to examine bad qualities then we should examine our own bad qualities and then try to improve ourselves to please guru and Lord Kṛṣṇa.

There are so many defects in this material world, but one who has surrendered to serve Lord Kṛṣṇa and the guru has no bad qualities or defects. Kṛṣṇa and guru only see their good qualities and their attempt to perform devotional service.


Everyone knows the story from Mahābhārata about Yudhiṣṭhira and Duryodhana looking for someone more qualified then themselves. Yudhiṣṭhira returns saying, “Everyone is more qualified than me!” and Duryodhana says, “I couldn’t find anyone more qualified than me!” Yudhiṣṭhira is a Vaiṣṇava – he’s sees the good in everyone. That’s Vaiṣṇava. Even when there’s mistakes, he sees the good. Especially in regards to devotees, he sees the service they are doing. He doesn’t go around broadcasting the faults of others. That’s the mentality of Duryodhana. Duryodhana thought he was the most qualified to judge everyone. That mentality is avaiṣnava. So we have to be extremely careful in judging others – especially when that’s not our job. We’re not the Supersoul – we can’t look into everyone’s hearts and say for certain, “Aha! This guy is a demon!” First, our main objective should be to root out our own demons before trying to look for the demons in someone else.


In your letter you request me to give you my blessings. If you truly want my blessings then you must stop your incessant habit of ‘mud-slinging.’ I do not appreciate this. I have not given you the service of finding faults, real or apparent, with your godbrothers and godsisters. That is the service of the guru – to see the faults in others and correct them. Simply finding faults and telling others about them is not the way to correct anyone. A Vaiṣṇava is compassionate and when he sees faults in a godbrother/godsister, he mercifully takes them aside and helps them. He does not air those faults to the whole world. So if you are actually serious about receiving my blessings, my advice is that you stop criticizing others, fulfill your dharma, and become a preacher of Bhagavad-gītā. That will make me extremely happy.


Why is it that after many years a devotee leaves devotional service? How is it possible when he is chanting, chanting chanting? Either his weeds have simply overgrown his devotional creeper because he’s failed to attend the process properly, or he has invited some havoc into his garden in the form of nāma-aparādha and vaiṣṇava-aparādha. He has invited something to trample it like that. But if we are attending to the process properly, if we are following the instruction of our guru, and we are doing everything in a correct way then the devotee never experiences difficulty actually – the difficulty to leave devotional service, the difficulty to leave the line of Caitanya Mahāprabhu.


Be detached from worldly affairs. By sound, by music, by prajalpa, by talking and thinking deeply on mundane objects one comes to associate with those things. Even by contemplating the faults of others, an impression will be burned within ourselves. We ourselves will get the same faults which we criticize in others. Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja told, “This is one of the great secrets of Vaiṣṇavism. Don’t contemplate the faults of others, they will become your own.” And at that time he told, “We should not do this for various reasons – one of them being that you’re actually criticizing Kṛṣṇa! It may be His will. He has some design, and some desire, so He places this fault within a devotee.”


Being envious of Kṛṣṇa’s devotees is called the ‘elephant offense.’ When an elephant enters the garden, that’s it! It destroys everything – so we should not be envious of the devotees of Kṛṣṇa. Maybe look up that word in the dictionary…what is envy? Envy is to criticize; o she is like that, he is like that. Now, the teacher has to be critical sometimes. The teacher sees that this disciple is not paying attention, and the teacher sometimes has to address the faults of the students. But, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura said, Oh, this is a horrible job, you definitely don’t want that. Why are you interested in this?” In other words, someone will have to see what are the bad things so that they can be corrected. But one disciple was inquiring about another devotee’s bad quality or faults, and Bhaktisiddhānta said, “I have to do this. Why on earth would you want to have this job?”

Think about it! Which is better – to say nice about somebody and appreciate them, or to criticize them? And if you really analyze that criticism, it makes your own heart hard. If you really study the physiology of your being, criticizing people is bad for your health. It doesn’t soften or sweeten your heart, and some people have developed it to the point that it becomes a disease.


Our best safe guard against Vaiṣṇava aparādha is humility. Not a calculation of humility, ‘Oh, here is a Vaiṣṇava. Let me be careful. I shall be humble and show respect to him.’ No! Not a show of humility by calculation! That will not help us much. What is required is a flow of real humility from the heart which is free from envy. ‘I envy the Vaiṣṇavas and therefore I am calculated in all my dealings with them.’ Envy means calculation and this certainly leads to offenses.


You’d be surprised how many people bear a mentality about other Vaiṣṇavas, and the people that inaugurated that mentality haven’t been seen in devotional service in the last ten years! But we are still bearing on our backs the mentality that was given to us by those who perpetuated it. Just like people speak about Darwinism, but Darwin has been gone long back, yet people carry forth his idea. So there have been offensive ideas established long back, put out into the minds of everybody, but the very person that established that was the first person to reap the result of that in the way that he lost all connection to devotional service and that plagues everybody else proportionately. That is institutional aparādha.


There’s people like _________ out there who say they have love for Śrīla Prabhupāda, and I’m sure they do, but man! They are so bitter! Sure, they have lots to be bitter about, but all the bad things that the leaders have done becomes their food and drink. That’s all they can meditate on! They don’t have a life – I mean, a devotional one. If they did, they’d be engaging in something helpful and positive – not talking trash like some low-end reporter from the National Enquirer. They spread it around on the internet about this person and that person…nothing positive! Well, like they say, “What goes around, comes around.” Even if you’re right, there’s a reaction to that sort of thing. Everyone gets their karma and we shouldn’t get caught up in someone else’s – whether they’re right or wrong! That’s how it works. So we don’t want to become like that! We might feel disappointed or even angry with some people, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to become bitter and twisted. It won’t help our devotional progress. It just hampers it.


We have to stop speaking ill of others…making outrageous statements about our godbrothers and godsisters. I cannot say that you have no love to Prabhupāda, or a little love, or more love. These things cannot be measured in that way. That’s one kind of institutional offence – the extreme bad-mouthing of godbrothers and godsisters. We should not be so quick to condemn others, and especially to incite.


It is said that a Vaiṣṇava never registers any offence to himself, but the dust on his feet records the offence. Therefore one must take the dust of the feet of the person he has offended – then he is free from the offence. This is the mood of the Vaiṣṇava. The Vaiṣṇava himself doesn’t take offence – so that’s one good thing. It’s hard to make an offence, but his assistants, the particles of dust at the feet of the Vaiṣṇava, will register that offence.

Devotee: But as you said, it is hard to make Vaiṣṇava aparādha.

Narasingha Mahārāja: Yes – but we have managed the impossible!!