If you are reading this blog
24th of June, 2007 - 8:42
Yes — you — if you're reading this blog, please read this post and take one or two minutes of your time to send in a comment on the Journal. Important!
Remembering Sri Krishna Caitanya dasa Babaji Maharaja
23rd of June, 2007 - 20:20
The following is a touching excerpt from a text I am working on, Paratattva-sammukhya by Sri Kunjabihari dasa Babaji Maharaja. In the following dedication of the text, the author remembers his beloved siksa-guru, Sri Krishna Caitanya dasa Babaji Maharaja, of whom we have heard little. Despite the lack of biographical information, the depth of the author's feeling speaks volumes on the exalted nature of this mahatma.
Travel Tips to Rural India
23rd of June, 2007 - 15:55
Traveling to rural India is an experience in a great number of ways. To ensure sweet memories, it is a good idea to eliminate some aspects of the overwhelming experience by remembering a number of small but important travel tips.
Introduction to Bhagavad Gita
21st of June, 2007 - 17:39
Bhagavad Gita, ”The Song of God”, is one of the core religious texts of Hinduism. Its 700 verses cover a vast array of religious and philosophical themes in a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna at the battlefield of Kuruksetra.
A Tour of Vrindavan, the Sacred Land of Krishna's Pastimes
21st of June, 2007 - 4:25
Vrindavan, located in northern India a three-hour drive south of New Delhi, is one of the most popular places of pilgrimage in India, the land where Krishna spent his youth, hosting thousands of temples and sights of nature.
How to send a parcel from India
18th of June, 2007 - 19:00
This entry belongs to a series of how-to articles meant to make life easier for people new to all those wonderful Indian complications we would never anticipate. Today's theme is sending a parcel in mail from India to the West: how to pack it, how to ship it, and how to get through the experience alive and in good spirits.
Heat wave subsides
15th of June, 2007 - 10:02
Those of you who've been following up news or discussions at Vilasa Kunja know it's been a bit intense at this end of the world with the extreme heat we've been baked in. The mercury has been hanging at an average of 45 C (113 F), with AccuWeather's Real Feel estimates routinely past 50 and even 60 on some days! Since two days now — god thank! — it's been cooling down.
Dealing with indignations
10th of June, 2007 - 15:38
A recent detour to different corners of the cyberspace has yet again brought before my eyes things long absent from my horizon. The intense online debates between devotees. You know, those with friends and enemies, pharisees and heresies, yes, and the apostate and the witch too for a full cavalcade. My eyes and heart have grown since the days of my last encounters with the such, and a reflection or two are in place.

Back to top
Dealing with indignations
Posted: 10th of June, 2007 - 15:38
A recent detour to different corners of the cyberspace has yet again brought before my eyes things long absent from my horizon. The intense online debates between devotees. You know, those with friends and enemies, pharisees and heresies, yes, and the apostate and the witch too for a full cavalcade. My eyes and heart have grown since the days of my last encounters with the such, and a reflection or two are in place.

To give way to hatred and ill feeling is to pave way to one's own perishness. Negative thoughts born of a material psyche consume the soul and haunt the mind at the time of bhajana. Most of us share a basic sense of their unworthiness, yet for our attachment to our lower nature we seek justified avenues for their expression in the guise of religion and idealism. sAdhu sAvadhAna! — "Saints! Be wary!" Assess your motives, assess the advantages and the disadvantages of such engagements.

In the Bhagavata, we read of the character and acts of a madhyama-bhakta as fourfold:

Izvare tad-adhIneSu bAlizeSu dviSatsu ca //
prema-maitrI-kRpopekSA yaH karoti sa madhyamaH // BhP. 11.2.46

"Who acts with love for the Lord, with friendship for his servants, with compassion for the sincere ignorant, and with neglect for the envious, he is a mid-grade devotee."

There is enough content in this world to be filed under dveSa that one can spend the rest of his days running with the krodha bhakta-dveSI-jane license, if one so wishes. To each his own. While there is a time and a place for apt words in defense of Gaudiya Vaisnavism proper, there are a great many times when such diatribes would be better shunned. The expression of anger or indignation is there with an aim to rectify the perceived offender, not to alienate or to destroy him. If a person has no capacity to uplift or to at least influence another, offering harsh critique, especially in public, is unbecoming and leads to aparadha. Of course, some may do it as a matter of educating others on right and wrong — but those who just vent out without a clear aim are doing nothing but swinging an axe at their own lotus foot.

In this vein, from Sri Ananta Das Babaji Maharaja’s vyakhya on the 22th tripadi of Thakura Mahasaya’s Prema-bhakti-candrika, of which the gloves off permission for verbal abuse is drawn.

The blessed author says: krodha bhakta-dvezI-jane — "Anger is directed at the devotees’ enemies." The great enemy of mankind, anger, the creator of great havoc, can certainly not be engaged directly in any activity in Krishna's devotional service, but if it is engaged towards those who hate the devotees, it will be nourishing devotion. If the devotees' enemies’ blasphemy of the devotees and their engagement in activities of hatred towards them is tolerated, and if the sadhaka does not show anger or impatience over this, it is not shown that he has any love for Sri Visnu or the Vaisnavas.

And truly so, for how could one tolerate the blasphemy or viciousness towards one’s loved. Then, how is the anger duly manifest? Does the above stanza now give us a license to beat the blasphemers into a bloody pulp, or at least a license to hurl a volley of verbal abuse their way? The vyakhya continues:

During the sacrifice of progenitor Daksa, Sri Sati devi saw that Sri Mahadeva was being insulted, so she became very angry and said (BhP. 4.4.17)—

karNau pidhAya niriyAd yad akalpa Ize
dharmAvitarya-zRNibhir nRbhir asyamAne |
chindyAt prasahya ruSatIm asatIM prabhuz cej
jihvAm asUn api tato visRjet sa dharmaH ||

"If someone hears a blasphemer insulting the master of religion and is not able to either kill the blasphemer or commit suicide, then he must at least cover his ears and angrily leave the assembly. If, however, he is able to do so, he should cut out the tongue of the blasphemer and then commit suicide. That is dharma, or virtue."

Observing this to the letter would indeed create some bloody pulp. The statement is conditional however, “if one is able to”. This does not only refer to a physical possibility of an assault, but also to having a justified position for acts of corporal punishment — a privilege reserved to the ksatriyas of the yore. The Vaisnavas should, therefore, act differently:

For Vaisnavas, the giving up of a body that is fit for bhajana is unfit. Therefore, they should instead cover their ears, angrily leaving the place while remembering Sri Visnu. Therefore, the sadhakas should engage anger and intolerance, the causes of total destruction, in relation to the devotees’ enemies. It is understood that doing so will nourish the sadhakas' bhajana.

The commentator has twice spoken of the great destroying power of anger, and speaks at great length on the dangers of anger in his vyakhya on text 24. How careful should one be, then, in engaging this fire of anger so as to not burn oneself in the process? The passage above does not recommend the staging of an all-out confrontation with the bhakta-dvesi. Rather, it recommends indignated withdrawal from the scenario, for confronting another in an angry battle of words is a risky business indeed.

There is a Vaisnava-culture we are taught to follow, and good manners and etiquette that go along with the same. There are Vaisnavas of different grades of age, both material and spiritual, of different levels of maturity, and with different relationships and positions in the society of devotees, and accordingly a great variety of eligibilities for dealing with such situations. Some related thoughts have been featured in an older text at Vilasa Kunja.

Some two Vaisnavas may be of the same generation both by birth and by initiation, and as such share a relationship permitting different levels in frankness of expression than would be suitable for relative newcomers like myself. If I were to speak out with a forté a senior and elderly Vaisnava is acquitted, I would only incur aparadha. For our own spiritual good, we should be very careful in dealing with everyone, and especially with those who have found meaning in devotion to Radha and Krishna.

Observe the power of merely observing conflicts between Vaisnavas! A friend noted, “Yesterday morning after reading all this I could barely sit in front of my altar and chant.” If exchanges of anger and indignation are invested with such a destructive power that even observers are effected, how much greater will the impact be on those amidst the conflict itself? For most purposes and for most people, the indignated exit is the safe and certain path that incurs neither the fault of inaction nor the adverse effects of aparadha.

sAdhu sAvadhAna! sAdhu sAvadhAna! sAdhu sAvadhAna!
Back to top