The Ten Offences, Day 1, Durban, South Africa
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
We are very happy to be here with you all, taking part in our Easter courses again, very, very nice experience and very nice opportunity for all of us to share together in Krishna Consciousness. We have rather amusing chairs this is just when anyone is falling asleep we just do a trick on the chair and people will wake up.
So, we are going to be doing a course about the 10 offences in the chanting of the holy names, just in case any of you are falling asleep already. Oh that’s better, okay that will do, that’s good, okay.
10 offences in the chanting of the holy names. Hopefully you have all got this, do you, a copy of this overview, which we just put together rather quickly actually. So today we are, today, tomorrow and Sunday actually, the class times will be from about 12.30 till about 2.30, two hours then in the middle we’ll take 10 or 15 minute break and then on Monday, I forget exactly what time it is but it’s at a different time. It’s about 1.30 till about 3 or something like that. Anyway we will make you aware of that, what is it? 11 to 1, 11 to 1, is it, 11.30 to 1, or something like that.
So we will be going through all ten offences and then I believe you’re be meant to be having a test, am I right? “Yes!” Yes, aha, but anyway the thing is perhaps any of you that take the test; we’ll give you a prize, just for doing it. Anyway I will tell you now what we are going to at least a couple of things we are going to ask you in the test about this, about our course here and first thing of course naturally we’ll have to ask you what are the 10 offences, so you must know what are the ten offences and I would hope that you all know the 10 offences already. Any of you who don’t know the 10 offences already? I see. Well it’s hard to avoid them if you don’t know what they are, so, but this is so basic, this is very basic things and that will be there and then, well today, we are going to particularly focus on the first offence which is a very, very important offence and something which we actually talk about quite a bit so we’ll try and focus in on that first offence, blaspheming the devotees. We’ll do that today and then the other days we’ll go through the others. Now as far as, so we will ask you about the ten offences, “what are the ten offences?” and as far as what we are going to discuss today is concerned, we will, anyway as we go through, as we come across the points, I will make you aware of them, the points we are going to ask questions about in the test but there will just be a couple. They will be very easy.
So, the 10 offences to the chanting of the holy names, we all know, you all know very well that in this age of Kali, that harer nama harer nama harer nama iva kevalam, kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha, that in this age of Kali, there’s no other way, no other way, no other way than chanting the holy names, chanting the holy names, chanting the holy names, no other way to go back to Godhead. So that is well known to all of us. That is the yuga dharma and Lord Caitanya who is Krishna himself has appeared to teach that, to demonstrate it, very important, most important, actually without chanting the holy names, without actually having the chanting of the holy names as the focal point of your spiritual activities then there can hardly be any advancement for anyone. So in other sampradayas or other traditions like this, where generally they are not actually chanting the holy names very much, we can understand that not really very much advancement that they can make. So this chanting of the holy names is so important and Srila Prabhupada whenever He would give first initiation and of course the practice continues nowadays also. He would always talk about the 10 offences, how the chanting of the holy names is so important, so valuable that if you commit offences then Prabhupada would say, He said different things, one thing was that it’s like trying to light a fire with one hand while pouring water on it with the other. Yes, if you are chanting, trying to focus on your chanting but you’re committing offences then it’s like that. So to understand these offences and know them very clearly and to know something about them, different aspects of how they may occur in our lives, how we may commit them and what to do about them and we somehow or other unfortunately do, so these very important considerations in Krishna Consciousness.
They have a very big effect. Just to give you an idea, just to give you an idea, you’ve probably heard the story, I am sure you have heard the story before of the devotees who are staying in Hawaii, and they had had certain experiences dealing with the administration of ISKCON and they felt they had bad experiences. They felt they had been mistreated and they weren’t prepared to be tolerant or try again like that, so they came to Srila Prabhupada and told Srila Prabhupada, that “Srila Prabhupada, we like You so much, we are very attached to You. We’ll do anything that You ask”. You’ve heard the story haven’t you? You’ve heard the story? “We’ll do anything, You just tell us, we’ll do anything, We’ll follow You. These GBC members, these GBC body, no sorry, we just can’t do it! We tried but we can’t!” So Srila Prabhupada, ever, clever said that “Oh that’s very nice, You’ll do whatever I say?” “Yes, Srila Prabhupada, we’ll do anything, just order us”. Srila Prabhupada said that “All right, then just follow the GBC!” You’ve all heard that before, it’s very like, one of the very important stories there are so anyway they couldn’t do it, they couldn’t do it. They went out and it became clear after a few days that they were not intending to do that but they were still around, actually they had their own ashram, they had even separated themselves to that extent. They had their own ashram. So it became clear that they were not going to obey that order.
So a few days later, Srila Prabhupada was having His morning walk on one of the beaches there in Hawaii and the subject came up about these people and what they were doing, what was there position and one devotee asked Srila Prabhupada that, “You have given these devotees a clear order but now they had disobeyed that order”. So we all know, well know that is the, which offence is that, don’t look, 3rd, 4th, 5th? “3rd!” Okay. That’s the 3rd offence, guror avajna, to disobey the orders of the spiritual master. So this devotee then asked Srila Prabhupada, “that these people they are chanting Hare Krishna, they are devotees, and at least they are continuing, basically continuing as devotees but they are disobeying this order of Yours, Srila Prabhupada, so what will be the result, will they, will they able to become Krishna Conscious, Srila Prabhupada, will they be able to make any advancement?” Srila Prabhupada said, “well maybe after 400 lifetimes”. It’s a long time, so here we have, one order, one order from Srila Prabhupada but they were disobeying that order, it’s an important order of course and on the basis of disobeying this one order, Srila Prabhupada felt that, not just felt but He said that, pointed out that it would have such a drastic effect on their lives in Krishna Consciousness. So these are big things, these offences and to avoid them is very, very important.
Let us read through here, just the first page as a little introduction and then we will go on to discussing about the first offence. So we have taken a quotation out of Nectar of Devotion, this is out of the 8th Chapter. Srila Prabhupada says “In the Padma Purana it is stated that even a person whose life is completely sinful will be completely protected by the Lord if he simply surrenders unto Him. So it is accepted that one who surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes free from all sinful reactions. And even when a person becomes an offender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he can still be delivered simply by taking shelter of the holy names of the Lord: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsnaa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.” (NOD, Chapter Eight)
That is a little point just before we read this last sentence here when Srila Prabhupada says here that even when a person becomes an offender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, He can still be delivered
by chanting. Srila Prabhupada is speaking in a certain context that is, the context of the 8th Chapter of the Nectar of Devotion. “Who can tell us what the 8th Chapter of Nectar of Devotion is about?” “Anyway we should, we need to do a bit more reading perhaps, it’s called “Offences to be avoided”, ya. Srila Prabhupada first of all, lists out, a whole list, actually 2 lists, 2 lists of offences which we call seva aparadhas, offences you may commit in the course of rendering devotional service, beginning with…? “Who knows what the first of such offences is? Anyone know?” Dananjaya? Well to enter the temple room with your shoes on, ya or riding in a palanquin. So this is the first of those seva aparadhas, and they are considered to be offences in service but in service to who? Of course it’s service to Krishna. Even when Srila Prabhupada says here that even if a person becomes an offender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Himself, He is referring to those seva aparadhas, even if someone commits some offence like that, you know there are so many and we are not going to really look at them very much but you may be aware of some we’ve just mentioned. Entering the temple room with your shoes on, when you enter the temple room if you bow down but don’t bow down properly, paanch annga. There is paanch annga, obeisances and asatanga, obeisances where 5 parts of your body touch the ground and obeisances where 8 parts of your body touch the ground, in other words when you kneel down or you prostrate yourself offering dandavats. So if you don’t bow down properly, it’s an offence. If when you bow down, you don’t utter the pranama mantras to your spiritual master out loud, if you just say them in your mind or just whisper them, then this is also an offence. There are so many other offences listed out there, there’s something 60, 64 something like that. So at the end of listing out all those seva aparadhas, Srila Prabhupada makes this point that even you become an offender to Krishna in this sense but if you chant Hare Krishna then you can be delivered. So then let’s just read on, “In other words, the chanting of Hare Kåñëa is beneficial for eradicating all sins, but if one becomes an offender to the holy names of the Lord, then he has no chance of being delivered.” So we all want to delivered, no one wants to stay here in the material world and rot.
Of course some of us may feel, we have this sentiment, we would be willing to come back and preach, so that you know, that may be there, but that’s a pretty elevated type of desire and if you have read that book by Bhürijana Prabhu, “My Glories Master”, you’ll see that he, Prabhupada was taking about going back to Godhead and Bhürijana Prabhu, he offered, a little sort of, few words of sentiment, he said “actually Srila Prabhupada, we’d like to stay here and preach on Your behalf”. Srila Prabhupada understanding it was a bit of a sentiment, it wasn’t so deep. Srila Prabhupada without asking him “well, what’s going to happen to you if you stay here, are you going to preach or end up in maya?” Prabhupada just looked at him and said, “Don’t make your spiritual master come back for you.”
Ya, so we all want to be delivered and Srila Prabhupada is saying here, that if you commit these offences in the chanting of Hare Krishna then you cannot be delivered so therefore I thinks it’s very important isn’t it to get a grip on these 10 offences and particular to avoid committing them. Some of you will have heard me tell the story; I was present once with Srila Prabhupada, when one devotee read out to Srila Prabhupada this very thing that we have read just now, this very bit. He read it out to Srila Prabhupada, was in a darshan in Prabhupada’s room in Bhaktivedanta Manor and he said, “Srila Prabhupada it says here like this that if you offend the holy names then there is no chance of being delivered but isn’t there some way of being delivered?”, and Srila Prabhupada looked at him and said, “You are asking this question because you want to offend.” He was very heavy; it’s actually about the heaviest thing I have ever seen in my personal presence with Srila Prabhupada.
The other heaviest thing which may have actually been probably, which was heavier was when the Temple President of the Edinburgh temple in Scotland asked Srila Prabhupada, “Srila Prabhupada, we have rats in our building, is it alright if we kill them?” and Srila Prabhupada replied that “If you kill the rats, then you should be killed”, and the devotee didn’t hear, this is like in a room like something like as many devotes or more than we have here in Bhaktivedanta Manor and the devotee didn’t really grasp it. He said “excuse me, Srila Prabhupada?” Srila Prabhupada said “if you kill the rats then you should be killed” and then there was a characteristic deep silence.
So something similar happened, we were all sitting there enjoying Srila Prabhupada’s association but Srila Prabhupada was not one to be sentimental and just get into it a certain mood and joke around or you know casual mood. So when this question came up, He was very heavy, “If you… You are asking this question because you want to offend; you must stop offending, no more offences, no more offences. So this is very, very important.
Let’s just read through the offences I am sure we are all basically know them. They are just for our purification. Let’s read them together out loud okay, as we do in the temple every morning.
“The 10 offences in chanting Hare Krishna are as follows:
(1) To blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives for propagating the holy name of the Lord.
(2) To consider the names of demigods like Lord Siva or Lord Brahma to be equal to, or independent of, the name of Lord Visnu
(3) To disobey the orders of the spiritual master.
(4) To blaspheme the Vedic literature or literature in pursuance of the Vedic version.
(5) To consider the glories of chanting Hare Krsna to be imagination.
(6) To give some interpretation on the holy name of the Lord.
(7) To commit sinful activities on the strength of the holy name of the Lord.
(8) To consider the chanting of Hare Krsna one of the auspicious ritualistic activities offered in the Vedas as fruitive activities (karma-kanda).
(9) To instruct a faithless person about the glories of the holy name.
(10) To not have complete faith in the chanting of the holy names and to maintain material attachments, even after understanding so many instructions on this matter.
It is also an offence to be inattentive while chanting. Every devotee who claims to be a Vaisnava must guard against these offenses in order to quickly achieve the desired success (Krishna prema).”
So here you have the 10 offences, can you please learn those for the test.
Let’s turn over now, and today we are going to discuss about this first offence, to blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives for propagating the holy name of the Lord. Here you see we have given 5 little subheadings and of course there are so many different sub headings and different aspects to this and we’ll try and cover as many as we reasonably can before 2.30 today.
So first point, first point we have brought out is how Krishna himself, speaking to Uddhava in the 11th Canto, this is called the “Uddhava Gita”. Just like we have got Bhagavad Gita, we’ve got “Uddhava Gita”. Bhagavad Gita, we all know Bhagavad- Gita of course very, very important. Uddhava Gita is also spoken by Krishna, it’s there in the 11th Canto and it’s said to be a higher development than Bhagavad Gita. Perhaps not many of you have read the entire Srimad Bhagavatam but this Uddhava Gita is very important in the 11th Canto, many, many chapters, Krishna explaining devotional service more like more the intricacies of devotional service and then there is even the “Gopi Gita” which of course actually is very short, it’s just part of a chapter in the 10th Canto which is even a higher development, the gopis expressing their transcendental feelings about Krishna but here, Krishna himself explains the qualities of a devotee.
Let me just read through it quickly, “O Uddhava, a saintly person is merciful and never injures others. Even if others are aggressive he is tolerant and forgiving toward all living entities. His strength and meaning in life come from the truth itself, he is free from all envy and jealousy, and his mind is equal in material happiness and distress. Thus, he dedicates his time to work for the welfare of all others. His intelligence is never bewildered by material desires, and he has controlled his senses. His behaviour is always pleasing, never harsh and always exemplary, and he is free from possessiveness. He never endeavours in ordinary, worldly activities, and he strictly controls his eating. He therefore always remains peaceful and steady. A saintly person is thoughtful and accepts Me as his only shelter. Such a person is very cautious in the execution of his duties and is never subject to superficial transformations, because he is steady and noble, even in a distressing situation. He has conquered over the six material qualities—namely hunger, thirst, lamentation, illusion, old age and death. He is free from all desire for prestige and offers honour to others. He is expert in reviving the Krsna consciousness of others and therefore never cheats anyone. Rather, he is a well-wishing friend to all, being most merciful. Such a saintly person must be considered the most learned of men. He perfectly understands that the ordinary religious duties prescribed by Me in various Vedic scriptures possess favourable qualities that purify the performer, and he knows that neglect of such duties constitutes a discrepancy in one’s life. Having taken complete shelter at My lotus feet, however, a saintly person ultimately renounces such ordinary religious duties and worships Me alone. He is thus considered to be the best among all living entities.” (SB 11. 11.29-32) So that is about 4 verses from the 11th chapter of the 11th Canto. “The devotee is the best of all people, because the devotee possess the highest qualities, but, or even really amongst those qualities but the main quality is being attached to Krishna” and Krishna appreciates this quality so much that, this is what this first offence really is related to. How the holy name of the Lord is actually Krishna Himself and the devotees are very dear to Krishna, extremely dear, so if you offend a devotee, you offend Krishna.” It’s very, very serious. You cannot get Krishna’s mercy if you offend a devotee. Now of course, the question might arise, offending a devotee.
As we have done in previous years, after just warming up slightly, I can see you are all warming up because the room is already getting warm. Some of you are already falling asleep, so we will get up and walk around a little, wave our arms around a little, get a little excited, and try to get you all a little excited. Okay.
The devotees are very dear to Krishna and of course the pure devotees are particularly dear to Krishna, very dear to Krishna. But what about the other devotees? When we hear about this first offence, “to blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives.” What sort of devotees are we talking about? Are we talking about the pure devotees, or the sort of medium pure devotees or which devotees are we talking about? What do you think? “All devotees!” “All devotees!” We are talking about all the devotees. This applies to all the devotees, down to the very last one that you could consider a devotee you know by just perhaps using your imagination a little bit.
In the Srimad Bhagavatam we find a very graphic example of this, at least in the sense of someone who was you know you really have to use your imagination a bit to consider this person a devotee but this person was definitely accepted by Krishna and got some real mercy that we’d all like to get. So who, can you think who I might be talking about? Who might I be talking about? “O there very good, Pütanä, Pütanä.” Now in order to consider Pütanä a devotee, I think you have to use your imagination a bit. Yes, because in the Bhagavatam, when Uddhava who is the person who really acknowledges this fact that Pütanä was a devotee or at least she was dear to Krishna because she was something of a devotee. He refers to her as asadhavi. Sadhvi is the feminine form of sadhu; we have here the sadhus and the sadhvis. Like we have the prabhus, like we have this practice n ISKCON, the prabhus and the matajis. But actually, strictly speaking it’s the prabhus and the prabvis. Yes. Anyway we don’t know if that is going to be introduced but it is technically correct Sanskrit or more correct at least.
Putana was extremely horrible and she wanted to kill Krishna by sucking his blood out, no, no, by poisoning Him. She had put poison on her breasts and she was ostensibly going to breast feed him but actually she wanted to poison him and she was in fact a professional killer of children, perhaps the forerunner of the modern day abortionists but she did it in a more colourful form. Yes, she sucked their blood out, the modern not modern day but perhaps a forerunner of Dracula and company. So that was Putana, she was asadhavi, she was just the most horrible person you can imagine.
But Uddhava, there’s a famous verse, famous verse and it was bought to, like the importance of it was brought to our attention by Jiva Goswami in the book called Sankalpa-kalpa-druma, in which he raises the question, “Why should we surrender to Krishna?” and He suggests a number of possible reasons, because Krishna is God and we are His parts and parcels. These all very logical reasons like this, good reasons but then he says no, that’s not really the real, the ultimate reason at least. He says the ultimate reason is because Krishna is so merciful to His devotees that he refers to Pütanä and he quotes this verse that I am referring to, aho bake yaa stana-kala-kuoaa jighaasayapayayad apy asadhve, that he is lamenting Krishna left the planet and he is lamenting that, aho, Alas, alas, what will I do now, who will I take shelter of now that Krishna has left this planet, who will I take shelter of and He says, how will I find someone like Krishna who can give me shelter and who can look after me and be kind to me like Krishna, who gave the position of mother to Pütanä, yes, dhatry, dhatry means nurse. Lord Krishna gave Putana, killed her, gave her a position in Goloka Vrndavana as His own personal nurse. So this is pretty amazing that Putana, even though she only had a little hint of piety or Krishna Consciousness in that she came to breast feed Krishna.
Probably you’ve heard us explain this before about Pütana, in her previous life she was the sister or daughter, different Puranas say different things, intimate relative of Bali Maharaja and when Lord Vamana came, He was a very beautiful looking little boy, 5 year old boy and she as a young lady, young girl, she saw this beautiful little boy and she thought, “So wonderful! What a beautiful child, I wish I could have this boy as my son.” She was sort of day dreaming like that because he was such a nice little boy, but then Lord Vamana took everything away from Bali Maharaja and his sister got upset and she said that, “Alright, perhaps I will have this child as my son but if I do, then I’ll kill Him.” So then she was born as Pütanä and so she tried to, she got this position where she was apparently in a maternal type of position or coming to do a maternal type of thing to breast feed Krishna but she tried to kill Him. However Krishna recognising that little trace of maternal feeling, positive feeling, little trace of affection, then Krishna killed her and overlooked all the horrible thoughts in her mind and gave her a position in Goloka Vrndavana as a nurse, which is in the parental rasa, it’s a motherly position. So from this we can get some idea, some idea of how dear the devotees are to Krishna. If she was dear enough despite everything, despite so much to get a position in Goloka Vrndavana then what about the devotees who despite having shortcomings are actually trying their best. What about that?
The same point comes up in the story of Ajamila, which we are discussing in Bhagavatam class in the temple here in Durban that Ajamila, he chanted the name “Narayana” and of course it’s a bit of a long story but he also went back to Godhead. He got some special mercy. So right at the end of the narration about Ajamila, Sukadeva Goswami makes the point, that if Ajamila, eventually went back to Godhead, if Ajamila got that sort of mercy from the Lord then what about a devotee who is seriously trying to practice Krishna Consciousness, because you all know Ajamila, he was far from your average practitioner of sadhana bhakti. Ya. So the devotees are very dear to Krishna and we have just given these two examples to illustrate that you know, by contrast, just by contrast, that these two people who are like utter creeps and that’s praising them, you know they were just too much altogether. You know long ago but they had some little trace somewhere of something to do with Krishna in a little bit of a favourable way, you could hardly even notice it but they went back to Godhead. Ya. So what about your average, you know we don’t want to mention any names but anyone sitting in the room here, we don’t want to embarrass anyone, create a scene, but ya.
In fact, I remember sitting in one class once and one devotee was talking about this and how, he actually was Pradyumna, who was at one point Srila Prabhupada’s Sanskrit assistant type and unfortunately he got kind of deviated after a while, but He was saying he was with Srila Prabhupada once and Prabhupada was giving a class and Srila Prabhupada was making a point, similar type of point, He said “you never know who you will be sitting next to, it might be Narada Muni”. So anyway we don’t really expect that exactly but at least you should know, that we don’t have any Ajamila’s here, we certainly don’t have any Putana’s right? We don’t have any Ajamila’s! We’ve basically got here, devotees who are trying their best even though I know that probably any one of you would be able to say that you have shortcomings and it’s probably true, actually. That’s just the way it goes in the material world but all the devotees are very dear to Krishna.
I got a couple of quotes here spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He says, this is in the 9th Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, 4th Chapter, it’s the story of Durvasa Muni and Maharaja Ambarish. Hopefully you are familiar with that story. But Durvasa Muni, he really offended Maharaja Ambarish through being puffed up and thinking he was more, you know had more value than he really had. So, He said, rather Lord Vishnu said:
sadhavo hrydayaa mahyaa
sadhunaa hrdayaa tv aham
mad-anyat te na jananti
nahaa tebhyo manag api
“The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart, and I am always in the heart of the pure devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them” (SB.9.4.68).
The devotees mean a lot to Krishna; you know if Putana meant something then just consider somebody like Maharaja Ambarish. Krishna is saying I don’t know anything else, I don’t know anything else. He says there is a whole dialogue here, He says, that without my devotees I don’t even care for Vaikunta. I don’t care for all my mystic opulences; I don’t care for anything without my devotees.
Then He makes another interesting point which is related to this, Putana and all the, you know, neophyte devote type person. “I am completely under the control of My devotees, indeed I am not independent because my devotees are completely devoid of material desires. I sit only within the cores of their hearts” (SB.9.4.63). So that’s the pure devotees. “What to speak of My devotee even those who are devotees of My devotee are very dear to Me” (SB.9.4.38).
So we’re just mentioning these things because, first thing to understand when we consider this offence of blaspheming the devotees is to have an idea within our minds of how special the devotees are, even the quote unquote “ordinary devotee” who maybe be sitting right next to you this very instant. You know that devotee who you have seen around. That devotee who comes to the temple every Sunday and you know is one of the devotees but you know when you see that devotee, it’s not that you snap to attention and you’re on your best behaviour or anything of that sort. It’s just one of those devotees and it’s “Haribol Prabhu” or “Mataji” or whatever, but you know don’t take these people lightly. Don’t take these people lightly because if you do, anyway Krishna doesn’t. He doesn’t. He doesn’t at all. He really doesn’t and this is the essence of the significance of this offence. Ya, that the devotees are very, very, first of all qualified, Krishna said to Uddhava in the verse there that you have in the overview book, actually they are very qualified in many ways but even if they are not so qualified like Putana or Ajamila, but just because there is a little bit there then Krishna takes them very seriously, what to speak of someone who is trying, some who is trying their best despite having being conditioned and having shortcomings. You must know Krishna takes these people very, very seriously. So therefore to commit offences against the devotees is very serious.
Okay, now let us go into some of the intricacies of it. You’ll see in your overview book, point number 2 is talking about two different types of qualities, now that might not be so clear what it really means, but what we mean here is that, like in these 4 verses we have just quoted here, spoken by Krishna to Uddhava, there’s a whole load of qualities mentioned and in a classic sense, or at least we hear Prabhupada talk sometimes about the devotees having 26 qualities. Have you heard about that, the 26 qualities of the devotees? Ya, so that is there? Amongst those 26, there are 2 types and the Sanskrit term, well, let me just write it up because we are going to ask you this is our test okay. So write this down, alright? Some of you may be familiar with these terms, because we have discussed this subject quite a lot, svarupa-laksnana and tatastha-laksnana. Svarupa means constitutional or essential and tatastha means marginal. We are the tatastha sakti of Krishna. Tatastha means marginal, means it’s important but not so totally essential. So amongst the 26 qualities of the devotee or amongst the qualities mentioned here in the verses that we have quoted, so there is svarupa and tatastha, Svarupa, constitutional or essential and tatastha or marginal. Laksnana, laksnana means qualities. Now, are any of you familiar with these 26 qualities? Are you familiar? Sort of. I am sure you’re at least sort off, somewhat, kind of familiar. That’s the way we are about many things in Krishna Consciousness or in life even. We kind of yes right we’ve heard about it, yes. So now, do you kind of know or even definitely know what is or are the svarupa laksnana, the essential qualities or quality or whatever it maybe of a devotee out of the 26. Any offers? Nrshimananda Prabhu? Krsnaika-saranam! Oh there you go, that’s really you got it. Krsnaika-saranam, that the devotee only takes shelter of Krishna, the devotees doesn’t take shelter of any demigods, family members, you know, the nation, the government, your bank balance, your mother-in-law, Krishna. The devotee takes shelter of Krishna. So this is the one svarupa laksnana. We want you to know this okay, that the devotee takes shelter only of Krishna. This is the svarupa laksnana. This is the essential quality of a devotee. Then the other 25, they are all taöastha, they are all marginal, like being humble, being tolerant, being poetic, being grave, being friendly to all living entities. They are marginal. They are important, they shouldn’t be neglected but they are not as important. They are not as important.
Then in our book, we actually we refer, number 4, I’m just going to skip over to number 4 because we will be talking about number 3 shortly. Number 4 we mentioned about the Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s explanation so let us, it actually fits in here. His explanation is, this is in Madhurya-Kadambini, that even if a devotee is really lacking in the 25 marginal qualities, not so humble, not so tolerant, not so poetic you know, not so friendly to all living entities, not so grave, like this, but the devotee is really attached to Krishna then we accept them as a devotee and even though they are lacking in the other qualities, we don’t really make a big thing of it. It’s not really a big issue. Of course if the devotee, sort of, something really flares up in some way, you know, they become angry and really become proud, or you know instead of being friendly to other living entities they start punching other living entities particularly the devotees, then we would have to take it seriously and really note it but otherwise we don’t really make a big issue. We don’t make a big issue, generally we overlook, we would prefer to overlook. Ya, however even if the devotee is extremely humble and meek, what some devotees call, Bhakti Brnga Govinda Maharaja calls a “humble bumble bee”, a “humble bumble bee”, very, very humble and simple and quiet and tolerate anything.
I know one devotee, nice devotee, I just saw him in Mayapur after not seeing him for years, such a humble devotee. One of our devotees, we were on travelling sankirtan and one of the devotees was sitting in the van looking out the window and he felt the need to expectorate, if you know what that means, to spit some mucus built up and so it’s rather gross but anyway, so he felt he really just had to do it and went up to the window and spat and just as, at that very instant, you know I am serious, just at that very instant, this humble devotee walked past and he got spat on and you know what he did, he said I am very sorry prabhu, the devotee who got spat on I am very sorry prabhu, so he is a very humble devotee.
Actually I do not know if you are aware, but if you have I think it’s a cold, some sort of disease we can check on it but if a brahmana gargles with water and then spits on you that is meant to be a cure for I believe it’s a cold. Ya.
Anyway what we are getting at is that even if a devotee is very humble and tolerant and sweet and nice and everything like that but they are not really devotees in other words, you know they are not really devotees, not really attached to Krishna, they are materialistic, so a person should I should say, not a devotee, but a person can be very humble and tolerant and so on and so forth but not a devotee then we do not care. I mean we do not take them seriously put it that way, we don’t take them seriously. So Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s explanation is that you may, you may come across one of these people, one of these devotees who’s attached to Krishna, very attached to Krishna but he is not so humble you know, if you tell them or ask them to move out of the way they tell you, “why don’t you move out of the way”. Anyway you know, one of these just difficult devotees. Ya. One of these difficult devotees who maybe actually be really very difficult, just to give you an example, well I don’t know if this is a good example but it’s an example.
It’s a very interesting example in regard to you know being a very advanced devotee. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati once, he gave a, he was doing a lecture once somewhere in India going from town to town doing programs and at the end of one program, at the end of one class he asked various questions and one man got up and asked a question. I don’t know actually what it was about but it was like a really, it was just a challenge. It was a criticism. You know, why do you people do this and why do you do that, that sort of thing but in a really cynical and unpleasant way and at the end you know of the very nice program for this to come up, everyone felt very sad actually, it spoilt the mood, it was a pleasant mood prevailing. Everyone became disturbed, so anyway then the program ended and then Srila Bhakti Siddhanta went on to the next town and the next night had a program in the next town and he asked for questions and who should stand up but the same man, with another you know unpleasant, cynical, you know sort of like aggressive and nasty question and then the next day Srila Bhakti Siddhanta went to the next town and did a program that next night and the same thing happened. This man was following him. He was actually following him, he was uptight and angry, so this went on for a couple of weeks, couple of weeks, and every night and the devotees were telling Srila Bhakti Siddhanta, next time the man stands up, we’ll just chuck him out and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta said, “no, no, no, it’s alright, it’s alright”. Finally after two or three weeks something like that the man wasn’t there one night and the devotees breathed a sigh of relieve and so anyway things were going on and then about two or three days later they heard the man was dead, so they thought, great, that’s wonderful, just what he deserves and they went to Srila Bhakti Siddhanta and they told him the good news so to speak, you know that fellow from little while ago, well, he’s dead and they were laughing and you know they thought this was actually quite amusing. He really got what he deserved but then Srila Bhakti Siddhanta, he started crying and the devotees you know they are just wondering, what really is happening here, so they asked Srila Bhakti Siddhanta that you know this man he was such a demon, such an envious rascal and isn’t it good, and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta crying, he said “no, he was my friend, he was trying to help me,” so anyway very advanced devotee, very, very elevated devotee Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati.
Now the point we are getting at here is that, oh gosh we need to a break, but the point is that even if a devotee is really lacking, they are just like you know one of these rather painful devotees you know, you happen to know one who at least might be painful to you but you know every now and then you get these sort of like black sheep, these sore thumb type devotees who just, ya, but as long as they are attached to Krishna then you cannot think that oh now I can criticise this devotee, blaspheme this devotee and it’s alright because you know just look at him, you know he always says the wrong things and you know he insults other devotees and he does so on and so forth.
But Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s explanation is that as long as he is attached to Krishna you cannot, you cannot justify, criticising like this. You cannot justify that just by pointing out that the devotee has shortcomings in regard to the tatastha-laksnana, the marginal qualities, that does not justify, so one should always be respectful to the devotees. Okay I am sorry, we should have taken a break 15 minutes ago; but anyway let us take a break now, okay. What time do you have?