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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava > Bhaktivinoda Vani Vaibhava Part 1 > Vaisnavism




1.How does one recognize a Vaisnava?


A Vaisnava is not recognized by his acceptance or rejection of vamasrama, or by his appearance. Devotional service of Krsna is the only indication of a Vaisnava. One should carefully see that a person possesses the required amount of devotion to Krsna before one accepts him as a Vaisnava. {Sajjana-tosani 2/12)


2.What is Vaisnavism?


The truth of Vaisnavism cannot be realized by philosophical discussions, intellectual language, or proper description. By taking words from the dictionary and putting them together does not make Vaisnavism wonderful. Vaisnavism is the awakening of one's rasa through the process of bhajana by taking shelter at the lotus feet of the spiritual master.

(Sajjana-tosani 6/2)


3.Who is a Vaisnava? Who is a better Vaisnava? Who is the best Vaisnava?


As long as a person commits offenses against the chanting of the Lord's holy name, the pure name does not appear to him. When he seldom commits offenses against the holy name, the reflection of the pure name appears to him. This is the ndmdbhdsa stage, wherein all his sinful reactions are destroyed. When sinful reactions are destroyed, his heart becomes pure. Then, he does not get a chance to commit offenses against the holy name. When a person chants the holy name and is rarely offensive, he is a Vaisnava. When a person chants without offense, he is a better Vaisnava. When the hlddinl potency arises in a person, he becomes the best Vaisnava.{Sajjana-tosani 6/1)


4.What is the difference between a Vaisnava, a better Vaisnava, and the best Vaisnava?


A Vaisnava who is attached to the chanting of the Lord's holy names offenselessly is a Vaisnava follower of Sri Caitanya's lotus feet. Occasional cultivation of the holy names is the role of a Vaisnava. Constant cultivation of the holy names is the role of a better Vaisnava. The best Vaisnava is he by whose association one is induced to chant the pure names of the Lord. Everyone's duty is to associate with these saintly persons.

{Sri Manah-siksd Chapter 10)


5.How great is a Vaisnava?


The greatness of a Vaisnava depends on the amount of attachment he has for chanting the holy names of Krsna. {Hari-nama-cintamani)


6.Among the introspective persons what is the difference between a kanistha-adhikari, a madhyama-adhikari, and an uttama-adhikari?


The introspective jiva is divided into three categories: kanistha, madhyama, and uttama (neophyte, intermediate, and advanced). The introspective neophyte, the kanistha-adhikdri, rejects demigod worship and worships only Krsna but with material motivations. He is inexperienced in understanding the spiritual identities of himself, Lord Krsna, and the pure devotee of the Lord. Though simple and naive, he is not offensive; he is just preoccupied with himself. Therefore, the neophytes are not considered pure Vaisnavas, though they are certainly to be seen as Vaisnava-prdya or resembling Vaisnavas. The intermediate introspective jiva, the madhyama-adhikdri, is a pure devotee and is very firmly situated in devotion. The advanced introspective jiva, the uttama-adhikdri—so much can be said about him; he has reached a state of perfect equanimity. One cannot be truly introspective unless one knows the equal position of the holy name and Krsna Himself. The introspective jiva automatically has single-minded faith in the Supreme Lord.

{Hari-nama-cintamani Chapter 15)


7.What is the position of a madhyama-adhikari?


A madhyama-adhikari is subordinate to the uttama-adhikari and a benefactor of the kanistha-adhikari. {Sajjana-tosani 10/12)


8.To which category does a person who chants the holy names belongs?


A person who chants the holy names of the Lord belongs immediately to the madhyama platform. {Caitanya-siksdmrta 6/4)


9.By which qualities is the status of a Vaisnava ascertained?


In the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, there are two principal instructions: developing a taste for the chanting of the Lord's holy names and displaying compassion to the fallen souls. The greatness of a Vaisnava depends on the extent he possesses these qualities. There is no need to endeavor for other good qualities. All good qualities of a Vaisnava automatically manifest in a Vaisnava who endeavors for these two qualities-. {Caitanya-siksdmrta 1/7)


10.When does a person become qualified to be called a Vaisnava?


When a person graduates from the kanistha platform by the mercy of the Vaisnavas, he is fit to be called a Vaisnava. At that time his compassion toward the fallen souls arises.

{Sajjana-tosani 4/8)


11.How does one measure the different levels of the Vaisnavas?


The renunciate Vaisnavas should not think that they are more respectable than the grhastha Vaisnavas. One should know that the difference in respect among the Vaisnavas lies only between uttama-adhikdri and madhyama-adhikdn. Both uttama-adhikdris and madhyama-adhikdiis are found among the grhasthas. This rule also applies to the renunciate Vaisnavas. The glories of the renunciate Vaisnavas are that they have given up the association of women, greed for money, and bodily pleasure. The grhastha Vaisnavas have special glories. Many of them work hard to earn money, and after serving Krsna, they serve grhastha and sannydsl Vaisnavas. Whether one is a grhastha or a sannydsl, the principal cause for respect is the attainment of devotional service. One should be respected as a Vaisnava according to one's advancement in devotional service. There is no other cause to distinguish the level of a Vaisnava. {Sajjana-tosani 5/11)


12.Does one's position as a Vaisnava depend on varndsrama, high birth, opulence, scriptural knowledge, or beauty?


One who has devotion is a Vaisnava whether he is grhastha, sannydsl, rich, poor, learned, foolish, weak, or strong. {Sajjana-tosani 10/2)


13.How many special qualities determine a Vaisnava? Among them, which is the primary symptom?


A Vaisnava is recognized by twenty-six qualities. Among these, the quality of full surrender to Krsna is the primary symptom of a Vaisnava.

{Sajjana-tosani All)


14.If a Vaisnava possesses the primary symptom, does he possess the secondary symptoms? If a person who is fully surrendered to Krsna has discrepancies, how should he be treated?


Undeviating surrender to Lord Krsna is the svarupa-laksana, natural characteristic, of devotional service. Whoever possesses this quality will soon find that the other symptoms come to him unfailingly. If the marginal symptoms have not reached full maturity in a surrendered sadhu and some serious discrepancies in his character are visible, he is still to be respected as a sadhu or saintly soul. {Hari-ndma-cintdmani Chapter 4)


15.What symptom distinguishes the quality of a Vaisnava?


The twenty-five kinds of secondary qualities certainly manifest in proportion to the attainment of devotional service. The more devotional service increases, the more these qualities increase. Where these secondary qualities are absent, it should be understood that the devotional service is less. This is the only symptom by which one can distinguish the quality of a Vaisnava. (Sajjana-tosani 4/1)


16.What are the different kinds of devotees according to their moods?


According to their moods, the devotees are divided into three categories: the devotees who mainly preach, the devotees who mainly practice, and the devotees who practice and preach. If one considers the uttama-adhikdris, madhyama-adhikdris, and kanistha-adhikdris, one can understand that the devotees who practice and preach are the best. The devotees who only practice are kanistha-adhikdris, and the devotees who only preach are madhyama-adhikdris. (Sajjana-tosani 4 /l)


17.What- differences exist between a kanistha-adhikari,a madhyama-adhikari, and an uttama-adhikari?


One who is expert in scriptural reasoning and is always firmly determined, having mature faith is an uttama-adhikdri in devotional service. One who is not particularly expert in scriptural reasoning yet possesses firm faith is a madhyama-adhikdri in devotional service. One who somehow or other developed some faith but has not taken shelter of scriptural reasoning is a kanistha-adhikdri. If kanistha-adhikdris associate with devotees and keep faith in the words of the scriptures, they can also gradually become mature Vaisnavas.(Sajjana-tosani 4/9)


18.What is the symptom of a mundane devotee?


Before the eyes of the people, kanistha-adhikdris accept a traditional family guru or worship the Lord's deity after taking initiation into Visnu mantras with worldly faith. In other words, they are mundane devotees, not pure devotees.

(Jaiva Dharma Chapter 8)


19.Should a madhyama-adhikdri discriminate between superior and inferior Vaisnavas?


One should not discriminate, thinking, "This Vaisnava is good or a madhyama." Only an uttama-adhikdri can do so. If a madhyama-adhikdri discriminates like this, he will become an offender.(Jaiva Dharma Chapter 8)


20.What is the danger for kanistha-adhikdris?


Because kanistha-adhikdris cannot discriminate between the different classes of Vaisnavas, they often become unfortunate.

(Caitanya-siksdmrta 6/4)


21.When does a kanistha-adhikdri become qualified to serve the Vaisnavas and purely chant the holy name of the Lord?


In the neophyte stage, a kanistha-adhikdri engages in namabhasa or chanting a reflection of the holy name. By this chanting, his anarthas are destroyed and he becomes qualified to serve the Vaisnavas and purely chant the Lord's holy name.



22.Who is qualified to serve the Vaisnavas? Is one being partial if one discriminates in one's service to the Vaisnavas?


Only a madhyama-adhikdri is qualified to respect and serve the Vaisnavas. A madhyama-adhikdri should serve three kinds of Vaisnavas: those who chant Krsna's holy names once, those who chant Krsna's holy names constantly, and those who cause one to chant Krsna's holy names just by seeing them. According to the different classes of Vaisnavas—a Vaisnava, a superior Vaisnava, and a topmost Vaisnava—one should serve them accordingly. (Jaiva Dharma Chapter 8)


23.Should one discriminate while making friendship with the Vaisnavas., bestowing mercy on the Vaisnavas, and neglecting the nondevotees?


It is the duty of pure devotees, who are situated on the platform of madhyama-adhikdri, to love God, to make friendship with pure devotees, to bestow mercy on subordinates, and to neglect envious people. They behave in this way according to scripture. To discriminate while making a friendship, according to the degree of the friend's devotional service, is proper. To discriminate while bestowing mercy, according to the degree of the ignorant people's simplicity, is proper. To discriminate while neglecting an envious person, according to the degree of his envy, is proper. (Jaiva Dharma Chapter 8)


24.When does the spiritual ego of a living entity arise?


When a living entity realizes that he is a pure spiritual particle, his spiritual ego naturally arises. He identifies himself as the servant of Krsna. At that time, the intelligence in its pure form rejects materialism and accepts spiritualism. Then the living entity has no other desire than the service of Krsna.(Sajjana-tosani 10/11)


25.What is the duty and symptom of a Vaisnava?


To give up the association with nondevotees is the duty of a Vaisnava, and to fully surrender to the holy names of Krsna is the symptom of a Vaisnava.

{Sajjana-tosani 11/6)


26.Who is a Vaisnava? Who is almost a Vaisnava?


If a conditioned soul purely chants the holy names of the Lord with faith, he is a Vaisnava. A person who practices ndmabhdsa is almost a Vaisnava and by the mercy of the holy names, he will gradually become purified. (Hari-nama-cintamani)


27.Are the Vaisnavas followers of the Lord's energy?


The Vaisnavas are followers of the Lord's energy. They are under the subordination of Sri Radhika, who is the personification of the Lord's spiritual potency.(Jaiva Dharma Chapter 9)


28.Who are engaged in welfare activities?


Although a living entity does not specifically gain anything from the advancement of the world, if one examines the lives of devotees, one will find that devotees only do welfare activities.(Caitanya-siksdmrta Chapter 8)


29.Which qualities manifest in a devotee as the companions of devotional service?


When one's devotional service is awakened, the following qualities are automatically and simultaneously manifest: purity, gravity, peacefulness, truthfulness, friendliness, humility, simplicity, equanimity, indifference to sin, compassion for all living entities, refraining from sinful activities, and abandoning insignificant material desires. (Sajjana-tosani 5/1)


30.What is the complete and auspicious human form of life?


The life of a devotee is the perfection of the human form of life. It is complete and all auspicious. It is the only spiritual truth found in the material world. (Caitanya-siksdmrta Chapter 8 Conclusion)


31.Can a devotee conceal himself?


No matter how much a devotee hates name and fame, and gives up bad association, he can never remain hidden from anyone because of his devotional effulgence.



32.What is the nature of a Vaisnava?


As long as his family life remains favorable to devotional service, a Vaisnava remains soft-hearted toward his wife and children; when his family life becomes unfavorable to devotional service, his heart becomes hard and he leaves his crying wife and children forever.{Sajjana-tosani 4/11)


33.When there is friction between karma and jnana,which side does the Vaisnava take?


The Vaisnava remains a neutral spectator during a fight between karma-kanda and jnana-kanda. {Sajjana-tosani 111)


34.When is a brdhmana qualified to accept Vaisnava initiation and when has he fallen from his position as a Vaisnava?


When a brahmana receives Vaisnava Gayatri mantra, which is the mother of the Vedas, he becomes an initiated Vaisnava. If he later takes non-Vedic initiation, he falls from his position as a Vaisnava.(Jaiva Dharma Chapter 10)


35.What is the scale for measuring love for Sri Gaura?


The more one has love for Sriman Mahaprabhu, the more one will try to follow His order. {Sajjana-tosani 11/5)


36.Who is a real devotee?


If one is internally a Vaisnava and externally a materialist, one is counted among the devotees. {Sajjana-tosani 11/12)


37.Who is a real sadhu"?


A real sadhu is he who by good fortune has awakened his own nature by associating with another sadhu. {Sajjana-tosani 9/9)


38.Are the birth and activities of the Vaisnavas similar to those of the living entities who are forced to enjoy the fruits of their karma?


The appearance and activities of the Vaisnavas appear like that of the mundane fruitive workers, but they are completely different.

{Sajjana-tosani 11/10)


39.What is the difference between a Vaisnava, a karmi,and ajnani?


The difference between a Vaisnava and a karmi oxjhdni is huge. The karmis engage in fruitive activities and attain self-satisfaction. The jhdnis cultivate impersonal knowledge and attain liberation. Devotees who engage in pure devotional service as their sadhana are rasika-bhaktas. When these great devotees, who know the science of devotional service, attain perfection, their devotional service becomes nectarean love of God, emanating from the lotus feet of Krsna.{Brhad-bhdgavatamrta purport)


40.Can a Vaisnava be bound or destroyed?


No one can destroy one whom Krsna wants to protect. The strength of regulations cannot influence the devotees. What to speak of the bondage of regulations, nothing other than the bondage of love for the Lord can bind the devotees. {Sri Krsna-samhitd Chapter 5)


41.How should one pray to go to Vrndavana, following in the footsteps of the Vaisnavas?


O Saragrahi Vaisnava soul!

Thou art an angel fair; Lead, lead me on to Vrndavana And spirit's power declare!


There rests my soul from matter free Upon my Lover's arms,

Eternal peace and spirit's love Are all my chanting charms! (Saragrahi Vaisnava)


42. What are the characteristics of a perfect soul and a practitioner?


Those who have attained the mood of the gopls are perfect beings, and those who follow them are practitioners. Therefore the learned, who know the Absolute Truth, accept two types of sddhiis: perfect beings and practitioners.

(Sri Krsna-sarhhita Chapter 9)