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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktivinoda Thakura > Bhaktyaloka > Six Foults That Desteoy Bhakti > Prajalpa


Idle talking


Talking with one another is called jalpana or prajalpa. Nowadays in this world godlessness is so prominent that conversing with others means godless talk. Therefore it is not profitable for a practicing devotee to engage in jalpana. There can, however, be many kinds of jalpana in the cultivation of devotional service. They are all auspicious for the devotees. Shrila Rupa Gosvami has written in his Karpanya-panjika-stotra:

tathapy asmin kadacid        vamadhishau nama-jalpini

avadya-vrinda-nistari-        namabhasau prasidatam

Devotees recite the purport of this verse in the following words:

tathapi e dina-jane,        yadi nama-uccarane,

namabhasa karila jivane

sarva-dosha-nivarana,        duhun-nama-sanjalpana,

prasade prasida dui jane

“While chanting the holy name of the Lord, if a wretched person in his lifetime achieves namabhasa, or a glimpse of offenseless chanting, then all his faults are destroyed and Their Lordships become pleased with him.”

Kirtana, offering prayers, and reciting the scriptures are all jalpana; but when these are performed with a favorable mood and devoid of material desire, then they are all cultivation of Krishna consciousness. Therefore the conclusion is this: All prajalpas that are unfavorable to Krishna's service are adverse to devotional service. The practitioner should carefully give up prajalpa. There is no fault in the activities of the mahajanas. The mahajanas have respectfully engaged in prajalpa (favorable to devotional service), and this is our only duty. Sometimes puffed-up devotees advise that all types of prajalpa should be given up. But we are followers of Shrila Rupa Gosvami; being followers of Rupa Gosvami we will always stick to the path shown by the sadhus who are following his instructions. In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, as quoted from the Skanda Purana, it is said:

sa mrigyah shreyasam hetuh        panthah santapa-varjitah

anavapta-shramam purve        yena santah pratisthire

“One should strictly follow the easy path that the previous mahajanas have accepted. That path bestows great auspiciousness and is devoid of all misery.”

Our mahajana's path is that which was shown by Shrila Vyasadeva, Shukadeva Gosvami, Prahlada Maharaja, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and His associates. We are not to leave aside that path to follow the instructions of new puffed-up devotees. All the mahajanas have respected that prajalpa which nourishes devotion to Hari. We will discuss this in the appropriate place.

Godless prajalpas are impediments to devotional service. They are of many types. Useless talks, arguments, gossip, debates, fault-finding in others, speaking falsehoods, blaspheming devotees, and worldly talk are all called prajalpa.

Useless talk is extremely detrimental. Practicing devotees should discuss topics of Lord Hari in the association of other devotees and remember Hari's name, form, qualities, and pastimes in a secluded place without uselessly wasting time. In the Bhagavad-gita (10.8-9) it is said:

aham sarvasya prabhavo        mattah sarvam pravartate

iti matva bhajante mam        budha bhava-samanvitah

mac-citta mad-gata-prana        bodhayantah parasparam

kathayantash ca mam nityam        tushyanti ca ramanti ca 

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts. The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.”

Also in the Gita (9.14) it says:

satatam kirtayanto mam        yatantash ca dridha-vratah

namasyantash ca mam bhaktya        nitya-yukta upasate

“Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.” In this way the practicing devotee should cultivate unalloyed devotion. If they spend their days and nights uselessly talking with materialists, then the Lord's instruction, “always chanting My glories,” will not be followed. In newspapers there is so much useless talk. For the practicing devotee to read newspapers is a great loss. But if there are topics about pure devotees described in the newspaper, then that can be read. After finishing their meal, mundane people normally smoke and engage in useless talk with other godless people. It is certainly difficult for them to become followers of Shrila Rupa Gosvami. Reading novels is the same. But if one gets a novel with a story like that of Puranjana in the Shrimad Bhagavatam, then reading that is not an impediment, rather it is beneficial.

Argument is a prajalpa that is adverse to devotional service. All the arguments of the followers of nyaya and vaisheshika are simply godless quarrels. They do not yield any result other than wasting the mind's strength and increasing one's restlessness. In the Vedas (Katha Upanishad 1.2.9) it is said: naisha tarkena matir apaneya—“This intelligence cannot be attained by argument.” The living entity's proper discretion is eternally established in his natural intelligence. That discretion naturally flows towards the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. But by arguing about directions, places, mistakes, and illusions, the heart becomes tough. Then natural discretion no longer remains. By accepting the Vedic Dashamula instructions and arguing accordingly, one's mind does not become wicked. What is good, what is bad—when such deliberations are based on the Vedas, that is no longer prajalpa. That is why in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 25.153) Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given the instruction: ataeva bhagavata karaha vicara—“Study Shrimad Bhagavatam very scrutinizingly.” Discussions to establish the knowledge of one's relationship with the Lord are not prajalpa. Those who conquer the assembly by useless arguments do not reach any conclusion; therefore it is certainly one's duty to give up such logician's association. This is confirmed in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 12.183) by Shri Vasudeva Sarvabhauma, who said:

tarkika-shrigala-sange bheu-bheu kari

sei mukhe ebe sada kahi `krishna' `hari'

“In the association of the jackals known as logicians, I simply continued to bark a resounding `bheu bheu.' Now, from the same mouth I am chanting the holy names Krishna and Hari.”

Those who are accustomed to discuss spiritual matters should remember the words of the Varanasi sannyasi as found in the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 25.43):

paramartha-vicara gela, kari matra `vada'

kahan mukti paba, kahan krishnera prasada

“The atheists, headed by the Mayavadi philosophers, do not care for liberation or Krishna's mercy. They simply continue to put forward false arguments and counter-theories to atheistic philosophy, not considering or engaging in spiritual matters.” Useless arguments arise from envy or pride, aversion or attachment to sense gratification, or foolishness or self-pride. Quarrelsome people also become intoxicated by useless arguments. While discussing topics of the Lord and His devotees the practicing devotee should always be careful to avoid useless arguments.

Talking without reason about other people is extremely adverse to devotional service. Many people talk about others to establish their own reputation. Being envious, some people are accustomed to discuss others' character. The minds of those who are busy in such topics can never be fixed on the lotus feet of Krishna. Talking about others should be rejected in all respects. But in the practice of devotional service there are many favorable topics that are faultless, even though they are about others. In order to completely renounce talking about others, one needs to live in the forest. The two different types of practicing devotees are the householders and the renunciates. Because the renunciates have no business whatsoever with sense enjoyment, they can give up talking about others in all respects. But because a householder is engaged in earning, saving, protecting, and maintaining the family, he cannot completely give up talking about others. It is best for him to live in a Krishna conscious family. When all one's material activities are related with Krishna, then even his unavoidable talk about others becomes sinless and a part of devotional practice in relation to Krishna. He should not talk about others in a way that is detrimental to anyone. He should talk about others only whatever little is necessary in his Krishna conscious family. He should not talk about others without reason. Moreover, when a guru enlightens his disciple on some topic, then unless he occasionally talks about others, his instruction may not be clear. When previous mahajanas have talked about others in this way, there is merit in such talk, not fault. As Shukadeva Gosvami said in Shrimad Bhagavatam (2.1.3-4):

nidraya hriyate naktam        vyavayena ca va vayah

diva carthehaya rajan        kutumba-bharanena va

dehapatya-kalatradishv        atma-sainyeshv asatsv api

tesham pramatto nidhanam        pashyann api na pashyati

“The lifetime of such an envious householder is passed at night either in sleeping or in sex indulgence, and in the daytime either in making money or maintaining family members. Persons devoid of atma-tattva do not inquire into the problems of life, being too attached to the fallible soldiers like the body, children, and wife. Although sufficiently experienced, they still do not see their inevitable destruction.” Although Shukadeva Gosvami talks about the materialists in order to instruct his disciple, he is not considered a prajalpi. Therefore such activities should be considered beneficial. Again, in order to instruct His own disciples, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spoke about pseudo-renunciates in the following words from the Chaitanya-caritamrita (Antya 2.117, 120, 124):

prabhu kahe,—vairagi kare prakriti sambhashana

dekhite na paron ami tahara vadana

kshudra-jiva saba markata-vairagya kariya

indriya carana bule `prakriti' sambhashiya

prabhu kahe,—mora vasha nahe mora mana

prakriti-sambhashi vairagi na kare darshana 

“The Lord replied: I cannot tolerate seeing the face of a person who has accepted the renounced order of life but who still talks intimately with a woman. There are many persons with little in their possession who accept the renounced order of life like monkeys. They go here and there engaging in sense gratification and speaking intimately with women. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said: My mind is not under My control. It does not like to see anyone in the renounced order who talks intimately with women.”

Unless one speaks in this way while instructing and while concluding a subject, there is no benefit for oneself or others. Therefore when the previous acaryas have personally set example and taught others, how will we be benefitted by acting contrary to their instruction? And if one discusses in this way the improper behavior current in a religious sect or amongst the general public, then such talk is not adverse to devotional service. Even if one sometimes talks about a particular person, there is no fault. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (4.14.29) Maitreya Muni, the foremost devotee, spoke about Vena Maharaja in this way:

ittham viparyaya-matih        papiyan utpatham gatah

anuniyamanas tad-yacnam        na cakre bhrashta-mangalah

“The great sage Maitreya continued: Thus the King, who became unintelligent due to his sinful life and deviation from the right path, became actually bereft of all good fortune. He could not accept the requests of the great sages, which the sages put before him with great respect, and therefore he was condemned.” Shri Maitreya Rishi needed to speak about others in this way; he spoke to his audience to instruct them. This is not prajalpa. The practicing devotee normally discusses ancient history in the association of devotees. Occasionally they talk about nondevotees. Such talk is always auspicious and favorable to devotional service. But those who talk about others while influenced by devotional impediments like envy, hatred, pride, or distinction are offenders at the feet of Bhaktidevi.

Debate arises only from a desire for conquest. It is extremely abominable. Fault-finding arises only from imposing one's own bad habits on others. This should be given up in all respects. Speaking falsehoods is another form of useless talk. Worldly talk is completely rejected by renounced devotees. Householders may accept some worldly talk that is favorable to devotional service. If topics like archeology, zoology, astrology, and geography are devoid of God consciousness, they should be rejected. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (12.12.49-50) Shri Shukadeva Gosvami has said:

mrisha giras ta hy asatir asat-katha

na kathyate yad bhagavan adhokshajah

tad eva satyam tad u haiva mangalam

tad eva punyam bhagavad-gunodayam

tad eva ramyam ruciram navam navam

tad eva shashvan manaso mahotsavam

tad eva shokarnava-shoshanam nrinam

yad uttamah shloka-yasho 'nugiyate

“Words that do not describe the transcendental Personality of Godhead but instead deal with temporary matters are simply false and useless. Only those words that manifest the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord are actually truthful, auspicious, and pious. Those words describing the glories of the all-famous Personality of Godhead are attractive, relishable, and ever fresh. Indeed, such words are a perpetual festival for the mind, and they dry up the ocean of misery.”

Speech in the form of blaspheming sadhus is the source of great inauspiciousness. If one wants to attain devotion to Lord Hari, then he should make a vow like this: “In this life I will never blaspheme sadhus.” Devotees are sadhus. By blaspheming them, all one's virtues are destroyed. By blaspheming the supremely pure Lord Mahadeva, Prajapati Daksha, the best of ascetics, met with severe inauspiciousness. As stated in Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.4.46):

ayuh shriyam yasho dharmam        lokan ashisha eva ca

hanti shreyamsi sarvani        pumso mahad-atikramah

“My dear King, when a man persecutes great souls, all his benedictions of longevity, beauty, fame, religion, blessings, and promotion to higher planets will be destroyed.”

The conclusion of this essay is this: Whatever prajalpa is not favorable for devotional service should be carefully given up by Vaishnavas who are cultivating bhakti. Amongst these instructions, the instruction to tolerate the urge to speak mentioned in the first verse—vaco vegam—is only a conditional urge. By giving up prajalpa, the urge to speak is permanently regulated. In order to pass one's life without sin, one should not speak anything more than whatever little is necessary. One need discuss only whatever is auspicious for oneself and others. If one wants to discuss topics of others, it will simply be useless speech. Therefore in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.28.2) Lord Krishna instructed Uddhava as follows:

para-svabhava-karmani        yah prashamsati nindati

sa ashu bhrashyate svarthad        asaty abhiniveshatah

“Whoever indulges in praising or criticizing the qualities and behavior of others will quickly become deviated from his own best interest by his entanglement in illusory dualities.”