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Blasphemy of the Great Saintly Persons
satam ninda namnah paramam aparadham vitanute
yatah khyatim yatam katham u sahate tad vigariham
"Blasphemy of the great saintly persons who are engaged in preaching the Hare Krishna maha-mantra is the worst offense at the lotus feet of the holy name. The Nama-prabhu, who is identical with Krishna, will never tolerate such blasphemous activities, even from one who passes as a great devotee."*
1.Glory to Lord Chaitanya, the life of Gadadhara! Glory to Lord Nityananda, the life of Jahnava-devi! Glory to Advaita, the husband of Sita! Glory to Shrivasa and all the devotees of the Lord!
2. Then Lord Chaitanya said, "Haridasa, please describe in detail the offenses to the holy name."
3. Haridasa said, "Lord, whatever You make me say, I will say by Your power.
Ten Kinds of Offenses to the Holy Name
4. "There are ten kinds of offenses to the holy name. This the scriptures say. I greatly fear these offenses. (1)
5. "Please give me the power, and I will describe these offenses one by one.
6-8. "The ten offenses to the holy name are: 1. to blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives for propagating the holy name of the Lord. 2. To consider the names of the demigods like Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma to be equal to or independent of the name of Lord Vishnu. 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 Krishna 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 Krishna 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 hearing so many instructions on this matter.* Now I will diligently explain these offenses.
9. "The Puranas' author says that anyone who carelessly commits these offenses is a great fool.
10. "Anyone who, even though he knows the holy name's glory, remains attached to the things of `I' and `mine' and does not worship the holy name remains plunged in the world of birth and death.
The First Offense: Blasphemy of the DEvotees
11. "Now I will speak of the first offense: blasphemy of the devotees. Because of this offense everything the soul possesses is destroyed.
The Devotees' Qualities Are of Two Kinds: Svarupa (Natural) and Tatastha (Borderline)
12. "O Lord, now I will describe the qualities of the devotees, qualities that You, in the form of Lord Krishna, described to Uddhava in the Eleventh Canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam.
13-16. "A devotee is merciful, tolerant, equal, free of hatred, truthful, pure at heart, engaged in acting for the welfare of others, unagitated by material desires, intelligent, self-controlled, not interested in collecting material possessions, gentle, and pure, eats frugally, is peaceful at heart, takes shelter only of Lord Krishna, is sober and grave, has defeated the six vices, and is prideless, respectful to others, expert, honest, and wise. I say that a true devotee has all these good qualities.
17. "O Lord, these qualities are of two kinds: svarupa (natural) and tatastha (borderline). Now I will describe them. (2)
The Primary Qualities Are Called Svarupa. The Tatastha Qualities Take Shelter of Them
18. "Taking shelter of to Krishna is the only svarupa quality. All other qualities are considered tatastha.
19. "When by good fortune a person associates with devotees, becomes attracted to the holy name, and chants the holy name, then he naturally takes shelter of Lord Krishna's feet.
20. "That is the primary good quality. As he chants and chants the holy name, the other good qualities naturally come to him.
21. "All other good qualities are considered tatastha (secondary). They will also inevitably make there appearance in the body of a true Vaishnava.
The Outward Signs of Varnashrama. One Does not Become a Saintly Devotee by Wearing Certain Kinds of Clothing. Taking Shelter of Lord Krishna is the Mark of a True Devotee
22. "Certain kinds of clothing mark the various positions in varnashrama. However, one's status as a devotee is not marked in that way.
23. "Taking shelter of Lord Krishna is the mark of a devotee. From a devotee's mouth comes the chanting of Lord Krishna's holy name.
24. "Grihastha, brahmacari, vanaprastha, and sannyasi (3) are the first four divisions and shudra, vaishya, kshatriya, and brahmana are the second four divisions of varnashrama.
25. "One is not known as a devotee by these divisions. A devotee is known because he takes shelter of Lord Krishna. This the scriptures say.
The Qualities of a Grihastha Devotee
26. "O Lord, You taught Raghunatha dasa how to be a householder devotee. (4)
27. "You said to him: `Be peaceful. Go home. Don't be a madman. Gradually you will cross to the farther shore of the ocean of birth and death.
28. " `Turn away from monkey-renunciation. (5) Without attachment, accept what material pleasures are appropriate.
29. " `In your heart keep spiritual faith. Externally act like an ordinary person. Lord Krishna will soon deliver you.'
The Qualities of a Devotee Who Has Renounced Grihastha Life
30. "Seeing that Raghunatha dasa had renounced grihastha life, You gave him these instructions wonderful to hear:
31. " `Don't hear gossip. Don't speak gossip. Don't eat opulent foods. Don't wear opulent clothing.
32. "Don't desire that others will honor you. You give all honor to others. Always chant Lord Krishna's holy name. In your heart serve Shri Shri Radha-Krishna in Vraja.'
The One Primary Quality Shared by a Grihastha Devotee and a Devotee Who Has Renounced Grihastha Life
33. "The primary quality is one. That is honored everywhere. The differences that begin with varnashrama are all secondary.
34. "If I see that a person who has completely taken shelter of Lord Krishna acts badly, I still say, `He is a saintly devotee.' Such a person should be served by everyone. (6)
35. "Lord Krishna says this in Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Therefore I will always earnestly worship such a devotee.
36. "O Lord, You mercifully gave this one confidential teaching. I have no power to find the end of Your mercy.
A person Who Criticizes a Devotee Because of That Devotee's Previous Sins Or The Fragrance of His Previous Sins Is an Offender to the Holy Name
37. "When a person attracted to the holy name once says the holy name, his previous sins are destroyed.
38. "The scent of his previous sins may still linger for some days, but by the power of the holy name they two are gradually destroyed. (7)
39. "The scent of sin is quickly thrown away. Then that person becomes known as a great saint.
40. "During those days when the scent of sin is not yet destroyed, to ordinary eyes he may still seem to be a sinner.
41. "Seeing that scent of sin, someone may criticize that devotee. Seeing that he had previously sinned, someone may criticize his character.
42. "That critic is an offender. Because he blasphemed a devotee, he commits an offense to the holy name. Because Krishna is angry with him, he falls down.
The Quality of a Devotee Is That He Takes Shelter of Lord Krishna and No One Else. Persons Who Announce, "I Am a Saintly", Are Arrogant Hypocrites
43. "A persons who chants the holy name and takes shelter of Lord Krishna and no one else, becomes known, by Lord Krishna's mercy, as a saintly person.
44. "Only Lord Krishna's devotees, and no one else, are truly saintly. Person who announce, `I am saintly' are vain hypocrites. They are the incarnation of arrogance personified. (9)
In a Few Brief Words: The Nature of a Truly Saintly Person
45. "Someone who keeps the holy name of Lord Krishna in his mouth and who says, `I am just a poor person who has taken shelter of Lord Krishna' is a true saintly person.
46-47. "A person who keeps a straw between his teeth, who thinks of himself as a lowly person, who is tolerant like a tree, who does not strive to receive honor from others, who gives honor to everyone, and who keeps Lord Krishna's holy name in his mouth has the power to make others fall in love with Lord Krishna.
A Person Devoted to the Holy Name Is a Saintly Vaishnava. Lord Krishna's Power Rests in His Body
48. "Any person from whose mouth I once hear the holy name, I call a Vaishnava. I offer respectful obeisances to him.
49. "A true Vaishnava is the spiritual master of the entire world. He is the friend of the entire world. A true Vaishnava is always an ocean of mercy to every spirit soul.
50. "Anyone who criticizes such a Vaishnava falls into hell. There he stays birth after birth.
51. "Every spirit soul can attain devotional service by a Vaishnava's mercy. There is no other way to attain devotional service.
52. "Lord Krishna's power rests in the body of such a Vaishnava. (10) Simply by the touch of his body others may attain devotional service.
53. "Three things are very powerful: the nectar that is food or drink touched by a Vaishnava's lips, the water that has washed his feet, and the dust that has touched his feet.
A Vaishnava's Powers
54. "If for a few moments one stays near a Vaishnava, one will come into contact with Lord Krishna's power coming from that Vaishnava's body.
55. "When it enters a faithful person's heart, that power makes the body tremble. It makes devotional service arise in that heart.
56. "A person who faithfully stays near a Vaishnava finds that devotional service arises within his own heart.
57. "From the moment Lord Krishna's holy name enters his mouth, by the holy name's power he attains all good qualities.
To Find Fault With a Vaishnava is Blasphemy of a Vaishnava - Criticizing a Vaishnava's Birth, His Previous Faults, the Almost Comepletely Destroyed Remnant of His Previous Faults, and His Momentary Lapses
58-59. "A person who criticizes a Vaishnava' birth, previous faults, the almost completely destroyed remnant of his previous faults, or his momentary lapses is a fool who will be punished by Yamaraja. (11)
60. "Lord Krishna will not forgive anyone who criticizes a true Vaishnava, a Vaishnava in whose mouth the glories of the holy name stay.
61. "Anyone who, turning away from dharma, yoga, yajna, and the jnana-kanda part of the Vedas, instead worships Lord Krishna's holy name is the best of persons.
A Saintly Person Who Takes Shelter of the Holy Name Does Not Blaspheme the Demigods or Other Scriptures
62. "A pure saintly person who takes shelter of the holy name does not blaspheme the demigods or other scriptures.
63. "Whether he be a householder or a sannyasi, I yearn to attain the dust of such a saintly person's feet.
64. "A Vaishnava's level of advancement in spiritual life is determined by the extent of his attraction to the holy name. (12)
65. "His varnashrama status, wealth, learning, youthfulness, handsome features, bodily strength, or host of followers have no bearing on his spiritual status.
66. "Therefore a person who takes shelter of the holy name will avoid criticizing saintly devotees. That is his nature.
67. "A true devotee takes shelter of the holy name and engages in pure devotional service. He becomes like devotional service personified. A so-called devotee who has no devotion for the Lord is a grotesque person, a monster.
68. "A person who blasphemes a saintly devotee has no status in devotional service. His offense turns him into a nondevotee.
69. "Therefore a true devotee should avoid criticizing saintly devotees. He should be devoted to them. Association with saintly devotees and service to them are the activities of the true religion.
Bad Association is of Two Kinds. Of the Two: Improper Association with Women
70. "A Vaishnava should always avoid the association of ordinary people. By associating with nondevotees one comes to criticize saintly devotees.
71. "Bad association is of two kinds. This all the scriptures say. (13) Of these two improper association with women is one kind of bad association.
72. "Associating with a man who is too attached to women is also considered bad association. (14) A spirit soul who avoids associating with such persons becomes fortunate.
Improper Association with Women
73. "A husband and wife may stay together in Krishna-conscious family life. The scriptures do not call that bad association.
74. "However, a person who is attached to women in ways that break the rules of religion is wicked. That is the scriptures' opinion.
The Second Kind of Bad Association (Association with Persons Who Are Not Devotees of Lord Krishna) Is of Three KInds
75. "Wicked persons who are not devotees of Lord Krishna are of three kinds: mayavadis, hypocrites who wrap themselves in the flag of religion, and atheists. (15)
One Should Avoid Persons Who Criticize Saintly Devotees
76. "One should avoid the association of persons who criticize saintly devotees.
77. "Anyone who avoids these persons, chants Lord Krishna's holy name, and takes shelter of Lord Krishna and no one else, attains a great treasure of pure love for Lord Krishna (krishna-prema).
Vaishnavabhasa (the dim light of a Vaishnava), Prakrita-Vaishnava (a Materialistic Vaishnava), Vaishnava-praya (Almost a Vaishnava), and Kanishtha-Vaishnava (a Neophyte Vaishnava) Are Different Words For the Same Kind of Person
78. "A person who has ordinary faith, who worships the Deity but does not serve the saintly devotees is a prakrita-Vaishnava or Vaishnava-praya (almost a Vaishnava).
79. "He is a Vaishnavabhasa. He is not a perfect Vaishnava. Somehow or other he has attained the great treasure that is association with saintly devotees.
80. "Therefore I think of him as a kanishtha-Vaishnava (neophyte Vaishnava). By the devotees' mercy he eventually becomes a true Vaishnava.
Madhyama-Vaishnava (Intermediate Vaishnava)
81-82. "A person who loves Lord Krishna, makes friendship with the devotees of Lord Krishna, and avoids people who hate Lord Krishna is a madhyama-bhakta (intermediate devotee). He is qualified to chant Lord Krishna's holy name. He becomes a shuddha-bhakta (pure devotee).
Uttama-Vaishnava (Advanced Vaishnava)
83-84. "A person who sees Lord Krishna everywhere, who sees that everything rests in Lord Krishna, who considers Lord Krishna the great treasure of his life, and who makes no distinction between Vaishnavas and non-Vaishnavas is an uttama-Vaishnava (advanced Vaishnava). For him the chanting of Lord Krishna's holy name is everything.
A Madhyama-Vaishnava Should Serve Saintly Devotees
85. "Therefore a madhyama-Vaishnava should serve this kind of saintly devotee. (16)
A Prakrita-Vaishnava Is Qualified for Namabhasa Chanting
86. "A prakrita-Vaishnava, or Vaishnava-praya, is qualified for namabhasa chanting. This all the scriptures say.
A Madhyama-Vaishnava Is Qualified to Properly Chant the Holy Name, But He Should Also Take Care To Avoid Offenses
87. "A madhyama-Vaishnava is qualified to properly chant the holy name, but he should take care to avoid offenses in the worship of the holy name.
88. "An uttama-Vaishnava never commits offenses, for he sees Lord Krishna's glory everywhere.
89. "Each according to his own qualification, every devotee should avoid the offense of criticizing saintly devotees. (17)
90. "A devotee should associate with saintly devotees, serve saintly devotees, chant the holy name (nama-sankirtana), and give mercy to all spirit souls. These are the activities of a devotee.
If One Has Blasphemed a Saintly Devotee, What Should One Do?
91-92. "If one foolishly blasphemes a saintly devotee, one should repent, grasp the devotee's feet, weep, and say, `O master, please forgive my offense. Please give a Vaishnava's mercy to this wicked blasphemer.'
93. "His heart melting with compassion, the saintly devotee will forgive the offense and compassionately embrace the repentant offender. (18)
94. "O Lord, by Your order I place before Your graceful feet this description of the first offense."
95. "May this Hari-nama-cintamani become the life and soul of the devotees who are like bumblebees at Haridasa's lotus feet.
Chapter Four Footnotes by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
(1) The ten offenses to the holy name are: 1. to blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives for propagating the holy name of the Lord. 2. To consider the names of the demigods like Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma to be equal to or independent of the name of Lord Vishnu. 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 Krishna 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 Krishna 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 hearing so many instructions on this matter.*
(2) The direct qualities are called "svarupa". The other qualities, which are like visitors or guests, are called "tatastha".
(3) A person who marries within his varna is called a “grihastha". A celibate student who is notyet married is called a "brahmacari". A person who, growing old with the years, goes to live in the forest is called a “vanaprastha". A person who becomes renounced and leaves his home is called a "nyasi" or a "sannyasi".
(4) Raghunatha dasa, who appeared in this world as the tilaka mark of a family of kayasthas, lived in Saptagrama. Called "Dasa Gosvami", he is counted among the Six Gosvamis.
(5) A person who externally wears a sannyasi's kaupina and bahirvasa and bears the other external signs of sannyasa, but within his heart has no true faith in renunciation, bears the mark of a monkey-sannyasi (markata-vairagya).
(6) Taking shelter of Lord Krishna and no one is else is the primary quality of devotional service. All other qualities are inevitably secondary (tatastha). If a person has this quality of taking shelter of Lord Krishna and no one else, the secondary qualities may be only partly, and not yet completely, manifested in him. Thus it may be seen that sometimes he acts badly. However, he is still saintly.
(7) Previous sins cannot stay when a person is attracted to the holy name. The scent of previous sins may stay, but they also perish after a few days.
(8) When a person takes shelter of Lord Krishna, that person's previous sins are almost all destroyed. Only the scent of sin remains. A person who, thinking of his previous sins, criticizes that Vaishnava, commits a great offense.
(9) "The incarnation of arrogance personified" here refers to vain hypocrites, people who wrap themselves in the flag of religion, people who dress like saintly persons only to earn their livelihood.
(10) The Lord's hladini (pleasure potency) and sandhini (knowledge potency) combine to become the bhakti-shakti (potency of devotional service). The perfect devotee (siddha-bhakta) gives to the aspiring devotee (sadhaka-bhakta) the potency of devotional service (bhakti-shakti), with the help of which the aspiring devotee makes gradual advancement in devotional service. By performing the spiritual activities of devotional service, the aspirant eventually becomes a perfect (siddha) devotee. When the aspirant is free of aversion to devotional service and is completely inclined to engage in devotional service, then a merciful perfect devotee takes his own spirit of devotion and gives it to the aspiring devotee. This is a great secret.
(11) A person who criticizes a Vaishnava' birth, his lapses created by momentary foolishness, the almost completely destroyed remnant of his previous faults, or misdeeds performed before he took shelter of Lord Krishna commits the offense of blaspheming a Vaishnava. Such a person will not be attracted to the holy name. A person who takes shelter of pure devotional service (shuddha-bhakti) becomes a pure Vaishnava (shuddha-vaishnava). no one should pay any attention to his previous faults. No one should remember those faults.
(12) A person is an elevated Vaishnava to the degree he is attracted to Lord Krishna's holy name.
(13) Avoidance of bad association is an important activity for a Vaishnava. Bad association is of two kinds: improper association with women and association with nondevotees. Association with a man too attached to women is also said to be bad association. Association with women according to religious principles and association with women not according to religious principles are two kinds of association with women.
(14) Association with a man too attached to women is a great impediment to devotional service.
(15) Here the word "mayavadi" refers to persons who believe that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not eternal, that the form of Lord Krishna and the other forms of the Lord are all made of maya, and that the individual souls are also made of maya. The hypocrites who wrap themselves in the flag of religion are persons who have neither devotion nor renunciation in their hearts and are only cheaters wearing the garemnts a saintly person would wear and putting on a show of performing spiritual activities.
(16) A pure Vaishnava is considered more exalted than a madhyama-Vaishnava. A madhyama-Vaishnava considers one person a Vaishnava and another person not a Vaishnava. And why not? Such a person needs to serve a pure Vaishnava (shuddha-Vaishnava). If he abandons the understanding that some people are Vaishnavas and others are not Vaishnavas, then the madhyama-Vaishnava commits an offense to the Vaishnavas (Vaishnavaparadha). A madhyama-Vaishnava should earnestly seek out a pure Vaishnava (shuddha-Vaishnava) and serve him. An Uttama-Vaishnava (pure Vaishnava) makes no distinction that one person is a Vaishnava and another person is not a Vaishnava. How, then, can he serve the Vaishnavas? An uttama-Vaishnava makes no distinction between friends and enemies. How can he distinguish between Vaishnavas and non-Vaishnavas?
(17) According to their different natures, the different kinds of devotees have different conceptions. That is inevitable. To chant the holy name (nama-sankirtana) with the kind of faith he is qualified to possess, is a Vaishnava's duty.
(18) In this way Gopala Capala's offense to a Vaishnava was forgiven. One should look in the scriptures and find there the garland of quotes that describe this truth.