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3. The Third Shower of Nectar
This chapter discusses anartha-nivritti, the cessation of unwanted desires. (Anartha means unwanted desires in the heart, and nivritti means to cease.) There are four kinds of anartha:
(1) Duskrtottha (anarthas coming from sinful activities)
(2) Sukrtottha (anarthas coming from pious deeds)
(3) Aparadhottha (anarthas coming from offences)
(4) Bhaktyuttha (anarthas coming from devotional service)
Earlier we discussed the bad effects of material attachments, such as envy and anger. These causes of distress are born of sinful activities (dushkriti). The craving for temporary sensual pleasure is also a detrimental desire in the heart, an anartha stemming from sukriti (pious activities). [Suffering comes from impious deeds, whereas pious deeds facilitate enjoyment of the senses.] Some scholars say that sukritottha anarthas are part of the five causes of distress: envy, pride, anger, ignorance, and attachment.
Chanting—the Remedy for Offences
Obstructions on the path of pure devotion are caused by aparadhottha anartha (unwanted desires coming from offences). These offences refer particularly to nama-aparadhas, or offences against the holy name, and they do not include seva-aparadha, offences committed in devotional service and in worship of the Deity. Seva-aparadhas are excluded because conscientious devotees remove such offences by reciting prayers and constantly performing devotional service, thereby avoiding the possibility of the offence in its seed form growing into a future reaction. Chanting the holy name of the Lord also effectively removes the reactions to seva aparadha. Therefore, if a devotee is careless in avoiding seva-aparadha, knowing that his chanting will nullify his reactions to such offences, then that is an offence against the holy name. The scriptures warn us that committing sins on the strength of chanting the holy name is a very serious nama-aparadha.
Although chanting is shown here to be the remedy for curing seva-aparadha, it is actually the remedy for offences committed in performing all parts of devotional service. The scriptures state that if a person sins knowing that later he can perform some atonement (prayascitta) to absolve them, the sins instead of being removed become even more serious.
In different scriptures, the Supreme Lord states that anyone who tries to serve Him, even unsuccessfully, need not be concerned, because the devotee's service, however imperfect, is never wasted. Again Krishna has said that anyone who simply chants a particular ten-syllable mantra [(klim) gopijana-vallabhaya svaha] attains all perfections.
Offences are not in the Category of Sins
Then one may ask whether it is a nama-aparadha if a devotee cannot complete this discipline on the path of devotion. The reply is that it is not. Sinning on the strength of chanting means that one sins deliberately and thereby is guilty of nama-aparadha. (Whereas sinful activities can be recognized as those actions strongly condemned in the scriptures, and whereby the scriptures give remedial measures to rectify them.) A person who is unable to reach his spiritual goal sometimes fails from carelessness, not necessarily from the compulsive habit of committing sins.
It is interesting to note that when a person does not attain the goal of karma-yoga the scriptures strongly condemn it, but when one fails to reach the goal of devotional service the scriptures do not react in the same way. The Shrimad-Bhagavatam (SB 11.2.34-35) states:
ye vai bhagavata prokta upaya hy atma-labdhaye
anjah pumsam avidusham viddhi bhagavatan hi tan
yan asthaya naro rajan na pramadyeta karhicit
dhavan nimilya va netre na skhalen na pated iha
The Lord's instructions to people in general who are ignorant about the ultimate goal of life regarding God realization is factually true religion and is also preached in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Those on this path of perfection may run blindfolded but will never trip over and fall down to illusion.
Anyone who wholeheartedly takes up devotional service (bhagavatat-dharma) even with knowledge of its deep philosophy and its many practical aspects, may act contrary to the rules of one or some of its various practices much like the neophyte may. However, such a devotee still does not incur sin, nor is his advancement depreciated. In this case the word “blindfolded" cannot be interpreted to mean being blind or ignorant of the rules of the sruti and smriti scriptures, otherwise this would obscure the principal purport of the text. The word “blindfolded" does not mean that one should ignore the thirty-two offences in devotional service just because the Lord said that “one may run blindfolded but will never ... fall down to illusion. (Two examples of these thirty-two offences [seva aparadha] to avoid are that one cannot enter the temple with shoes on or whilst one is riding on a palanquin. Both of these are offences prohibiting certain actions.)
How to Absolve Offences
A person who offends the Supreme Lord is referred to as a two-legged animal. It is mentioned that offences committed against the holy name may be old offences or new ones; if either of the offences are done unwittingly then certain symptoms will surely reveal as much. Constant chanting of the holy name will lead to unflinching faith in devotional service. This constant chanting gradually diminishes the effects of the offences. But if the offences were committed knowingly, right from the start, then special arrangements for counteracting them are recommended.
Blaspheming a Saintly Person Is Deadly
Now we shall discuss the ten offences against the holy name: The first offence is to criticize and blaspheme the devotees. Blaspheming in this context means to be envious of, and antagonistic towards, the saintly devotee. If one even accidentally commits this offence against a Vaishnava he must bitterly repent of his low behavior. just as poison is counteracted by poison, similarly, the offender, having set aflame his spiritual life with blasphemy, must be purified in the fire of contrition. The offender must go and fall at the feet of the devotee he reviled and beg forgiveness until he is again able to please that Vaishnava. He Must approach the devotee with trepidation in his heart and think that by pleading, praising, offering repeated obeisances, or by any means he must satisfy the offended devotee. Yet, if for some reason he is unable to appease the devotee then the offender must continue to serve him for many days in a way that will impress and satisfy him, In case the offence is of such a serious nature that the Vaishnava's ire remains unpacified, then the offender must strongly condemn his own abominable action and think, “Oh, how shameful! I have blasphemed a Vaishnava' I shall have to suffer millions of years in the fire of hell.” With a heavy heart, the aparadhi must then take complete shelter of the holy name and chant incessantly, knowing this to be his only hope.
The holy name of Krishna is all-powerful and can absolve any offence, however serious. The offender may incorrectly think, “If this is true about chanting, their why should I have to fall at the Vaishnava's feet in such a humble manner and demean myself? After all the scriptures ensure that for one who commits nama-aparadha chanting on its own will clear away all offences, hence I shall certainly be again pardoned.” Such thinking is incorrect. Instead, the offender becomes enmeshed in another heinous nama-aparadha, that of committing sin on the strength of chanting the holy name.
The offender may once again try to rationalize his misbehavior by saying, “According to the scriptures (SB 11.11.29) only those who are compassionate, peaceful, and tolerant are called sadhus, or saintly persons. Therefore, the offence of blaspheming a devotee is appropriate only when someone who possesses these characteristics is criticized, not for one who has not developed these qualities. In reply, the scriptures state that even if reprobates, cheaters, hypocrites, pretenders, outcastes, and worse take up devotional service, needless to say they are still considered to be sadhus. They must not be criticized for their past, however terrible it may have been, and they cannot be barred from being accepted as Vaishnava devotees. nor can their devotion be deprecated.
The sastra further declares that if a maha-bhagavata, or an elevated pure devotee, is offended, he simply brushes aside the entire episode because he possesses immense compassion, and he will not acknowledge the behavior as an offence. As for the guilty party, he must fall at the sadhu's feet and beg forgiveness so that his heart may be purified. We learn from the sastra and the sadhus that even if the maha-bhagavata. effortlessly tolerates the foolish person's blasphemy, his followers cannot bear this atrocity; they punish the offender by wishing him to suffer appropriately for his offence.
The pure devotees are incorruptible and independent in thought. They do not require a reason to shower their causeless mercy on any soul, however wretched he may be. Sometimes they display great magnanimity by showing profound mercy to a downright offender and harsh critic. At the same time they are not swayed by praise in order to make them act compassionately. The story of the elevated devotee Jada Bharat is a good example. King Rahugana once engaged Jada Bharat to carry his palanquin. After going some way, the king began to rudely criticize Jada Bharata who simply showered him with mercy. In another incident, the atheistic Daityas were very offensive to Uparicara Vasu, the King of Cedi. A third example is that of the despicable Madhai who threw a stone at Lord Nityananda, causing His forehead to bleed profusely, yet the Lord showed him causeless mercy. So far we have discussed the first nama-aparadha, that of offending a devotee. The same principle is applied to another offence against the holy name that of disobeying the orders of the spiritual master.
Differences Between Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva
We now continue our discussion by explaining the differences between Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva. Consciousness is of two kinds: independent consciousness and dependent consciousness. Supreme Consciousness, or the Supreme Controller, is all-pervasive and fully independent. The subordinate consciousness is present in the body in the form of jiva energy. This consciousness is the living entity who is always under the control of the Supreme Consciousness.
The Supreme Consciousness is further divided into two classes: (a) that which is beyond the illusory potency, maya's jurisdiction, and (b) that which voluntarily accepts the influence of maya for executing universal affairs Lord Narayana belongs to the first category. The scriptures (SB 10.88.5) have often described Lord Narayana as the Supreme Being who is transcendental to the material modes. Lord Siva belongs to the second category of Supreme Consciousness. The scriptures describe Lord Siva as eternal, possessing divine energies, and all the three lingas (the three levels of sakti: svarupa, maya, and jiva saktis). And although he is covered by the material modes Siva is not in the category of jiva, The Brahma-samhita (5.45) states:
kshiram yatha dadhi vikara-visesha-yogat
sanjayate na hi tatah prithag asti hetoh
yah sambhutam api tatha samupaiti karyad
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
Just as milk is transformed into curd by the action of acids, but yet the effect curd is neither same as, nor different from, its cause, viz., milk, so I adore the primeval Lord Govinda of whom the state of Sambhu is a transformation for the performance of the work of destruction.
In the other Puranas and Agamas, Lord Siva's supreme status has been unequivocally declared. The Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.23) states that Lord Hari alone is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sole purpose of creation, maintenance, and annihilation of this universe. He enters into the three material modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance, and then expands as Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, and Lord Vishnu, respectively, to carry out such work as the creation. This statement confirms that Lord Brahma is the Supreme Controller, although at the same time it must be understood that this is so because he has been empowered by the Supreme Lord, Vishnu. The Brahma-samhita (5.49) confirms this:
bhasvan yathasma-sakaleshu nijeshu tejah
sviyam kiyat prakatayaty api tadvad atra
brahma ya esha jagad-anda-vidhana-karta
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
I adore the primeval Lord Govinda from whom the separated subjective portion Brahma receives his power for the regulation of the mundane world, just as the sun manifests some portion of his own light in all the effulgent gems that bear the names of surya-kanta, etc.
The Shrimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.24) explains that smoke is more subtle than inert wood and fire is superior to smoke because it receives the oblations in Vedic sacrifices. Similarly, the material mode of passion is higher than ignorance, and goodness is higher than passion because it reveals Brahman. Although the Shrimad-Bhagavatam places the mode of passion above ignorance, smoke, here symbolic of the mode of passion, is unable to bring one to the stage of God-realization. Direct perception of the Supreme Lord is possible only in the stage of sattva guna, symbolized by the fully ignited sacrificial fire.
Of course, God-realization is latent within tamah guna, just as fire is latent in firewood. Tamah guna a state of deep slumber: one experiences a feeling of undifferentiated euphoria similar to that experienced by the monists in search of knowledge. The final destination of the monists is the state of undifferentiated bliss known as susupti, or deep slumber. One must be in a position to analyze aphorisms from the scriptures and draw the right conclusions to avoid confusion.
Now we shall discuss the jiva, the other conscious being. The jiva's position is that of eternal loving servitorship to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. jiva is of two categories, the first category being those under the spell of illusion and nescience. Demigods, humans, animals, and lesser beings are in the first category of jivas. The second kind, those who are free from nescience and illusion, are subdivided into two sections:
Those who are absorbed in the opulence of the Supreme Lord and worship Him reverentially
Those who are neither attracted to the Lord's opulence nor to this mood of reverential worship.
The jivas who are absorbed in the Lord's opulence are again divided into two kinds:
(a) Those who appear directly from the state of pure consciousness and are saturated in the absolute truth. (The four Kumaras are a good example of this category.)
(b) Those who appear as a result of the action of the illusory potency and are covered by the awe-inspiring aspect of the cosmic creation. (Lord Brahma is the best example of this second category.)
The jivas who are unattracted to the opulence of the Lord are also further divided:
(i) those who cultivate jnana (speculative knowledge) and desire to merge with the Supreme Lord
ii) those who mechanically perform devotional activities (sadhanabhakti) but who have no desire to merge with the Lord.
Those who desire to become one with the Lord are in a dangerous and suicidal situation, whereas those who perform devotional activities mechanically are not in such a precarious position, because they are able to relish a sweet and more intimate relationship with the Supreme Lord.
Because both Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva (Sadasiva) embody the same Supreme Consciousness they are nondifferent. However, both Lord Vishnu and Lord Siva (Sadasiva) reside simultaneously on dual planes of nirguna (transcendence), and saguna (material nature). The unmotivated and transcendental devotees worship only the nirguna Supreme Consciousness, while the sakama fruitive workers can worship simply the saguna aspect of the Supreme Consciousness. This shows the inherent distinction between Lord Vishnu, Lord Siva, Lord Brahma, and the jivas.
It is important to note that many Puranas propound the theory of Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma being one. The analogy of the sun and the precious gem suryakanta mani, will help as to understand this oneness. In a sense, the sun and the reflected glory of the sun in the gem are the same. In some mahakalpas, or millenniums, the Supreme Lord empowers certain jivas to take up the position of Lord Siva or Lord Brahma. just as the jewel is dependent on the sun for its glory, Lord Brahma and Lord Siva are dependent on the Supreme Lord for theirs. This point has been confirmed in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa (1.73):
yas tu narayanam devam brahma-rudradi-daivataih
samatvenaiva viksheta sa pashandi bhaved dhruvam
The scriptures also state that if a person, after considering all these facts, adamantly equates Lord Vishnu with demigods like Lord Brahma, Lord Siva, and so on he is condemned as an atheist and an offender. The basis of this scriptural injunction lies in the fact that while Lord Brahma is generally an empowered jiva, Lord Siva at times is also an empowered jiva. Persons who have not researched deeply 'into this subject matter end up forming their own speculative ideas. They make such comments as, “Lord Vishnu is God and not Lord Siva”, or “Lord Siva is the Supreme, not Lord Vishnu.” They continue to say, 'We are undeviating devotees of Lord Vishnu; we do not care for Lord Siva”, and vice versa. Hence their inclination to polemics leads them to commit offences. Now, the only way they can mitigate their offences is to meet a devotee well-versed in this topic who is willing to instruct them properly. The confused can become enlightened about everyone's real position, including in which way Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu are qualitatively nondifferent. Such persons begin to repent of having committed such offences and sincerely take up chanting the Lord's holy name. In fact, it is this chanting that finally exonerates such people from their offence.
Some say that these sections of the Vedas do not carry the slightest mention about the science of devotional service, so they are fit to be praised and appreciated only by mundane scholars. Those who lash out with such caustic criticism against those parts of the Vedas that propound the process of empirical knowledge and fruitive action will have to appease, with reconciliatory praises, those who follow such sections. Additionally, the offenders must chant the holy. name to absolve the fourth nama-aparadha: blaspheming the Vedic scriptures and its corollaries.
One may ask why not indeed criticize those section emphasize empirical knowledge and fruitive action. The answer is because the scriptures are most merciful. By some unexpected good fortune if an offensive person meets a devotee who is knowledgeable about the Vedas, he will receive proper instructions on Vedic understanding. If the offender sincerely understands these instructions then he will truly appreciate the Vedas. Out of compassion for persons who are unfit for devotional service, who are duplicitous in action, and totally absorbed in mundane matters, the Vedas inspire them to become resolute in following its divine edicts, thus helping to uplift them. The Vedas benevolently draw these erring souls away from the pravrtti-marg (the path of worldly-mindedness) and towards nivrttt-marg ,(the path of detachment). Without having the realization that the Vedas are benevolent, and without possessing a deferential mood towards the sruti, one's offences cannot be mitigated. Thus we have discussed the prime cause of offences as well as how to absolve them.
Five Steps to Revoke Anarthas
Now we shall talk further on the anarthas (unwanted desires) that crop up in the execution of devotional service. Unwanted desires tend to smother the natural growth of the creeper of bhakti. At first glance unwanted desires look like off-shoots from the bhakti-lata (the creeper of devotion), but in reality they are mundane desires for position, adoration, and opulence. They color and taint the practitioner's consciousness. Thriving in this way these anarthas arrest the growth of the creeper of devotional service.
The four anarthas mentioned in the beginning of this chapter can be mitigated in the five following ways:
i) eka-desavarttini (partially);
ii) bahu-desavarttini (substantially);
iii) prayiki (almost completely);
iv) purna (completely);
v) atyantiki (absolutely thoroughly).
The many anarthas stemming from aparadhas are partially destroyed in the final stages of bhajana-kriya (rendering devotional service under the guidance of a spiritual master). This is known as eka-desavarttini. When bhajana-kriya gains maturity it turns to nishtha, or steadiness, in devotional activities. In this stage of development the mitigation of anarthas is substantial (bahu-desavarttini); thereafter, on the platform of rati (attraction) the unwanted desires in the heart are almost completely absolved (prayiki). With the first awakening of prema, or divine love, these anarthas are completely removed (purna). Finally, the anarthas are totally uprooted (atyantiki) when the devotee receives the mercy and shelter of the Lord's lotus feet.
Examples of Offences Cited from the Scriptures
At this point, one may ask, “How could Citraketu be guilty of offending Lord Siva, despite having attained a direct interview with the Supreme Lord?” King Citraketu's offence against Lord Siva is an allegorical offence, not a perceived offence, because even after the king was cursed he did not forfeit his spiritual wealth of prema. This proves that curses do not take proper effect on such elevated souls. What is of the utmost significance is that subsequently King Citraketu became an eternal associate of the Supreme Lord.
Another incident from the Bhagavatam is that of Jaya and Vijaya offending the four Kumaras. The scriptures say the reason for their deliberately offensive action was because their love for the Lord (prema) prompted it. In fact, Jaya and Vijaya had prayed to the Lord for such a situation:
My dear Lord Narayana! O master of the demigods! We have reasons to believe You desire to fight. But we do not see anyone fit to engage You in combat. Although we are strong, we are not inimical to You. Therefore somehow You must arrange a situation whereby we become Your opponents and You can satisfy Your chivalrous mood by fighting with us. We cannot tolerate to see you even slightly deprived of anything since You are eternally the complete whole, fully self-satisfied. We are Your humble servants. Therefore as You are bhakta vatsala kindly grant our prayers even if we fall far short of Your expectations of the level of devotional qualities.
If one mentally commits offences by misunderstanding the status of such devotees, then he must overcome such aparadhas by proper scriptural judgement.
Now let us discuss the anarthas arising from impious activities, or duskrtottha. These anarthas are almost eradicated (prayiki) in the bhajana-kriya stage of devotional service, completely absolved (purna) in the developmental stage of nishtha (steady faith in devotional service), and destroyed absolutely without a trace (atyantiki) in the stage of asakti, or unwavering attachment to devotional service.
Anarthas stemming from bhakti are absolved in the following manner: eka-desavarttini (partially) in the bhajana-kriya stage; purna (completely) in the nishtha stage; and atyantika (absolutely thoroughly) in the ruci stage (relishing devotional service).
This is the conclusion of the holy sages after their considerable deliberation on this topic. A famous axiom states that as the sun, upon rising, dissipates the darkness of night, similarly the holy name of God, when once heard or chanted, destroys all the sins a person can commit. There is much evidence in the scriptures (SB 6.16.44) supporting this aphorism, such as that even a candala (dog-eater) becomes liberated simply by once hearing or chanting the Supreme Lord's holy name. We learn from the story of Ajamila in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam that the holy name chanted even once in the namabhasa stage (shadow of the holy name) can eradicate all anarthas, even that of avidya (nescience), and is capable of elevating one to the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.
It could be said that the method for removing the anarthas listed in the previous paragraphs is perhaps imbalanced. There is no doubt about the unlimited potency and capacity of the holy name, but the holy name, being displeased with offenders, withdraws His potencies and does not manifest Himself to them. Thus we can understand that this is the reason why all sorts of anarthas, offences, and sins are present in a person. Despite the presence of such obstacles, the Yamadutas (the servants of the god of death) are ineffectual against those who chant the holy name even with offences. The scriptures (SB 6.1.19) confirm that those fortunate persons who are chanting the holy name need never set eyes on Yamaraja (the god of death) or his fearsome messengers, even during a dream.
Chanting Without Offence Brings Prema
Elsewhere, the scriptures describe that such an offender cannot be purified by the eight-fold yoga process. This point is explained by the example of a wealthy landlord who, although capable of looking after his needy relatives, does not do so, because they are inimical towards him. Naturally, this neglect exacerbates their unhappy state. This means, of course, that the landlord would never be generous to strangers seeing that he even neglects his own family. This aptly describes the topic discussed in the previous paragraphs. However, if the inimical relatives change their attitude, understanding the inner feelings of the wealthy landlord and endeavoring to please him, then they are gradually helping to mitigate their own distress. Similarly, if a person sincerely serves the Vaishnavas, the guru, and the scriptures he invokes the mercy of the holy name, who in turn exonerates him from sins. It is unacceptable if anyone claims that he does not commit any of the offences against the holy name, because everything is easily judged by its results, whether of recent or past actions. One may continually chant the holy name for a long time, but if the signs of love of God do not manifest then we can understand that this is because of' nama-aparadha, or offences against the holy name. The following verse from the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (2.3.24) explains:
tad asma-saram hridayam batedam
yad grihyamanair hari-nama-dheyaih
na vikriyetatha yada vikaro
netre jalam gatra-ruheshu harshah
Certainly the heart is steel framed which, in spite of one's chanting the holy name of the Lord with concentration, does not change when ecstasy takes place, tears fill the eyes and the hairs stands on end.
The following quote from the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu further states:
ke te'paradha vipendra namno bhagavatah krtah
vinighnanti nrinam krityam prakritam hyanayanti hi
O best of the brahmanas, offences against the holy name result in a person losing all piety and for him the mundane manifests in transcendental objects.
What is the destructive nature of these offences against the holy name? Hearing and chanting the Lord's holy name, qualities, and so on bestows prema; visiting places of pilgrimage connected with the Lord's pastimes rewards one with perfection; and regularly honoring the Lord's prasadam subdues the senses, yet nama-aparadha is so devastating that, although transcendental and completely spiritual, these activities appear mundane. How serious are these offences that can cause such a phenomenon!
What are those offences? This question expresses deep astonishment. One may say that the offender against the holy name is condemned to develop aversion to God, making it impossible for him to remain firmly fixed in devotional service under the guidance of his guru. This is certainly true. It is also true that just as a very sick patient loses his appetite, a grievous offender to the holy name loses his attachment for hearing, chanting, and other devotional activities. However, just as the patient's sickness abates after some time, his appetite gradually returning, so also, when the offender's sensual cravings decrease after a long period of sense enjoyment, his interest in devotional service is rekindled.
The conclusion is that the offender again becomes eligible to render devotional service. To continue the analogy, a nourishing and healthy diet of milk cannot fully revitalize a seriously diseased man. It helps him slightly but does not kill the germs and bacteria. By proper medicines and diet, however, the patient is gradually able to regain good health. In this way, after again becoming eligible to perform devotional service, the devotee eventually manifests devotional symptoms such as sincere hearing, chanting, and serving. In other words, the different stages of devotion listed in the scriptures such as sraddha, sadhu-sanga, bhajana-kriya, anartha-nivritti, nishtha—step-by-step they all form a foolproof method of advancement. (Anartha-nivritti removes both prarabdha and aprarabdha anarthas.)
When some people do not see ecstatic symptoms manifest in those devotees fully engaged in hearing and chanting, when they see that these devotees are also inclined towards sinful activities, they often imagine aparadhas. Not only that, but when they see devotees suffering everyday distress such persons assume that devotees are not free from prarabdha sins.
The Ajamila story helps to clarify the matter. The events in Ajamila's life: his immoral association with a prostitute, his son's receiving the name Narayana, the affection he felt when calling his son by name many times in a day, his being judged innocent of offence by the Vishnuduttas—all constitute reactions from prarabdha sins. However, in the case of Yudhisthira Maharaja, although free from the reactions of prarabdha sin, he still had to suffer many harrowing adversities.
Surrendered Devotees are Under the Lord's Protection
The philosophical conclusion to this is deftly explained by the analogy of a fruit-bearing tree that bears fruit only after a certain period of time, not just at any time, nor immediately upon being planted. Similarly, a devotee blessed by the holy name because of his devotion, is showered with the mercy of the name, all in the proper time. As for the sinful reactions the devotee suffers because of his previous impiety, they are compared to the striking of a fangless snake—inconsequential. Therefore his sorrows, reversals, retributions, and diseases are not a consequence of prarabdha sins. The Supreme Lord has declared: (SB. 10.88.8)
harishye tad-dhanam sanaih
tato 'dhanam tyajanty asya
The person who is blessed by Me, I gradually take away his wealth. His friends and relatives drift away from him because of his poverty and suffering.
In another place the Lord says:
nirdhanatva-maharogo mad anugraha-lakshanam
The awesome affliction known as poverty is in fact a sign of mercy.
The truth is that the Supreme Lord, the greatest benefactor of His devotees, purposely inflicts suffering on His devotees just to increase their humility and yearning for Him. Thus the devotee's woes are not because of fruitive reactions nor are they reactions of prarabdha sins.