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The fourth offense is to blaspheme Vedic literatures, such as the four Vedas and the Puranas. It is seen that all the Vedas and all the Upanisads chant the glories of the holy name. To blaspheme all these scriptures is an offense to the holy name. If one honors the scriptures but blasphemes the parts of the scriptures that teach the glories of the holy name, one commits an offense to the holy name. Because of this offense one will not feel attracted to the holy name. Fully aware that the holy name is the crest jewel of all the Vedas, one should respectfully chant the holy name.
Hari Nama Chintamani by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Chapter 7 - Criticism of Scripture
jaya jaya gadai gauranga nityananda
jaya sitapati jaya gaura-bhakta-vrinda
Haridasa spoke, "Lord, the fourth offense is criticism of scripture. This offense will also obstruct one's bhakti.
"Scripture means the four Vedas, the Upanishads and the Puranas. Having emanated from the breathing of Krishna, they constitute perfect knowledge and authority. Particularly in spiritual matters these must be referred to as the final proof. Because the material senses of man, characterized by the four faults of karana-patava (limited perception), bhrama (illusion), vipralipsa (desire to report something other than what is perceived) and pramada (inattention of the senses), cannot possibly perceive anything beyond the material level of unconscious matter, the spiritual realm would be unapproachable without the aid of Krishna. Therefore Krishna has given the four Vedas, which are beyond the four faults of the senses, and by these alone can man progress towards the spiritual goal.
"What are the contents of the scriptures? The wise man will understand that karma and jnana are secondary and worthless as independent processes and that the path of bhakti is the essence. The Vedas stand as the authoritative guide and reference (pramana) and they prove nine different topics, which may be classified into sambandha, abhidheya and prayojana. By these ten principles-the Vedic authority and the nine topics which the Vedas prove-ignorance is destroyed and transcendental knowledge is revealed.
"These nine principles may be summarized as follows:
1. There is one Supreme Lord, Vishnu.
2. The Lord is possessor of all energies.
3. Krishna is the fountainhead of all rasas and is situated in His dhama where He eternally gives joy to the jivas.
4. The jivas are particles of the Lord, unlimited in number, infinitesimal in size, but conscious.
5. Some jivas are eternally bound in the material universes, being attracted by illusory pleasure.
6. Some jivas are eternally liberated and engaged in worshiping Krishna; they reside with Him as associates in the spiritual sky and experience prema.
7. Krishna exists with His energies-the material energy, jiva energy and spiritual energy-in a state of simultaneous identity and differentiation, permeating all, yet remaining aloof, which is only possible by His inconceivable power (acintya-bhedabheda-tattva).
8. The process specifically mentioned (abhidheya) for the jiva in the Vedas is the nine-fold process of devotional service, divided into vaidhi and raga-bhakti. Of the nine processes, the hearing and chanting of the holy name are principal means. That is the reason the chanting of 'om' is glorified in the Vedas.
9. The final goal or constitutional platform (prayojana) of the jivas is the activity of pure bhakti (prema). This is attained by the mercy of Krishna.
"These are the basic principles for the guidance of the jivas which are denoted by the Vedas. If one criticizes the Vedas, that is an offense to the holy name. Such a person is a low rascal.
"In the history of India there are six personalities who invented theories, and by their inventions they simply brought themselves to no good end. Jaimini, though claiming to follow the Vedas, does not recognize the Supreme Lord and recommends karma-kanda activity independent of worship of God. By concoction, Kapila thinks that the Lord is imperfect and recommends the process of yoga, without understanding its goal. Taking shelter of the philosophy that everything is illusion, the Jainas preach against the Vedas. The atheist Carvaka had no respect for the Vedic knowledge; and similarly, the Buddhist, Gautama, does not worship the Lord, but instead thinks in terms of human beings. All these philosophies are against the Vedas, sometimes directly and sometimes in a hidden way. Therefore the wise man, knowing that belief in these philosophies makes one an offender, completely avoids them.
"One other philosophy to be avoided is that of the mayavadis. Their scriptures are not genuine, but are distortions of the meaning of the Vedas. Actually they are covered Buddhism, and are meant to mislead the foolish people in the Kali-yuga. On the order of the Lord, Shiva appeared in a brahmana family and became an acarya. Then, like Jaimini, while taking authority from the Vedas, twisted the meaning to delude the world. He took the Buddhist doctrine of illusion and tried to delude the world. By doing this, he covered the direct meaning of the Vedas and the process of bhakti. Thus if one accepts any of these philosophies, there is no place for real bhakti. If one takes the holy name along with these philosophies, one is committing serious offense to the name. One simply brings about one's own end.
"If the jiva can accept the direct meaning of the Vedas, which is the path of pure bhakti, he will be rewarded with the sweetness of prema, but if he takes indirect meaning or metaphorical interpretations as the real meaning, he cannot come to truth and dies of his offense to Krishna. The principal sound in the Vedas is 'om,' which is a name of Krishna, and by chanting the name one can achieve the goal of life. This name is utilized by the devotees in the Shri sampradaya. The Vedas state that the holy name is the spiritual form of the Lord in the material world. It is so powerful that even the faint influence of the name can bring about perfection.
"The purport is this. Since the Vedas are teaching chanting of the pure name as the principal process, to criticize the Vedas is to criticize the name. That is offensive. The devotees, however, take shelter of the Vedas, and by chanting the holy name, attain the nectar of the name. The Vedas are saying, 'Just chant the name of the Lord and by that you will receive the highest form of love and bliss.' Even in the spiritual sky the great personalities are chanting the holy name.
"It is unfortunate that in Kali-yuga even so-called great personalities avoid the Supreme Personality of Krishna and His nectarean name, and instead worship the illusory energy, maya devi. By taking shelter of the tamasic tantra, they criticize the Vedic authority. Lustful for meat and intoxication, leading a corrupt life against dharma, these people kill themselves. They do not take the name of Krishna nor do they get the eternal dhama of Vrindavana. Maya devi gives the atheists wordly happiness or punishment according to their activities, but to one who serves the devotees, she gives the shelter of Krishna's lotus feet. Being Krishna servant, she punishes the erring jivas and gives only illusory happiness to those who worship her. But if one worships Krishna and His name, she helps him overcome the material ocean.
"If by misfortune or accident it happens that one commits Shruti-nindana, one should be repentent and offer his respect to the scriptures. With attention one should offer flowers and Tulasi leaves to the Bhagavatarn and the Vedas. Being the essence of the Vedas and an incarnation of Krishna, the Shrimad-Bhagavatam will give unlimited mercy.
Haridasa said, "Day and night I am immersed in this ocean of nectar of the holy name, having given up the offense of criticizing the scripture."
Whoever aspires for the dust of the feet of Haridasa is qualified to wear on his neck the touchstone jewel of the holy name. (Translated by Bhanu Swami)