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Title: Vaishnava etiquette and handling offenses
User: Damodara Svarupa dasa††††† Date: 2006-08-28 07:29:28
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krisna! Jaya Shrila Prabhupada, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta, Shrila Bhaktivinoda, Shri Shri Nitai-Gaura Bhakta Vrinda and Shri Shri Radha Krishna Bhakta Vrinda! Jaya Swamiji Gaurangapada! Jaya Guru Parampara!
My dearest Swamiji Gaurangapada,
In CB Madhya Khanda Ch22 we can read that the Lord is unable to pardon someone from vaishnava-aparadha. The offending person can be forgiven by the offended person only. At the end of this chapter we also can read that if a disciple commits such an offence, not even the spiritual master can protect his disciple from the wrath of the Lord. Even worse, an offending disciple can even endanger his Guru. In the same chapter we can also read that only by the causeless mercy of the Name, his Form and pastimes of Lord Nityananda, one's offenses against Vaishnavas are destroyed and one attains devotional service of Lord Krishna.††
Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakur mentioned that cruel behaviour to any individual spirit is also aparadha. Shrila Saraswati Goswami Thakur states that a pure devotee has no hostile adverse mentality, nor personal grudge or dissatisfaction to anybody. He does not blame the person.
My question: will a Vaishnava always forgive an offending devotee or are there cases that a Guru can cast aside this offending devotee? In the latter case, what must this devotee do towards his Guru to be accepted again?
Yours in the service of the Holy Names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna,
Damodara Svarupa dasa
Title: Re: Vaishnava etiquette and handling offences
User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2006-08-28 18:31:01
My question: will a Vaishnava always forgive an offending devotee or are there cases that a Guru can cast aside this offending devotee?
If the devotee or disciple has commited the serious offenses against devotees due to ignorance or by getting temporarily overwhelmed by non-devotional qualities or bad association but genuinely repents for them later and is ready to never commit offenses again, then the Guru may accept that devotee again. But if that person continues to maintain an envious or hatred attitude towards devotees with no genuine repentance (an external show will not do), the Guru may not accept such a person again.
In the latter case, what must this devotee do towards his Guru to be accepted again?
Genuinely and seriously repent from the bottom of one's heart in front of the Guru, go and sincerely and pleadingly beg for forgiveness to all devotees who were offended, and vow to never commit such offenses again. Please remember that here I am taking about very grave and serious offenses repititively and provenly committed by the disciple towards any Vaishnava devotees of Lord Gauranga Krishna with a malicious or envious intent. It is only at this time that the Guru may think of withdrawing the mercy. Minor misunderstandings are not subject to this situation and can be reconciled by asking for forgiveness from each other or from the Vaishnavas offended or affected and/or avoiding any further discussion or gossip about the faults of other devotees. It is the duty of the Guru to instill fear in the disciples about the severe consequences of offending any devotees of Lord Gauranga Krishna as criticism and judgemental attitude of other devotees is the only single harmful path of totally destroying and uprooting one's devotion.
The Guru should himself never criticize or minimize even indirectly any devotees or other branches of disciple succession of Lord Gauranga Krishna and give due respect to all devotees in all branches, groups and Vaishnava institutions to set the right example for others. He can sometimes point out the faults of other defective or deviated philosophies professed by others for the benefit of the devotees so that they remain on the path of pure bhakti or to defend the path of pure bhakti from those who criticize but the Guru should never criticize any soul on a personal level or be envious of anyone. Only if the Guru is very very careful and restrained on this matter of criticizing other devotees and strict on this point, can the disciples be saved from hearing offenses against other devotees.