Criticism and Vaisnava Aparadhe: Is it Really Worth the Risk?
By Bhaktisiddhanta Swami
From experience many devotees innocently get caught up in actions of dealing externally with others with regard to undue criticism and vaisnava aparadhe and do not fully understand the repercussions.
A devotee should always act in terms of guru, sadhu, and sastra.
Criticism is fine when the hidden motivation is to support the spiritual welfare of another but when it is there to undermine without any pure desire for their spiritual upliftment, then that is a reactionary affair.
Name one person who focuses on the negatives, that has peace or long lasting happiness of heart? Atri Muni makes it clear to the Sadhyas, “Do not criticize the ‘criticizer’. For he receives the pāpa of the criticized and in turn gives his puṇyā to those he criticizes.” A scientific definition of what we too commonly see in our circles, the dynamics and result of Vaisnava aparādhe, we are forced to concentrate more on external concerns. In one way Kṛṣṇa arranges a buffer distance those who of different sentiments.
According to Atri Muni the dynamics is certainly not worth the risk. If we find this habit in our life then why not utilize the same intelligence to acknowledge the ‘good’ that is in others. Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasavati once said in reference to ‘anyone’ who chants, “When I see another who is chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa I offer my respect.”
To so boldly place ourselves in the shoes of the Lord and point out apparent negatives that may be in another, feeling that ‘we’ have complete spiritual backing while in reality Kṛṣṇa remembers 100 times what ever good seva a person has done. Otherwise we embrace the concept of eternal damnation, that God is so cruel that as soon as there is a slip, one is finished. In the CC, Mahāprabhu provides many illustrations of the dangers of offending another devotee.
In the future when we can make a choice in our actions ask,”What is Kṛṣṇa’s mind in all this?” Do we try to impose limitations upon Kṛṣṇa as an angry spider that will pounce on one when there is a mistake made in this complex material web…or is it that the Lord is providing an arrangement to observe ‘our response’ in our dealings with one another; to check us out? Some interesting points to consider before we begin to throw grenades…