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Criticism and Vaisnava Aparadhe: Is it Really Worth the Risk?

Wednesday, 05 June 2013 / Published in Articles / 2,656 views

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…

6 Responses to “Criticism and Vaisnava Aparadhe: Is it Really Worth the Risk?”

  1. bhagavatpuranadas says :

    The 6 offenses to the Vaisnavas:

    hanti nindati vai dvesti
    vaisnavanam nabhinandati
    krudhyate yati no harsam
    darsane patanani sat

    ¨To kill a Vaisnava, slander him, hate him, not praise him, becoming angry at him and not being happy when seeing him – these are the six offenses to the Vaisnavas¨.

    Skanda Purana

    [In a conversation between Markandeya and Bhagiratha]:

    “My dear King, one who derides an exalted devotee loses the results of his pious activities, his opulence, his reputation and his sons. Vaisnavas are all great souls. Whoever blasphemes them falls down to the hell known as Maharaurava, accompanied by his forefathers. Whoever kills or blasphemes a Vaisnava and whoever is envious of a Vaisnava or angry with him, or whoever does not offer him obeisances or feel joy upon seeing him, certainly falls into a hellish condition.”


    Caitanya Bhagavata by Vrindavan Das Thakur on Vaisnava Aparadha:

    “Any person who sides with a Vaisnava against another Vaisnava and criticizes him is destined to be destroyed.”
    CB Madhya 3.160

    H@re Krsn@ H@re Krsn@ Krsn@ Krsn@ H@re H@re
    H@re R@ma H@re R@ma R@ma R@ma H@re H@re!


  2. Sitalatma Das says :

    “Do not criticize the ‘criticizer’. For he receives the pāpa of the criticized and in turn gives his puṇyā to those he criticizes.”…According to Atri Muni the dynamics is certainly not worth the risk.”

    I hope our ISKON gurus do not think of their disciples in terms of papa-punya trade which sounds decidedly undevotional.

    Vaishnava aparadha should be considered a much more serious matter than taking on a few sins by assuming responsibility for someone else’s actions.

    Actually, it could be argued that if we are part of the same society we all share sins of everyone else anyway so it’s in our own interest to help clean the house. The goal is to learn to do so without committing offenses and only with spiritual welfare of others in mind, as maharaj said.

    Maybe that’s what Krishna wants from us when He provides an arrangement to observe our response.

  3. Puskaraksa das says :


    “I will personally deliver anyone who avoids criticizing others and once chants ‘Krsna! I vow that this is the truth.” (Caitanya-bhagavata 19.213-4)

  4. Puskaraksa das says :

    Srila Prabhupada said: “Actually, if you insult His devotee, Krsna will never tolerate. Then you are finished. Just like a big man. If you insult him, he may think “All right, let him.” But if you insult or do something and harm his child, he will never tolerate. (Lecture LA. 2.12.1973)

  5. Puskaraksa das says :

    In his Bhakti-ratnakara Srila Narahari Cakravarti writes:
    1) “Be careful in your dealings with devotees and never create any ill feelings in their hearts.”
    2) “Creating ill feelings with devotees will create impediments on one’s path of spiritual life.”
    3) “Please be very careful in dealing with the Vaisnavas. Beg their forgiveness for any offense with your heart and soul.”
    4) “Be careful not to see a vaisnava’s faults, and always sing their glories.”
    5) “All of the previous great devotees have said, “No one can understand the behavior of the vaisnava.”
    6) “Hold the devotees lotus feet to your head and always dive in the nectar of pure devotional service.”

  6. Yajnavalkya dasa says :

    The passage from the Caitanya-bhagavata, quoted in Puskaraksa Prabhu’s comment, is from a section that contains other interesting passages. I’m doing this from memory, so please forgive my errors… Sri Caitanya says something along the lines that “all living beings in the universe are My servants”, and He is displeased with anyone criticizing anyone. So if maligning non-Vaishnavas is bad, one can understand how much worse it is to criticize Vaishnavas.

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