Beware! The fault-finders
Kesava Krsna dasa:
There is something unsettling about faultfinders who claim to have Iskcon and Srila Prabhupada’s interest at heart, but who use cunning behaviour to tell the whole world how devious and wicked the honest devotees are. Unfortunately, innocent, happy-faced devotees can turn into cold judgemental characters after being exposed to words said to be highly beneficial for the devotee community.
There exists an enormous market in the genre of gossip and rumour, which explains the great popularity of TV soap operas the world over. Repetitive themes of spiritual scandal, heresy, and deviation make for indulgent absorption, especially for one experiencing a dreary devotional continuation. Such curious excitement about the who’s who in spiritual circles issuing from suspect forums can be the stuff that kills the cat of the devotional creeper without even knowing it.
Exercising the right for free speech and discrimination and disguising all manner of invectives and negativity with polished philosophy and zealous concern, these expressions are intended to destroy tender faith, and help harden the heart to repeat the abusive cycle of fault-finding in others.
Faultfinders are fond of using various tactics to impose their superiority in argument, but when pitted against proper adherence to vaisnava culture these same tactics become their downfall. The use of certain types of logic though appealing to many, in fact lay bare the inner workings of a distressed condition, much like seeing an ugly tortoise without it’s shell.
“I am still healthy and chanting”
Historical vaisnava literature records how certain offenders to vaisnavas succumbed to devastating reactions such as leprosy and other disasters. Bearing in mind these afflictions came after insulting exalted souls like Srila Haridasa Thakur, the question arises; do these reactions fit the severity of the crime? Or to put it into today’s context, after the passing of Srila Prabhupada who naturally exuded a maha-bhagavat stature, will the offending of all those less than him, including the gurus and other honest devotees, mete out far lesser reactions, or none at all?
Some faultfinders proudly proclaim to have been dredging up the dirt of faults in their adversarial God brothers and sisters, and grand disciples for years, yet they are still healthy and chanting Hare Krishna too. Without compunction, they obviously feel that with no ill effects befalling them they are doing the correct thing. Is this really the case? Are they truly free from any serious consequences?
In reality, there is one outstanding feature of punishment evident for all to see, day after day, year after year. While the physical reactions may not be discernable, the body still does the bidding of higher faculties. So when the mind and intelligence are deeply absorbed in thinking and planning what next abusive article to write for the destruction of devotee’s faith while chanting Hare Krishna, this in itself is serious punishment given by the Lord.
In other words, the bodily appendages may not be melting away with leprosy, but the attraction to delightfully zoom in to the festering sores, boils, and wounds of honest but sometimes-faulty spiritual endeavour is a joyous perversion of bliss. Such a state of mind will admire the stench of rotting potatoes to be the heavenly fragrance of the blue lotus flower, and a pineapple to taste like mouldy broccoli. This is unfortunate.
“I am using my powers of discrimination, oh dasa”. While the objects of their lampooning are referred to as dasa and guys, the faultfinders reverently call each other prabhus. “We are allowed to discriminate aren’t we? Trouble is, we don’t discriminate enough…you see, a spade is a spade…” Are copious amounts of discrimination good for all of us? Let us see.
In normal vaisnava dealings, it would be most foolhardy and reckless to disparage a guru in good standing in front of a disciple, or group of disciples. This would certainly be a doomed case of so-called discrimination. Such a person would hardly tell a garden pea from a cannon ball. Yet on certain forums, the use of incorrect discrimination can at once ruin the spiritual lives of many unsuspecting devotees.
Striding under the banner of good old hard-nosed journalistic dedication combined with discrimination, the publishing of tales often based on rumour and second-guessing about honest devotees and spiritual masters, are actually indiscriminate doses of toxic sludge that have no value for the devotional creeper. Rather than uplift the readers these ‘highly beneficial’ tales plunge the consciousness down into ignorance.
If after reading such material a devotee begins to lose respect and faith in other honest devotees then we know the work of the indiscriminator has cast the evil spell of aparadha into the heart, to replicate the same with a new recruit. The dangers posed by these faultfinders often go unnoticed because the injection of ignorance will cloud the ability to know. Is there any wonder why they think they are always right?
Because illusion and ignorance has stolen their sense of decency and happiness, the need to rise to the position of guru almighty helps to insulate against fair and dignified debate. If, for instance a disciple legitimately defends his or her guru, the predictable retort will be; “Stop being sentimental, oh dasa or dasi”. Not realising that human sentiments have their place in matters of devotion, just as the Pandavas seethed on hearing Sisupala’s blasphemous tirade against Krishna, the faultfinders have lost their finer sentiments having been eroded by punishment.
A proud ignorant stance has a reputation to keep and to ensure victory means to argue in a way that the opponent be “damned if they do, and damned if they don’t”. A generous quantity of dirty tricks like speculation, second-guessing the object of envy, dredging up the past, casting aspersions, are just some of their artillery.
In order to be noticed on certain forums the use of eye-catching scandalous headlines hope to invite responses and challenges from honest devotees. The faultfinders lament when honest devotees do not respond to their victory cries, for swan like mentalities care not for crow-like places. Then the faultfinders proclaim again that they are victorious simply because nobody cared to debate with them – hollow victory indeed. If there is no scriptural basis, on which to find fault or unnecessarily correct others without being a father or guru, this alone defeats their purpose.
Bewildered about who a vaisnava is
The punishment of being attracted to the morose destruction of faith is combined with a worrying inability to tell a vaisnava from a non-vaisnava. The craving to belittle the vaisnavas in good standing obviously means they do not consider them vaisnavas, unless of course they are someone like Sri Srivasa Thakur.
Those in knowledge cannot condone the gratuitous wholesale nature of their ‘discriminate’ ramblings aimed at weakening the faith of readers in certain vaisnavas. To have one’s knowledge stolen by illusion is a certain cause of bewilderment in ascertaining who is favoured by Krishna, and who is not. This consideration alone in conjecturing who is dear to Krishna, and who is not, from the distance of uninformed guesswork does not fit within the purview of sanity. Discretion dictates the utmost in respect, and confidentiality in matters of deep personal doubt; not displaying it as a leverage to settle scores, or to gather support against those disliked on a personal level.
Depleted finer sentiments
Posturing as a devotee yet demeaning another reveals the erosion of positive sentiments like appreciation, gratitude, gratefulness, encouragement and so on, which do not feature very much in their analyses; we do see more negative wording reflecting distress and allied emotions. Can a distressed state of mind speak or write sound philosophy?
When Lord Krishna was about to engage in battle against Jarasandha, and during the initial beating of the chest verbal exchanges, He had this to say: “We do not care to hear from you any more, because it is useless to hear the words of a person who is going to die or one who is very distressed”. (Krishna book ch. 50)
“The passion for honour” (BG. 16.1) at the expense of another devotee will usually be obtained through being “expert in insulting others” (BG.18.28). As it is normal for any happily situated devotee to admire the efforts of fellow devotees, in spite of learning curves and mistakes, these do not register for one in a distressed state of mind.
Even a reasonable person will reflect: “Devotional service is such a rare, rare thing. How astonishing it is that all these devotees are trying, yes, trying to please their spiritual masters and Krishna”. To be devoid of this simple sentiment indicates something is wrong, and to publish hollowed out under-sentimental words meant for devotees is a great disservice.
I know that
To impress with their learning the faultfinders will presume to already know about certain realisations of assured devotees when passing judgement on their work. Many of them distanced themselves from Iskcon years ago and are ensnared in a time and space quite far removed from the progress made in terms of devotee learning, and general maturation within Iskcon.
When they analyse something it is often reactive to the subject matter at hand, and will introduce repetitions of times gone by without genuine insight. The urge to communicate inner conflicts and unhappiness heavily influences their ongoing desire to have the world take them seriously, but the realisations will be limited to these constraints.
Fault finding the fault-finders
Another typical response to an honest devotee trying to defend other vaisnavas is, “you are fault finding yourself…so how can your words have any value?” To this, we should see who stands upon firmer territory sastrically, the faultfinder, or the one who is defending honest devotees. Remembering how cunning a person with no sastric backing can be and how he will turn around an honest argument, the simple answer is, the defender has moral authority.
Even so, to get into an argument with a seasoned faultfinder will not produce a satisfactory outcome. The tendency to add more criticism and unfounded personal attacks to match some normal responses by the defender will bring the encounter down to an undignified level. Better to keep a distance, and if they wallow in an acclaimed victory that never was, let them have it, for they have their punishment to contend with without any chance of victory, unless they change. The attempts of the defender are more an ornament, but the climate in which good advice is unheeded is rife with ignorance.
Curiosity hacks the creeper
When some rumour mongering stokes the fire of curiosity and directs us towards the source, be it verbal or written, knowing full well the story may be false or plain downright vengeful, should we be worried? We should if we accept the information as factual, when later it turned out to be untrue, by which time some faith and respect has been hacked.
Now the global village enables news to whiz into our e-mail boxes in an instance, the need for information is easily granted, but so is the lurking devil of our curiosity, which requires upward direction. Whatever feeds our information requirements it is worth noting in the event of a headline sensation, the often-repeated warnings of Srila Prabhupada. Just one typical example should suffice to curb our risky curiosity: “Even if you find some fault in him. Because sadhu is sadhu-bhusanah. You cannot find fault in him. Cannot find fault, but even though if you find some fault, but if you find that he is strictly, he is engaged in the service of the Lord, Krishna says, he is sadhu”. (BG. 4.8 class, Bombay, March 28, 1974)
Ys, Kesava Krsna dasa
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