Offenses to pure chanting-let us discuss this important subject

December 26, 2018 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

Hare Krsna-we shall try to discuss the very important subject of—offenses to pure chanting
Why is it that we devotees have such a hard time actually hearing the Holy Name or even each other for that matter?? The saying goes…”you can always tell a devotee, ……you just cant tell him anything”
Why do we devotees make verbal offenses over and over again to each other and think nothing of it? Isn’t the first offense to chanting Hare Krsna maha mantra not to blaspheme or unnecessarily criticize the devotees of the Lord? Lord Caitanya, who, according to the sastra, is God Himself, tells us that anybody who chants only once the Holy Names- is a Vaisnava.
Madhya 15.106-Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Whoever chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa just once is worshipable and is the topmost human being.
PURPORT-Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says that simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa once, a person becomes perfect. Such a person is understood to be a Vaiṣṇava.
March 10 1976 mayapur
Prabhupāda: No, you should always remember that either gṛhastha or brahmacārī or sannyāsī, nobody can strictly follow all the rules and regulations of them. In the Kali-yuga it is not possible. So if I find simply fault with you, and if you find fault with me, then it will be factional, and our real business will be hamperedTherefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu has recommended that hari-nāma, chanting HareKṛṣṇa mantra, should be very rigidly performed, which is common for everyone: gṛhastha, vānaprastha or sannyāsī. They should always chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.Then everything will be adjusted. Otherwise it is impossible to advance. We shall be complicated with the details only. This is called niyamāgrahaḥ. I think I have explained.

Some devotees will explain that we should not lose our power of discrimination to see who is a devotee and who is a “poser” or sahajiya. That is true, otherwise we will, by bad association, lose whatever we gained by good association. So if we are to seek out good association and avoid bad association, where does speaking ill of other devotees fit into this? When does speaking badly of others become detrimental to our own advancement? How far can we go with Vaisnava criticism and can we even recognize when we are doing it?
Today there are so many groups of Hare Krsna devotees worldwide, and with the internet. it has become very easy to create more enemies- than friends. Once Prabhupada explained that when you see so many different Christian groups, it means they all have deviated from the original teachings of Jesus Christ. Otherwise why so many different groups? If the Master or Teachers’ instructions are One, then all groups of Christians should also be One. But they are not, nor are all the various groups of Hare Krsna devotees worldwide. Yet each group claims theirs is the original one, the only one that carries the Spiritual Masters original teachings.
In the above quote by Srila Prabhupada , he explains what to do with this phenomona of  having to deal with so many different opinions. People are always different and will always have different opinions and if we allow ourself to fall into that trap of fighting with each and every one of these differing opinions, that is all we end up doing-fighting and criticizing all others who differ from us. We only see the bad and never the good in others. And this is not the vision or perception of one who wants to become a pure devotee.
What we have to see as devotees, is how both ourself and somebody else is making progress (however slow or fast) in spiritual life, and then just leave the others alone in that pursuit, especially if they dont want our advice.. We can try to explain to each other some points of philosophy but not everyone is prepared to accept or even understand what we may be saying or quoting from Sastra. They will argue that our opinion is just that-our opinion and not the real Siddhanta of Vaisnava Philosophy.
For example, I recently had a short discussion with a friend about what side of the street do they walk on when going down the street? They said, they always walk on the side that goes with the traffic, same direction. I said I would rather walk on the other side of the street so I could see the cars coming at me.That way, I would have some time, but not much, to react if a car came at me. They replied, you wouldn’t have enough time to react, so it doesn’t matter. So both opinions have some vaildity to them. Cars go so fast, you probably would not have time to react and get out of the way, but on the other hand, if you could see them coming at you, then the possibility to react by getting out of the way, would be in your favor, whereas the other direction, you would just get hit. 
This above example is much like the crow and tal logic story Srila Prabhupada told to us. Two brahmanas were watching some crows up in a coconut tree and a coconut fell down. One brahmana said it was the crow who made that happen, the other said, no it was just that the fruit was now ripe, so it naturally fell down. So they continued to argue over their opinions so that eventually they left, mad at each other.
What I am getting at here is do we really need to fight and argue over each little bit of information we get in our lives? How important is it whether the coconut fell either way? What side of the street does it really matter we walk on? In the grand cosmic scheme of things-none of these things are really important. What is important as devotees of the Lord is how much we are developing our love for God, Krsna. That is what the human form of life is meant for and what we should be trying to see in ourselves and others as well. That is the yardstick, if we need one, that we should concern ourselves with, as all else is not really that important. Or as Srila Prabhupada says above–“They should always chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.Then everything will be adjusted. Otherwise it is impossible to advance. We shall be complicated with the details only.”
In another place Srila Prabhupada explains this principle of religion very nicely… We should be judging ourselves and others (if we have to) by the fruits we produce-Love of God. Here is what he says….
Seattle oct 18 1968
Prabhupāda: That I’ve explained many times: a pocket dictionary and international dictionary. You cannot say that pocket dictionary is no dictionary, but it is meant for a certain class of student. And international dictionary is meant for a certain class of student. They are all student. What was spoken by Christ, that is also God consciousness, but that was meant for a certain class of men. And what class of men they were? They’re not even perfectly civilized. Because Christ was explaining God consciousness, that was his fault, and they crucified him. What class of men they were? Judge. His only fault was that he was explaining God, and they crucified him. The reward was crucifixion. So what kind of class of men they were? The status of that society, just try to understand. Therefore what spoke…, what was spoken by Lord Jesus Christ, for them, that was sufficient. But when Bhagavad-gītā is spoken to a person like Arjuna, that is different thing. So we have to speak according to the time, according to the circumstances, according to the audience. Don’t you see that here only a few persons are attending? Why? They cannot understand this Kṛṣṇa science, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is not meant for all classes of men. It is highest standard of God consciousness. Love. Love of God. So there is also teachings of love of God, undoubtedly. That is the difference. The same thing. Always try to understand. The small pocket dictionary for students while in the primary stage, and international dictionary for higher students, postgraduate students—the both of them are dictionaries. But it(pocket dictionary) is meant for somebody, (and international dictionary) it is meant for somebody. And the test is phalena paricīyatePhalena paricīyate, you have to understand.
Suppose you are traveling in a forest. So many trees are there. But you cannot understand what is this tree, what is that. But as soon as you see the flower, “Oh, here is apple. Oh, this is apple tree.” Just like the other day you were telling me, you never saw apple tree? Yes. Now, as soon as you saw the apple tree, you understood, “This is apple tree. Oh!” The test of any scripture is how one is developing love of God. Phalena paricīyate. If you find that following some religious principles you are developing your love of God, then it is perfect. It doesn’t matter whether it is Bible or Koran or Bhagavad-gītā. It doesn’t matter. We have to see what is the fruit. If the fruit is that people are developing love of Godhead, then it is perfect.
Don’t try to understand whether this is good, this is good, this is bad, this is… No. Try to understand by the result. Just like the same way: if you see the fruit, then it is first class.
So it doesn’t matter whether it is Bible or Gītā. If you can develop love of Godhead by reading Bible, it is first class, and if you can develop love of Godhead by Bhagavad-gītā, it is first class. And if you do not, then either it is Bible or the Koran or Bhagavad-gītā, it has no effect for you.
So it is up to you. Not by comparison, but by your own activities. If you actually follow the instruction given by Lord Jesus Christ, you will also develop love of Godhead. There is no doubt. Similarly, if you follow the instruction of Kṛṣṇa, you will also develop. So it is up to you. You try to follow. If you do not follow, simply try to make a comparative study “This is good” or “This is bad,” “This is bad” or “This is good,” that is called śrama eva hi kevalam [SB 1.2.8]—simply laboring. Why comparative study? Just see how much you are developing love of Godhead, that’s all. Phalena paricīyate. “Whether it is apple is there, that’s all right; never mind what is this tree. I’m concerned with the apple.” Yes….
It is also explained in Vaisnava sastra that the vision of a pure devotee is to see that all others are serving Krsna, yet he himself is not, and has no love for Krsna at all.
Antya 13.133-He would not listen to blasphemy of a Vaiṣṇava, nor would he listen to talk of a Vaiṣṇava’s misbehavior. He knew only that everyone was engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service; he did not understand anything else.
PURPORT-Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa never did anything harmful to a Vaiṣṇava. In other words, he was never inattentive in the service of the Lord, nor did he ever violate the rules and regulations of a pure Vaiṣṇava. It is the duty of a Vaiṣṇava ācārya to prevent his disciples and followers from violating the principles of Vaiṣṇava behavior. He should always advise them to strictly follow the regulative principles, which will protect them from falling down. Although a Vaiṣṇava preacher may sometimes criticize others, Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa avoided this. Even if another Vaiṣṇava was actually at fault, Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa would not criticize him; he saw only that everyone was engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service. That is the position of a mahā-bhāgavata.
SB 4.12.11 purport…Ordinary persons cannot understand how the Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, but a devotee can actually see Him. Not only can the devotee see Him outwardly, but he can see, with spiritual vision, that everything is resting in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as described in Bhagavad-gītā (mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni). That is the vision of a mahā-bhāgavata. He sees everything others see, but instead of seeing merely the trees, the mountains, the cities or the sky, he sees only his worshipable Supreme Personality of Godhead in everything because everything is resting in Him only. This is the vision of the mahā-bhāgavata. In summary, a mahā-bhāgavata, a highly elevated pure devotee, sees the Lord everywhere, as well as within the heart of everyone.This is possible for devotees who have developed elevated devotional service to the Lord.
Therefore if we as devotees see Krsna everywhere, then we will not make offenses against any others, especially those who chant the Holy Names. But if we live in the world of duality, see others as friends and enemies, then we will of consequence, make offenses to many others.
 So here Srila Prabhupada gives us the test for ourselves and others–”We have to see what is the fruit. If the fruit is that people are developing love of Godhead, then it is perfect.”
So how to understand if we are developing this consciousness of love for God? We must go to the scriptures and examples of those who developed this love for God. Not by comparative study as Prabhupada explains above-this guy did this and that guy doesnt do that, etc No, by seeing how much a person has developed some love for God, Krsna. That is the real test, not this endless arguing back and forth… endlessly. With no “fruit” to show for it.
In the Nectar of Devotion it explains this in one chapter called-the symptoms of Love of Godhead.
NOD chapter 17-Within the stage of the regulative principles of devotional service there are two divisions-namely executive and effective. This effective portion of devotional service is called bhāva, or ecstasy. In this connection, there is a statement in the Tantras that ecstasy is the first symptom of pure love for the Personality of Godhead, and in that stage one is sometimes found shedding tears or shivering. Not always are these symptoms manifest, but occasionally. When King Ambarīṣa was put into difficulty by Durvāsā, he began to think of the lotus feet of the Lord, and thus there were some changes in his body, and tears were falling from his eyes. These symptoms are activities of ecstasy. They are visible in the shivering of the body and the shedding of tears. After the outward appearance of these ecstatic symptoms, they stay within the mind, and continuation of the ecstasy is called samādhi. This stage of appreciation becomes the cause of future exchanges of loving affairs with Kṛṣṇa.
SB 2.3.24 -Certainly that heart is steel-framed which, in spite of one’s chanting the holy name of the Lord with concentration, does not change when ecstasy takes place, tears fill the eyes and the hairs stand on end.
PURPORT…The whole process of spiritual culture is aimed at changing the heart of the living being in the matter of his eternal relation with the Supreme Lord as subordinate servant, which is his eternal constitutional position. So with the progress of devotional service, the reaction of change in the heart is exhibited by gradual detachment from the sense of material enjoyment by a false sense of lording it over the world and an increase in the attitude of rendering loving service to the Lord.  If there is no such change, the heart must be considered steel-framed, for it is not melted even when there is chanting of the holy name of the Lord. We must always remember that hearing and chanting are the basic principles of discharging devotional duties, and if they are properly performed there will follow the reactional ecstasy with signs of tears in the eyes and standing of the hairs on the body. These are natural consequences and are the preliminary symptoms of the bhāva stage, which occurs before one reaches the perfectional stage of prema, love of Godhead.
If the reaction does not take place, even after continuous hearing and chanting of the holy name of the Lord, it may be considered to be due to offenses only. That is the opinion of the Sandarbha. In the beginning of chanting of the holy name of the Lord, if the devotee has not been very careful about evading the ten kinds of offenses at the feet of the holy name, certainly the reaction of feelings of separation will not be visible by tears in the eyes and standing of the hair on end.
So we have 10 offenses we, as Vaisnavas, are supposed to avoid and the first one is to unecessarily criticize or blaspheme the devotee of the Lord. Why is this one -the first one? Because it is the one we first must avoid in order to go forward in devotion to the Lord.
Srila Prabhuapda has often times said that to call a thief a thief is not blasphemy, but is telling the truth. The problem lays in going overboard in this labeling process, where that is all we seem to enjoy doing and relishing it somehow.. There are many devotees who instead of hearing about the Lords ecstatic pastimes, relish instead the hearing about the downfalls of others, or the faults of others. This is a type of sickness and will not produce love of Godhead for the aspiring devotee. Just the opposite, we will lose whatever taste we have acquired for chanting the Holy Names.
There are 9 process for purification of the soul and the first one is to hear about Krsna, not the falldowns or problems of His devotees. The more we aspire to hear about Krsna, the less we will want to hear about devotees who are having problems with this process. We are not to just stick our heads in the sand and avoid what goes on around us, but when that becomes the predominant or a major thing in our lives, it then becomes a major impediment. This becomes a stubling block or weed for our purification and the proper cultivation of the bhakti lata bija.
(weeds in heart)
Below is a good warning for us how to naturally acquire that pre bhava condition of standing of hairs on end or tears in the eyes when we chant…. which can only be experienced when we avoid the 10 offenses.
Madhya 19.157 –“If one does not distinguish between the bhakti-latā creeper and the other creepers, the sprinkling of water is misused because the other creepers are nourished while the bhakti-latā creeper is curtailed.
PURPORT-If one chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra while committing offenses, these unwanted creepers will grow. One should not take advantage of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra for some material profit. As mentioned in …The unwanted creepers have been described by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. He states that if one hears and chants without trying to give up offenses, one becomes materially attached to sense gratification.
Feb 27 1977 Mayapura
Prabhupāda: No, no. They may chant, but they must understand that the chanting process, that will be more effective. That they must know. Chanting is open. Anyone can chant, but they must know it, that “If I chant in the proper process, then it will be effective.”
Rāmeśvara: It must be clear to them that the goal is love of God, not something material.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Premā pum-artho mahān. That is wanted. There is one word by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, nāmākṣara bahir haya nāma nāhi haya: “The… Simply the alphabets are coming, but that is not nāma.” Nāmākṣara, Hare Kṛṣṇa, the alphabets, are coming out, but it is not the holy name.
Brahmānanda: We wanted to make a distinction that a nondevotee chanting is different from when a pure devotee chants.
Rāmeśvara: So that distinction should be there.
Prabhupāda: Yes.
Rāmeśvara: Just like this Alice Coltrane. She has done her small part. She made this record album with Govinda Jaya Jaya and Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: That is… That will be a good thing. But when he (she) does it properly it will be more effective, because there is… If one does not chant in the process, then gradually it degrades. The offense will increase. There is chance……So that we are giving, the facility to chant and take prasādam, but at the same time, gradually, if chanting is effective, then next we have to make it in the process.
Some Conclusions/Review to all the above:
So to review—we began with stating a major problem for many of us-blaspheming or unecessarily criticizing devotees. Srila Prabhupada kindly explains that we should not be concerned with all the endless details of ourselves or others lives, but instead concentrate upon congregationally chanting Hare Krsna mantra-together. Otherwise we will be complicated with these details ,only.
We then went on to give some examples of this mistaken approach which leads to Vaisnava aparadha. Prabhupada then explained that as devotees we should rather be concerned with what “fruit”
 we are developing-which should be love for God, either by the Christian method, the Hindu method, or whatever religion one takes. We then gave the view of a pure devotee or Mahabhagvat and how he sees that everyone but himself is engaged in the Lords service-this mentality prevents him from making offenses to others. Next was explained the symptoms of ecstasy or the path leading to love of Godhead, or Krsna Prema. These symptoms of tears and standing of hairs on end are
characteristics seen in one who is chanting nicely without offenses.
Next was stated that the condition of a steel framed heart is due to offenses only-even after years of concentrated chanting. This is due to not weeding out all the unwanted behaviors of one who still wants to lord it over others and still wanting material enjoyment. If we chant “in the process” as Prabhupada calls it, then we will get the fruits of Love for Krsna, otherwise only the alphabets or letters of “Hare Krsna” will come out of our mouths-but not the Holy Names.
I dont know about others, but for myself ,I am very weary of what seems to be a constant stream of endless offenses against anyone who chants Hare Krsna maha mantra, and doesnt agree with us. So many devotees worldwide seem to relish the constant attack against other devotees, and it makes me wonder, what kind of sadhana they have in their individual lives, if this is what comes out of their minds and mouths.
If that is so, then I feel sorry for them.
Hare Krsna
damaghosa das
Madhya 15.106-Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Whoever chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa just once is worshipable and is the topmost human being.
PURPORT-Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura says that simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa once, a person becomes perfect. Such a person is understood to be a Vaiṣṇava.
Now, what happens if we do not follow this advice from the Lord???
Madhya 15.261 purport-
The Hari-bhakti-vilāsa cites the following quotation from Skanda Purāṇa concerning the blaspheming of a Vaiṣṇava:
In this conversation between Mārkaṇḍeya and Bhagīratha, it is said: “My dear King, if one derides an exalted devotee, he loses the results of his pious activities, his opulence, his reputation and his sons. Vaiṣṇavas are all great souls. Whoever blasphemes them falls down to the hell known as Mahāraurava. He is also accompanied by his forefathers. Whoever kills or blasphemes a Vaiṣṇava and whoever is envious of a Vaiṣṇava or angry with him, or whoever does not offer him obeisances or feel joy upon seeing a Vaiṣṇava, certainly falls into a hellish condition.”
The Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (10.314) also gives the following quotation from Dvārakā-māhātmya:
In a conversation between Prahlāda Mahārāja and Bali Mahārāja, it is said, “Those sinful people who blaspheme Vaiṣṇavas, who are all great souls, are subjected very severely to the punishment offered by Yamarāja.”
In the Bhakti-sandarbha (313) there is a statement concerning the blaspheming of Lord Viṣṇu.
“One who criticizes Lord Viṣṇu and His devotees loses all the benefits accrued in a hundred pious births. Such a person rots in the Kumbhīpāka hell and is bitten by worms as long as the sun and moon exist. One should therefore not even see the face of a person who blasphemes Lord Viṣṇu and His devotees. Never try to associate with such persons.”
In his Bhakti-sandarbha (265), Jīva Gosvāmī further quotes from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.74.40):”If one does not immediately leave upon hearing the Lord or the Lord’s devotee blasphemed, he falls down from devotional service.” Similarly, Lord Śiva’s wife Satī states in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (4.4.17):
“If one hears an irresponsible person blaspheme the master and controller of religion, he should block his ears and go away if unable to punish him. But if one is able to kill, then one should by force cut out the blasphemer’s tongue and kill the offender, and after that he should give up his own life.”
Below is the Christmas day Kirtan Party prasadam we offered to all our Deities-baked yams soaked in orange juice sauce with buttermilk and spices,mashed potatoes with nut gravy, hot bread rolls, cranberry sauce, hot spicy fig tomato chutney, squash pakoras with buckwheat flour as a batter, kofta balls floating in a sauce of tomatoes and peppers over pasta noodles,a drink made from orange juice and buttermilk with almond extract, and some water. I think Lord Krsna enjoyed all these preps…. sorry no pictures of all the devotees present-just forgot– during all the kirtans and class to take any….

        Sri Gaura and Sri Nitai are sooooo Beautiful