Let me just post this quote form “Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Vaibhava”:
During April 1935 at Mādhva Gauḍīya Maṭha, a group of respectable ladies of Dacca came close to Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, offered obeisance, and were about to offer flowers at his lotus feet when he checked them:
“O mothers, I am wholly unworthy of the respect you propose to show me. The body that I presently inhabit should be incessantly whipped, then plastered with dust and mud, thrown in a gutter, and left there. He to whom you have offered obeisance considers himself lower than a maggot of hell. He is particularly shy about this act of yours, seeing which he wonders why he is sitting on a raised seat. Considering you to be servants of Kṛṣṇa, he offers ten thousand obeisances at your feet. You are serving Kṛṣṇa—which he is incapable of doing. And for those inclined to freely touch anyone’s feet, I recall the words of my gurudeva: ‘Why do they so boldly stretch out their hands to take dust from the feet of a sadhu? Do they really consider themselves sufficiently qualified?’
There’s really nothing left to add.
Can we feel the same way about our own bodies? I think it’s impossible as long as we identify ourselves with them, this realistic estimate can come only from an impartial observer, a liberated soul. The moment we take body’s interests as our own we accept that body’s illusory value as real – worthy of respect and deserving of love according to its position in the society.
For the liberated souls the body is a curse, a potential trap they always have to be aware of. Its actual value is non-different from that of maggots of hell or corpses dragged through gutters. Considering the pride the bodies tend to inspire in their inhabitants this treatment seems to be well-deserved.
The quote form Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji is eye-opening, too. How often do we feel inadequate to take dust of holy places or holy persons on our head or to taste drops of charanamrita? Feeling inadequate is the symptom – being unqualified is the cause. I never thought of it this way but actually it makes total sense.
We’ve grown accustomed to chanting Hare Krishna very loudly and not worrying about its real value being cheapened by giving it to offensive people. It used to be a great offense but we consider ourselves spared by the mercy of Lord Chaitanya. Personally I think we should re-examine our behavior in this regard but I’m not the one to make that call for our society.
If we are very liberal with Krishna’s name we are somewhat more protective of Srimati Radharani. As Gaudiya vaishnavas we shouldn’t be saying Her Name in public at all, it should be too dear to us to disclose to non-believers. I still cringe what some devotees great each other with “Radhe Radhe”. We can’t use Her name in vain, he Name is our most dear, most treasured possession.
Even more potent than that, at least practically speaking, is the dust from the feet of Her devotees. I always assumed that this dust was “free”, as in “Lord Chaitanya unlocked the treasure chest of love of God and distributed it to everyone”. Turns out it isn’t, one has to be qualified to appreciate it and to get true spiritual benefits from putting it on his head.
Perhaps all we really qualified for is offering obeisances from a distance, incidentally that’s exactly what our etiquette prescribes us to do but we think we are clever cookies and can steal dust anytime we have a chance. Not gonna work, according to Srila Gaurakishora Dasa Babaji’s transcendental vision.