I was listening to a lecture today and the speaker quoted two Bhagavatam verses that caught my attention. Unfortunately he didn’t tell where exactly he was quoting from and so I spent the best part of my day searching for them.
One was particularly elusive and I gave up several times but in the end I thought that, as usual, after putting enough effort I would eventually stumble upon what I am looking for. It took longer than expected. Let’s just say I also scanned the entire Uddhava Gita looking for the verse. It’s twenty-three chapters. I’ve also looked at all instances of “bhuta” in the entire Bhagavatam, unfortunately I heard “bhuta-brahma” instead of “bhuta-grama” and so I missed the reference.
I’ve found a couple more verses relevant to the topic and decided to drop the search and go with what I have. Then I looked at word for word translations and one appeared close to Sanskrit that I have heard in the missing verse. I clicked to look of its occurrences and my missing sloka was the first one on the list.
Anyway, here are the verses:
My dear Mother, even if he worships with proper rituals and paraphernalia, a person who is ignorant of My presence in all living entities never pleases Me by the worship of My Deities in the temple.
A devotee who faithfully engages in the worship of the Deity in the temple but does not behave properly toward other devotees or people in general is called a prakrita-bhakta, a materialistic devotee, and is considered to be in the lowest position.
One should neither praise nor criticize the conditioned nature and activities of other persons. Rather, one should see this world as simply the combination of material nature and the enjoying souls, all based on the one Absolute Truth.
which follows by
Whoever indulges in praising or criticizing the qualities and behavior of others will quickly become deviated from his own best interest by his entanglement in illusory dualities.
I wonder what we should do with all the criticism constantly directed at ISKCON, GBC, and our struggling devotees that comes from apparently well-wishing and concerned outsiders.
This is the thing that is most glaringly missing in all our critics – respect for the Supreme Lord who resides in the hearts of those they criticize. Why don’t they resign to the fact that without Krishna’s permission no transgressions would have been possible? Why don’t they accept that Krishna guides us in each and every second of our lives and in each and every endeavor? Why do they criticize what the Lord is doing to His devotees, even if its done through material nature.
Why don’t they follow the third verse on this list – one should neither praise nor criticize activities of other persons and one should see the world as the combination of material nature and enjoying souls. In our case souls trying to serve the Lord as best as they can.
What’s the answer to my “whys”? Umm, it’s right there – it’s just the material nature and people who enjoy this kind of thing. Why do they do it? Because they don’t know any better, just like the rest of us. We all have our particular attachments which come with the material body and so some like blasting other people with heavy language while others enjoy sarcasm.
It’s just the material nature, or rather Krishna satisfying the desires of His devotees. They can’t say a word against us without Krishna’s permission and, conversely, everything they say gets Krishna’s stamp of approval. It doesn’t necessarily becomes true but it becomes the best course of action for them. We don’t have to follow their “revelations”, if we don’t like to hear them we should just ignore them. What’s good for their purification might be disastrous for us.
By saying even the nastiest things they make their steps towards perfection because that’s where the Lord is leading them. It might get a lot worse before it gets better, though, hop on their train at your own risk.
Whatever they do, we should take a clue form the fourth verse – indulging in this kind of katha is against our interest. We might not be saying anything but if we provide an attentive ear it’s already indulgence, just like with sankirtana – you don’t have to be a lead singer to benefit, or, as they say, you can’t clap with one hand.