How should devotees deal with envious persons?

Damaghosa Dasa - 11.9 2017

“ishvare tad-adhineshu, balishesu dvisatsu cha, prema maitre kripopeksha, yah karoti sa madhyamaha” (Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.46)

An intermediate or second class devotee is called a madhyama who: 

offers his love to the Lord
is a sincere friend to all the devotees of the Lord
who shows mercy to the ignorant and innocent people
disregards those who are envious of the Lord and His devotees.

Now we come to the fourth quality, upeksha, indifference, neglect and avoidance of those who are envious.

Firstly an envious  person has to be defined and the different types of envious persons have to be  delineated.

Dvesha, enmity is an unfortunate human trait also know as matsarata, envy and hate. This heinous propensity is the exact opposite of  prema (love for Krishna).

Antipathy against the Lord  is known as dvesha of which there are 5  kinds:

skepticism, not having faith in God.
the belief that the Lord is  nothing more than a natural potency of the creation which automatically brings about results of one's karma.
not believing in the transcendental form of the  Lord. 
not accepting the position  of the jiva as eternal servant of the Lord.  
absence of mercy.

How should devotees deals with such persons?

It is  recommended one should avoid their company. Upeksha means neither that one should  put a stop to all the usual human exchanges nor that one should refuse help to  such bewildered persons.

On the contrary if an envious person is in danger or in  distress, everything should be done to ameliorate his agony.

How then is it possible for a grihastha vaishnava with one final stroke to curtail all simple day to day interactions with this envious  lot?

This is not the meaning of upeksha. Upeksha is to terminate all spiritual  exchanges with them, not social exchanges.

As a result of ones karma the resultant material  reactions from previous lives even some of ones own family members may be  dveshis, envious persons. Should they be excluded? No – that is not the  solution.

Social exchanges are part of human behavior so the  envious persons should be dealt with but without getting into deep involvement  or emotional relationships with them.

In contrast for spiritual practice serious commitment is mandatory and spiritual association with ones fellow devotees means to interact upon the spiritual platform by discussing transcendental topics thereby serving and assisting one another in  progress.

An envious person is generally very self-opinionated. Hence if he hears praises or explanations about the science of pure  bhakti he will immediately start an unnecessary argument, which will be of use to neither you nor to him. Instead of such barren debates, one should simply restrain ones dealings to a social level with such persons. 

If  someone whimsically proposes to include the envious persons  into the ranks of the balisha, so that compassionate association may be practiced  upon them, then such a person should first understand that this course of action  would be very detrimental to his own spiritual progress. 

It is essential for the madhyama  to act according to these 4 guidelines  as any slackness in this regard will culminate in malpractice, increased  lethargy and apathy towards executing spiritual  discipline. In the end the deviation  will become too overwhelming.

Thus in accordance with scriptural injunctions the prime duties of a madhyama vaishnava are to:

cultivate love for the Lord
friendship  with pure devotees
compassion for the innocent 
aloofness from the  envious

Question – Many kanistha bhaktas do not progress, what is the reason for this?

Answer – If the kanistha bhaktas dveshi  sangha-association with the inimical agnostics, atheist and impersonalists, etc is frequent, very soon he loses the kanistha status and becomes  entangled in the pursuit of karma and jnana, etc. In some cases the kanistha neither progresses nor regresses, just remaining at the kanistha  level.

In cases where both sadhu sanga and dveshi sangha exercise  equal influence upon the kanistha, his bhakti maintains the status  quo.

 Question – What ensures steady  progress?

Answer – When devotee association is frequent and powerful and non devotee association is minimal, the kanistha progresses  swiftly.