Vaisnava-ninda (Criticizing a Vaisnava), Part 9

BY: SUN STAFF - 16.6 2022

The last in a serial presentation of 'Vaisnava-ninda' by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur.

To Abandon Bad Association and to Accept Association of Devotees

O readers, you must all contemplate this profound subject with the utmost care. As an irrevocably established principle, you must offer all respect to true Vaisnavas and invariably abandon the association of non-devotees. If one criticizes the true Vaisnavas, the existential reality of the holy name will not manifest in one's heart. Thus the instruction has been given in Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.26.27):

tato duhsangam utsrjya satsu sajjeta buddhiman
santa evasya chindanti mano-vyasangam uktibhih

For all these reasons, intelligent people reject detrimental association and associate instead with saintly persons. This is because saintly personalities, with their powerful and virtuous instructions, cut unholy, material attachments from the heart and thus dispel all the distress they cause.


It is only possible for a madhyama-adhikari to serve saintly persons & unrighteous activity is Corrupting

You should not think that by serving a non-devotee, considering him to be a saint, you will get the benefit serving a true saint. The reason the madhyama Vaisnava, as mentioned before, is the only one who is able to truly serve saints, is because the kanistha Vaisnava (neophyte) is not yet inclined toward serving saints, while the uttama Vaisnava (topmost Vaisnava) does not see the difference between a saintly man and an unsaintly one.

O readers! You are madhyama Vaisnavas, and are therefore duty-bound to search out and identify a saint and then befriend him. It is also your duty to shower mercy upon those who are non-devotees, or in some cases, neglect them. You will be at fault if you abandon your own adhikara (rightful position).

The instruction of Srimad-Bhagavatam in regard to vice and virtue is this:

sve sve'dhikare ya nistha
sa gunah parikirtitah
viparyayas tu dosah syad
ubhayor esa niscayah
Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.21.2)

Steadfastness in carrying out the duties of one's own, rightful position is declared to be a good quality, whereas deviation from the duties of one's position is considered a fault. In this way, the two are clearly ascertained.

Even if you unintentionally fall into bad association, you will become an offender to bhakti. As said in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.23.55):

sango yah samsrter hetur
asatsu vihito'dhiya
sa eva sadhusu krto
nihsangatvaya kalpate

Even if someone falls into ungodly association due to his ignorance, such association still leads to degradation. But in the same way, even if someone finds himself in the association of saintly persons accidentally, such saintly association very easily leads him away from bad association and cuts his worldly attachment.

The uttama-bhaktas' glory of seeing everyone as saints is proclaimed in holy books such as Bhakta-mala and Prapannamrta. However, such conduct should never be imitated by a madhyama Vaisnava. For a madhyama Vaisnava, such behaviour would lead to the fault known as anadhikara-cesta – not acting in accordance with one's eligibility, or position – and he would rapidly become degraded as a consequence.

May the suddha-bhaktas mercifully deem our discussion of all these subjects to have been properly motivated.

This concludes the 'Vaisnava-ninda' by HDG Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur