by Swami B.K. Giri
I hope our devotees will try to properly understand the meaning of api cet suduracharo…, ananya bhak and Vaishnava aparadha.
I think many of our devotees are not reading or hearing our gurus’ words. As a result they are excusing deviant behavior out of fear of being labeled offenders, aparadhis, without understanding the real justification for such a characterization.
Even worse, certain leaders are using such fear as a weapon of intimidation to excuse and disguise their misbehavior as necessary for the service of Sri Sri Guru Gauranga.
Are all devotees ananya bhak, unalloyed devotees? Or, just a certain group of leaders, who apply the stamp to themselves while leaving others defenseless against charges of impropriety?
“I heard a phrase in English from Srila Guru Maharaja, “The rank is but the guinea-stamp, man is the gold for that.” Actually an institution or sampradaya is like the guinea-stamp but the real value is to be found in the quality of the gold—wherever it is to be found—otherwise only in its own particular country will the value certified by the guinea-stamp be given.”—Divine Guidance
We should be careful about giving away too much of our discriminating thought to a group of ecclesiastical leaders:
The service of the spiritual master is essential. If there is no chance to serve the spiritual master directly, a devotee should serve him by remembering his instructions. There is no difference between the spiritual master’s instructions and the spiritual master himself. In his absence, therefore, his words of direction should be the pride of the disciple. If one thinks that he is above consulting anyone else, including a spiritual master, he is at once an offender at the lotus feet of the Lord. Such an offender can never go back to Godhead. It is imperative that a serious person accept a bona fide spiritual master in terms of the sastric injunctions. Sri Jiva Gosvami advises that one not accept a spiritual master in terms of hereditary or customary social and ecclesiastical conventions. One should simply try to find a genuinely qualified spiritual master for actual advancement in spiritual understanding.—CC, Adi 1.36
In the absence of our gurus we should concentrate with even greater attention on their instructions.
“Religion without philosophy is sentiment or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation. The ultimate goal is Krsna.”—Bg 3.3
Prabhupada: There are certain class of men who are simply philosophizing and there are certain class of men who are simply blindly following religious ritualistic process. So Bhagavad-gita is combination of both. That is scientific. You should be religious, but should understand everything philosophically. Otherwise one becomes fanatic, religious fanatic. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is clearly said that caitanyera dayara katha karaha vicara. You people, you try to understand the gifts of Caitanya Mahaprabhu by your philosophical understanding. Not blindly, philosophically. And vicara karile citte paibe camatkara. If you are actually a wise man, then you’ll find it is sublime. And if you simply stick to your own religious ritualistic principles, don’t try to understand the philosophy of everything, then you become a fanatic. So we should not become religious fanatics, nor dry mental speculators. Both these classes of men are dangerous. They cannot make any advance. The combination. You should be religious, but try to understand each and every line philosophically.—BVS, Bhagavad-gita 3.1-5 — Los Angeles, December 20, 1968
Srila Swami Maharaja writes about the importance of following his guru’s directions in his dedication to Srimad Bhagavatam, “He lives forever by his divine instructions and the follower lives with him.”
Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s Bhagavad Gita commentary is very helpful in understanding the meaning of ananya bhak:
“But if for My interest anyone takes the risk of committing sin, then he should be considered the best among all My devotees. So, Arjuna, you go and declare it, promise it to the public that the ananya-bhak (9.30), the exclusively devoted persons, will never come to ruin.”
Are we to think there is no difference between sin committed for one’s sense gratification and sin committed in the service of Bhagavan?
If there was no difference, then all fallen souls would be ananya bhak devotees, Sri Rupa’s instruction “…jihva-vegam udaropastha-vegam…” would be meaningless, and everyone could be considered dhirah (sober) and thereby “qualified to make disciples all over the world”.
vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam
etan vegan yo visaheta dhirah
sarvam apimam prthivim sa sisyat
vacah — of speech; vegam — urge; manasah — of the mind; krodha — of anger; vegam — urge; jihva — of the tongue; vegam — urge; udara-upastha — of the belly and genitals; vegam — urge; etan — these; vegan — urges; yah — whoever; visaheta — can tolerate; dhirah — sober; sarvam — all; api — certainly; imam — this; prthivim — world; sah — that personality; sisyat — can make disciples.
A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.—NoI: verse 1
How is ananyabhajana defined?
But one who is engaged in the Lord’s exclusive devotion, ananyabhajana, has been defined by the Lord in His own words, sarvadharman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja: “My exclusive devotee is he who gives up all phases of duties (sarvadharman) and surrenders to My feet, accepting only his duty to Me.“
One who is an ananya bhak devotee may commit sinful acts due to a service necessity. We should hold such devotees in the highest esteem knowing the motivation which compels them to transcend moral or shastric injunctions is unalloyed devotion to the Supreme Lord.
Some examples of such ananya bhak devotees, and their apparant transgressions are: Krishna’s gopis- infidelity to their husbands, Yudhishtira- lied, Parasara Muni- lusty behavior, begot Vyasadeva without marriage.
Does the wearing of tilak on one’s forehead give him carte blanche to do anything and everything in the name of ananya bhak?
Is a reasoned critique of one’s Godbrother’s or Godsister’s deviation from their guru’s direction, Vaishnava aparadha?
Our gurus made such criticisms of their Godbrothers. Are they aparadhis?
“Then Guru Maharaja gave some proposal. “Vasudeva Prabhu leave his acharya post. He is Vaishnava, no doubt. And it is not fault, so much fault. But this is fault for one acharya. This is point. Then he leave acharya post.”—Srila Govinda Maharaja
Does the above considered opinion of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, mean he was violating his own insinuation of hypocrisy (below), and that Srila Gurudeva also implicated himself by repeating it?
“’Why should this disqualified man get any grace? Why should he get some mercy and affection?’ that is hypocrisy in us, …It is suicidal.”—SGD Vol. II
But Guru Maharaja didn’t say Vasudeva shouldn’t get any grace, he said he shouldn’t sit in the seat of an acharya. This is an important distinction.
If a child molester is wearing the garb of an acharya, should he be shielded by the “devotees” cries of “Ananya bhak! Ananya bhak!” and, be further encouraged by their continuing to funnel him new disciples, victims and money for his support?
I can hear the din already, “Well, of course we would never tolerate that. How absurd.”
“Devotees” in other Missions have already shown their willingness to do this. Unfortunately, some of ours will also. The signs are already present. There will always be “religious fanatics.” Are you one of them?
It is better to be fanatics to our guru’s directions than an ecclesiastical committee.
Where should the line be drawn, and who will draw that line, demarcating how far the deviation can go before withdrawing support?
Here is where Srila Sridhara Maharaja drew the line:
“Some private letters of Vasudeva Prabhu, suspicion, carrying suspicion to his character, very clearly. Anyhow, that came to light. And some of us could not tolerate that. That the acharya will have such a black spot. We are taking money and men, money and specially men to one who will have such suspicious character, black spot. We could not tolerate that.” — Srila Sridhara Maharaja, 82.11.18.C_82.11.19.A @33:27
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Polluted and perverted use of Gaudiya Siddhanta to promote deviation, deception and deceit, should be exposed to the sunlight of our gurus’ instructions, philosophy and scriptures.
If we do not read the books and listen to the directions given by our gurus, and discuss them openly, from different angles of vision, we open ourselves to the exploitation of charlatans with tilak who may do anything and everything in the name of ananya bhak, exclusive devotion to the Lord. These impostors, acting in the guise of ananya bhaks do not transcend morality to serve the Lord’s devotees, they pervert morality to exploit the naive and innocent.
If we detect such acts, we should consult with others, especially senior devotees who we consider to be reliable and responsible, to see if they concur with our opinion. If they do, we should take appropriate steps to safeguard the dignity of our guru’s Mission. His Mission is the exposition and practice of his precepts.
If protecting our guru’s name and reputation requires public exposure of those who are set on a course to defame them, then, in the spirit of ananya bhak we should do so with all our might. That is our duty to our guru, to protect his exalted reputation, position and dignity.
After we have done our job, we can leave it to Sri Krishna to decide who are His real ananya bhak devotees. That is His job.
“It is not such an easy thing to commit Vaisnava-aparadha. It is aparadha if some offence is made to a Vaisnava, but if a clash comes with an anartha in a middle-class Vaisnava causing him to become angry, that will not produce any offense.”—Holy Engagement
Use common sense. And, if you have none, consult with others.—BVS, Letter to: Vidya — Vrindaban 25 October, 1976
In the service of the Lord’s devotees,
Swami B.K. Giri