The importance of appreciating the Vaisnava.

By Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev-Goswami Maharaj

vaisnavera guna-gana karile jivera trana
suniyachhi sadhu-guru-mukhe

It has been broadly advertised that if we can sing in praise of the Vaisnava, then we can have higher promotion in the line of devotion. It is easy to praise and sing songs or poems written about the Supreme Lord, but it is difficult to praise—to be able to really praise—the servitors of the Absolute. The possibility of jealousy (matsarata) comes to interfere: “He is a man. I am of the same status. Why should I submit to him?” This sort of pratistha, egoism, opposes and hinders us, to call a spade a spade.

Nirmatsaranam satam [“Bhagavat-dharma is only for sadhus who are non-envious”]. The Lord also says, “If you are My devotee, then you are not really a devotee of Mine, but if you are devotee of My devotee, then you are My real devotee.” Jealousy has its test there. Nirmatsaranam satam. We may not naturally have any competitive position in comparison with the Supreme Lord, but a competitive superiority complex possibly comes in the case of the Vaisnava: “I can’t submit to them. It is difficult.” But when we are really captured and conquered by the svarup-sakti, the yogamaya of Krishna, then the realistic view comes within us; it grows naturally with the development of our own purification, of our own progress: “I am nothing, but he is everything. He is a Vaisnava, a Guru. Guru and Vaisnava really hold Krishna-bhakti. They are the stockists; I am empty handed. I have nothing.” This is the nature of the association between the finite and the Infinite.

As much as we shall have a real approach towards the Infinite, so much so we cannot but consider ourselves to be the meanest of the mean.The standard, the measurement of Vaisnavata [one’s development as a Vaisnava] is in this way.  It is not lip-deep; it is the sincere feeling of the innermost heart. When Kaviraj Goswami says, “Purisera kita haite muni se laghistha: [‘I am lower than a worm in stool’]”, this is not mere imitation. It is his heartfelt truth.

Acharya-abhiman is different. It is assertion only for the service of the Vaisnava. So, sincerity is maintained there. It is assertion, but it is not selfish assertion; it is assertion only to save the public and save the prestige of the Vaisnava in reality. So, that is proper adjustment with reality in two senses: (1) to establish the real position of a Vaisnava, and (2) to save the ordinary person from false attempts and false thoughts. Saving others from such dangers and their reactions is a sort of assertion, but it is not egoistic. Rather, it is sacrifice in the dynamic sense. We are to consider this.

At the Visva Vaisnava Raja Sabha, our Guru Maharaj tactfully managed by asking one of his disciples to speak something in praise of another, to perform guna-gan, express appreciation. Especially his disciples who were a little antagonistic towards one another, he asked, “Speak something in praise of your friend.” Why? To try to mark the bright side, the svarup, and ignore the apparent side. He would order, “Say something in praise of your friend, whom you consider, apparently, to be your opponent.” Necessity is the mother of invention, and when someone has to speak something in praise of another, he has to dive deep into the bright side of the person and bring that out. Thereby, the Vaisnava layer is aroused, and the apparent, the mayic side, is ignored. So, kirtan is powerful. Why? When I am requested to speak something, I cannot but utilise my highest, best attention. In kirtan, we have to assert ourselves to the best of our ability in our attempt to gather and say something. As we do this for the Lord, so also we must do this in the case of the Vaisnava.  The svarup, the inner side, the inner aspect, the bright side should be appreciated, and the apparent side ignored. By doing this, you will thrive. Through this, the real relationship between two Vaisnavas will be aroused. This was the practice of our Guru Maharaj, especially at the Visva Vaisnava Raja Sabha in Mahaprabhu’s Dham. He had his seat there, and this was his method: to try to praise the Vaisnava, try to appreciate the nobility of a Vaisnava. It is difficult, but if we can do so, then we can reach the proper standard of devotion and dedication, to a certain extent.

The Lord has said, “One who loves Me does not love Me really, but one who loves My devotees, My servitors—their love for Me is more real. It is of true, absolute character.” So, we shall try to appreciate the character and conduct of the Vaisnava, and thereby we can raise the standard of our own life of dedication.


Spoken on 30 April 1982.