Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Heart of a Vaisnava

"A devotee always appreciates the activities of other devotees. Yudhisthira Maharaj was appreciating the qualities of Prahlada, and that is the symptom of a pure devotee. A pure devotee never thinks of himself as great; he always thinks that other devotees are greater than himself. The King was thinking, 'Prahlada Maharaj is actually a devotee of the Lord, while I am nothing...'" (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter One)

This is the example taught to us by Srila Prabhupada. Although he did his utmost to spread Krsna consciousness worldwide, he was simultaneously the most humble. He would never claim credit for his success, but gave all credit to his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati: "If I have any credit in this connection, it does not belong to me personally, but it is due to my eternal spiritual master, His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj Prabhupada." (Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Preface)

Such humility is not a matter of personal preference or choice, limited to a few devotees here and there. Rather, it is a part of the surrendering process (trnad api sunicena) and is a direct result of spiritual advancement. In the 16th Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna explains that a godly man endowed with the divine nature is free from envy and the passion for honor (adroho natimanita). The qualities of arrogance, pride, anger, conceit, harshness, etc., are described as those born of the demonic nature, not conducive to liberation but to bondage. Devotees of Krsna are purified of these lower qualities by the process of devotional service (nasayamy atma-bhavastha). Therefore, genuinely advanced devotees will automatically exhibit all the good characteristics of the demigods (S.B. 5.18.12). The saintly qualities of a Vaisnava are proportionate to his spiritual advancement.

A progressive devotee not only develops humility, but he gradually attains all 26 qualities of a Vaisnava as described by Lord Caitanya in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 22. 78-80). These qualities are self-manifesting and cannot be acquired through external means. The spiritual fragrance of an advanced devotee is so attractive that by his very existence he is a preacher of Krsna consciousness. In fact, the whole world can be united by the presence of one pure devotee of the Lord.

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