Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Delicate dealings

Now that the Loneliest Day has passed, I feel that an overwhelming burden of tension and anxiety has been lifted off my shoulders even though I still feel a little gloomy. I have no idea if this is a question of cultural conditioning or pure biological programming, but it seems that with every birthday that passes I experience a significant change in intellect and consciousness, which forces me to evaluate where I am at and what I need to do to progress.

I can't say that this has happened instantaneously this year, unlike other years, but I think I have got some direction on what to do, albeit very vague. Or on the other hand I feel like I am in cruise-control and I should not take control of the car just yet. In any case, it turns out that I should just continue with what I am doing; reading CB and enjoying it immensely.

The recent hoo-haa at GD yet again prompted me to think of the standards of Vaishnava relationships, and what standards they should adhere to. I find myself thinking about the friendly quarrels between Nityananda and Advaita Prabhus, and how poorly reflected that is among their followers in this day and age especially on GD. It is written somewhere in CB that these loving quarrels between Nityananda and Advaita brought pleasure to Gauranga Mahaprabhu and made Him smile. It is also stated how Nityananda and Advaita smiled and winked at each other. Such nice and affectionate dealings. The deep friendship that exists between Prem Gopal Gosvami and Radha-Vinod Thakur is also something to consider, their being familial representatives of Nityanand Prabhu and Dhananjay Pandit respectively. Such things set the example for Vaishnavas to follow.

It is also undeniable that there may be incidence where two or more individuals just do not get along no matter what. So how do we deal with such personality clashes in Gaudiya Vaishnavism? Too bad I am not a sociologist nor am I an expert in sastra to find some good quotes, but it is quite the dilemma. Gaudiya Vaishnavas having personality clashes? Surely not! Think of the offenses!! But how to resolve these?

A similar question or dilemma exists with the problem of fault-finding. I once read something by Gour Govinda Swami where he outlined the Vaishnava etiquette that is to be followed when faultfinding. What! There is a specific etiquette for faultfinding?? I can't remember it word-for-word and I can't seem to find the exact passage at this moment, but his general point of view was that the Vaishnava should be extremely humble and "completely devoid of the propensity to criticise others", and that if anyone should do any faultfinding it was the business of the Guru to chastise such an errant disciple. When further pressed, he said that if the incidence is extreme, then when there is no other avenue the Vaishnava must humbly approach the errant individual and say politely, "my dear devotee, what you are saying or doing is wrong and is not according to Vaishnava principles, so please kindly stop this."

In any case, there is a principle of humility and politeness to delicate Vaishnava dealings so as to avoid offences on both sides. And of course, this is to be done in private so as not to embarrass the supposedly errant fellow in public. Whaddya know?

It is also interesting how it was Advaita Prabhu who used to object to Nitai's behaviour most of the time. When I read that lila I laugh at Nitai's smiles and replies. Why is CB written so vividly? It is such a wonderful book to read. You are transported from your armchair into another dimension where all of these personalities are present and enacting their pastimes. You are sitting cross-legged on the floor in your dhoti in a corner somewhere and watching all of this. You may or may not be allowed to participate in anything as They see fit, but oi! How much fun will it be not to interrupt the scene with typical dunderheadedness and just watch the whole sweet thing unfold. Laugh with them, cry with them, dance with them, hear their voices and sing along to the melody of the Bengali verse.


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