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Article by Upendranath Dasa 

The Komala and Madhyama Divide

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 Bhaktivinoda Thakura makes a distinction between two kinds of mindsets of two kinds of spiritual seekers, the komala shraddha and the madhyama adhikari. 

Bhaktivinoda Thakura makes a distinction between two kinds of mindsets of two kinds of spiritual seekers, the komala shraddha and the madhyama adhikari

In a nutshell, the komala shraddhas (those with tender faith) tend to be very literal and simplistic in their spirituality, cleaving to tradition and so forth.

And the madhyamas; well, they tend to require a rational basis for their beliefs. They find great appeal in statements such as

“Worships Me with his intelligence.”

They get inspiration from things such as:

“Speaks with logic and reason based on shastra (scripture), and has faith (shraddha) that is not blind”. 

Bhaktivinoda reckons that preaching that is inspiring to the komalas does not inspire the madhyamas, who find it somewhat infantile at least some of the time.  And preaching that is inspiring to the madhyamas, may ruin the faith of the komalas.  Moreover, Bhaktivinoda holds that most of the shastras and tikas (commentaries), etc. have been written for the komalas, or at least largely with them in mind. 

Now, both of these types of seekers are eligible for Krishna bhakti. Let us be clear on this point, and soon you will see Srila Prabhupada cite this very point. However, having said that; it should be understood that these two types are not equally eligible for bhakti. Again: The komala shraddha is not as eligible for bhakti as the madhyama.  Bhaktivinoda considers the madhyama on a better footing of eligibility than the komala shraddhas.

Hence his choice of “tender faith to classify them. 

However, at any given moment in time, the komalas invariably outnumber the madhyamas. And there is a tendency for them to think that because of numerical majority, they have a better take on eligibility. They filter philosophy so that they translate their simple faith into a virtue. They think:

“We do not believe in all this rationality and so forth. We already love Krishna so much. We already accept so many things in the shastra. We do not have all these doubts and questions.  We are fixed up”.

They speak, and quote the high-minded words of others, without an iota of realization, and would cut a comical figure if they were not so tragic in their skewered understanding.

Comical because they remind the madhyama of a child putting on his father’s shoes, coat and hat, and bumbling along trying to look, sound, and act as an adult, but ending up only as an amusement.

But they become tragic, because they are really stuck in that komala place. Soft faith. Whereas the madhyama attains firm faith because of understanding with clear logic and reason, based on the shastra. He has unshakable faith. 

Komalas tend to make a mess of the scriptural reasoning, in order to bolster their belief, their blind faith, which they also manage to convince themselves, is not at all blind, but the real thing.

One komala I know, upon reading about Bhaktivinoda’s classification of komala and madhyama, he said,  

“That was only in the early stage of his writings, later he gave this up”

The virtue of this argument is that it allowed the komala to remain content as a komala.  And to believe that later on Bhaktivinoda actually reversed his view on the komala/madhyama divide. 

Despite (or because of) this ability to twist their perceptions, Bhaktivinoda calls them persons of tender faith, komala shraddha.  

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