What is The Eternal & Constitutional Function of The Jiva/Soul?
Extracted From Jaiva-dharma, By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur
Chapter “Eight”
Nitya-dharma & Vaisnava Behavior
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Chapters 9 – 25 are Work In Progress

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Segment 74
Question: “Do the descendants of Vaisnavas deserve any special regard?”

Honor is due for those who are actually Vaisnavas.  If the descendants of Vaisnavas are pure Vaisnavas, they should be honored in proportion to their advancement in bhakti.

Question: “What if the descendant of a Vaisnava is only a worldly man?”

Then he should be considered as a worldly man and not as a Vaisnava; he should not be honored as a Vaisnava.  One should always remember the instruction given by Sriman Mahaprabhu (Siksastaka 3): 

One can chant sri-hari-nama in a humble state of mind, thinking himself more insignificant than the straw in the street and more tolerant than the tree.One should be devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all Respects to others.  In such a state of mind, one can chant sri- hari-nama constantly.

One should be free from pride and should offer appropriate respect to others.  One should offer Vaisnavas the respect due to a Vaisnava, and he should offer those who are not Vaisnavas the respect that befits any human being.  If one does not offer respect to others, he does not acquire the necessary qualification to chant sri-nama.

Question: “How can one be free from pride?”

One should not proudly think, ”I am a brahmana,” ”I am wealthy,” ”I am a learned scholar,” ”I am a Vaisnava,” or ”I have renounced family life.” People may well offer respect because one has such qualities, but one should not want to be honored by others out of such egoistic pride.  One should always think oneself to be worthless, insignificant, destitute, and lower than a blade of grass.

Question:  It seems from this that one cannot be a Vaisnava without humility and compassion?.

That is quite true.

Question: “Then does Bhakti-devi depend on humility and compassion?”

No, bhakti is completely independent.  Bhakti is the personification of beauty and she is the supreme ornament; she does not depend on any other good quality.  Humility and compassion are not separate qualities, but are included within bhakti.  “I am a servant of Krishna,” “I am destitute,” “I have nothing,” “Krishna is my allin- all‚” – the bhakti that is expressed in these attitudes is itself humility (dainya).

The tenderness of heart experienced towards Krishna is known as bhakti.  All other jivas are servants of Krishna, and tenderness of heart towards them is compassion (daya).  Therefore, compassion is included within bhakti.

Ksama (forgiveness) is the bhava situated between humility and compassion. 

Question: “When I am so wretched and insignificant myself, how can I inflict punishment upon others?”

When this attitude is combined with compassion, forgiveness automatically appears.  Forgiveness is also included in bhakti.

Krishna is satya, real.  The fact that the jivas are servants of Krishna is also real, as is the fact that the material world is only a boarding house for the jivas.  That means that bhakti is also real, because these truths are based on the jivas’ relationship with Krishna, which is itself bhakti.  Truth, humility, compassion, and forgiveness are four special qualities that are included in bhakti.

Question: “How should a Vaisnava behave towards the followers of other religions?”

The instruction of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.26) is:

Those who are free from the propensity to slander others and who are fully peaceful worship Sri Narayana and His plenary portions.

There is no dharma other than vaisnava-dharma.  All other dharmas that are or ever will be propagated in the world are either steps on the staircase of vaisnava-dharma, or else distortions of it.  Those dharmas that are steps leading to bhakti should be respected in proportion to their degree of purity.  One should not bear any malice towards dharmas that are distortions of bhakti, but one should focus exclusively on the cultivation of one’s own devotional truths.  One should not maintain any animosity towards the followers of other religions.  When the time is ripe, the followers of various other dharmas will become Vaisnavas easily.  Of this there is no doubt.

Question: “Is it our duty to preach Vaisnava dharma or not?”

Certainly it is.  Our Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has given everyone the responsibility of spreading this dharma Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila (7.92):

 Dance, sing, and perform sankirtana in the association of bhaktas.  You should deliver everyone by instructing them to chant sri-Krishna-nama.

 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila (9.36)

Therefore, I am ordering everyone to distribute the fruits of prema wherever they go and to whomever they meet.

However, one must remember not to give sri-Krishna-nama to unqualified people.  Such people should first be given the necessary qualification; only then can they be given hari-nama.   Furthermore, these statements of Sriman Mahaprabhu do not apply when neglect (upeksa) is appropriate, for instance, when dealing with inimical people.   Trying to enlighten such people only presents obstacles to one’s preaching.



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“Click” : Here for “Links” to Other “What is the Eternal & Constitutional Function of the Jiva/Soul : Chapter Menus & Audio Playlists

Chapters 9 – 25 are Work In Progress

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