Three Criticisms Devotees Don’t Mind Hearing

[Goswami Tulsidas]“Knowers of the Vedas deride me as someone who simply holds a japa mala. Jnanis tell me that I am without knowledge, that I don’t know how to even perform rituals. Giving up the three paths, Tulsi humbly approaches Shri Rama’s door.” (Dohavali, 99)

karama।tha ka।thamaliyā kahaiṃ gyānī gyāna bihīna |
tulasī tripatha bihāi go rāma duāreṃ dīna ||

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The Supreme Personality of Godhead is above the three modes of material nature. When He appears the form visible before the eyes is sometimes described as saguna. Literally translating this Sanskrit word, the meaning is “with qualities.”

Gunas typically refer to material qualities, belonging to the categories of goodness, passion or ignorance. Gunas also refer to ropes, and the two meanings are linked. Material qualities are binding; they keep a person tied to the cycle of birth and death.

Gunas are also a factor in determining a person’s varna, or occupation. When Bhagavan in the original form of Shri Krishna descended to this earth, adversaries sometimes had a difficult time determining His varna. In youth Krishna lived in the farm community of Vrindavana, where He tended to the calves. In adulthood He was the king of Dvaraka, the city of gates in the sea. Krishna’s foster parents were in the vaishya varna, while the birth parents were from the kshatriya group.

[Krishna with cows]As a way to put Krishna down enemies would sometimes make fun of Him for having tended to animals when He was younger. Others would declare that Krishna was crooked since His occupation couldn’t be determined. Though criticisms, these were actually tremendous compliments, pointing to the transcendental nature of the delight of mother Yashoda. In a similar manner, those trying to become servants of Krishna don’t mind hearing certain criticisms.

1. You’re not properly building karma

One way to advance materially is to follow karma. This Sanskrit word has several different meanings, but all relate to work. Karma can mean prescribed work, those things which should be done for advancing further. The phala, or fruits, from karma may not arrive until another lifetime.

The devotee doesn’t mind hearing this criticism since they are not interested in karma. The goal is release from the cycle of birth and death. Whether high or low, rich or poor, tall or short, the only desire is to continue in service.

2. You are lacking proper jnana

Another option is the path of jnana. This is especially suited for the human being, who has a higher potential for intelligence. Not just jnana about anything, gain knowledge specifically about the difference between matter and spirit and everything incorporated within that discipline of study.

The devotee of Krishna is not so interested in jnana. They understand that God is a person, that He is the supreme proprietor, that He is everyone’s best friend, and that He should be served with love and devotion. What else is required?

3. You are not meditating properly

Saints like Goswami Tulsidas carry a japa mala with them. This is a string of beads, used specifically for reciting the holy names, like those found in the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

The person who is into meditation may consider this to be a waste of time. They seek proper meditation, as defined by the goal of merging into the spiritual energy and diminishing the influence of the inhibiting material body.

Devotees don’t mind hearing this criticism since the japa mala is there to help them stay connected to God. Tulsidas remains a surrendered soul, in a poor state, at the gate of Shri Rama, who is the same Krishna but appearing slightly differently.

[Goswami Tulsidas]These criticisms are actually compliments, showing that achievements in material life are no longer considered important. Those goals are something like winning the lottery in a dream; the experience is real but nothing will last. Devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is supported by the strong arm of Shri Rama, and so it is like an eternal wish-fulfilling tree, ready to give the servant infinite opportunities for service, continuing into every future lifetime.

In Closing:

That strong arm with bow to see,
Acting like wish-fulfilling tree.

For bhaktas humbly at the door,
Getting chance for service more.

That others to criticize problem not,
Since not proper understanding got.

From the material disinterested evasion,
On service to Rama now the concentration.

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