“There is no possibility of one’s becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.16)
Friend1: There is that saying about telling the truth.
Friend2: Which saying?
Friend1: Where if you want to speak the truth, you should do so in a way that is palatable to others.
Friend2: Oh, for sure. You can consider that the original political correctness, though not exactly so.
Friend1: Well, you’re still telling the truth. I would think that is the main distinction. With the “pc” culture, you’re essentially lying to avoid the fire of criticism that would otherwise come your way.
Friend1: Which gets me to my topic for today. How should we handle people being offended at reading or hearing things from the acharyas?
Friend2: What things? You have to be more specific. And who is being offended?
Friend1: Let’s take the example of a newcomer. They open up Bhagavad-gita As It Is, which is the wonderful translation and commentary on the sacred text provided by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Friend2: Okay. I know for sure there is a lot to be offended by in there.
Friend1: So you know what I am getting at?
Friend2: Of course. I am not stupid.
Friend1: How to handle the issue, then?
Friend2: What is the issue? You’re worried about people being offended?
Friend1: It’s not the general reception I’m concerned with. I know that other books will always be more popular. The religion of “accept the savior blindly and you’re getting out of jail forever” will have more members than the one focusing on changing consciousness and keeping it pure up until the time of death.
Friend1: I guess I’d be bothered if the newcomer read something, got offended, and then closed the book. They moved on. It’s like they missed a golden opportunity, and they’re getting upset over nothing.
Friend2: Both of what you just said there are true. A real opportunity missed, and getting offended about something trivial.
Friend1: Let me ask you this. You didn’t get offended by anything when you were first starting out in Krishna consciousness?
Friend2: Are you kidding? I got offended by a ton of stuff. I would get so angry that I would close the book and start yelling at the author.
Friend1: No way? Over what kinds of things?
Friend2: I think the sleep one got me initially. Where you shouldn’t sleep too much, something like more than six hours. I thought it was ridiculous. I thought the commentator was just showing his old-man fussiness, trying to impose his preferences on everyone else.
Friend1: That’s funny.
Friend2: To be honest with you, I would hope someone would be offended by a lot when reading books like the Bhagavad-gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam. The teachings are basically saying that sense gratification is a waste of time. The comparison is made to animal life.
Friend1: And practically every person follows that path from birth.
Friend2: Exactly. If you are not offended it can only be due to one of two reasons. You are already situated on the platform of self-realization and understand that the teachings don’t apply to you. Or you have no genuine interest in spiritual life and are happily sticking with the bodily identification.
Friend1: Listen, I get what you are saying, but shouldn’t an effort be made to mollify the people that are hurt?
Friend2: What kind of effort?
Friend1: Maybe rephrase some of the sentences. Use different words.
Friend2: Hey, you are free to do that on your own. Just don’t touch the words of the acharyas. That is cheating. That is disrespectful. If you really accept their position as a representative of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then you will not ever think about doing such a thing.
Friend1: I get it. I’m not suggesting that. Even if they do change the words, at least they should be honest about it. Put footnotes or an acknowledgment at the beginning of the book about what has been changed.
Friend2: Right, and the names of the people making the edits. Anyway, trust me, if you stay the course you’ll soon see that the acharyas are correct. There is no reason to be offended because, by definition, any person who takes birth in the material world has at least a trace of sin in them. That is the meaning to material existence. When you start seeing yourself as a spirit soul, then these temporary designations no longer matter. You stop identifying with them and therefore stop taking praise or criticism to be meaningful.
Reading Vedas effort making,
At certain statements offense taking.
Women or demigod worship about,
Over sense gratification casting doubt.
Better not if the wording to change,
With consideration better to arrange?
In reality staying the course the key,
Soon wisdom of acharyas to see.