“Only the Supreme Lord Himself or His empowered representative can possibly free us from confinement in this dark well. Under their guidance we can come to know of the limitless ocean of the spiritual sky.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Renunciation Through Wisdom, Ch 2.7)
Friend1: Have you noticed that in the online community, those people who are supposedly following Vaishnava principles, engaged in bhakti-yoga and the sort, seem to spend all of their time arguing?
Friend2: I have not. What are the disagreements over?
Friend1: If I listed everything, we would be here for a week.
Friend2: Give me a sampling.
Friend1: What kinds of food can be offered to the deity. Whether or not to be online and speaking about Bhagavad-gita. Which version of the book we should read. Did man really go to the moon. Is the earth round or flat. The origin of the jiva.
Friend2: You don’t think these are important issues to resolve?
Friend1: Honestly, I don’t. That is going to sound controversial; I get that.
Friend2: What is important to you, then?
Friend1: Serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. Chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Reading sacred texts. Staying near the guru, who is accessible through their recorded words, both spoken and written. Vani is more important than vapu. The instruction carrying their presence more so than the physical association.
Friend2: That sounds like a pretty good life to me.
Friend1: I know. That’s why I don’t get the arguing thing.
Friend2: People may come across challenges in their devotional life. That’s why they feel the need to speak up. Preacher training.
Friend1: I get it if someone sincerely asks a question about some topic. But I don’t see the need to constantly be on the offensive. I’d rather hear Krishna-katha. I don’t think Bhagavan really cares where you stand on any of these issues.
Friend2: What proof do you have to support that claim?
Friend1: Look at Bhishmadeva. He was fighting for the wrong side, the Kauravas. He made a huge mistake in not defending Draupadi when she was about to be disrobed in the assembly. Duryodhana challenges his allegiance during the hostilities. I mean the guy could be criticized from every side.
Friend2: Right, but he is considered one of the mahajanas. He is an authority on devotional service. You can’t go wrong following his example.
Friend1: Precisely, and yet he was wrong in the mundane sense several times. At the end, he thought of Krishna. He merged into Narayana while lying on the battlefield, his body filled with arrows. He wasn’t arguing over the origin of the jiva. He wasn’t concerned over convincing the foolish Kauravas to correct their ways.
Friend2: Hmm, but he did lecture Yudhishthira Maharaja on dharma, on how to rule a kingdom. There is plenty of valuable information to be found in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata.
Friend1: Yes, and many of those teachings fall into the category of duality, meaning that they can be argued on the other side. Lying is bad, but sometimes it’s okay. To cheat is against dharma, but sometimes you have to do it.
Friend1: Anyway, that wasn’t his principal focus. That is all I am saying. I think it is better to not spend so much time arguing these issues. Let the like-minded congregate and work as a strong, unified force. Combined together the mutual devotional efforts will become stronger, not weaker.
Friend2: Can’t argue against that, no pun intended. As long as we are individuals, there has to be disagreements. The idea is to not let them become distractions in the bigger picture, for meeting the highest objective.