The real meaning of Vaisnava aparadha


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 32, Summer 2011

The standard knee-jerk response to BTP from the guru hoaxers and their followers is that its contents constitute "Vaisnava aparadha", or the committing of offenses or blasphemy against a devotee. In this article, we analyse what Vaisnava aparadha actually is.


The issue of Vaisnava aparadha is very important, since offending or blaspheming a Vaisnava will result in one being unable to progress in devotional service:

"While instructing Srila Rupa Gosvami about the many restrictive rules and regulations for Vaisnavas, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has very vividly described the effects of offenses at the lotus feet of a Vaisnava. Yadi vaisnava-aparadha uthe hati mata. Offending or blaspheming a Vaisnava has been described as the greatest offense, and it has been compared to a mad elephant."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, 3.213, purport)

"If one commits vaisnava-apa-radhas, all of his progress in devotional service will be checked."
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.21.37, purport)

Considering the importance of this subject, it is surprising that there is very little knowledge regarding what actually constitutes Vaisnava aparadha, other than that it's a useful term to use when one wishes to silence someone.


Srila Prabhupada always speaks about blasphemy in terms of making false, not truthful, statements:

"So Krsna says in two ways that "If you don't fight, then your enemies will blaspheme you." Avacya-vadams ca vadisyanti bahun. "They'll concoct, manufacture some blasphemy against you."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 4/9/1973)

"Another story fabricated to defame Srila Jiva Gosvami states [...] This story is another ignominious example of blasphemy against a guru and Vaisnava. Such a story should never be accepted as authoritative."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, 10.85, purport)

"But none of them falsely claim to be God themselves. This is a blasphemy declared by the asuras, and the demoniac followers of such asuras also accept pretenders as God or His incarnation."
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.2.16, purport)

"Sometimes some foolish people interpret Nityananda as expansion of Radharani, but that is not the fact. Nityananda is Balarama. We have to know from mahajana. We cannot manufacture our own idea. That is blasphemy, sahajiya. Yata mat tata pat."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 26/3/1975)

"But you cannot show the full magic, as Krsna displayed or Lord Ramacandra displayed. Therefore your claim as a full power is completely false and blasphemous."
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, 13/9/1976)

"As soon as one says, blasphemes, that "I am God. There is no God," immediately he should be very angry because he is preaching false things. He's blaspheming against the Supreme Lord, that he is making God as very cheap."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 14/9/1969)

"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu had heard rumors about Ramacandra Puri's blasphemy. Now He directly heard his fanciful accusations. [...] Ramacandra Puri could find no faults in the character of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, for He is situated in a transcendental position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. [...] He thus discovered imaginary faults in the Lord and then left."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, 8:50, purport)

This should be self-evident, otherwise, if speaking truthfully ever resulted in blasphemy or making offenses, then truth or dharma would itself be the greatest offender, which would mean dharma was adharma (irreligion), which is a contradiction. Indeed, even in one incident where actual blasphemy did occur, Lord Caitanya used the correct definition of blasphemy to try to pacify Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya:

"I brought You to my home just to have You blasphemed. This is a great offense. Please excuse me. I beg Your pardon."
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, "What Amogha has said is correct; therefore it is not blasphemy. What is your offense?"

(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 15.256-257)

Actual blasphemy

Since actual blasphemy is the making of false, not truthful, statements, we find that the current guru hoax — where unauthorised successors to Srila Prabhupada are falsely overestimated as being authorised, and Srila Prabhupada's orders are being disobeyed — constitutes real Vaisnava aparadha:

"The Lord herein confirms that if one is overestimated, glorification is just another form of blasphemy. In this way He protests this so-called offensive statement."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila,10.182)

"The most grievous type of vaisnava-aparadha is called guru-aparadha, which refers to offenses at the lotus feet of the spiritual master. In the chanting of the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, this guru-aparadha is considered the most grievous offense."
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.21.37, purport)

[refers to disobeying the orders of the spiritual master – one of the 10 offenses against the chanting of the holy name - Ed.]

"The devotee must therefore be very careful not to commit offenses against the spiritual master by disobeying his instructions."
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila, 19.156, purport)

Hence, rather than BTP committing Vaisnava aparadha, as some have assumed, the reality is the exact opposite: BTP is actually preventing others from committing the greatest type of Vaisnava aparadha to Srila Prabhupada by exposing the truth of the guru hoax and Srila Prabhupada's position. This is another example of how in Kali-yuga everything is upside down or topsy-turvy:

"Therefore, by the influence of the age of Kali, everywhere, politically, socially or religiously, everything is topsy-turvy, and therefore for the sane man it is all regrettable."
(Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1:16:22, purport)


Srila Prabhupada nicely encapsulates the conclusions above in the following statement:

"Apaisunam means that one should not find fault with others or correct them unnecessarily. Of course to call a thief a thief is not faultfinding, but to call an honest person a thief is very much offensive for one who is making advancement in spiritual life."
(Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 16:1-3, purport)

So it's not that speaking the truth is fault-finding, but rather the speaking of lies about someone, and it is this speaking of lies which is actually committing Vaisnava aparadha. Srila Prabhupada states:

"It is the duty of devotees not to tolerate blasphemy."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 3/2/1967)

Given the correct definition of what constitutes Vaisnava aparadha just presented, this means we cannot tolerate the guru hoax, or the lies which are being told about Srila Prabhupada and his false successors, or the disobedience against Srila Prabhupada's orders, and thus there is a necessity to preach against it. What it does not mean is that one must oppose the truth which is being told about the guru hoaxers. And if we are stating any lie about the guru hoaxers, we will happily print a retraction. But to date, no one has been able to produce any evidence for this.

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