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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Whether a Vaisnava is in the category of a mukta purusa, siddha, uttama, madhyama, or kanishta, all Vaisnavas do the following:

* Accepts Gopala mantra diksa from a qualified Guru

*Daily worship Sri Krishna

*Daily chant a fixed number of Sri Krishna’s names on mala

*Eat only Krishna prasadam

*Cultivate the four religious principles of truth, mercy, purity and penance

*By following four daily regulative principles:

  1. eat only pure vegetarian foods & NO onions, garlic, eggs, vinegar etc.;
  2. avoid wine, liquor, drugs, cigarettes and all intoxicants;
  3. don’t play lotteries, cards, bridge, slot machines, gambling, etc;
  4. don’t intimately mix with men and women outside marriage;

*Daily serve Sri Hari, Sri Guru and Vaisnavas

*Never offend sadhus or devotees with thoughts, words, actions

*Always behave like a pure Vaisnava

*Display humility, respect and compassion towards all living entities.

If one does not exhibit these qualities and activities, he or she is not a Vaisnava. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Sri Sanatana Goswami and all of us about correct Vaisnava behavior.

asat-sanga-tyaga- ei- vaisnava –acara,
stri- sanga- eka asadhu, krishna- abhakta- ara

“A Vaisnava should always give up and reject the association of materialists; women exploiting men; the unsaintly and the non-devotees.” (Caitanya Caritamrita 2.22.87)

Pure Vaisnava sadhu sanga ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

 

About anyone who is even slightly inclined to Krishna bhakti, we often hear people say, “O, this person is a good devotee, a nice Vaisnava!”

But exactly how does one define who is and who is not a Vaisnava, a “devotee”? The correct and most authoritative answer to this question is found in the sacred texts of our Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition. By reading and understanding these passages, one can then accurately determine who is a Vaisnava.

  1. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:

“A Vaisnava is one who rejects the association of materialistic people (asat-sanga tyaga), the unsaintly (asadhu), and those not devoted to Bhagavan Sri Krishna (krishna abhakta)” (Cc. 2.22.87)

  1. Sri Kapila Muni:

One is a sadhu Vaisnava if he/she is:

  1. Tolerant.
  2. Merciful to all living entities.
  3. Not inimical toward anyone.
  4. Follows rules of scripture.
  5. Peaceful. (SB 3.25.21)

 

  1. Sri Sanatana Goswami:

Simplest definition of a Vaisnava:

“The wise have determined that a Vaisnava is one who is initiated into a Vishnu [Krishna] mantra and engaged in the worship of Sri Vishnu [Krishna, Rama, Nrsimha].” All others are known as non-Vaisnavas. (Hari Bhakti Vilasa 1.55)

 

A Vaisnava is one who meets these criteria;

  1. DIKSHA: has received Krishna mantra diksha from Sri Guru.
  2. SEVA: dedicated to serving Sri Krishna.
  3. EKADASHI: follows Ekadashi vrata without fail.
  4. BALANCED MIND: is equipoised toward all living beings.
  5. MAINTAINS VAISNAVA BEHAVIOR: follows Vaisnava niyamas and sadachara. (HBV 2.12.338-340):

 

III. Sri Jiva Goswami:

PREMA: “The greatness of a Vaisnava depends on the amount of Krishna prema.” (Bhakti Sandarbha 187)

  1. Srila Prabhupada:

“A devotee is one who is always pleasing Krishna. He has no other business. That is a devotee.” (folio: PQPA 5)

In summary, a Vaisnava is one who is devoted to seeing, serving, pleasing, loving and living eternally with the Absolute Supreme Person, GOD—Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Rama, Vishnu.

A Vaisnava is a devotee, and a devotee is one who cares for God, and is loyal to Sri Guru, Sri Hari and the Vaisnavas. A devotee is committed, determined, dedicated and steady in serving and pleasing Sri Krishna with deep feelings of attachment and mine-ness. A devotee genuinely feels, “I belong to Krishna and Krishna is mine.”

A true devotee feels his loving Lord’s presence everywhere, and he/she shows sweet affection to all, big and small, from an ant to a President.

A devotee adores and worships his/her beloved Sri Krishna with great enthusiasm, attentively offering everything available at every moment throughout the day and night.

Vaisnava sadhu sanga ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

One day Sri Chaitanyadeva sat with Sri Sanatana Goswami and told him about the 26 qualities of a Vaisnava. (Cc. 2.22.78-80) Mahaprabhu mentioned daksha, being expert, as one of them.

In Bhagavad-gita (12.16), Sri Krishna said, “My Priya bhakta is expert, daksha mad bhakta priya.” In the tikas to this verse, Sridhara Swami says daksha means a devotee is not lazy. Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushana says a devotee is expert in discussing and understanding shastra, and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti is mum.

Often when preaching to his disciples, Srila Prabhupada said or wrote, “A devotee is expert in all things.” But what exactly does it mean that a devotee is “expert”?

Due to the limitations of one’s individual karma and culture, it is next to impossible for any one person to be “expert in everything.” Srila Prabhupada’s statements about being expert are meant to insure quality and precision in all sevas offered to Radha Govinda Yugala.

So being expert means trying always to improve the quality and devotional content of every service you render for the pleasure of Sri Hari, Sri Guru and the Vaisnavas. Being expert means being attentive, careful, caring and on time. One becomes expert in anything by prayer, practice, association, study, and most importantly by the mercy and sanction of Bhagavan Sri Krishna.

A simple, sincere, pure-hearted devotee should not, due to his limitations, feel bad or inferior, thinking, “O, I am not a good devotee because I can’t do many things. All I can do is chant Hare Krishna, read about Krishna and worship Krishna. I don’t know cooking, singing, preaching, playing mrdanga and harmonioum. In fact, I can’t even play karatals!”

Don’t worry, you are perfectly fine! In fact, you are an “expert devotee” and what could be better than that. In Gita (18.65), Krishna says, “I promise you that you will attain pure love for Me and perfection in human life if you simply always think of, worship and bow down to Me!”

In the following passage, giving a more liberal explanation of the term “expert”, Srila Prabhupada acknowledges that devotees do have their limitations and personal abilities. No one is perfect but Bhagavan Sri Krishna. And this definiton will suit most all classes and enable everyone to become an “expert” in devotional service.

Srila Prabhupada said, “Expert means whatever he is doing, he must do it very nicely to his best knowledge. To your best talent and capacity, try to finish it very nicely, whatever it may be.

“If you think that you are unable to do that work, then whatever work you can do, you take. But do it nicely. That is expert. Don’t imitate, [thinking] ‘Oh, I have no capacity to work in that way, but I want to imitate. Oh, he is doing that. I shall do that.’ Don’t do that. That is not expert. You take up what you can do very nicely and do it nicely.

“Just like Arjuna, he was not a Vedantist, a brahmana or a sannyasi. He was householder military man. But he knew his business, how to do it nicely. So you do your business nicely. That is expert. Do it nicely and Krishna is satisfied. And that is your success.” (BBT folio 680716rc.mon)

Be in expert for Sri Krishna ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!