To say, “I am the most fallen!” at an improper time or to an improper audience, and without genuine tears, in a casual way, is probably an imitation. It will likely be an attempt to impress others. There has to be a correct mood for such an expression, and it is usually private.
When someone expresses genuine “fallen” sentiments like Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur in his Gita-mala and other works, we should realise that these are private interactions between him and his Lord and master, Gopinatha. It is our good fortune that we can read them and try to enter the same mood, but not to copy them.
When Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur reveals his “fallen” feelings, there are usually accompanying spiritual emotions such as crying and so on. They are deep and meaningful emotions. We can benefit from the genuine nature of his outpourings because he has ruci and attachment for chanting the holy names of the Lord.
If any devotee claims to be the most fallen, but does not have a relish for continual chanting of the holy names of the Lord – kirtaniya sada harih – then the claim is probably false. We have to also see in what circumstances the “fallen” sentiments were uttered.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s feelings were meant for a qualified audience who can properly try to understand them. He is not on a mission to impress, because he knows that Sri Gopinatha already knows everything within his heart, even before putting pen to paper. If Sri Gopinatha is the most renounced person, then what claims of self-loathing and self-pity will attract Him?
Within our devotee social circles, devotees already should know that each of us feel dependent on the Lord and that Krishna is the ability for us. Still, we should not shy away from offering to serve the devotee community with the talents or acquired expertise at our disposal. If we know we are capable at certain things, we do it for Krishna’s pleasure.
Devotees do possess a sense of self-belief that enables them to function. Whereas devotees know that Guru and Krishna is the source of their spiritual services, people in general do not, relying on their own strengths and abilities. Can we imagine a devotee saying in public to such self-assertive people that he is the most fallen?
Naturally, self-assertive people will wonder about the mental condition of such a devotee. They will think he has no go, drive or self-belief, or is possibly depressed. A devotee’s deep sense of dependence on the Lord that can cause such helpless expressions is not easily understood by others.
There may be situations where a devotee might casually say, “I’m not qualified, or I am fallen…” when his demeanor indicates otherwise. In other words, we can trivialise the “fallen” sentiment and make it sloppy.
The real difference in how we feel as individuals, towards the Lord of our hearts, between genuine and false expression of fallen’ness, will be to what degree we are attached to chanting or not. Devotees will still naturally feel themselves unqualified, but it is better that it be commensurate with proper conditions for such expression.
We can poke fun at ourselves if we want to and say how we ourselves are partly-fallen or a little-fallen, which might be more accurate and true. But the “most fallen” epithet is reserved for the higher Vaishanavas – they mean what they say. For us to claim “most fallen” status without ruci and ashakti for Hari-nama would be silly now.
Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa
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