The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: One should neither praise nor criticize the conditioned nature and activities of other persons. Rather, one should see this world as simply the combination of material nature and the enjoying souls, all based on the one Absolute Truth.
Srimad Bhagavatam (11.28.1-2)
We find this instruction of “not glorifying and not criticizing” in various parts of the sastras and must be understood well.
In fact, the neophyte devotees have the tendency to easily go from one extreme to another, and that is to go from glorifying everything and everyone to stop doing it altogether, or to criticize everyone to stop criticizing even where an objective observation would be useful.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that the good or bad qualities of every conditioned soul are due to the result of the influences of the material nature and therefore the person is not directly identifiable with them, but only indirectly.
Consequently he is not glorificable or criticizable because his personal good or bad characteristics are only temporary incidents of the journey in this world, just like the physical body.
The mentality of an sage can be defined as “dhira”, which means sober, stable, undisturbed. The opposite of a sage is one who lets himself be carried away by the waves of emotions (adhira).
Our emotion, citra-jalpa, crazy discourses, which in the jargon of devotees is called sentimentalism, leads us to accept unreal things, just for the pleasure of feeling an emotion. So we sacrifice the truth in exchange for a momentary pleasure.
Let’s do an example to understand better and earlier:
A devotee, whose life was not an example of perfection, leaves the body surrounded by devotees or in a holy place. It is often seen that many dwell in glorifications such as “he certainly returned to participate in the pastimes of Radha and Krishna” or that “he finally returned to serve Srila Prabhupada”.
This is an example of citra-jalpa which becomes prajalpa.
We can not know where this jiva it will go and even an auspicious death can’t guarantee the return to Krishna, which depends exclusively on Guru-kripa and Krishna-kripa. Only a personality of the level of a great Acarya or a divine personality can establish with certainty a person’s destination.
The moment we take the responsibility to tell the world that “he has returned to Krishna” we are saying that we are divine personalities with great mystical powers. Or we are confessing to the world that we like to talk abouth things we don’t know.
Therefore, while we can appreciate the mode of the departure of this devotee and hope to leave in the same way, we can not declare what we do not know. This is called anrita, a lie. Lying is a serious obstacle to spiritual life, both for ourselves and for others.
People who read those glorifications or see that we dedicate to them a samadhi, and things like that, and at the same time know that his life was not perfect, he will think that we do not have the sense of reality and that we either lie for some reason or that we want to enjoy our emotions.
Every person is glorificable, everyone has something that we can appreciate, but we must learn to give the right glorifications to the right people. To say “a divine personality” to Srila Prabhupada is right, to say “a divine personality” to another without us knowing if it’s true or not, is wrong.
As for the criticisms, we must stigmatize the errors but it is not necessary to criticize the one who committed them.
Like a physical body, even the subtle body, where these qualities and defects are present, is temporary and not identifiable with our true self. So glorifying or criticizing one is like saying “you are this body”.
Unless of course we have a position of spiritual authority to this devotee and then we can intervene to help him perfect himself.
(A quick parenthesis. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura explains to us in Jaiva Dharma that there are 10 types of citra-jalpa, which are: 1 prajalpa, 2 parijapita, 3 vijalpa, 4 ujjalpa, 5 sanjalpa, 6 avajalpa, 7 abhijalpa, 8 ajalpa, 9 pratijalpa, and 10 sujalpa.We will clarify them one by one another time.)
– Manonatha Dasa (ACBSP)
December 20, 2018