Vaisnava justice, thieves and transcendence

posted in: English

 

Question

Dear Maharaj,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to you for helping the condition souls like me.
Srila Prabhupada said call a thief a thief and there is no offense .
My best vaisnava friend is stealing from me when i diplomatically let her know i see her she gets offended.Since she is a good devotee and does nice service in the temple if i say the truth will i have to suffer reaction.?
How do you deal with this situation since offense to vaisnavas is #1offense.Should I pretend I didnt see her rascaldom.or should I let her know amd confront the situation without offending.?
Thank for your enlightingment
Navanita Taskara

 

Answer
Dear Mataji Navanita Taskara,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Excuse me if I take your question as a pretext to reflect on justice in a Vaisnava society. Probably part of what I’ll say will have nothing or little to do with your case.

Civilized societies settle these questions with a juidicial system. There is an investigation, then the two parties with their respective lawyers come in court to present their reasons to a judge and at the end we have a truth.
Of course if we see a person stealing we don’t need a judge to tell us that he is thief, but we can’t go around in society telling everybody “he is a thief” unless we have clear evidences. The result could be that we may end up being criticized as slanderers.

Unfortunately our movement is weak in this respect. Officially we have a ministry of justice but as far as I know isn’t working very well and certainly not everywhere.

It’s a shame because in my life I saw innocent people having their reputation ruined and even their spiritual lives destroyed. I also saw “devotees” guilty of very serious crimes sentenced with “5 years of not being able to give a class and lead a kirtana” when in what we call “materialistic society” they would have been thrown in jail for the rest of their lives.
Therefore I can only hope that future generations of Vaisnava will fix this problem so that devotees may have justice.

Now let’s come to you.

Let’s suppose that this devotee is actually a thief and is stealing from you. First you have to make sure that he/she can’t steal again from you. Then if you see that by publically accusing her would cause a controvery, like for instance that you have no evidences and that it would be your word against hers, just forget about the whole affair but present to the temple authorities your suspicions. Make sure that he understands that you can’t give evidences, live witness, pictures, your stuff found in her possession or things like that.
Certainly you have to say something to the autorities or this person may damage other people and that would be your karmic responsibility. Just saying it to the local authority will relieve you from responsibilities.

However the most important thing is how you deal with this in you mind and heart. You could easily go from being absolutely right to being absolutely wrong.

The point is that a Vaisnava doesn’t process his life’s events like an American or an European or an Australian or an Asiatic. He thinks like a Vaisnava.

And how the Vaisnava thinks? Sastra are full of descriptions of how a Vaisnava perceives external reality and how he reacts. If we do not strive to think, feel and will like a sage, we are devotees only in name and dress.
This is a big problem. So many devotees do not want to understand this point. We want to be Vaisnavas but continue to think as everyone else in our birth countries. So what’s the point of becoming a devotee if we do not change our essential nature?

The first thing that we have to think when something happens is to doubt that this person is the real direct doer. Maybe he is an instrument in the hands of someone superior, like our karma or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In both cases we are not the victims but we are harvesting the results of our past actions or receiving the mercy of Krishna. So why offending a devotee? Why blaming Arjuna for killing Bhisma when we know that he was an instrument in Krishna’s hands?

I am not saying that that person who is stealing from you is Krishna’s instrument. I am saying that is lecit to be doubtful.

What is this mercy of Krishna? To help us develop important qualities, like humility for example.
It is very easy to be humble when we are wrong, but difficult when we are convinced that we are right.
Why is so important to be humble?
trinad api sunicena
taror iva sahiṣṇunā
amāninā mānadena
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that the best mental settings for chanting Hare Krishna purely is to feel humble.
But this is a large topic, I’ll not elaborate more here and now.

The point is that if you think that maybe what this person is doing is the result of your past karma, or that is the mercy of Krishna to develop higher qualities, then you can act to defend other people but at the same time avoid being offensive.
In this way you rightly act in the material world but internally you are situated in transcendence. After all, this is what we are here for.

 

Your servant
Manonatha Dasa (ACBSP)

PS
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