Part 8 – Association with puppets
On 2 of the evenings, Jagattarini mataji took us to the world of puppetry. She had recorded a puppet show which recreated the pastimes of Madhavendra puri and Ramachandra puri. Although the 2 were extremely interesting, almost everyone in the hall enjoyed the narration of Ramachandra puri.
As you all know, Ramachandra puri was one of the disciples of Madhavendra puri but he was influenced by Mayavadi philosophy, which led him to criticize his spiritual master, then other vaishnavas and finally he was so fallen that he even criticized Lord Chaitanya. The entire story can be found in the Chaitanya Caritamrta, Chapter 8 – “Ramachandra Puri Criticizes the Lord”.
The screen went up. A bedside desk was made available for the laptop and a projector. Everyone settled onto the ground. There were humming here and there. Everyone felt like kids. And even more when the lights were turned off. It was like a village in some remote corner of India where people gather to watch a bollywood movie.
Madhavendra puri was at the last stage of his life and while in his bed, he would chant the holy name of Krishna and sometimes he would cry, “O my Lord, I did not get shelter at Mathura.”
One day, Ramachandra puri came to Madhavendra puri’s house. Not knowing the reason behind Madhavendra puri’s crying, he instructed his spiritual master, “If you are in full transcendental bliss, you should now remember only Brahman. Why are you crying?”
Hearing this instruction, Madhavendra puri, greatly angry, rebuked him by saying, “Get out, you sinful rascal ! O my Krishna, I could not reach You, nor could I reach Your abode, Mathura. I am dying in my unhappiness, and now this rascal has come to give more pain”,and he yelled at Ramachandra puri again, ” Don’t show your face to me ! Go anywhere else you like, If I die seeing your face, I shall not achieve the destination of my life. I am dying without achieving the shelter of Krishna, and therefore I am greatly unhappy. Now this condemned foolish rascal has come to instruct me about Brahman.”
This sannyasi, Ramachandra Puri, now denounced by Madhavendra Puri, gradually began to lose his devotional qualities. Slowly, material qualities crept in and he began to find faults with devotees. There was no certainty where Ramachandra puri would take his meal and he often went to people’s house uninvited. And he would keep an account of how his hosts and other devotees he met would take their meals. And then he would criticize them.
At Jagannath Puri, he came to see Paramananda Puri and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. His main purpose of the meeting was to find faults with Sri Chaitanya and His devotees. But he was finding it tough as he could not even locate a single one.
During this meeting, when the 3 of them were talking about Krishna for a long time, Jagadananda came and extended an invitation to Ramachandra Puri. A large quantity of the remnants of food from Lord Jagannatha was brought in for distribution. Ramachandra Puri ate sumptuously, and then he wanted to find faults in Jagadananda Pandita. With great eagerness, he seated Jagadananda Pandita and personally served him prasadam. Encouraging him again and again, Ramachandra Puri fed him sumptuously, but when Jagadananda had washed his hands and mouth, Ramachandra puri began criticizing him.
“I have heard,” he said, “that the followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu eat more than necessary. Now I have directly seen that this is true. Feeding a sanyasi too much breaks his regulative principles, for when a sannyasi eats too much, his renunciation is destroyed.”
This was his plan. He would induce a devotee to eat and then criticize. Finally, after much thought he placed his criticism on Lord Chaitanya, “How can a person in the renounced order eat so many sweetmeats?”,he said. “If one eats sweets, controlling senses is difficult.” In this way, he blasphemed Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu before everyone, but nevertheless he would regularly come to see the Lord everyday. However, when they met, the Lord would offer him full respects, considering him a God brother. The Lord knew of his plans, yet with great attention, due respects were paid. Eventually, the Lord reduced the amount He ate and instructed his disciple not to serve him more. This was devastating news for His dear disciples. And they lamented.
Sri Chaitanya would humbly say to Ramachandra Puri, “I am just like an ignorant boy and am like your disciple. It is My great fortune that you are instructing Me.”
Finally, after his few days of stay at Jagannath Puri, Ramachandra Puri left for some other holy place. The devotees considered this sannyasi to be like a great burden on their heads. When he left, everyone were extremely happy. After his departure, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu accepted his invitations as usual and everyone accepted prasadam without hindrances. And so, everyone continued to live blissfully ever after !
The conclusion of this pastime can be found in the “Antya Lila” section, Chapter 8, verse 27 of Chaitanya Charitamrta.
sushka-brahma-jnani, nahi krishnera ‘sambandha’
sarva loka ninda kare, nindate nirbandha
One who is attached to dry speculative knowledge has no relationship with Krishna. His occupation is criticizing Vaishnavas. Thus he is situated in criticism.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has explained in his Anubhashya that the word nirbandha indicates that Ramacandra Puri had a steady desire to criticize others. Impersonalist Mayavadis, who have no relationship with Krishna, who cannot take to devotional service, and who simply engage in material arguments to understand Brahman, regard devotional service to Krishna as karma-kanda, or fruitiveactivities. According to them, devotional service to Krishna is but another means for attaining dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Therefore they criticize the devotees for engaging in material activities. They think that devotional service is mayaand that Krishna or Vishnu is also maya. Therefore they are called Mayavadis. Such a mentality awakens in a person who is an offender to Krishna and His devotees.
And then the lights came on. In the room and in our heads – It’s not a good idea to criticize anyone. Many of the western minds have deliberated on this matter too.
They have great tranquility of heart who care neither for the praises nor the fault-finding of people.
– Honoré de Balzac
The learner always begins by finding fault,but the scholar sees the positive merit in everything.
– Georg Wilhelm Hegel
Another reason why we do not regard others as precious is that we pay attention to their faults whilst ignoring their good qualities. Unfortunately we have become very skilled in recognizing the faults of others, and we devote a great deal of mental energy to listing them, analyzing them, and even meditating on them! With this critical attitude, if we disagree with our partner or colleagues about something, instead of trying to understand their point of view we repeatedly think of many reasons why we are right and they are wrong. By focusing exclusively on their faults and limitations we become angry and resentful, and rather than cherishing them we develop the wish to harm or discredit them. In this way small disagreements can easily turn into conflicts that simmer for months.
Do not look for faults in others,but look for faults in yourself,and purge them like bad blood.
– Advice from Atisha’s Heart
We communicate happiness to others not often by great acts of devotion and self-sacrifice, but by the absence of fault-finding and censure, by being ready to sympathize with their notions and feelings, instead of forcing them to sympathize with ours.
– Adam Clarke
My days of whining and complaining about others have come to an end.Nothing is easier than fault-finding. All it will do is discolor my personality so that none will want to associate with me. That was my old life. No more.Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the fault-finding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealously, and envy.
– Og Mandino
And our scriptures boldly declared these as well. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.28.1 says,
na prasamsen na garhayet
visvam ekamakam pasyan
prakritya purushena ca
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.
So I say, “Find the good in all !”