Reading from ‘The Apasampradayas, deviant Vaishnava sects’ by Suhotra Svami*: “The link between namaparadha and full-blown deviation from the sampradaya is indicated by Srila Jiva Goswami who warns in the Bhakti Sandarbha that there are offenders to the holy name who are acikitsya or incorrigible (jnana-lava-durvidagdhastra–acikitsya–atva–dupeksa). Devotees, always compassionate, try to help fallen souls with good instruction. But if someone becomes insolent and arrogant due to acquiring a little knowledge from their association, he is disqualified from the sampradaya because of three kinds of namaparadha: sadhu-ninda (blasphemy of the devotees of the Lord), guru-avajna (disregard of the spiritual master) and sruti–sastra–ninda (blasphemy of the revealed scriptures).
“Yet the incorrigible offender never conceives the fact of his offenses. He cannot understand that the mercy of the spiritual master and the association of pure devotees are indispensable to the chanting of the holy name. Because he highly values wordly knowledge and accomplishments, he looks down upon the simple devotees who have surrendered themselves to devotional service. This is sadhu-ninda. He cannot accept that the spiritual master is a transcendental teacher, not a wordly one; thus he tries to measure the person and instructions of the guru by his own mental standards. This is guru-avajna. He studies the revealed scriptures as he would ordinary literature, gleaning from it whatever seems to support his preconceived notions, heedless of the rest. This is sruti–sastra–ninda.”
“They may not be able to always follow the order of the guru, or may not understand the things in shastra, don’t bicker with the other devotees, but he is not taking this as a main platform.”
HH BVPS Maharaja: So here is then the person who is performing nama-aparadha, then if they don’t have these problems… It doesn’t mean that… They may not be able to always follow the order of the guru, or may not understand the things in shastra, don’t bicker with the other devotees, but he is not taking this as a main platform. You can see that, okay, sometimes something is wrong, or something like this.
But here is someone who then doesn’t see the importance. Their own intelligence, their own perception on it is actually the main thing. So therefore the position of the acarya, the position of the vaishnavas, the position of the scripture is not the most prominent or driving element. And because of that then they separate themselves actually from the sampradaya. Because as we see here, they read the scriptures, but just take what they like and leave the rest.
“There is a difference between that there is difficulties, but the faith is there and you continue on in the devotional process, or that difficulties are there, but you think those difficulties are actually your qualifications.”
That’s what we saw before in the 6 systems of the Vedic philosophy, is they are taking it from scriptures, based on Veda, whatever they consider as their evidence, it goes back to the Veda, it’s all real evidence. But the problem is is, they only choose which evidence supports what they want, everything else they leave. Does that make sense? Like you have an example of that you are trying to establish that you don’t need to have a spiritual master, you’ll just directly take initiation from Prabhupada. So they’ll base it on a letter, even though you can give so much evidence from the books and other things, that won’t be accepted, it has to be a letter. Does that make sense? So this is that kind of aspect where you only accept which parts you like and everything else you reject. So then that’s there.
Or the devotees, because they are simple, like that, they’ve taken shelter of the Lord, they are performing their devotional activities, but they may not have great knowledge or be necessarily that thoughtful about the process, they just have faith, they just do it, so you consider them not so developed, because here you have, you are thoughtful, because you are making up your own system. Means, to make up your own system means you have to be thoughtful, but it’s just that you are applying the thoughtfulness improperly. Others aren’t, they are just going along with the system, so you don’t consider them special. So then that’s inappropriate.
And then the spiritual master instructions, then you look at him and you judge by your own. So in the same way, what you like, what you don’t like, it’s just on your own decision, it’s not by what is the standard, therefore even if you don’t see it that way, but you want to develop seeing it that way… Do you understand?
So, there is a difference between that there is difficulties, but the faith is there and you continue on in the devotional process, or that difficulties are there, but you think those difficulties are actually your qualifications. Does that make sense?
Prabhu (1): Maharaja, namaparadha is like a misgiving?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Namaparadha? Namaparadha can be anything. Means, it can be… Means, the specific one? Oh, yes, you would say it’s misgivings. But the misgivings, you take it that the misgivings are real, have substance and that they are actually something to judge from. Means, people may do that, but it’s not that they so much necessarily notice it. You know what I am saying? Just the conditioning is there, so you just continue in your conditioning as you always have, and then you are adding Krishna consciousness, so sometimes they conflict, because you have the pure devotional service and then the material, so it makes for that mixed devotional service.
But here it’s not that… Your point is that this is the most… How you say? The misgiving, it’s there, but you don’t necessarily notice it. Here the person is taking, noticing their misgiving and then making it that that is the standard by which you judge devotional service. You know what I am saying?
So you can see is that there is very nice… You can see, ok, you can understand someone is not situated in offenseless chanting, but they are still situated in devotional service. And then it’s very obvious, those who are completely apasampradaya. The difficulty would be what’s in-between, right? But the basic point is in-between is what is connected is proper and what’s not is not. So there may be more proportion of not, or more proportion of connected. But still, it’s considered within the sampradaya, you are just not so nicely situated. Does that make sense? So anything in-between, you don’t count it that they are from the apasampradaya, you count it that they are within the sampradaya. Does that make sense?
“It’s not so often that having given up the determined practice of devotional service, that very many create their own practices. Most just go back to whatever is their previous conditioning. But you see some, having come to the mundane platform then they create their own process and are actually able to continue in it. So that’s specifically your apasampradaya.”
Prabhu (2): So the main point would be to see that it’s progressing towards the apasampradaya or towards the sampradaya?
HH BVPS Maharaja: Yes, means, what’s their determination? So in other words, if their determination is there, with discussion, just know they are convinced, ‘No, this is my, my perspective is correct,’ then there is going to be a difficulty there. Then it’s just a matter of do they just go out of devotional service, or do they actually in going out maintain a so-called practice of devotional service. Does that make sense? Yeah.
So generally you see is, means, it’s not so often that having given up the determined practice of devotional service, that very many create their own practices. Most just go back to whatever is their previous conditioning. But you see some, having come to the mundane platform then they create their own process and are actually able to continue in it. So that’s specifically your apasampradaya.
Because generally someone having dropped to the mundane platform we just say that they fell down. But now in that fallen position, no, now they make up a new, their own thing, then that’s where your apasampradaya. Because most people come to that and then they just disappear. Then after a while they figure out, ‘This is stupid,’ and then they come back to Krishna consciousness. But this is they’ll never figure out it’s stupid, because they think they have their own process.
(From His Holiness Bhaktividya Purna Svami Maharaja’s lecture on Apasampradayas, Sastra Caksus course, 1st March 2013, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur)
*The book ‘The Apasampradayas, deviant Vaishnava sects’ by Suhotra Svami is a publication of The Bhaktivedanta Academy, Mayapur