ye tv ātma-rāma-gurubhir hṛdi cintitāńghri-

dvandvam carantam umayā tapasābhitaptam

katthanta ugra-parusam niratam śmaśāne

te nūnam ūtim avidams tava hāta-lajjāh

 (SB 8.7.33)


Exalted, self-satisfied persons who preach to the entire world think of your lotus feet constantly within their hearts. However, when persons who do not know your austerity see you moving with Umä, they misunderstand you to be lusty, or when they see you wandering in the crematorium they mistakenly think that you are ferocious and envious. Certainly they are shameless. They cannot understand your activities.


Lord Shiva is the topmost Vaishnava (vaishnavanam yathä Sambho). It is therefore said, vaishnavera kriyä-mudrä vijne nä bujhaya. Even the most intelligent person cannot understand what a Vaishnava like Lord Shiva is doing or how he is acting. Those who are conquered by lusty desires and anger cannot estimate the glories of Lord Shiva, whose position is always transcendental. In all the activities associated with lusty desires, Lord Shiva is an implement of ätma-räma. Ordinary persons, therefore, should not try to understand Lord Shiva and his activities. One who tries to criticize the activities of Lord Shiva is shameless.


Respecting the Vaishnavas and the Lord

“vaishnavera kriyä-mudrä vijne nä bujhaya”. Even the most intelligent person cannot understand what a vaisnava like Lord Shiva is doing and how he is acting. In this material world, our conditioned tendency is to evaluate everything according to our sense perception. But when we enter into the starting of the transcendental round, when we are in the presence of Sri Krishna or His devotees this is a most dangerous proposal. Therefore one must be very careful to see through the eyes of the shastra. Just as it is said, “arcye visnau sila-dhir gurusu nara-matir vaisnave jati-buddhir” that one who sees the murti as that to be made of wood or stone, one who sees the guru to be an ordinary man or one who sees the vaisnava according to the bodily conception of life. Such a person has hellish mentality. It is said in the Upadesamrta that sometime the spiritual master, sometimes he may diseased, sometimes his body may be defective. Sometimes he may be misshapen sickly, but it is said that if one in any way considers that this is a spiritual disqualification then one is in a very unfortunate offensive condition of consciousness. Rupa Goswami specifically explains just like the Ganges, sometimes it is seen to have contaminated dead bodies floating on it. Sometimes it has human stools floating on it. Sometimes there are foaming bubbles which are one of the signs of apparent contamination. But if one, in anyway, thinks that the Ganges is become impure, it is a very offensive state of consciousness. A person knows that because the Ganges is flowing from the feet of Vishnu, it cannot be contaminated. It is always transcendentally pure and most dear to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


Understanding Acharyas

So in the same way we must be very careful, not to judge great souls through our material estimations. In fact to understand the activities of the great vaisnava takes very very deep contemplative realization. We find that many of the greatest acharyas throughout history have been very greatly misunderstood for their actions and their words. Often times it is only their followers who can understand them because it is only their followers who are willing to take their time to deep in their consciousness and understand. Why? Others who perceive things just according to the apparent form become bewildered. Just like through our entire disciplic succession, we find so many examples of this. Srila Bhakti Siddhant Saraswati Thakur, was very much criticized and condemned, not only by the ordinary worldly man, who think he was utterly crazy because of his intense devotion to the spirit of renunciation in the service of the lord. But even amongst the Gaudiya vaisnavas there were persons who threatened to take his life.

In fact there was one time a policeman who was previously a dacoit and people would hire him to kill people. So he came to Bhakti Siddhant Saraswati Thakur and said, you know there was a class of men, they are Gaudiya vaisnavas they have paid me to kill you but after seeing you and hearing you and I can understand, you are such a saintly person that I cannot do it. Otherwise I would have done it. But I must warn you that there are people like this. He was very much misunderstood, because he was apparently putting aside so many traditions for the sake of reaching out to the fallen souls. Therefore he was considered by persons, to be deviating, to be fallen, to be polluting the sampradaya of Sri Chaitanya. In fact it was only his most faithful followers, who really took the time and the energy to understand what he was doing and why, before they could really understand. Then when they understood, his glory was magnified by hundreds and millions of times.

Of course Srila Prabhupada, when he went to the west, his followers loved him. The parents of the followers were very much against him. In fact Srila Prabhupada has said in Srimad Bhagavatam and one of his most sacred purports that, ”Just as Narad muni took sons away from Daksha and Daksha cursed him that he could never be able to sit down in one place, he would always have to travel. In the same way, because in the western country so many of these young boys and girls who have dedicated their lives to the service of the lord, their parents are very angry with me and they all have cursed me in the same way. Therefore I have to constantly travel. Then he begged but I am requesting my sanyasi disciples to accept their curse on my behalf so that I can sit and translate Srimad Bhagavatam.” So therefore the sanyasi disciples of Srila Prabhupada, they were aspiring to accept this curse and constantly travel and preach the glories of the Lord.

So Srila Prabhupada, came to America and amongst those followers, he was their life and soul but the family members of those followers, Oh my God! How much they were disturbed, how much they even hated him so many times. If any of them took the time to get know Srila Prabhupada they loved him. But how many are willing to take the time to know? They are simply thinking he is ruining our family. He is stealing our children. He is stealing our sons. He is stealing our daughters. Therefore this whole deprogramming movement of people who kidnapped the young children and their parents pay tens and thousands of dollars to these people to forcibly kidnap their children and tortured them and secluded them by use World War II techniques that they would use for perseveres of the war. To get a person to have basically a nervous breakdown in that state, shake their faith in Krishna and bring them back to the family. This is a big big business. Someone willing to pay so many thousands and these programmers are often supported by very very big big religious institutions, who are willingly even to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees just to try to destroy the Hare Krishna movement. Then really, you know Srila Prabhupada saw that there was all attack against him. It was not against the movement. But it was against what he had done.

When Srila Prabhupada was in his last year during his pastimes on this earth he was very simple and he came to London then Bombay. He was planning on coming to New Vrindavan in America that his disciples told him that these programmers, they are so much going to the legal system and there are so many cases of brainwashing and so forth against our movement that it is very dangerous for you to go. Then of course Srila Prabhupada was still willing to go. Because his health was so frail that he decided that he would go back to Vrindavan to leave this world. So inAmericahis followers, who understood him, who knew him, who really took the time to deeply comprehend his glory they loved him, they appreciated him. But rest of the American society simply misunderstood him. They saw him as a cheater, as a rogue. The Christians of the America saw that he was simply someone coming to preach false doctrine. If they would have taken the time to understand what he was teaching, they would have appreciated him like they appreciate Jesus Christ himself but they did not want to take that time. They simply wanted to superficially see, his dress is different, he talks different, he teaches something different. The government was against and so many people against him.

Then here in India he was an ambassador of the Sanatana Dharma of India but his god brothers, many of them, misunderstood him. They criticized him, why are you using the name Prabhupada? You should not use this name. Why you are engaging in marrying young men and women? This is not the business of a sannyasi. Why you are allowing this and that? In this way there were so many criticisms. Amongst other Gaudiya vaisnavas, he is only preaching to low class hippies. What is the value of that? Then amongst other vaisnava sampradayas and brahmanas, he is initiating untouchables with the sacred thread. He was allowing untouchables to perform the puja of the deity. He was ruining our culture. In this way there was so much criticism. You cannot even imagine how much criticism.

So really there was only those persons who are very innocent or those persons who really deeply tried to understand, what he was doing and why? And those who tried to really understand what he was doing and why, even then they could not understand the details. They could only understand the general principles that he has saved our lives. That’s all I know. They cannot understand. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu himself, He was very much appreciating Shivananda Sen’s attachment to delivering a dog. Shivananda Sen was so much attached to a dog that was just the stray dog who had joined their party and because he saw that he wanted to go to Jagannath Puri with them, he was feeding him everyday as himself. When that dog was not fed one day, the dog disappeared and Shivananda spent practically a whole day sending his devotees searching for the dog. But they felt very bad when they could not find. But when they arrived in puri, he saw that the dog was with Lord Caitanya and Shivananda Sen offered his obeisances in atonement for any offences he may committed to this dog. Then Lord Caitanya personally was feeding the dog and sent him back to Goloka Vrindavan. So who can understand these matters?

Again it is said in shastra, “Dog should not be touched. The dog should not be put in the temple”. Not necessarily in shastra but according to the tradition. So the deeper and deeper we try to understand the great vaisnava, the deeper we can understand the principle of their compassion. Then again the next day they will do something else and it may take you several months to figure out, why he is doing that, while you are in the process of figuring that hour he does something else, something else and something else. So ultimately you just have to say, “Krishna, I am just the servant of the servant of the servant”. Because we find that the more compassionate a devotee becomes the more he is willing to do whatever is necessary to reach out the fallen souls and therefore persons very much misunderstand and this is very much the case of Bhakti Siddhanta Prabhupada.


Understanding Lord Siva

So many times people who are genuinely seeking shelter become very attached to Srila Prabhupada. What to speak of the people in general, Srila Prabhupada thought about, how to reach them? How to get them attached to Krishna? This is the constant meditation of the great souls. So here we are reading about lord Shiva. How much he is criticized? It is said here that the people think he is ferocious and envious because he is wandering in the crematorium grounds. According to shastra, his worship is in the mode of ignorance. But how can pure vaisnava is in the mode of ignorance? You expect him to be at the temple worshiping the deities, instead he is not in the temple, he is not worshiping the deities, he is at the crematorium grounds covering his body with the ashes of those bodies. According to the shastra, this is the process for those in the mode of tamoguna.

So why Lord Siva is doing like this? Even Daskha, who was his own father-in-law, criticized and condemned Lord Shiva. Worshiping snakes is also considered worship in the mode of ignorance. So Lord Shiva has snakes on his body, covered with crematorium ashes plus sometimes you see him smoking ganja, which is against the four regulative principles. It’s an activity thoroughly in the mode of ignorance smoking ganja hashes. If you see someone with ganja and sitting in the temple and someone says, “ah, what are you doing?”, “Do not criticize me, Lord Shiva did it. You do not know who I am.” People will think it’s totally crazy. “You have to leave the temple. You cannot do it but Lord Siva is doing it.” Yet we worship Lord Shiva as greatest vaisnava.

It is said you can tell a person by who is associating with. Lord Shiva is associating with bhutas (ghosts), the people who are addicted to the most abominable activities. So from all material reasoning it is appearing what kind of vaisnava he is.  Therefore many many great souls have criticized him and condemned him and everyone one of them had to pay the consequence because Lord Shiva’s only business is engaging in his activities to show compassion to those persons. Lord Shiva is Patitapavana. He is the up-lifter of the most fallen. He is going down to the places of those who are in the mode of ignorance and is behaving like them just to gain their faith. It is not that he likes Ganja. It is not that he is attached to the ashes of dead bodies. He is indifferent to all these things. But to show compassion to this class of man, he is willing to even to go to that extent. So all of his apparent deviations from the tradition of the ways of the vaisnava are simply out of love, simply out of compassion to get these people become attached to him. That’s really he is always trying to do it. Get these people in the mode of ignorance become attached to me and when they become attached to me gradually they will also become purified by following what I say and by following my foot steps. Similarly, it is here, said that persons who do not know your austerity and see moving with Uma, they misunderstand it to be lusty. After all Lord Shiva, he is the lord and master of the yogis who great renunciates and how he is moving with Uma or Parvati so intimately. Sometimes as described in Srimad Bhagavatam he is giving pravachan and Uma is sitting in his lap. You imagine, even if a person is a grihasta that’s one thing a sanyasi would not accept. But even a grihasta would not accept this. If you went to a lecture of some very great reciter of Srimad Bhagavatam and you went into the lecture hall and he is sitting there on his Vyasasana and his wife is affectionately sitting on his lap with her arms around him and embracing him. What would you think? Well he is a grihasta this is alright. You will think what nonsense is this.

Chitraketu was laughing about this. He came to the Himalayas and he saw, here all the great saints, sages, yogis, sanyasis, sadhus who renounced everything in this world. Lord Shiva is giving them a class on vairagya and mean while Parvati was not just sitting on his lap but she was affectionately sitting on his lap. Their arms were around each other. Chitraketu was thinking this is too much for me. Haribol. He went to laugh. Because he went to laugh, Parvathi cursed him to become a demon. He became Vritrasura in his next life, even though he did not even lean any intent. Still he just started jokingly he did like this. What to speak of your intent? So, how to understand that, here such a great personality? It is very difficult to understand. We simply have to understand through the eyes of the shastra that what is he doing and why is he doing? If you try to imitate Lord Shiva but you do not have the empowerment the divinity of Lord Shiva then your spiritual life will be destroyed. Therefore it is said, “Do not try to imitate to great souls but just try to follow in their foot steps”.

The foot steps of Lord Shiva they are in the direction of reaching out to the fallen souls by giving them the mercy of the Lord. Now I must do it but exactly, how to do it? We need the instructions of the spiritual master to guide us. If you simply try to imitate Lord Shiva, you will be spiritually ruined because you cannot. On the other extent, Raghunatha Das Goswami, who was so strict in following all the principles of Vaisnavism. He would not deviate even one inch. He would chant so many lakhs of rounds a day; he would offer obeisances to vaisnavas so many times a day and offered obeisances to the murthy so many times a day. He would worship the deity so carefully. It is said that his regulative principles were like the lines in stone that can not be arrest by any means. No human being can follow the principles to the extent of Raghunath Das Goswami. If you will try, you will die. He would practically not eat or sleep that you can’t follow in his foot steps. According to the instructions and the guidelines of guru and sadhu, we can learn how to follow according to our particular realization. But if you try to imitate, you will die. If you try to imitate Lord Shiva, you will spiritually die. We must follow in the foot steps of such great souls. Such devotees of the Lord behave in such a way that it is incomprehensible to our mind and senses. We must be very very careful, not to criticize, not to judge by our own mundane condition, estimations or even by our own neophyte conceptions of what it means to be a great devotee?

Sometimes devotees become a little perplexed that first you say an acharya teaches by example and his perfect example and then again we see that sometimes an acharya is acting in such a way that you cannot understand. So what to do? How do you know, who actually an acharya is? Ultimately Krishnais in your heart. If you are sincere give you faith. We must understand the basic principles of the mission of the compassion of a great acharya. We must see that in his life and his actions he is truly unmotivated, uninterrupted in His reaching out to lift the fallen souls to the process of Krishna Consciousness. That is always talking about Krishna, always thinking of Krishna, and always inspiring others to be Krishna Conscious, that there is no selfish motivation in his life. If we see these principles we can understand, he is only speaking what God has spoken. We see this man is qualified. That means how he is engaged in his activities day to day. Sometimes it is very difficult to understand. Therefore it is said, “vaishnavera kriyä-mudrä vijne nä bujhaya” that even the most intelligent person cannot understand, what a vaisnava like Lord Shiva is doing and how he is acting?



Maharaj : You should pray to Shiva in the form of the spiritual master. You see Lord Shiva ultimately, it’s Vishnu that they approached and Vishnu directed them to Shiva, why? Why did He direct them to Shiva? Because, they are demigods. They are Devas and he is Mahadeva. He is the lord of all the demigods. Actually Lord Shiva is in charge of all the demigods. ThereforeKrishnabrought them to their guru. Similarly we are all disciples, we are all devotees. AndKrishnahas directed us to our spiritual master. So in the same way He is serving that same function as Lord Shiva as serving for the demigods. He is accepting our karma, which is like drinking our poison. So therefore, yes, we should approach the vaisnava, whoKrishnahas directed us too. In this way we should pray for the mercy of the Guru, Diksha Guru and Siksha Guru. We should pray for the mercy of those great saints who Krishna has brought us the lotus feet of them and pray for the shelter that, “Please help me I cannot withstand the poison that is just coming out, please help me”. So immediately we must take shelter in this life and through their mercy, through their instructions we can also take shelter of Lord Sri Krishna and Lord Shiva as well. But it is through the gurus and the sadhus.



Maharaj : That is all we have to know. Lord Caitanya said, “Even if I see Lord Nityananda going into the bar, into the liquor house, even into the – the prostitution house, I know that he is only going there to preach. Do you know, how much Lord Nityananda was misunderstood and criticized and condemned. He was doing all kinds of unusual things. We are not going into the details but sometimes he would actually go into these places to preach. People would say, “What kind of sadhu is this? He is going into these places”. But Lord Caitanya said, “If anyone even questions Lord Nityananda, he is going to go to hell. Know he is going to preach. I know he has a mission of compassion.” So therefore we should not judge the great souls. But we have to understand spirit of their devotion, the spirit of their mission.

Thank you, very much.


Hare Krishna.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.