Ramacandra Puri’s offenses in trying to instruct his spiritual master, Srila Madhavendra Puri are closely similar to the offenses related to the chantinging the Holy Name:
- To blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives to propagating the Holy Name of the Lord
- To disobey the orders of the spiritual master.
A spiritual master is a representative of the Supreme Lord and thereby have to be accorded the same respect as given to the Lord. The spiritual master must be treated non-different than the Supreme Lord. Ramacandra, possibly due to impersonalist influence, was either not aware of or forgot this basic tattva. Hence he ended up committing the unthinkable offense.
Generally when a pure devotee is about to leave his body, his disciples and other devotees drown in extreme lamentation and sorrow in thinking about the impending separation from their beloved spiritual master. I have watched the videos of our dearest Srila Prabhupada’s recording during the last few days of his life while leaving his body. Devotees surrounded him, tried to make him feel comfortable, and chanted the Holy Name of the Lord so that Srila Prabhupada can depart in the most exalted way. Just watching the videos make my eyes swell up. I cannot imagine what his disciples felt at the time Srila Prabhupada was about to leave his body. This is the recommended mood of the devotee. So I wonder what made Ramacandra Puri not go through these emotions, but dare to instruct his spiritual master? May be this is another inconceivable pastime of the Lord.
As soon as Ramacandra Puri instructed his spiritual master, he was rebuked by Madhavendra Puri.
CC Antya 8.22-25 — Hearing this instruction, Mādhavendra Purī, greatly angry, rebuked him by saying, “Get out, you sinful rascal! O my Lord Kṛṣṇa, I could not reach You, nor could I reach Your abode, Mathurā. I am dying in my unhappiness, and now this rascal has come to give me more pain. 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 Kṛṣṇa, and therefore I am greatly unhappy. Now this condemned foolish rascal has come to instruct me about Brahman.”
CC Antya 8.26 — Rāmacandra Purī was thus denounced by Mādhavendra Purī. Due to his offense, gradually material desire appeared within him.
CC Antya 8.27 — One who is attached to dry speculative knowledge has no relationship with Kṛṣṇa. His occupation is criticizing Vaiṣṇavas. Thus he is situated in criticism.
The result of the offense is that gradually material desires appeared within him. In order word, he felt into the trap of the Lord’s illusory energy maya. If we please the Lord and His pure devotees, we come under His internal energy. If we displease the Lord and His pure devotees, we fall under the illusory energy. Maya makes one forget his real constitutional position, and rather makes him think that he is the enjoyer and the lord of the universe. In this way, one’s false ego continues to grow bigger and bigger until one starts to think Himself God. This is the last snare of Maya.
Since we are on the topic of maya, I want to share something about maya that I read recently from the Bhagavad Sandardha (Section 18) by Jiva Goswami.
“Srila Jiva Gosvami says that Maya can be divided in two categories based on her functions. The two examples in the verse (S.B. 2.9.33) explain these two features. The first feature is called jivamaya, or the feature of Maya that covers the svarupa of the living entity. This is also called nimitta, or the efficient part, owing to its being instrumental in covering the living entity with ignorance. But it is not sufficient to cover the nature or intelligence of the living entity. To make the bondage perfect she gives the material body, senses, and sense objects for the enjoyment of the jiva. This is called gunamaya, because all this paraphernalia is a transformation of the modes (guna) of Maya. This feature is also called upadana, or the material aspect, because it supplies the material ingredients. Just as when a man goes to a nightclub first he gets intoxicated which covers his intelligence (jivamaya) then he gets allured by sense objects, such as a young woman, (gunamaya). That makes his illusion complete. In this way the attack of Maya is two-fold–internal and external. The two features complement and strengthen each other. Thus it is impossible for a conditioned soul to get out of her clutches without superior help.”
I can relate the above explanations to Ramacandra Puri. Jivamaya made him forget his real svarupa – that he is the eternal servant of the Supreme Lord and his spiritual master. Basically jivamaya covered his intelligence. This lack of intelligence made him try to instruct his spiritual master. Next Gunamaya made him find faults in others as can be seen by his tendency to find faults in the Vaisnavas eating habits.
The trap of maya is very dangerous. First Ramacandra Puri offended his spiritual master. Due to this offense, he lost his intelligence and started offending the vaisnavas. And finally he also criticized the Supreme Lord. What could be worse offense than this? Only Lord Caitanya’s compassionate and limitless mercy could save him.
Therefore an important lesson to learn from this pastime is never to criticize the devotees, the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord. In fact we should practice not to criticize anyone. We should remember that the Supreme Lord resides in everyone’s heart as the Supersoul. By criticizing the vaisnavas, we impede our spiritual progress. As aspiring devotees we cannot afford to commit this risk. After millions of lifetimes, we got the rare opportunity to practice Krsna consciousness. Why commit offenses and lose this rare treasure?
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!