Jayapataka Swami: Of course, it depends on who is making the criticism. We see some people can make it, but cannot take it. When there is criticism, sometimes the devotee becomes very depressed and allows that depression to impede his devotional service. The point is , we should not lose our enthusiasm for devotional service. There are so many things that may happen. Sometimes our near and dear ones may criticise us. We must not think, “ Oh, what is the use, they are not pleased with me.” We are not serving for other purposes, but to please guru and Krishna – that is the point.
There are three kinds of criticism: constructive, unreasonable or unconstructive, and a mixture of both. When constructive criticism is presented in a harsh way, then that hits our false ego. But actually that criticism is valid and it was for our benefit, but it may be presented in a way that is not so palatable. If someone is pointing out that something we are doing is not pleasing to guru and Krishna, and if it is a valid observation, then naturally we should take that into consideration and adjust accordingly.
However, if someone makes a criticism and we are not able to appreciate it as being valid, still, according to Lord Caitanya, we should be more humble than the straw in the street and more tolerant than the tree, and not retaliate by arguments. Especially if it is amongst vaishnavas, we should avoid arguing. Retaliating to different kinds of criticisms, just results in arguments. And this creates bad feelings, which can be an impediment in our devotional service.
We know the four regulative principles very well. Once Srila Prabhupada wrote down nine regulative principles. Five more. No arguing, no gossiping, no frivolous sports, eating only Krishna prasadam and…so gossiping, rumour- mongering and arguing, these are detrimental, and we should avoid it.
HH Jayapataka Swami
26 March 1991
Question & Answer session