(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 02 January 2015, Germany, Caitanya Caritamrta Antya 7.16)
On the surface, we can try to start by glorifying others. We can get out of the habit of criticizing others by creating the habit of glorifying others, but that is external, on the surface only.
On a deeper level, we have to change our whole mood. We have to start thinking, ‘Who am I to criticize?’ When we criticize others, it means that we have a puffed up concept of ourself – we think that we are important and know better than others, ‘Gosh, are they helpless creatures! Can’t they do anything right? If I was not here, oh gosh! Thank God that I am here! Otherwise, everything would go wrong. I saved the day again! Hopeless cases!’ Pride sneaks in when we think that we are something we are actually not.
Instead, we should think that we are simply mercy cases and that we even do not belong here, ‘What is someone like me doing in the association of vaisnavas?! It is not because of my credit, it is because of the credit of the devotees who just picked me up and then Prabhupada forced me with his expert preaching tactics and defeated all my arguments. Otherwise, l would have never done this, never!’ That is what we have to remember.
We have committed so many sinful activities in this life time because we had so many sinful inclinations from previous lifetimes. Therefore, how sinful we are by nature… Therefore is it surprising that we are critical of everyone, bearing in mind that we are so fallen and lowly. This is what we have to practice, to actually see ourselves like that, in order to really get over that criticizing tendency otherwise it will get back again in some other form.
But overall, this is Lord Caitanya’s movement and although this criticism is going to block us a little bit, Lord Caitanya understands that we are neophyte vaisnavas therefore he does not take it so serious. It is not that everything is maha-aparadha! You know, you have these devotees who go like, ‘Oh, I have criticized this devotee and this is maha-aparadha, and now I am doomed for the rest of my spiritual life, as I can never make up for this!’ All they can do then is to go into some kind of depression. Or people who come every day to beg forgiveness for their offences and then at one point you say have to say to them, ‘Ok, I will forgive you for your offences, if you stop asking me to forgive you for your offenses!’
We see that Lord Caitanya is very merciful and generous and he accepts us. Yes, we are a rough bunch – a little uncultured, somewhat in a lower consciousness and that is how we deal with each other. We call each other names; we tend to disrespect each other and so on. And it is because of Lord Caitanya’s protection that we do not immediately fall down. We are still here, as gradually we are getting more purified and over the years, we get more knowledge and more responsibility to be up to the standards of purity. Therefore, it is said that in the beginning, the path is very wide but eventually it narrows down. So in the beginning of our spiritual lives, we are not held as responsible as we are later on.
We have to understand that, but still, if too often we are falling prey to criticism, it will make our spiritual life a bit dry as it will take away the taste and then it gets hard! Then how can one stay focused on Krsna, and not again go down to desiring happiness in this world? Criticism is very dangerous and especially is so for those who wear saffron robes.