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BHAKTI
By Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura Prabhupada

Bhakti is often misunderstood. Such misunderstanding may be of different kinds. Those who are very much addicted to the pleasures of the flesh are liable to mistake such pleasure as love of God. Most people nowadays are anxious to acquire wealth and fame and other good things of this world. They often profess appreciation for the religion of love that was preached by Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya. Mahaprabhu, as is well known, was opposed to barren asceticism. This attitude of His is much liked by ail persons who live a luxurious life. But bhakti or devotion is not bhoga or enjoyment of the pleasures of the senses. There cannot be a greater calumniation of a pure devotee than to call him a worshipper of the goddess of worldly prosperity. The conduct of a devotee is unintelligible to both bhogis (epicureans) and tyagis (ascetics). It is also not less unintelligible to those who study the shastras by themselves or under teachers who are not true devotees. Few people are sufficiently open-minded to be prepared to recognise the great mercy of Mahaprabhu in rebuking the student, who had studied the shastras under a teacher who had no idea of religion, when the said student, forgetting the propriety of conduct of a kanistha adhikari (neophyte) towards the highest order of devotees, presumed to find fault with the conduct of Mahaprabhu Himself in taking the name of "Gopi" instead of that of Krishna. Similarly Srivas Pandit's conduct in requiring the assistance of a scavenger for removing wine, meat and other articles for the tamasic worship of the goddess of worldly desires, that had been placed at the doorstep of his house by Gopal-Chapal in order to discredit him in the eyes of the people, has also been misunderstood by certain persons who think it is the business of human life to grow rich and live a life of pleasures. The pure devotees, by their sharp rebukes, direct our attention to the gravity of the offence of misunderstanding and misrepresenting the conduct of pure devotees, which is the greatest possible obstacle in the way of the attainment of love of God, although it is liable to be regarded as comparatively trivial by most people, it is, therefore, necessary not to rashly declare such conduct of the pure devotees to be prompted by malice or anger, especially as it is in reality the most unambiguous expression of the highest magnanimity.

 
(From “Counterpoint”, issue two, as edited by Sriman Devashis Prabhu. No changes to the text have been introduced in this online version.)

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