Can devotional, non-devotional and anti-devotional cultures be connected with goodness passion and ignorance?
Transcription by- Keshav Gopal Das and Ambuj Gupta
Question: Do the devotional, non devotional, anti devotional cultures correlate with goodness, passion and ignorance or is there any spiritual context for this classification?
Answer: One of the defining characteristics of devotion is that it is not dependent on anything material. Viswanath Chakravarty Thakur analyzes this elaborately in his madhurya kadambani and he emphasizes that material factors are not the cause of bhakti because that would militate against the independence of bhakti. Therefore he says that bhakti being independent can flourish under any situation. Off course the mode of goodness can make one more likely probable receptive to be exposed to devotional environment, devotees, devotional circumstances and in that sense it can be favorable but in itself it does not cause bhakti. Bhakti is caused only by bhakti of some other devotee.
When we refer to the devotional , non devotional, anti devotional cultures we talk for example about living with devotees who inspire us in our Krishna consciousness and having atmosphere which is conducive as devotional culture and anti devotional would refer to the situation where non devotional values are being promoted and even thrusted upon people, even those who don’t want to practice it. Non devotional would refer to place say job environment, other social cultural environments where sinful activities are not thrust into one’s face constantly and where people more or less have the freedom to do what they like to do. So devotees can also utilize that freedom and practice devotional service.
Would this relate to goodness, passion and ignorance? Not exactly. Although goodness in general can be favorable to bhakti but even passion can also be dovetailed in devotion. We know that kshatriyas themselves are passionate. Yet the Bhagavatam talks about so many kshatriyas who are devotees. Off course we know that the passion of the kshatriyas is regulated by the goodness of the brahmanas and to submit to that regulation by the brahmanas, the kshatriyas also need to have some amount of goodness in them. In fact even for vaishyas and shudras the very fact that they are ready to be a part of Vedic culture and follows basic scriptural injunctions indicate that there is some level of goodness in them also. Where entirely scripture is rejected and one lives only according to ones desires that is totally anti scriptural. So passion can be devotional also if one have a passion to do things in the world for example, managing things, ruling things, leading things they can be in passion but if one has the desire to do that in Krishna’s service then that can be in goodness, that can be used in devotional service that is passion which can be used. With respect to ignorance, generally ignorance is quite hostile to devotion.
Now you want to talk about devotional, non devotional, anti devotional. This is more of a inference from the ripturalsc context to today’s situation. For example, Roopa Goswami talks about in the Updeshamtira and that is talked about in Bhagavatam (11.2.46) also about three levels of devotees
īśvare tad-adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca prema-maitrī-kṛpopekṣā yaḥ karoti sa madhyamaḥ
Madhyama adhikari differentiates between the devotees who are objects of friendship, the innocent people who are objects of compassion of mercy and the envious people who are objects of neglect (upeksha). So I would say that is the correlation of devotional. So devotional culture is where devotees are present. Non devotional culture where people are relatively innocent and they are open to devotion. They are definitely not hostile to devotion. Anti devotional culture is where people are explicitly, aggressively envious. Although many of the visible and the glamorous symbols of modern materialistic culture are anti devotional, we don’t have to assume that most people in themselves are anti devotional. Rather than making this as a technical categorization for dealing with every situation, we make a broad principle and then apply them on individual basis. So by trying to find out how best we can practice in any situation our Krishna consciousness, dadami budhi yogam tam, give us guidance and then we be able to move forward in our devotional service. So the broad principle is that anukalasya sankalpa pratikulasya varjanam. So that which is favorable for our Krishna consciousness, we accept, and that which is unfavorable we reject. So based on that we can decide which culture is devotional, non devotional, anti devotional or which situation is like that. Within we cannot made broad statements about a culture entirely but we can talk about specific individuals and specific situations and based on that we can decide the appropriate responses. Thank you.