There are three conditions that a practitioner of the path of bhakti must fulfill. He should be more humble than a blade of grace. (When we walk on grass, it simply bows under the pressure of our feet with no resistance.) We should be as tolerant as a tree (which without complaint allows itself to be plundered for its fruits, leaves and branches). We should offer only respect to others and never expect the same for ourselves. To try to be called good or to be seen as good in the eyes of others makes us fall in our devotion. We should instead try to actually become good. For example, when someone criticises you, you feel bad. You become angry with that person and feel he is your foe. You continuously think of him with animosity. We harm ourselves greatly when we do this. Instead of bringing God and Guru into our mind, we have given a place in our mind to a mayic soul. By doing so we are simply increasing the impurity of the mind, not decreasing it. It is a fact that until one attains God realisation, one is completely under the control of Maya. This means that all the mayic defects such as anger, lust, greed, attachment, pride and so on, will also remain in our minds. Along with this, the consequences of all our actions from countless births also remain with us, because these consequences are only destroyed through God’s grace after God realisation. As Shri Krishna says in the Gita,
Aham tvam sarvapapebhyo mokshayishyami ma shuchah. (18/66)
As a soul has had uncountable births and in all those births we have performed every kind of action, then if someone calls us lustful, hot-tempered, greedy, sinful, mean, unprincipled, or wicked, then what is wrong with that? We should happily accept the truth and try to rectify that fault.
When we introduce an ordinary police officer to someone as a police officer, he doesn’t feel bad and say, “Why didn’t you introduce me as a detective or a police chief?” This is, after all, his position. Saint Tulsidas says,
Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhavay.
The one who criticises us is actually our well-wisher. If a snake or scorpion were crawling on our back and if someone were to warn us, “Hey! Look out!” We would consider that person our well-wisher. In fact, all Saints who have attained God and gone beyond Maya express the acceptance of one’s faults in their writings,
Mo sam kaun kutil khal kami.
“There is no one as deceptive, wicked and worldly as I.” A true Saint doesn’t possess any of these qualities, but we definitely do. Still we feel bad when someone criticises us and thus we harm our devotional progress greatly. Another point we must understand is that the only time we utilise correctly is when our mind remains attached to God. So during the course of one day, how much does our mind remain attached to God? Think about it. Repeatedly reflect, “The consequences of all the wrong actions I have ever performed in countless past lifetimes are still with me. Plus I have performed uncountable wrong actions in this birth. Still, I can’t stand before God and shed tears asking for His forgiveness. Shame on my understanding!”
You have to repeatedly promise yourself that you will not feel bad if someone tells you your faults. Practise will lead to success. Every day before going to sleep at night ask yourself, “How many times did I fail to tolerate someone’s criticism today?” The next day be more careful so you don’t commit the same mistake. With this kind of regular practise, you will stop feeling bad.
You should also remember that Shri Krishna is seated in our hearts, noting all our thoughts. If we feel animosity towards someone, how will He grace us? These faults will decrease if we are aware of His presence everywhere, which means we will also be doing continuous remembrance. Don’t feel animosity towards the one who criticises you; Shri Krishna also dwells in his heart, too. Instead remain neutral. Request God repeatedly,
Yadi dainyam tvatkripaheturna tadasti mamanvapi.
Tam kripam kuru radhesh yatatey dainya mapnuyam.
“Oh Shri Krishna! You bestow grace on the base of one’s humility, but I am not humble at all. So first grace me so I may become humble!” While saying this, shed tears. You must definitely do this. The human birth is temporary, so quickly do this. You don’t know when your time will be up. I humbly request this of all of you.