Although there are unlimited varieties of things which are antithetical to divine love, all of them fall into four general categories:
- Sufferings that distract one from bhakti
- Enjoyments that distract one from bhakti
- Offenses to the elements of bhakti
- Distracting side effects of bhakti
The first two types are the good and bad results of karma. These are not really all that serious in the bigger picture, because devotional practices get rid of them rather automatically as previously discussed regarding how bhakti extinguishes suffering.
The fourth category is what we were just talking about at the end of the previous chapter. The seriousness of this category is not a trifle, but is short lived in the overall scheme of things.
The third category, however, is by far the most pernicious and persistent obstacle to advancing from one stage of devotional development to the next: being offensive towards the elements of bhakti. Of all the elements of bhakti, the holy name of Krsna is the most powerful and important. Therefore violations of the holy name are the most significant of all the these category-three impediments. Of all offenses towards the holy name, offensiveness towards the person who chants that name is the most malignant.
I cannot possibly overstate the fact that nothing blocks a person from realizing divine love with more power and vengeance than the offense of harboring and expressing animosity towards those who take shelter of Krsna’s holy name. If I am stuck in my spiritual progress and want to know why, there is no more simple or accurate answer than my offenses to bhaktas and the elements of bhakti!
It is as simple a diagnosis as seeing a person with the symptoms of malaria and saying, “you have malaria.” He might protest that he has no memory of being bit by a carrier mosquito, but who cares? We still know that he has malaria, regardless of if he knows how, when and where he contracted it or not. Similarly, I may not know when, where, or how I committed offenses to bhaktas and bhakti, but I know I must have done so because I display the symptom: a lack of divine love for Krsna.
The result of these offenses take a very long time to wear off, but I can make efforts to speed my recovery. The general treatment for offenses to bhakti is to take feel sorry for those insults and take thus better shelter of bhakti with deeper sincerity. Since only love can create love, only love can cure the insults I have made to my beloved. There is no other alternative.