If I let myself think, “Aparādhā-bhajan is better than no bhajan at all,” then I probably won’t stop this aparādhā bhajan for a long time to come.
Bhajan with aparādhā is worse than no bhajan at all.
Bhajan with aparādhā is worse than no bhajan at all. Just as having a negative experience with a person is worse than having no experience with them at all. But the solution is not to stop the bhajan. The solution is to stop the aparādhā.
Bhajan with mistakes and failures is certainly better than no bhajan at all.
First, let me reiterate what aparādhā actually is. It is not a mistake or a failure. Mistakes or failures in our bhajan are natural and inevitable because we are complete beginners. Bhajan with mistakes and failures is certainly better than no bhajan at all. It is by doing sincere bhajan with mistakes and failures that we gradually overcome the mistakes and failures – just as practicing a musical instrument gradually gets rid of our mistakes in playing it.
Love expresses itself in celebration (kīrtan) and adoration (bhajan). Hate expresses itself in slander and criticism (ninda).
Aparādhā-bhajan is something else.
What is aparādhā?
Aparādhā literally means Anti (apa-) love (rādhā). What is “antilove” – it is “hate.”
So, you see, aparādhā means to intentionally choose do do the opposite of love. Love expresses itself in celebration (kīrtan) and adoration (bhajan). Hate expresses itself in slander and criticism (ninda).
Not all criticism is hateful, but all hate maifests in criticism (ninda). Therefore we have to be very careful of ninda. We don’t have licence to criticize anyone — unless we have some practical reason to expose a flaw for the sake of benefiting those adversely affected by it. Even then, we should measure our pulse. It is so easy for beginners like us to think we are expressing “constructive criticism” when in fact we are just venting anger as a result of frustration and hatred.
We have to dilligently curb our habbit of inflating our own stature by deflating the stature of others.
Unfortunately we constantly saturate ourselves in ninda. It is even a socially accepted part of many āśrama cultures! Often I have heard entire lectures supposedly about Bhāgavatam or Krishna which in truth were nothing but fourty-five minutes of nonstop ninda – full of criticism of “karmis” and making fun of “māyāvādīs” and “christians” and so on. [Pointing this out is not a ninda, but part of the effort to rid myself of ninda and its sources].
It is almost a requirement for joining one āśrama that you must criticize every other āśrama on the marg. This is why many of us feel we are better off not “joining” any āśrama at all.
We have to dilligently curb our habbit of inflating our own stature by deflating the stature of others. Yes its very tiring and difficult to do this, but we will never really get anywhere in bhakti-yoga until we make this effort, and make it fully. We must avoid criticizing people – any people. Especially we have to avoid expressing hatred for people who love the same person we are supposed to love, Krishna! This includes other beginners as well, as bungling and annoying and dumb as we all are. There is so much criticism of sādhus who are on even minutely different paths than we are. It is almost a requirement for joining one āśrama that you must criticize every other āśrama on the marg. It is so awful and so detrimental to bhajan. This is why there are no shining, self-effulgent ācāryas. This is why we all remain such dunderheads and dullards. And this is why many of us feel we are better off not “joining” any āśrama at all.
People who love Krishna also include all the various adhikṛta-dāsa divinities, (Śiva, Brahmā, Indra, Varuṇa, etc.) and their followers – and not only in their obviously Vedic manifestation but also in their cross-cultural cross-pollenated faccimilies (like Thor, Odin, and so on). Why criticize them? What do we gain from it? Nothing. Rather than gain, in fact, we lose the most important thing – the devotional attitude (which is soft, forgiving, tolerant, and gentle by nature).
People who love Krishna certainly also include the intermediate and advanced devotees who should be treated as sādhu and guru.
Obviously, it also includes Krishna himself. We must not slander, criticize (or cause others to do that by our pathetic misrepresentation of) Krishna’s manifestation as the Veda (yes, all of them, including the karma-khanda and jñāna-khanda – and culminating in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam), as Śrī Mūrti, as Śrī Nāma, and as Śrī Dhāma.
We should stop our aparādhā by increasing our rādhā. We should do more kīrtan and bhajan
Rather than only trying to stop our aparādhā, we should also take a positive approach. We should stop our aparādhā and increase our rādhā. We should do more kīrtan and bhajan with better sincerity, while giving up our spite and jealousy and need for superiority and eminance and recognition. Then aparādhā decreases and rādhā takes its place in our hearts. Then our progress is swift and perfect.
We must stop our aparādhā immediately and entirely. We can’t go around resting on slogans like, “something is better than nothing.”
Vraja Kishor dās