Qualities of a Vaiṣṇava Devotee of the Lord

Krishna and His Pure Devotee Srila Prabhupada

I like this picture very much and it became my meditation this morning. I began to think what it was, that first attracted me to Srila Prabhupada and the Hare Krishna Movement, or Krsna Consciousness. And it was the idea of becoming a better person, that first attracted me.

…Any man who has genuine devotion to the Lord has all the good qualities which are found in godly persons or in the demigods, whereas the nondevotee, however advanced he may be in material qualifications by education and culture, lacks in godly qualities (from purport Bg. 1.28)

Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, the author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, says that all good qualities become manifest in the body of a Vaiṣṇava and that only by the presence of these good qualities can one distinguish a Vaiṣṇava from a non-Vaiṣṇava. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja lists the following twenty-six good qualities of a Vaiṣṇava: (1) He is very kind to everyone. (2) He does not make anyone his enemy. (3) He is truthful. (4) He is equal to everyone. (5) No one can find any fault in him. (6) He is magnanimous. (7) He is mild. (8) He is always clean. (9) He is without possessions. (10) He works for everyone’s benefit. (11) He is very peaceful. (12) He is always surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. (13) He has no material desires. (14) He is very meek. (15) He is steady. (16) He controls his senses. (17) He does not eat more than required. (18) He is not influenced by the Lord’s illusory energy. (19) He offers respect to everyone. (20) He does not desire any respect for himself. (21) He is very grave. (22) He is merciful. (23) He is friendly. (24) He is poetic. (25) He is expert. (26) He is silent. (from purport to SB 5.18.12)

Reference Verses

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Canto 5, Chapter 18, Text 12

yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā
sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ
harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇā
manorathenāsati dhāvato bahiḥ

yasya—of whom; asti—there is; bhaktiḥ—devotional service; bhagavati—to the Supreme Personality of Godhead; akiñcanā—without any motive; sarvaiḥ—with all; guṇaiḥ—good qualities; tatra—there (in that person); samāsate—reside; surāḥ—all the demigods; harau—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; abhaktasya—of a person who is not devoted; kutaḥ—where; mahat-guṇāḥ—good qualities; manorathena—by mental speculation; asati—in the temporary material world; dhāvataḥ—who is running; bahiḥ—outside.

TRANSLATION

All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva. On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the practice of mystic yoga or the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must engage in the service of the Lord’s external energy. How can there be any good qualities in such a man?

PURPORT

As explained in the next verse, Kṛṣṇa is the original source of all living entities. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (15.7), wherein Kṛṣṇa says:

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke
jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” All living entities are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, and therefore when they revive their original Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they possess all the good qualities of Kṛṣṇa in a small quantity. When one engages himself in the nine processes of devotional service (śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam/ arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ sakhyam ātma-nivedanam [SB 7.5.23]), one’s heart becomes purified, and he immediately understands his relationship with Kṛṣṇa. He then revives his original quality of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

In the Ādi-līlā of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Chapter Eight, there is a description of some of the qualities of devotees. For example, Śrī Paṇḍita Haridāsa is described as being very well-behaved, tolerant, peaceful, magnanimous and grave. In addition, he spoke very sweetly, his endeavors were very pleasing, he was always patient, he respected everyone, he always worked for everyone’s benefit, his mind was free of duplicity, and he was completely devoid of all malicious activities. These are all originally qualities of Kṛṣṇa, and when one becomes a devotee they automatically become manifest. Śrī Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, the author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, says that all good qualities become manifest in the body of a Vaiṣṇava and that only by the presence of these good qualities can one distinguish a Vaiṣṇava from a non-Vaiṣṇava. Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja lists the following twenty-six good qualities of a Vaiṣṇava: (1) He is very kind to everyone. (2) He does not make anyone his enemy. (3) He is truthful. (4) He is equal to everyone. (5) No one can find any fault in him. (6) He is magnanimous. (7) He is mild. (8) He is always clean. (9) He is without possessions. (10) He works for everyone’s benefit. (11) He is very peaceful. (12) He is always surrendered to Kṛṣṇa. (13) He has no material desires. (14) He is very meek. (15) He is steady. (16) He controls his senses. (17) He does not eat more than required. (18) He is not influenced by the Lord’s illusory energy. (19) He offers respect to everyone. (20) He does not desire any respect for himself. (21) He is very grave. (22) He is merciful. (23) He is friendly. (24) He is poetic. (25) He is expert. (26) He is silent.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter 1, Text 28

arjuna uvāca
dṛṣṭvemaṁ sva-janaṁ kṛṣṇa
yuyutsuṁ samupasthitam
sīdanti mama gātrāṇi
mukhaṁ ca pariśuṣyati

arjunaḥ—Arjuna; uvāca—said; dṛṣṭvā—after seeing; imam—all these; svajanam—kinsmen; kṛṣṇa—O Kṛṣṇa; yuyutsum—all in fighting spirit; samupasthitam—all present; sīdanti—quivering; mama—my; gātrāṇi—limbs of the body; mukham—mouth; ca—also; pariśuṣyati—drying up.

TRANSLATION

Arjuna said: My dear Kṛṣṇa, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up.

PURPORT

Any man who has genuine devotion to the Lord has all the good qualities which are found in godly persons or in the demigods, whereas the nondevotee, however advanced he may be in material qualifications by education and culture, lacks in godly qualities. As such, Arjuna, just after seeing his kinsmen, friends and relatives on the battlefield, was at once overwhelmed by compassion for them who had so decided to fight amongst themselves. As far as his soldiers were concerned, he was sympathetic from the beginning, but he felt compassion even for the soldiers of the opposite party, foreseeing their imminent death. And so thinking, the limbs of his body began to quiver, and his mouth became dry. He was more or less astonished to see their fighting spirit. Practically the whole community, all blood relatives of Arjuna, had come to fight with him. This overwhelmed a kind devotee like Arjuna. Although it is not mentioned here, still one can easily imagine that not only were Arjuna’s bodily limbs quivering and his mouth drying up, but that he was also crying out of compassion. Such symptoms in Arjuna were not due to weakness but to his softheartedness, a characteristic of a pure devotee of the Lord. It is said therefore:

yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā
sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ
harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇā
mano-rathenāsati dhāvato bahiḥ

“One who has unflinching devotion for the Personality of Godhead has all the good qualities of the demigods. But one who is not a devotee of the Lord has only material qualifications that are of little value. This is because he is hovering on the mental plane and is certain to be attracted by the glaring material energy.” (Bhāg. 5.18.12)

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