Diti’s inability to restrain herself in a moment of temptation led to the birth of Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakashipu.  Similarly as Krishna’s devotees, how we respond to temptations, allurements and pushings of our senses will bring glory or disgrace to Srila Prabhupada’s movement, which we are trying to represent.

Older we grow in Bhakti, greater the effect, similar to throwing a bigger and bigger boulder in a pond, producing ripples or waves according to the size of stone throne.  As we grow older, many younger ones take our inspiration and shelter for their survival and growth in Krishna consciousness.  While our enthusiasm in Krishna consciousness brings a positive impression in them, our mistakes and succumbing to maya’s allurements will cause negative effect in the lives of many.  When leaders leave the movement, many followers who were taking inspiration mainly from them also leave.  Thus it behooves the grown up devotees, to take great caution to conduct themselves in such a way that they will not set a bad example.

ILL BEHAVIOUR   Just as religious principles are established by the behavior of a pure Vaishnava, so it is conversely true that the reputation of religion is marred by the ill behavior of someone who claims to be a Vaishnava.

(eg) money mishandling, children or woman abuse, man-woman misbehavior, unreasonable anger, eloping with a woman, fall down from spiritual life, arrogant behavior  etc

Srila Prabhupada writes in his SB 1.17.41 purport :

The progressive religionists and those who are responsible human beings or those who do not want to spoil their valuable human lives should refrain from all the principles of irreligiosity, especially illicit connection with women.  (Typical problems in religious life are money, woman and fame/prestige/following)

If a brahmana is not truthful, all his claims as a brahmana at once become null and void.

If a sannyasi is illicitly connected with women, all his claims as a sannyasi at once become false.

If a King and Public Leader are unnecessarily proud or habituated to drink/smoke, he becomes disqualified.

If a woman is not chaste, she can cause trouble to her family, to another man’s family and to society.

The FOUR leaders of human society – sannyasis, brahmana, the King and Public Leader/Counselor   —  must be tested crucially by their CHARACTER and QUALIFICATIONS.  Before one can be accepted as a spiritual or material master of society, he/she must be tested by the above mentioned criteria of Character.

Such public leaders may be LESS QUALIFIED IN ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS, but it is necessary primarily that they be free from the contamination of Gambling, Drinking, Prostitution and Animal slaughter.


The real test of Leadership is something different from Political control or maintaining many followers.

To be a real devotee in Krishna consciousness, one has to behave as a devotee according to the standards of Vaishnava behaviour.


‘Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion’, Srila Prabhupada used to quote meaning that a devotee must be exemplary.  Hypocrisy is dishonesty, and without honesty there is no question of spiritual life.

Sastric examples of Hypocritical behaviour :

  1. Indra disguised as sannyasi to interrupt the sacrifice of Maharaja Prthu
    b. Ravana disguised as a saintly mendicant to kidnap Sita

When religionists misbehave, the spread of God consciousness is checked.
(eg) For example, a basic principle of Krishna consciousness is ‘Student must hear from authority.’

This is an all-important rule because we cannot know Absolute Truth by sense perception.

In the case of Vedic knowledge, authority of Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna and we hear through His direct representatives.

But if such representatives – Gurus, Sadhus, Counselors – behave hypocritically, then their teaching cannot be accepted as a transparent via medium and the whole system breaks down.

Can Smoker preach about Not Smoking?  If people suspect that a representative of God is cheating on the very principles he is supposed to be upholding, then how can they hear him with faith?  If he advise others not to smoke, and he himself smokes, of what value are his words?

It is Government’s duty to stop fraudulent religious practices.  But governments of today cannot ascertain what is religion or irreligion.  Thus society has become hellish due to cheaters and imposters.

The misbehaving brahmacari, grhasta or sannyasi — hypocritical teachers tend to give the impression that all authorities are cheaters.

Some examples of misbehaviour in devotee community :

Brahmacari – eloping with a girl, stealing money, keeping touch with loose women, verbal/physical fight, rebelling against authorities, propagating wrong philosophy, criticizing vaishnavas, missing sadhana or temple programs, making eating and sleeping the ultimate goal of life, arrogant speech and action etc

Grihasta – dressing in non-vaishnava way that is unnecessarily distracting to opp sex, getting too close to spouses of others, Male counselor intimately counseling a female or vice-versa,  telling lies,  becoming a self appointed advisor and giving wrong directions to people,  going on taking money on debt from others, talking ill of other vaishnavas to increasing one’s reputation, breaking promises, saying one thing and doing another thing etc.

Boys/Girls – hanging around with opp sex, riding on bikes, going to hotels together, dressing glamorously in a non-devotional way, disrespecting elders, breaking four regulative principles, showing double standards etc.


Persecutions may come and go, but the real behaviour of the devotees will create a lasting impression.  If the behaviour is according to Vaishnava principles, then the impression will be favorable, at least for those who are sincere.

‘As soon as they will see our activities, they will be very much pleased…Let them come in the evening, see kirtana, take prasada, and liberally contribute.  They will feel relieved to contribute to such a good cause.’

– Srila Prabhupada letter to Giriraj dasa, Sep 3, 1974

Integrity, Purity, Transparency, Simplicity, Truthfulness, Honesty, Courtesy in dealings, enthusiasm in Krishna consciousness activities like Harinam hearing chanting discussing Krishna katha, Polite and humble behaviour etc touch people’s hearts far more than the lectures they hear.


Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is never deceived for a minute. 

He knows His sincere devotees are following His instructions, and He always protects them.

Although we have a weak will and we are very vulnerable to fall prey to maya’s allurements, Krishna gives us the right intelligence based on our Sincerity, ‘dadami buddhi yogam tam’.

He also knows who is hypocritical.

Since success in devotional service is based on pleasing Lord Krishna and His representative and since Krishna is all-knowing, a hypocrite cannot advance spiritually.

Those who are acting as representative of Krishna, Srila Prabhupada wanted them to take shelter of the rules and regulations of Vaishnava behaviour as the sure means to victory.

‘….become the practical example to others. Then everything will be all right.  Then there will be no fear of being victimized by maya.’ –  Srila Prabhupada to Bali mardana das, Sep 5, 1974

The article is an answer to the Open Book Exam (Canto 3.1-14), by Radheshyam Dasa, to the question: “’An ordinary man’s mistake may ruin his life. But Diti’s mistake disturbed the whole universe.’ Present your reflections on our responsibility as devotees of Krishna and followers of Srila Prabhupada as we grow ‘older’ in Bhakti.”

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