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Mad elephant offense

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Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Preface and Introduction

The Lord taught the Gosvāmī about devotional service, comparing it to a creeper, and advised him to protect the bhakti creeper most carefully against the mad elephant offense against the pure devotees.
SB Introduction:

The Lord taught the Gosvāmī about devotional service, comparing it to a creeper, and advised him to protect the bhakti creeper most carefully against the mad elephant offense against the pure devotees. In addition, the creeper has to be protected from the desires of sense enjoyment, monistic liberation and perfection of the haṭha-yoga system. They are all detrimental on the path of devotional service. Similarly, violence against living beings, and desire for worldly gain, worldly reception and worldly fame are all detrimental to the progress of bhakti, or Bhāgavata-dharma.

SB Canto 2

Offense by one at the feet of a pure devotee may be likened to the mad elephant who devastates a very good garden if it enters.
SB 2.2.30, Purport:

The ripe fruits of love of God are relished only by the devotees constantly engaged in the watering process as described above. But the working devotee must always be mindful so that the creeper which has so grown will not be cut off. Therefore he should be mindful of the following considerations:

(1) Offense by one at the feet of a pure devotee may be likened to the mad elephant who devastates a very good garden if it enters.

(2) One must be very careful to guard himself against such offenses at the feet of pure devotees, just as one protects a creeper by all-around fencing.

(3) It so happens that by the watering process some weeds are also grown, and unless such weeds are uprooted, the nurturing of the main creeper, or the creeper of bhakti-yoga, may be hampered.

(4) Actually these weeds are material enjoyment, merging of the self in the Absolute without separate individuality, and many other desires in the field of religion, economic development, sense enjoyment and emancipation.

(5) There are many other weeds, like disobedience to the tenets of the revered scriptures, unnecessary engagements, killing animals, and hankering after material gain, prestige and adoration.

(6) If sufficient care is not taken, then the watering process may only help to breed the weeds, stunting the healthy growth of the main creeper and resulting in no fructification of the ultimate requirement: love of God.

(7) The devotee must therefore be very careful to uproot the different weeds in the very beginning. Only then will the healthy growth of the main creeper not be stunted.

(8) And by so doing, the devotee is able to relish the fruit of love of God and thus live practically with Lord Kṛṣṇa, even in this life, and be able to see the Lord in every step.

SB Canto 3

Lord Caitanya said that an offense to a devotee is just like a mad elephant run loose; when a mad elephant enters a garden, it tramples all the plants.
SB 3.15.39, Purport:

The Lord knew that even the offensive doormen were His pure devotees, although by chance they committed an offense at the feet of other devotees. To commit an offense against a devotee is very dangerous in devotional service. Lord Caitanya therefore said that an offense to a devotee is just like a mad elephant run loose; when a mad elephant enters a garden, it tramples all the plants. Similarly, an offense unto the feet of a pure devotee murders one's position in devotional service. On the part of the Lord there was no offended mood because He does not accept any offense created by His sincere devotee. But a devotee should be very cautious of committing offenses at the feet of another devotee.

SB Canto 4

As a mad elephant can do anything horrible, so when a person offends a Vaiṣṇava he can perform any abominable action.
SB 4.2.19, Purport:

In Bhagavad-gītā, therefore, it is advised that one who desires to make tangible advancement in spiritual consciousness must avoid three things—lust, anger and the mode of passion. Actually we can see that lust, anger and passion make a man crazy, even though he be as great as Dakṣa. The very name Dakṣa suggests that he was expert in all material activities, but still, because of his aversion towards such a saintly personality as Śiva, he was attacked by these three enemies—anger, lust and passion. Lord Caitanya, therefore, advised that one be very careful not to offend Vaiṣṇavas. He compared offenses toward a Vaiṣṇava to a mad elephant. As a mad elephant can do anything horrible, so when a person offends a Vaiṣṇava he can perform any abominable action.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has described the vaiṣṇava-aparādha, or offense to a Vaiṣṇava, as "the mad elephant offense." One should be very careful not to offend a Vaiṣṇava or a brāhmaṇa.
SB 4.26.24, Purport:

Pure consciousness can be revived by the process of sacrifice, charity, pious activities, etc., but when one pollutes his Kṛṣṇa consciousness by offending a brāhmaṇa or a Vaiṣṇava, it is very difficult to revive. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has described the vaiṣṇava-aparādha, or offense to a Vaiṣṇava, as "the mad elephant offense." One should be very careful not to offend a Vaiṣṇava or a brāhmaṇa. Even the great yogī Durvāsā was harassed by the Sudarśana cakra when he offended the Vaiṣṇava Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, who was neither a brāhmaṇa nor a sannyāsī but an ordinary householder. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was a Vaiṣṇava, and consequently Durvāsā Muni was chastised.

SB Canto 5

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu warned His devotees not to commit vaiṣṇava-aparādha, which He described as the mad elephant offense.
SB 5.1.5, Purport:

According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, there are two kinds of impediments to devotional service. The first is an offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava. This is called vaiṣṇava-aparādha. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu warned His devotees not to commit vaiṣṇava-aparādha, which He described as the mad elephant offense. When a mad elephant enters a beautiful garden, it destroys everything, leaving a barren field. Similarly, the power of vaiṣṇava-aparādha is so great that even an advanced devotee becomes almost devoid of his spiritual assets if he commits it. Since Kṛṣṇa consciousness is eternal, it cannot be destroyed altogether, but advancement may be checked for the time being. Thus vaiṣṇava-aparādha is one kind of impediment to devotional service.

When a mad elephant enters a garden, it spoils all the fruits and flowers. Similarly, if one offends a Vaiṣṇava, he spoils all his spiritual assets.
SB 5.10.17, Purport:

When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was instructing Rūpa Gosvāmī at the Daśāśvamedha-ghāṭa in Prayāga, He pointed out very clearly the seriousness of offending a Vaiṣṇava. He compared the vaiṣṇava-aparādha to hātī mātā, a mad elephant. When a mad elephant enters a garden, it spoils all the fruits and flowers. Similarly, if one offends a Vaiṣṇava, he spoils all his spiritual assets. Offending a brāhmaṇa is very dangerous, and this was known to Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa. He therefore frankly admitted his fault. There are many dangerous things—thunderbolts, fire, Yamarāja's punishment, the punishment of Lord Śiva's trident, and so forth—but none is considered as serious as offending a brāhmaṇa like Jaḍa Bharata. Therefore Mahārāja Rahūgaṇa immediately descended from his palanquin and fell flat before the lotus feet of the brāhmaṇa Jaḍa Bharata just to be excused.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that by offending a Vaiṣṇava, one finishes all his spiritual activities. Offending a Vaiṣṇava is considered the mad elephant offense.
SB 5.10.24, Purport:

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that by offending a Vaiṣṇava, one finishes all his spiritual activities. Offending a Vaiṣṇava is considered the mad elephant offense. A mad elephant can destroy an entire garden which has been developed with great labor. One may attain the topmost platform of devotional service, but somehow or other if he offends a Vaiṣṇava, the whole structure collapses. Unconsciously, King Rahūgaṇa offended Jaḍa Bharata, but due to his good sense, he asked to be excused. This is the process by which one can be relieved from a vaiṣṇava-aparādha. Kṛṣṇa is always very simple and by nature merciful. When one commits an offense at the feet of a Vaiṣṇava, one must immediately apologize to such a personality so that his spiritual advancement may not be hampered.

SB Canto 6

SB 6.17.15, Translation:

One should be very careful not to commit offenses at the lotus feet of Vaiṣṇavas, of whom Lord Śiva is the best. While instructing Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu described an offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava as hātī mātā, a mad elephant. When a mad elephant enters a nice garden, it spoils the entire garden. Similarly, if one becomes like a mad elephant and commits offenses at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, his entire spiritual career is halted. One should therefore be very careful not to commit offenses at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava.

SB Canto 7

An offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava is so disastrous that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has compared it to a mad elephant that enters a garden and causes great havoc by uprooting many plants and trees.
SB 7.4.28, Purport:

Of all sinful activities, an offense to a pure devotee, or Vaiṣṇava, is the most severe. An offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava is so disastrous that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has compared it to a mad elephant that enters a garden and causes great havoc by uprooting many plants and trees. If one is an offender at the lotus feet of a brāhmaṇa or Vaiṣṇava, his offenses uproot all his auspicious activities. One should therefore very carefully guard against committing vaiṣṇava-aparādha, or offenses at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava. Here the Lord clearly says that although Hiraṇyakaśipu had received benedictions from Lord Brahmā, these benedictions would be null and void as soon as he committed an offense at the lotus feet of Prahlāda Mahārāja, his own son.

SB Canto 9

Caitanya Mahāprabhu has very strongly recommended that one not commit any offense at the lotus feet of a devotee. Such offenses are compared to a mad elephant because when a mad elephant enters a garden it causes devastation.
SB 9.4.68, Purport:

Since Durvāsā Muni wanted to chastise Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, it is to be understood that he wanted to give pain to the heart of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for the Lord says, sādhavo hṛdayaṁ mahyam: "The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart." The Lord's feelings are like those of a father, who feels pain when his child is in pain. Therefore, offenses at the lotus feet of a devotee are serious. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has very strongly recommended that one not commit any offense at the lotus feet of a devotee. Such offenses are compared to a mad elephant because when a mad elephant enters a garden it causes devastation. Therefore one should be extremely careful not to commit offenses at the lotus feet of a pure devotee.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta

CC Adi-lila

As a mad elephant may trample all the plants in a garden, so by committing one offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava one may spoil all the devotional service he has accumulated in his life.
CC Adi 17.10, Purport:

One day Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was sitting on the throne of Viṣṇu in the house of Śrīvāsa Prabhu, and in a mood of His own He said, "My mother has offended the lotus feet of Advaita Ācārya. Unless she nullifies this offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava, it will not be possible for her to achieve love of Kṛṣṇa." Hearing this, all the devotees went to bring Advaita Ācārya there. While coming to see the Lord, Advaita Ācārya was glorifying the characteristics of mother Śacīdevī, and thus upon arriving He fell down on the ground in ecstasy. Then, under the instruction of Lord Caitanya, Śacīdevī took advantage of this situation to touch Advaita Ācārya's lotus feet. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was very much pleased by His mother's action, and He said, "Now My mother's offense at the lotus feet of Advaita Ācārya has been rectified, and she may have love of Kṛṣṇa without difficulty." By this example Lord Caitanya taught everyone that although one may be very much advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, if one offends the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava his advancement will not bear fruit. We should therefore be very cautious not to offend a Vaiṣṇava. Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta has described such an offense as follows:

yadi vaiṣṇava-aparādha uṭhe hātī mātā
upāḍe vā chiṇḍe, tāra śukhi' yāya pātā
(CC Madhya 19.156)

As a mad elephant may trample all the plants in a garden, so by committing one offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava one may spoil all the devotional service he has accumulated in his life.

CC Madhya-lila

CC Madhya 19.156, Translation:

"If the devotee commits an offense at the feet of a Vaiṣṇava while cultivating the creeper of devotional service in the material world, his offense is compared to a mad elephant that uproots the creeper and breaks it. In this way the leaves of the creeper are dried up."

Giving up the regulative principles and living according to one's whims is compared to a mad elephant, which by force uproots the bhakti-latā and breaks it to pieces.
CC Madhya 19.156, Purport:

Giving up the regulative principles and living according to one's whims is compared to a mad elephant, which by force uproots the bhakti-latā and breaks it to pieces. In this way the bhakti-latā shrivels up. Such an offense is especially created when one disobeys the instructions of the spiritual master. This is called guru-avajñā. The devotee must therefore be very careful not to commit offenses against the spiritual master by disobeying his instructions. As soon as one is deviated from the instructions of the spiritual master, the uprooting of the bhakti-latā begins, and gradually all the leaves dry up.

By contacting nondevotees and engaging in nondevotional activities, a so-called mature devotee will fall victim to the mad elephant offense. Whatever growth has taken place is quickly uprooted by such an offense.
CC Madhya 19.157, Purport:

While the bhakti creeper is growing, the devotee must protect it by fencing it all around. The neophyte devotee must be protected by being surrounded by pure devotees. In this way he will not give the maddened elephant a chance to uproot his bhakti creeper. When one associates with nondevotees, the maddened elephant is set loose. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said, asat-saṅga-tyāga,—ei vaiṣṇava-ācāra (CC Madhya 22.87). The first business of a Vaiṣṇava is to give up the company of nondevotees. A so-called mature devotee, however, commits a great offense by giving up the company of pure devotees. The human being is a social animal, and if one gives up the society of pure devotees, he must associate with nondevotees (asat-saṅga). By contacting nondevotees and engaging in nondevotional activities, a so-called mature devotee will fall victim to the mad elephant offense. Whatever growth has taken place is quickly uprooted by such an offense. One should therefore be very careful to defend the creeper by fencing it in—that is, by following the regulative principles and associating with pure devotees.

CC Antya-lila

Offending or blaspheming a Vaiṣṇava has been described as the greatest offense, and it has been compared to a mad elephant.
CC Antya 3.213, Purport:

Kṛṣṇa, however, cannot tolerate any insults or blasphemy against a Vaiṣṇava. For example, Prahlāda Mahārāja was chastised by his father, Hiraṇyakaśipu, in so many ways, but although Prahlāda tolerated this, Kṛṣṇa did not. The Lord therefore came in the form of Nṛsiṁhadeva to kill Hiraṇyakaśipu. Similarly, although Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura tolerated the insult by Gopāla Cakravartī, Kṛṣṇa could not. The Lord immediately punished Gopāla Cakravartī by making him suffer from leprosy. While instructing Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī about the many restrictive rules and regulations for Vaiṣṇavas, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has very vividly described the effects of offenses at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava. Yadi vaiṣṇava-aparādha uṭhe hātī mātā (CC Madhya 19.156). Offending or blaspheming a Vaiṣṇava has been described as the greatest offense, and it has been compared to a mad elephant. When a mad elephant enters a garden, it ruins all the creepers, flowers and trees. Similarly, if a devotee properly executing his devotional service becomes an offender at the lotus feet of his spiritual master or another Vaiṣṇava, his devotional service is spoiled.

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Teachings of Lord Caitanya

The most dangerous animal is considered a mad elephant, for if a mad elephant enters into a garden, it causes tremendous damage to plants and trees. An offense to a pure devotee of the Lord is called vaiṣṇavāparādha, the mad elephant offense.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 1:

Lord Caitanya pointed out to Rūpa Gosvāmī that there was a certain danger to be encountered while watering the root of the devotional plant. After the plant has grown some bit, an animal may come and either eat or destroy it. When green leaves of a plant are taken by some animal, the plant generally dies. The most dangerous animal is considered a mad elephant, for if a mad elephant enters into a garden, it causes tremendous damage to plants and trees. An offense to a pure devotee of the Lord is called vaiṣṇavāparādha, the mad elephant offense. In the discharge of devotional service, an offense to the feet of a pure devotee can create havoc. Thus one has to defend the plant of bhakti by tending it properly and taking care not to commit offenses. If one is cautious, the plant can properly thrive.

Nectar of Instruction

An offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava is very serious. Indeed, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has described this offense as hātī-mātā, the mad elephant offense.
Nectar of Instruction 6, Purport:

If we consider the bodily defects of a Vaiṣṇava, we should understand that we are committing an offense at the lotus feet of the Vaiṣṇava. An offense at the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava is very serious. Indeed, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has described this offense as hātī-mātā, the mad elephant offense. A mad elephant can create a disaster, especially when it enters into a nicely trimmed garden. One should therefore be very careful not to commit any offense against a Vaiṣṇava. Every devotee should be ready to take instructions from a superior Vaiṣṇava, and a superior Vaiṣṇava must be ready to help an inferior Vaiṣṇava in all respects. One is superior or inferior according to his spiritual development in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One is forbidden to observe the activities of a pure Vaiṣṇava from a material point of view. For the neophyte especially, considering a pure devotee from a material point of view is very injurious. One should therefore avoid observing a pure devotee externally, but should try to see the internal features and understand how he is engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. In this way one can avoid seeing the pure devotee from a material point of view, and thus one can gradually become a purified devotee himself.

Lectures

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Vaiṣṇava aparādha, offense at the feet of Vaiṣṇava, is exactly like mad elephant. If a mad elephant enters your garden, then he spoils everything. This has been given. Vaiṣṇava aparādha means hātī mātā.
Lecture on SB 5.5.33 -- Vrndavana, November 20, 1976:

So immediately Kṛṣṇa's promise... Kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati (BG 9.31). Immediately sudarśana-cakra came and killed that demon immediately, and then he pursued Durvāsā Muni. Durvāsā Muni first of all approached Lord Śiva because he was devotee of Śiva: "Please give me protection." He said, "Oh, it is not possible for me. If sudarśana-cakra is after you, I cannot do anything." Then similarly, he approached Brahmā. So he also said, "No, this is not possible." Then he was so powerful that he approached Lord Viṣṇu even, personally, in the Vaikuṇṭhaloka. He refused to help him. He said, "Durvāsā Muni, unless you beg pardon from Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, there is no question of excusing you. The sudarśana-cakra will not excuse." Therefore Vaiṣṇava aparādha is very, very offensive. You should be very careful. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has warned vaiṣṇava aparādha, hātī mata. Vaiṣṇava aparādha, offense at the feet of Vaiṣṇava, is exactly like mad elephant. If a mad elephant enters your garden, then he spoils everything. This has been given. Vaiṣṇava aparādha means hātī mātā. Mātā means mad, and hātī means elephant. So we should be very, very careful not to commit any offense at the feet of Vaiṣṇava. Vaiṣṇava does not take any offense. He does not care who is offender, but Kṛṣṇa takes care. Kṛṣṇa will never tolerate if a person is Vaiṣṇava aparādha. Mind that. Just like a big man. You can offend him, he doesn't mind. But if he does something harmful to his child, so he becomes very angry.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu, in His teaching to Sri Rūpa Goswāmī, has compared Vaiṣṇava aparādha as mad elephant. He has very nicely metaphorically explained this.
Lecture on SB 7.9.8 -- Calcutta, March 5, 1972:

Similarly, when Nṛsiṁhadeva became very angry for killing, because He was angry because Hiraṇyakaśipu teased his devotee, Prahlāda, so much. Therefore, He was very, very angry. Vaiṣṇava aparādha. If anyone offends a Vaiṣṇava, a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he is the greatest offender. Kṛṣṇa never excuses. That I explained yesterday. It is very... Vaiṣṇava aparādha is the greatest dangerous offense. Therefore, Caitanya Mahāprabhu in His teaching to Sri Rūpa Goswāmī, He has especially, vaiṣṇava-aparādha hātī mātā, you are doing everything. He has compared Vaiṣṇava aparādha as mad elephant. He has very nicely metaphorically explained this. Just like you have a nice garden, very good garden, you are watering, you are giving protection, giving manure, everything. But if in that garden a mad elephant enters, then it will destroy everything, all your labor will go to hell immediately. It will destroy everything. Similarly, you may do anything very nicely; but if you commit offense at the feet of a pure Vaiṣṇava, then all your assets will be immediately vanquished. Vaiṣṇava aparādha. Because Kṛṣṇa is very angry. Tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān kṣipāmy ajasram yoniṣu (BG 16.19). In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, Kṛṣṇa said, dviṣataḥ krūrān. Dviṣataḥ, those who are envious upon Vaiṣṇava and Viṣṇu, the more dangerous position is to be envious of a Vaiṣṇava. Viṣṇu aparādha can be excused, God is very kind. But He never excuses Vaiṣṇava aparādha. That is His vow.

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