~ Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)

— Chapter Fourteen —

Offenses in Devotional Service

All glories to Sri Gadadhara Pandit, and to Lord Sri Gauranga; all glories to Lord Nityananda, the life and soul of Srimati Jahnavadeyi; all glories to Mother Sita, and to Advaita Acarya; all glories to Srila Srivas Pandit, and to all the devotees of Lord Caitanya.

Srila Haridasa Thakura is namacarya

LORD CAITANYA SAID, "My dear devotee Haridasa, the conditioned souls of Kali-yuga will greatly benefit from this elaborate explanation of the offenses against the holy name that you've so far given. You are indeed a great spiritual stalwart and acarya".

Srila Haridasa Thakura is namacarya, or the foremost spiritual authority on the subject of the holy name. He practiced everything he preached. He taught the jivas about the pure holy name, the shadowy name or namabhasa, and the glories of the holy name. He also instructed how one should quit committing namaparadha. He taught all this by his own example.

Lord Caitanya continued, "I very much relished your dissertation on the holy name. As an acarya, you are exemplary; as a preacher, you are profound. You are always omamented by the priceless gem of the Lord's holy name. Ramananda Raya taught me the esoteric science of divine mellows, and now you have instructed me on the profound philosophy of the holy name. Kindly speak on the different kinds of offenses made in the execution of devotional service."

Srila Haridasa Thakura replied, "You are asking about a subject that is more familiar to a servitor-devotee. My time is taken up in association with the holy name. I don't know what to say about all this, yet I cannot disregard Your instruction. I will speak whatever You make me say."

Varieties of sevaparadha

"Offenses in devotional service (sevaparadha) are numerous. In some scriptures, thirty-two offenses are listed, and in others, fifty. Scripture generally identifies four classifications of sevaparadha. By definition, sevaparadha is always related to Deity worship. The four classifications of offenses in Deity worship are: those pertaining to persons engaged in Deity worship, those pertaining to the installation of Deities, those pertaining to persons taking darsana of the Deity in the temple, and those that generally apply in all cases. These can be easily determined.

Thirty-two sevaparadhas

"The list of thirty-two offenses in Deity worship is as follows:

  1. entering the temple with shoes or alighting from a vehicle before the Deity as if on a promenade;
  2. not observing the festival days;
  3. forgetting to offer obeisances and prayers to the Deity;
  4. entering the temple without having washed the hands and feet after eating;
  5. offering worship to the Deity in an unclean or contaminated state;
  6. offering obeisances with one hand;
  7. circumambulating before the Deity;
  8. extending the feet towards the Deity;
  9. sitting on one's haunches before the Deity;
  10. sleeping or reclining in the presence of the Deity;
  11. eating before the Deity;
  12. speaking lies before the Deity;
  13. speaking out loudly before the Deity
  14. talking with others before the Deity;
  15. shedding false tears before the Deity;
  16. quarreling before the Deity;
  17. criticizing someone before the Deity;
  18. giving charity to beggars before the Deity;
  19. using abusive language before the Deity;
  20. covering with a blanket or quilt before the Deity;
  21. praising someone before the Deity;
  22. acting immodestly before the Deity;
  23. passing air before the Deity;
  24. using or giving substandard paraphernalia for Deity worship in spite of having better;
  25. eating or drinking unoffered food;
  26. not offering seasonal fruits and vegetables;
  27. offering contaminated food, first eaten by someone else, to the Deity;
  28. sitting with one's back to the Deity;
  29. offering obeisances to, or worshipping someone else before the Deity;
  30. not glorifying and offering obeisances to one's guru before the Deity;
  31. glorifying oneself before the Deity;
  32. slandering the demigods before the Deity.

These thirty-two sevaparadhas are compiled from the scriptures by the realized sages.