Avoid Provincialism

His Divine Grace Om Vishnupad
Srila Bhakti Nirmal Acharya Maharaj
Kolkata-Worldwide, 4 April 2021, part 4


[Addressing one of the devotees.] I did not see you in the photographs taken during the Gaura Purnima festival [in your city]. Did you not join the programme this year? Why? Because you were not invited? You must make this grand festival all together. Why is it necessary to wait for an invitation? I never invite anyone for this festival—I only say that everybody can come for Gaura Purnima, but I do not invite anybody personally.

It is necessary to preach. It is necessary to preach and expand Srila Gurudev's mission. Everybody must avoid enviousness, everybody must avoid anger and ego. Ego is always a problem. Try to understand this.

Everybody says that there is a lack of harmony in some countries, but everybody must understand that we do not hanker for any post. We do not go after posts—it does not matter who is the president, who is the secretary, who is the treasurer, or who is the guru in a particular place. The post is only one—Gurudev, and we are all 'lamp posts.' This is very important to understand. It is not necessary to think, "Oh, he is the temple manager, and I do not have any post at the temple." This post, that post—this is not a question. If somebody cleans the plates, takes care of the garden, does cow seva at the temple, that is a great service.

You know that Mahaprabhu would always tell everybody not to touch His feet, but Mahaprabhu did not forbid Kalidas—Mahaprabhu said about Kalidas, "Do not tell him 'no'." Mahaprabhu allowed Kalidas to touch His feet. Why? Beecause Kalidas is extremely humble. He took prasadam from everybody's plates thinking, "I have no capacity, I have no right to sit together with great Vaishnavs. When they throw away their plates after taking prasadam, I will take their remnants from those plates. This is my capacity."

It is necessary to be humble, tolerant, and to give honour to others.

There is another thing called pradesi-katha (provincialism). I wrote about it in the third volume of Guidance, these are the words of Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. The chapter is called 'Pradesi-katha and Hari-seva' (Provincialism and Service to the Lord). It means the following. Somebody's mentality is, "I was born in Bengal, so I will only show love and affection for Bengali people." This is not good. We must show love and affection for everyone from all over the world. Sometimes somebody lives at the temple or becomes the temple manager, and they give a nicer room to those who come from their own country or village, they give much more preference to them. This is called pradesi-katha (provincialism, putting one's own provincial interests above the interest of the whole). Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur says that this mood is not good. I have seen that so many devotees have this kind of quality in them. They say, "Oh, he is coming from my family, he is my relative," so they give them many opportunities to do service. This is not good. First you must see who does service, it does not matter whether it is your family relative or not. You must not discriminate. This is called 'nepotism' (svajan-pusunota, স্বজ্ন পুষনতা—the practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs, etc.) You give preference to your relatives, but who is our relative? Somebody is born in the same family as I and I think this is my brother? No. Everybody is my relative! Everybody belongs to our one and the same family—Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Family. You must understand this. We must give chance to serve to everybody. We do not see who comes from where. Sometimes we also breed some family quarrel among devotees, which is not good. Why will we do that? We must finish all family quarrels within family—we must not transfer it onto others.

Even Srila Sridhar Maharaj shows this. Gurudev said that if Rama Devi had done something wrong and Srila Sridhar Maharaj gave her a tight slap, she would remember it for her entire life after that. Even Srila Sridhar Maharaj did not discriminate, "Oh, she did something wrong, but she is my sister, so it is OK, we will not punish her." No, it is not like that. Srila Sridhar Maharaj was not like that. Gurudev told also once directly to me when I was in his mother's room, "If you listen to me, if you are my disciple, then you are not to go to Tarangini Devi's house ever again." (Gurudev never said 'my mother,' he always said 'Dhananjay's mother'). He told me to never go to her house, and I followed that, I did not ask him why.

You must understand what I am trying to say. I wrote about this in the third volume of Upadesh, the English translation is also there. You can read what Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur says. It is a very nice chapter. Guidance Book, Volume Three, chapter Provincialism and Service to the Lord, page 109.




Provincialism and Service to the Lord

(From Guidance 3, page 109)

There are innumerable kinds of thorns and traps in the domain of service to the Lord. One of them is provincialism [putting one's own provincial interests above the interest of the whole]. There are many mundane pious programmes organised with provincial interest, and many become attacked by such mentality during the devotional programmes as well. In fact, when one become overcast by such mentality, it creates an obstacle for the devotional programmes. If one makes a show of trying to make something that externally looks like a devotional programme, then it is just one of the activities meant for enjoying its result.

When people, bound by provincial or national mentality, display enthusiasm and readiness for devotional activities(?), they actually have no eagerness for service or love for the Lord and Vaisnavs—they are more or less just beggars for sense gratification or selfish opportunism. Provincialists and nationalists who are engaged in either pious or inauspicious activities call it 'love for one's country' and 'love for one's nation' and are highly esteemed by the society; but such mundane love(?) is considered and censured as 'lust' (kama) and has no place in the domain of loving devotion whatsoever.

When provincialists put on a show of making a devotional programme, they look at the country, society, nation of the people from their former (non-devotional) life and think that they are dependent(?) on their mercy. Easily and very firmly enthroning the concern about the benefit(?) of the non-devotee society and country in their hearts. They personally speak Hari-katha, chant kirtans, or, with even greater enthusiasm, arrange for others to speak Hari-katha while they themselves get very busy ardently performing all kinds of other services (welcoming, serving guests, etc)—but very often sincere sadhus (indifferent to the material world), for the fear that others will give them a side-eye, become a little restrained, but, no matter how hard they try, their internal, heart-felt passion cannot cover up for the love of non-devotees towards their country, friends, and family. How long can those who feel natural surge and inspiration deep in their hearts hide themselves under the cover of such external hesitation?

Sometimes people also see someone from their province or country and, identifying themselves with their group or introducing themselves as a representative or a leader from that group, they act like they are very enthusiastic to arrange various devotional(?) programmes supporting service of the Lord, (Harinam sankirtan, circumabulation of the holy dham, staying in the holy dham, listening to Hari-katha, etc.). However, when such people do not identify themselves with that particular group, they have no enthusiasm to do all this, neither do they want to get involved in any way.

Sometimes people also think that if they they want to build a house for the Lord or some temple in their area or country, then they are ready to give support or show sympathy; but if they want to build a temple, etc. or preach in another district, then their compassion diminishes, often coming to a complete halt, or even turns into envy or animosity. For example, no Indian or Bengali will agree to help you financially if you want to preach Krsna consciousness or build a temple in London or Germany. West or North Bengalis will help you financially to build a temple or preach Krsna consciousness in East Bengal (Bangladesh), but the East Bengalis (Bangladeshi) do not want to help preaching Krsna consciousness in West and North Bengal.

Some people are even more narrow-minded—so much so that they say if you do not build a temple in our area, if you do not preach Krsna consciousness in our area, we will not support or help you in any way. There are even people who for the sake of preaching Krsna consciousness(?) first help a lot, and when they hear that there will be another temple in the area half a mile away from them, then you will get no help from them for that temple! Such people think rationally, "If we have a temple in our area, then our housewives can go to have the darsan of the Deity on foot, but if they propose to make a temple a little far, then our beloved wives will feel deprived of such opportunity. So, we cannot help or support such temple construction in any way." Such rational thinking proves that the enthusiasm, the eagerness one feels at first is not out of love for transcendental Lord Krsna or His devotees—it is for satisfying one's own senses, for seeking an opportunity to enjoy or secure commodity for enjoyment. Such pretence of service to the Lord is nothing more than an external screen. Internally, they are trying to fulfil their own purpose (religion, wealth, material aspirations, liberation) or find mundane happiness with the help of the Lord and His transcendental devotees.

Many people put on such a show to come in the proximity of the lotus feet of a bona fide Guru. When it comes to using the money from their locality for the service in the temple of another locality, they take the opposite side and stand still showing their ethical and impartial (detached) side. They show no support for the preaching of Krsna consciousness in other areas. Moreover, if another locality is more attracted to Krsna consciousness or there is much more preaching of Krsna consciousness in another locality, people pull back! The reason why it is important to analyse such mentality is because in such mentality the eagerness to enjoy is stronger than the enthusiasm for service. Spiritual benefactors always pray for the mercy of the Guru, Vaisnavs and the Lord so that they may leave such mentality; they constantly and sincerely cry to the Guru and Vaisnavs so that pure consciousness may awaken within them filled with the causeless, unconditional desire to satisfy the desires of Lord Krsna—they do not pray for any service performed out of provincial self-interest. Even though love for one's country or one's nation may be the highest moralist teaching in the world of selfish undertaking, no matter how highly it is esteemed by the mundane non-devotees, this mentality is contrary to the love of Godhead. The acute deficiency of love of Godhead and love (attachment) for one's body, house, etc.—these obstacles possess the hearts of both materialists and practitioners.

Provincialism is not kindness to the jiva souls. 'Mercy to the jiva soul' has nothing to do with the country, time, nation, or the person. There is no pursuit of self-interest in mercy to the jiva souls. There must be no attachment to mundane objects (one's own body, house, country, society, etc.). Only those are initiated into the propensity of the consciousness to please the Lord can be inspired to extend kindness to the souls. Attachment to one's house in disguise of nobility stands on the stage of the world in the form of a Mohini-murti of provincialism—sometimes it also wears a long piece of cloth (worn on one's neck) with the name of religion printed all over it and flashes it in front of all common people; but spiritual experts have caught up with this deceit and cheating. Practitioners must be careful about this.

There are two dangers in the practising life—fostering anger towards provincialism, or, on the contrary, attachment to it. It is not a duty of the intelligent people who practise Krsna consciousness to become vindictive towards any particular province, be it your own or others'. We must leave all designative ideas and become eager to engage in the service of the Lord without hypocrisy and tendency to cheat ourselves or others, but with clean consciousness, free from offences; we must worship the instruction coming from the holy lotus feet of our Divine Master in each and every province; preach the name of Sri Guru and Gauranga everywhere; we must dedicate everything—our life, wealth, knowledge, intelligence, speech, all 'place, time and person'—in selfless assistance to the service of the Lord. If devotees can preach Krsna consciousness or build a temple of the Lord in America using the money of Bengalis(?), it will be service to the Lord; and if devotees can build a place for the devotees of the Lord to practise Krsna consciousness in some area in Bengal using American money or if devotees preach the translation of Srimad Bhagavatam in Bengali, then more people can know about the Supreme Lord—in this way, the Lord will be satisfied. We must engage in the service of the Lord, inspired and encouraged by this ideal. East Bengalis (Bangladeshi) are not the owners of wealth, neither are Americans, nor are Indians—the king of this world is not the owner of wealth, neither are his subjects. People are only entrusted with some particular amount of money. The exclusive owner of all wealth, all knowledge, all living entities is the Supreme Lord, and He can be found in this material world only in the form of the transcendental sound. He appears in this world in the form of a Deity and the transcendental Name. Wherever there is service to this Holy Name, wherever there is love for Sri Harinam Prabhu, wherever, be it abroad or in this country, the Name of Sri Chaitanya is remembered—every country's, every province's, every nation's wealth, knowledge, intelligence, living entities must be utilised. We must not prevent the world from having the consciousness that 'everything belongs to Him' (isavasya) by drawing the curtain of provincialism over service consciousness. Beware!

Many provincialists will not hear anything about the eternal spiritual religion save and except if it is the religion of one's country, nation, bodily heritage. If one possesses such mentality, then, even if they pretend to listen about the exclusive and genuine religion of the soul, they will neither allow it to enter their ears, nor will they be able to judge about it with an unbiased mind within their hearts. Such mentality, as well as fanaticism in the name of faith in the common and ancestral religion, love for the nationalist or patriotic religion is actually defined as apathy towards the benefit of the soul. "Our family line are saktas," "Our society or nation are Sivaite," "Our province's religion is Buddhism" or we accept whatever other concocted religion, worshipping our ancestors, five deities (panchopasana, mayavadi conception), etc. so called Vaisnavism, or prakrta-sahajiya. Therefore, just as people stick to drinking hard water from a well just because their father had dug it ('tatasya kupah'), we also follow various concocted religions lending our faith to family, nation, society or country. Sincere seekers and spiritual benefactors never follow such ideas. If just because Christianity is preached in Europe; Buddhism is preached in various places on the Asian continent; mayavad, karma-jada-smartism, worship of ghosts, sahajiyaism, atibadi, etc. are preached in India—people from all those places, inspired by the love for their own nation, try to excommunicate the non-deceitful non-dual eternal religion of the soul, who will they be cheating then?

"I was born in Odisha, so I must support the atibadi doctrine. I was born in Bengal, so I must flatter the sahajiyas. The society of Raja Ram Mohan Roy has increased, so it is necessary to establish it in any possible way. Or because I was born in Europe, if there is anything other higher and more nourishing than Christianity, I will not care to listen to it,"—such resolute promise has nothing to do with the search for the truth or the love for the truth. If one, under pretence of searching for the truth or love for the truth, tries to measure the religion of the soul through their sense perception to see weather some other type of provincialism arises or not—this is also not search for the truth.

Trying to measure the eternal benedictine religion of the soul under the cover of searching for the truth, Raja Ram Mohan Roy's expedition to Tibet or his discussions about Indian and foreign religions is nothing but a form of provincialism. Mundane thinking or worldly thinking is the mother of provincialism. There is one preacher of a concocted religion who saw once a mouse stealing ghee wicks from the room where Siva-linga was. Seeing it, he reasoned, "Will the Lord who is not able to protect the paraphernalia that is to be offered to Him, be able to protect anyone else?" It was perhaps under the influence of such thoughts that he actually left his own provincial religion and pretended to search for the truth, but in fact he did not reject provincialism because what he accepted later on, with even more faith and determination, proved to be the same provincialism but in another form. Because he had provincial eyes he could not understand that what he saw was mundane and provincial. His sharp intellect, genius, erudition, judiciousness were covered by the screen of self-deceptive search for the truth, throwing him eventually into a tight grip of provincialism. In this way, his sham search for the truth proved to be a manifestation of mundane mentality and was even more condemnable.

There is a fake doctrine of so called synthesis (samanvayavad) preached in this world to cater for such sham search for the truth through mundane vision, which is but an even greater deception of oneself and others. This so called teaching of synthesis appeared as a cooked up form of amusement for people on pretence of supporting all forms of provincialisms. If we say, "The highest religion is only religion of the soul or bhagavat-dharma," then we cannot place any provincial doctrine on our heads considering it to be equal. So, "it does not matter where and what kind of provincialism it is, all are the same"—forgetting this basic principle people resort to various devious means to promote their own provincialism, which is but 'synthesis' for the sake of one's own pleasure.

We must be cautious and not fall prey to any despicable version of doctrines that offer provincialism in disguise of real search for the truth. "Bona fide religion is enacted by the Supreme Lord Himself" (dharmantu saksad-bhagavat-pranitam); devotional service, beginning with the chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord, is the ultimate religious principle for the living entity in human society (etavan eva loke 'smin pumsam dharmah / bhakti-yogo bhagavati tan-nama-grahanadibhih), "the supreme occupation for all humanity of service to the transcendental Lord" (sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir-adhoksaje), "Bhagavatam is a religion for the pure devotees who completely reject all religious activities motivated by mateiral gain and who are free from envy" (dharmah projjhita-kaitavo 'tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam), etc.—if we consider these scriptural statements we can see that pure devotees reject all kinds of provincialism, they are devoid of envy and live by the eternal religion of the soul that is supremely worshippable and devoid of even a trace of deceit—such religion must be accepted independent of the place, time or person.

Practitioners who seek truth aspiring for eternal spiritual benefit and entrance into the spiritual domain must be always careful about this. All teachings that have sprung, are springing and will spring from provincialism are an obstruction of the religion of the soul and are a fleeting friend of material religions. As soon as we see any of these symptoms in any doctrine, we must always keep away from it. Followers of all these doctrines will try to tarnish the eternal religion of the soul in the name of provincialism or some other dull religion, but it is necessary to judge such teachings with a neutral and sane mind, and when you come to judge it, you must internally, with a pure heart and intense desire, pray to the Supreme Lord so that the soul may remain always engaged in the loving service and that it may be wise enough to become free from provincialism. If there is even a slightest attachment to the mundane or worldly mentality, one's sincere search for the truth cannot not prove successful. Beware!


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Why do we recite the vandana of Vaishnavs, Nityananda Prabhu, Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Radha-Krishna, Tulasi Devi? Vandana means ahovat korte, calling them, praying them for mercy, 'Prabhu, we are going to chant your glorification. Please give us some mercy.'


'He is the eternal shelter of the souls surrendered unto Sri Gaura and the Guru of the world. He is dedicated to the service of his Guru, Srila Gaura Kisor, and completely devoted to Srila Bhakti Vinod. Eternally I offer my obeisance to my master's feet.'

What did Gurudev leave us for? So that we join the festival, give some glorification, take prasadam, and leave? Our service does not finish there.