15 Tips to follow the right way of maintaining the association of devotees!
A male devotee (Name hidden) asked like this:
“there is a big pblm associating with devotee… in our country the devotees are not cooperative…. so i try this bt every time i fail… somehow my relationship doesn’t successful… what to do prabhuji i can’t understand…
Can u post how to deal with devotee or how to make real relationship with them? If u can, pls do that…. Hare krishna…”
Yes, this is the thing one should know while adopting a devotional way of life.
I need to be very frank in my giving the reply based on the real situation.
(1) First of all, you should not associate with the congregating and resident devotees considering him like a Paramahamsa. You will become upset later. Every devotee on earth is a practitioner of devotion, ie, sadhaka.
(2) Though they are the practitioners of devotion, we should not fail to give due respects to them in our interaction with them. On seeing every devotee, whether a child or a youth or a senior devotee, we should greet him with the folded palms saying HARE KRISHNA.
(3) You should not fall on anyone’s feet inside the temples though he is a senior devotee. Just greet with folded palms. However, you can fall on his feet when you meet any senior devotee outside the temple.
(4) Never discuss about material and mundane things with the fellow devotees. Always discuss about Krishna, acharyas, devotees, temples, preaching, etc. Discussing personal things with other devotees may bring a personal material bond between both of you. This will make us concentrate more on material things instead of spiritual aspects.
(5) Don’t visit the houses of other GRAHASTHA devotees very frequently. They may have many responsibilities for their family also. So, attend only when they arrange any congregational namahatta programs in their home. Attend any of their family functions on invitation. Go and enquire and even help whenever the fellow devotee is ill. These circumstances alone should be used to visit their houses. Visiting their house very frequently just for discussing may affect their personal life with spouse and children.
(6) There is no single rule for any issue. Any rule must be customized according to the circumstances of every devotee. So, never force a devotee to do something by insisting on a rule. For example, you should not force a devotee to reduce mating with spouse, because he may not be in a position to do so because of the needs of his wife. If you force him, he may have to lose his family peace and hence he may even part his wife.
(7) Never discuss about very private matters of other devotees. This will definitely lead to misunderstanding or separation in future.
(8) Never discourage other devotees who are in touch with you. They may be in the initial stage of devotion. Or, they may not take diksha or siksha stages fast like you because of his genuine reasons. Or, he may be struggling with many problems in body or family. So, don’t expect him to be like you or others. Just keep on encouraging him. He will come to a good stage in devotion when the barriers are less to pull him back.
(9) Never speak ill of other gods if any devotee is still worshiping some other demigods. You have right to speak about Krishna and you have no right to condemn the worship of other gods. Just encourage other devotees to worship Krishna. It is upto them to come fast or late.
(10) Be very careful in mingling with the devotees of opposite sex. Communicate with them only in public and do not have private discussions in the absence of any other devotees. Whenever you meet them, speak only about Krishna and other related things. As far as possible, have the association of same sex devotees that will be safe in this inducing material world.
(11) Do not tell your personal issues to others. Do not have money dealings with the fellow devotees. Do not use them for promoting some products of your company and getting some profits. The devotees are only to enhance our dedication to Krishna. Not for anything else. Keep this in mind. When we have more devotees association, we will have less chances for our deviation from our path. So, we should not use them for material dealings.
(12) Do not use the association of the devotees to borrow or to lend for interest. This will definitely affect the relations.
(13) Never involve in any love affairs with the devotees. This makes the atmosphere ugly because they can’t control their private talks. Marriage talks should always be directed through the temple manager or president or a devotee assigned for the marriage service.
(14) In case you do not have sufficient facilities for direct association of devotees in your area, go to the nearby centers atleast on Sundays. Or, start a sathsangha called HOUSE PROGRAM in your area through the temple manage of the temple near to your place. He will come once a week and run the sathsangha in your area in your house itself. And, you can also have online sathsangha in the forums and websites through a genuine media.
(15) In case there are some issues in getting the cooperation of the devotees in your nearby temple, don’t lose hope. Atleast one devotee will be cooperative. In any issue, all may not be the culprits. Only a few may create confusion and others will be good. Identify them and associate with them.
In general, keep on chanting, singing and worshiping in the temples. Avoid unwanted activities and discussions with the other devotees inside or outside the temples.
Hope this answers all your questions.