By: Damaghosa das,


In a conversation with Bhisma, Yudhisthira asked him: How should one act so that he can very easily pass his journey through life?

Bhisma replied: My dear king, a person who wants to avoid putting himself into great difficulty should carefully avoid the performing three acts with his body: the killing of other living entities, stealing, and the enjoyment of others’ wives. In addition, one should meticulously avoid four acts of speech: conversation about sinful activities, the utterance of harsh and offensive words, the advertising of others' faults, and lies. And, three acts of the mind should be rigorously avoided as well: coveting the possessions of others, disbelief in the Vedas, and thoughts of injuring others. If a person acts in this way, then he will traverse the path of life as easily as possible.
(Maha Bharata – Anusasana Parva)

Note: Probably the most important of this instruction for devotees is the parts about avoiding four acts of speech.

How many times do we hear about the sins of bogus gurus – almost like a broken record, or ourselves speaking harshly about bogus gurus, or advertising others faults or repeating outright lies about others, without checking for facts? Our Vaisnava philosophy states that our tongue is the most voracious and uncontrollable of all our senses, and here Bhisma confirms that fact by warning us about letting that tongue loose and actually taking some form of perverted pleasure in hearing about the sins/shortcomings of others!

What Srila Prabhupada did and what we are allowed to do are two different things. He is a maha-bhagavata and his senses are controlled by Hrisikesa, the Lord of the heart. Our situation I would surmise is not quite the same. Srila Prabhupada really did not like speaking badly about his godbrothers and their faults, because to avoid fault finding is one quality of the maha-bhagavata, but he had to tell us as a warning to not make the same mistakes the Gaudiya matha members did.

Socrates, the Greek philosopher had what he called the three filter test.

If some friend of his would say, "I have some news to tell you," Socrates would say, “Alright, but first before you tell me I must ask you this. Is what you are about to say about somebody, bad?”

The friend said, “Yes it is a nasty thing I want to tell you.”

Next Socrates would say, “Alright, but what you are about to tell me, do you know it is absolutely true or you just heard something?”

The friend said, “Well, I am not sure if it is completely true or not.”

Finally Socrates asked his friend, “Alright, if what you are about to tell me, is it beneficial to me at all?”

His friend said, “No. It would not really benefit you that much, if at all.”

So Socrates said, “Alright, your story has failed all three of my tests. It is not very palatable, you are not sure if it is true, and it won’t benefit me at all. So my friend, why would you want to tell me such a thing?”