Every morning, a different devotee comes up to Paradisio to visit Swamiji for a day. Although there is no formal initiation ritual or fire sacrifice, Swamiji chants on the initiates’ beads and bestows spiritual names: Aniruddha, Uddhava, Murari, Devananda.
One day, when Janaki visits, she takes exception to the painting of Lord Nrishingadev tearing out the entrails of the demon Hiranyakashipu. “It’s really ghastly, Swamiji, she says, making a face.
“For the devotees, it is beautiful,” he says. “The devotee praises Lord Nrishingadev: dalita hiranyakashipu tanu bhringam. ‘With the nails of Your beautiful hands, you have torn apart this wasp-like demon.’ Hiranyakashipu was such a great demon that he even tried to kill his small son, Prahlad Maharaj, just because he was a devotee. So the Lord killed Hiranyakashipu to protect His devotee and liberate the demon.”
“But there are no such demons now, Swamiji,” Janaki says.
“Oh yes,” Swamiji says. “Demon means nondevotee.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t call them demons,” Kirtanananda suggests. “People will never come if we call them demons.”
“But they are demons,” Swamiji says. “If you are not a devotee, you’re a demon.”
“Aren’t most people somewhere in between?” Kirtanananda persists.
“‘In between’ means demon,” Swamiji says.
“But most people never heard of Krishna,” Kirtanananda says. “How can they be called demons?”
“Everyone has heard of God,” Swamiji says. “Krishna is God. Anyway, they may be innocent; therefore we are informing them. But actually, because they’re here in this material world, they are not really innocent. Somehow, they’ve chosen to forget Krishna, and are therefore demons.”
“I thought that in Krishna consciousness, you see Krishna in everyone,” Kirtanananda says.
“Yes,” Swamiji says, “Krishna is also in the demon. But does this mean that we aspire to be demons? Unless you distinguish between demons and devotees, you cannot progress in Krishna consciousness.”
———–(From the “The Hare Krishna Explosion” by HG Hayagriva dasa)