guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati
bhuṅkte bhojayate caiva
Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence, inquiring confidentially, accepting prasāda and offering prasāda are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.
While living in this material world and being forced to be engaged in some or the other sort of activity, it is in the best interest of a sincere practitioner of Krishna consciousness to avoid the association of worldly minded people, who are striving for material sense gratification, and rather associate with the devotees of the Lord, who are always inclined towards discussing topics related to Krishna. However, although such association is most favourable for one’s spiritual life and should be sought after by everyone, one must also be extremely careful to avoid offending the vaishnavas in any way, for offences committed at the lotus feet of the sincere devotees of the Lord can be gravely dangerous for one’s spiritual life. Although, being soft hearted and kind, the devotees themselves do not take any offense, but the Supreme Lord, who may forgive a miscreant for offences committed toward himself, does not, in any situation, forgive a person who offends a Vaishnava, for the Vaishnavas are most dear to the Lord. The only respite from suffering the consequences of offending Vaishnavas, is taking shelter of the Vaishnavas themselves and resentfully begging for forgiveness.
Therefore, for the benefit of the devotees, Srila Rupa goswami, in his nectar of instruction, has given six practices that the devotees should follow in order to maintain loving relationships with the devotees, so as to greatly benefit from sadhu sanga and at the same time, avoid any offences towards the devotees.
Srila Rupa Goswami instructs all the vaishnavas to give and accept gifts in charity. The glories of giving charities have been expounded in all the vedic literatures and it brings about great fortune for the pious souls who give charity. This also proves to be the means of subsistence for many renounced devotees, who engage all of their time and energy in devotional service of the Lord, and only except what is given to them in charity, considering it to be the mercy of the Lord. Brahmanas are also expected to act in a similar way. Indeed, one who depends on the mercy of the Lord is never overly inclined towards hoarding too many material commodities and therefore gives their excess resources in charity to the vaishnavas. Vaishnavas, being the best amongst the brahmanas and the most exalted beings, should certainly act in an exemplary way and should therefore certainly give and receive gifts. He further instructs the devotees to reveal one’s mind in confidence and inquire confidentially. One should certainly have at least one friend with whom one can share their spiritual realisations and be enlightened by the other person’s realisations too. This should be done in the association of svajatiya bhaktas (devotees with the same mood as ours), as by such confidential sharing of realisations one can certainly feel inspired to make further progress on the path of bhakti. The remaining two practices are offering and accepting Krishna Prasad. Krishna Prasad is truly very potent in bestowing mercy upon the sadhakas and offering Prasad and accepting prasad from the vaishnavas can greatly enhance the loving relations between the devotees of the Lord, which is very conducive for our sadhana.
All these six practices should certainly be followed by one and all, as they give an opportunity to positively be in the association of the devotees of the Lord, and such association is invariably of utmost importance to be able to advance in spiritual life.
However, one must guard against engaging in such loving exchanges with materialistic people and people who are averse to Krishna consciousness, for such exchanges could lead one astray from their spiritual path and make them inclined towards the materialistic way of life. Therefore, one should certainly only engage in such loving exchanges with the devotees of the Lord, and by doing so one will experience great transcendental bliss while going forward on the path of Bhakti.