Question: In the discussion surrounding Bhakti Sandarbha, Annucheda 153, pg 455 it says that “If a person disrespects a Vaisnava, then Lord Visnu is not pleased with him even if he worships the Lord for hundreds of lifetimes”. My first question is what constitutes disrespect?
Answer: Anything which will displease one. It could be some words, physical action, like looking in a demeaning way or laughing sarcastically. Actually the answer you can know yourself – what would you consider disrespect to yourself may also be disrespectful to others. Some things may be specific to a particular culture, like in India calling a senior person by the name is disrespectful.
Question: If I think about how I should respect my guru, the answer is very clear to me. But I’m not certain as to how to apply this verse in my life in my interactions with people who are Vaisnavas but who I don’t necessarily have a relationship with. Is simply greeting and acknowledging someone a sign of respect?
Answer: Yes, in such cases greeting is a sign of respect.
Question: Or is something more required?
Answer: It will vary from person to person. But at least do not act disrespectfully knowingly. Do not have the mood of disrespect within.
Question: Secondly, in the West there is a belief that respect should be earned, while in the East, we respect our parents (and their authority) without them having to “earn it” first. I think that all life should be respected, but human beings are tricky creatures. Their egos get in the way of almost everything that they do – so how does one respect the Vaisnava truly, without flattering a false ego?
Answer: That is why I said respect/disrespect is also cultural thing. So in Vaisnavism we do not follow this concept that respect has to be earned. We respect all, but the manner of respect will vary. Sometimes just looking with a smile may be respect, say towards children.
Kavya of the Bhagavatam
Question: Why does Śuka speak in plain prose in the Fifth Canto, but uses metrical poetry everywhere else?
Answer: SrimadBhagavatam is a kavya. Kavya is of three types – poetry, prose and a mixture of both. SB has used the third style. Interestingly, in Sanskrit writing kavya in prose is considered as more difficult than writing in poetry.
Question: SB 11.9.28 speaks about Bhagavan creating the human species because he was not satisfied with his previous creation. Does this occur at the beginning of each creation and where are all the jivas who had human bodies before at that time?
Answer: When there is total annihilation, all the jivas go into the body of Mahavishnu, whether they had human or subhuman bodies. Then, at the beginning of a new creation, He ejects the jivas into prakriti or material nature, as Krsna says in BG 14.3. and 14.4. And then later on, various species of life are created by Brahma and prajapatis such as Daksa.
So not all the jivas come out simultaneously. Just as there are many seeds in the ground, they do not all sprout simultaneously. Different jivas have different karmas, and when it is possible for their karma to manifest, they are giving the corresponding bodies.