Answer: Offenses are the activities which are against devotion. We have a list of them. It is important to avoid them because they are detrimental to one’s progress in devotion.
Question: Do the offences only affect the devotees or also non-devotees?
Answer: Both devotees as well as non-devotees.
Question: If non-devotees are also affected, how could this happen if they are not even aware of such offense?
Answer: Even an ignorant person can commit a crime. Is it necessary to know that stealing is crime before one steals? If you have pain in your back and somebody pushes you, will you not feel pain and be upset with this person regardless of whether the person knows or does not know that you have pain or not, regardless of whether the person knows or does not know that pushing you will make you feel pain. Just as a non-devotee can benefit by chanting he can also commit offense and suffer.
Question: If we are making them aware of such offenses, is that considered an offence on our part because they have no faith in what we are saying?
Answer: If by making them aware you make them upset with bhakti or God or the Name then you are committing an offense. If they become careful and attentive and avoid offenses then you are doing welfare. So it depends how the person you educate reacts to you sermon.
Question: One of the offenses is to consider pious activities such as observing religious principles, fasting, renunciation and fire sacrifice to be equal to the chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord. Does this mean that we cannot replace such religious activities with the chanting of the Holy Name and vice versa?
Answer: Yes, that is what this offence means. Considering the name of Lord equal to such activities or replacing such activities with name or vice versa is offensive.
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Some people say that Bhakti is already present in the jiva and then it just manifests by doing sadhana. In this Anuccheda (47), Sri Jiva Gosvami does not agree with this view. Bhakti is the intrinsic potency of Bhagavan and it is with Bhagavan and his devotees. The very reason jiva is covered by maya is because it does not have Bhakti. If jiva had Bhakti, it could not be covered by maya.