[Advaita-l] What are the marks of a true Vaishnava?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Dec 3 06:36:36 EST 2021

What are the marks of a true Vaishnava?

In the Kapila Upapurana 21st chapter, there is a short discourse on Jnana
Yoga. Nandikeshwara asks Mahaveda 'What are the marks 'signs' of a
Vaishnava, the branding of the image of Shankha, Chakra, etc. on the body?'

Mahadeva replies:

Giving up desire and anger, those with a loin cloth, with sweet words,
always their heart filled with ananda - these are the marks of a Vaishnava.

Singing the glories of Govinda  shedding tears of joy, endowed with
compassion, truth, free of the idea of 'I' and 'mine', worshiping the gods,
brahmanas and making noble persons happy - these noble traits are the marks
of a vaishnava.

Others, without these traits, but with just the external marks of Shankha,
Chakra, etc. are only vainglorious, making a show of the marks.

From this we come to know that the physical marks of the conch, etc. is
only secondary; unessential. The true Vaishnava traits are following and
internalizing the ones enumerated above. Whether one is a bhasma dhaari or
without any external marks, but possesses these noble traits, he is the
true Vaishnava in the primary sense. In this very chapter the Hari Hara
abheda is brought out in several ways along with the censure of perception
of difference between the Two. Also, since the context is about the
knowledge needed for Mukti, the traits listed here are the means to attain
such knowledge. Someone without these qualities, even though dons the
external marks, does not qualify to be a true Bhagavata. Only those who
indulge in critiquing  and insulting others actually destroy the Bhagavata
मूर्खो वदति विष्णाय विद्वान् वदति विष्णवे।
उभयोः सदृशं पुण्यं भावग्राही जनार्दनः ||

An unlettered one says 'Vishnaaya' while a learned man says 'Vishnave'.
Both of them get the same punya since the Lord Janardana is pleased only
with the true devotion.

We are reminded of the famous song 'Vaishnava Janato..'.

अहिंसा प्रथमं पुष्पं पुष्पमिन्द्रियनिग्रहः
सर्वभूतदयापुष्पं क्षमापुष्पं विशेषतः ।
ज्ञानपुष्पं तपःपुष्पं शान्तिपुष्पं तथैव च
सत्यमष्टविधं पुष्पं विष्णोः प्रीतिकरं भवेत् ॥

Read here the verses of the Kapila Upa purana:  page 83 in this link


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