Our internal connection with Krishna gets stronger when we supplement the chanting exercise with diligent avoidance of mundane gossip and wasteful talks. News about the financial markets and the world of politics may be necessary and useful in our efforts to earn our livelihood. The needful has to be certainly done. However when we crave to devour the gossip magazines and revel the scandals of worldly heroes, we actually feast on the muck of material world. This sucks our enthusiasm for spiritual practises. Just as eating forbidden junk food destroys our taste buds, similarly engaging in mundane gossip and irrelevant worldly talks destroys our taste for Krishna conscious activities. The scriptures refer to the mundane gossip talk and rumour mongering as ‘prajalpa’. Radhanath Swami explains that the worst kind of prajalpa is when we criticize others. And the worst kind of criticism is when we criticize other sincere practitioners of God consciousness.
Raghunath das goswami, one of the greatest devotees and associates of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu compares ‘prajalpa’ with a prostitute. A prostitute may appear attractive and through her charms may promise us lot of enjoyment. However her real interest is not in providing enjoyment to her customer; rather she is interested in his money. She takes away a large amount of his wealth for the paltry pleasure that she provides. Moreover that enjoyment only incriminates one further in future misery. Similarly, Raghunath dasa says ‘prajalpa’ is a prostitute who offers fleeting pleasure; gossiping and mundane talks may give some titillation to the senses. However this prostitute takes away our wealth of taste for spiritual life which we have acquired after great efforts. All the spiritual credits we have accumulated after long periods of chanting and hearing is taken away in a moment by this prostitute. The most expensive prostitute is the ‘criticism of devotees’. This propensity is most deadly as it exhausts us of all our spiritual credits.
How can we know if our discussion of certain subject matters pertains to ‘prajalpa’ or the ‘necessary’ category? The test is how do you feel after the discussion? If you are inspired to chant Hare Krishna and engage in spiritual activities, you haven’t done prajalpa; instead it was devotional service. However if after the session, you aren’t inspired to chant or engage in spiritual activities, you can know you have wasted your precious time in prajalpa.
Radhanath Swami has often alarmed us about the dangers of prajalpa. He appeals that in the initial stages of our spiritual life we do not have spontaneous taste for chanting. Therefore we must perform some austerities to acquire this taste. One of the austerities is to restrain the tongue from engaging in criticism of other sincere spiritual practitioners. The tongue has two functions; to taste and vibrate. Both the functions have to be regulated by the practitioner. We regulate the propensity to taste by eating sanctified vegetarian foodstuffs offered to Krishna. We control the tongue’s tendency to vibrate by speaking only those subjects that help us chant Hare Krishna better.
Radhanath Swami’s realization on this subject: “Idle gossip steals away our propensity to serve the Lord, whereas talking about Krishna nourishes our desire to serve the Lord.” He further adds, “every time you speak prajalpa, the greatest tragedy takes place; Maya, the illusory energy of the Lord drains out your spiritual life right out of your heart.”