‘We judge often, and love seldom’, I saw this quote outside a temple as we drove back after our weekly outreach programme. The line struck me as a poignant reminder of all the mistakes and errors I have done over the last many years while practising spiritual life, living in association of so many other devotees. While professing to be a devotee, I am now acutely aware of how far I am from Krishna, and how desperately I need to see things and people from a broader perspective.
What is Krishna’s vision?
What is Krishna’s vision and desire, we can never know from our external vision. We need to go deeper, and see through the eyes of scriptures and advanced devotees. This will help us realize the substance beneath the misleading outside of any person, event or situation.
The Srimad Bhagavatam reveals the story of Jay and Vijay, the gatekeepers of the spiritual world, Vaikuntha. They were surprised to see four young boys without clothes enter the Lord’s abode. Considering them to be intruders, Jay and Vijay stopped them from entering Vaikuntha. This incensed the boys, who were none other than the spiritually advanced sages, known as the four Kumaras. Jay and Vijay were instantly cursed by these sages to take birth in the material world. Eventually both the doorkeepers became powerful demons in the Lord’s pastimes. Externally it may appear that the two guards had erred in judgement or maybe the four Kumaras were haughty in cursing them. In reality however this was the desire of the Lord who arranged this situation so that His pastimes in the material world could get more attractive where His own dear devotees Jay and Vijay would act as demons.
A similar incident happened with king Chitraketu. He was flying on his airplane with his wives when he saw mother Parvati seated on the lap of Lord Shiva. He was amazed to see the great sense controlled Lord Shiva speak on renunciation to his disciples while his consort Parvati was seated on his lap. In joy, he laughed, in admiration of great Shiva. Both Lord Shiva and his disciples saw Chitraketu’s laughter and smiled, for they knew his intention; he laughed in glorification of his Lord. However mother Parvati took offense at his laughter and cursed him to be born as a demon. She had misunderstood the interactions of Chitraketu and her husband Shiva. Later while appearing as the demon Vritrasura, he created havoc in the army of the demi-gods but also spoke heart-felt prayers that are immortalized in the pages of Srimad Bhagavatam. This too was the Lord’s desire; the glorious prayers of Vritrasura have been gifted to us through an inconceivable pastime.
Story of Pundarik Vidyanidhi
When Lord Krishna appeared as Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, one of his intimate associates was Pundarik Vidyanidhi. Externally Pundarik dressed himself gorgeously, chewed various spices, constantly looked at his face in the mirror, sprayed fragrant perfumes and applied expensive oils on his body while his servants massaged and fanned him as he lay on a silk cushion. Internally however he was deeply absorbed in the pastimes of the Lord and was beyond any bodily attachments. This was proved when Mukunda took his friend Gadhadhar Pandit, another advanced devotee, to see Pundarik for the first time. Gadhadhar was highly devotional and renounced in spirit, yet seeing Pundarik like this, he was bewildered and wondered what kind of a devotee is this who lives so pompously. Mukunda realized that Gadhadhar had judged wrongly, and immediately he sang a beautiful prayer glorifying the virtuous qualities of Lord Krishna. On hearing these songs, Pundarik entered an ecstatic trance, jumped up in joy and danced and fell unconscious. He remained in his blissful daze for over six hours. Gadhadhar realized his folly and begged forgiveness. Later he also took shelter of Pundarik Vidyanidhi, accepting him as his own spiritual master.
Making mountain out of a molehill
How often we too misjudge other sincere devotees while living in a community of devotees. Repeatedly we allow insignificant altercations and misunderstanding with others to overwhelm our consciousness. To take each of our inconsequential disputes with others seriously and hold grudges is a waste of precious time and energy.
Let’s understand with a broader vision, how for millenniums these things have happened, even with the Lord’s most intimate devotees. Knowing each of our devotees to be dear associates of the Supreme Lord, let’s ignore the often trivial, external issues, and learn to appreciate the deeper mood of devotion that each devotee carries in his or her heart.
Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual vision of appreciation
Srila Prabhupada had this vision of seeing beyond the externals, when he lived with the hippies of New York in the 1960’s. He fanned a little spark of Krishna consciousness that these derelicts and drug addicts exhibited and encouraged them to serve Krishna in whatever capacity they could. He even declared that these young boys and girls who came to the Krishna consciousness movement were sent by his spiritual master to help him spread the message of God. This is gratitude and broad mindedness in perfection. He even acknowledged one of his disciples to be an associate of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This profound vision of Srila Prabhupada was in stark contrast to the suspicious treatment that caste conscious Indians meted out on these western devotees of Krishna. While many Indians were quick to judge the Hare Krishna’s as a cult, Srila Prabhupada compassionately reached out to all who came to Krishna.
Human life is rare, and the gift of Krishna consciousness is even rarer. Let’s not waste this valuable gift in judging others; rather let’s thank Krishna for the wonderful gift of association of devotees that we have been blessed with. And let’s genuinely offer our love and affection to all others who are in their own way trying to come closer to Krishna. This will guarantee our own journey back to our eternal home, the spiritual world.