Lessons from Srimad Bhagavatam
India’s immortal classic, Srimad Bhagavatam begins with the episode of a bull that resisted the urge to hate back. Religion personified stood as a bull, his legs broken by Kali, the personification of evil. The perpetrator of this cruelty was evident to anyone who saw the incident, especially to Parikshit, the emperor, who readied to punish Kali. Still, Mr. Religion refused to play the blame game and forgave Kali. Later the king himself was a victim of disproportionate punishment. He genuinely repented his misdemeanor of taunting Shamik rishi, a meditative sage, by garlanding him with a dead snake. Although the sage took no offense and even the king derided himself, the young and haughty son of Shamik cursed the king to die in seven days. Instead of letting loose a vicious downward spiral of counter curses and wars, Parikshit quietly accepted the extreme punishment with grace and maturity; he saw good in the event, and that attracted more blessings of the Lord. In stark contrast, there is another episode where Daksha’s insinuations and scorn made matters worse. The situation went out of control as violence, suicide, and gruesome murders followed in rapid succession. When we counter hatred with more hate, it’s what Martin Luther King (Jr) said about driving darkness with more darkness- and in this case, it was more like using an AK-47 assault rifle to get rid of a mosquito. Many tragedies happened after one man let loose his envy.
The most dramatic episode of restraint and respect – the one that reminds me of Aki’s dealing with the angry man- is seen when sage Durvasa attempted to kill the Lord’s devotee King Ambarisha for breaking his fast without waiting for him. Known and feared widely for his temper tantrums, Durvasa went berserk as he created a huge monster to kill Ambarish, for what appears to any reasonable person, a trivial matter. Lord Vishnu came to His devotee’s rescue – he immediately discharged His fiery disc that not only destroyed the demon but immediately chased the sage around the universe. Fearing for his life, Durvasa, at last, realized his folly and begged forgiveness from the king who patiently waited for over a year to welcome his guest back. The king not only took no offense, he cared for the sage and appeased his hunger and anger.
To be continued….