Result of Offense and Criticism

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Question: King Śatadhanu made an offense because he spoke with a heretic out of respect, since he was the friend of his military teacher. He had to take birth as a dog, jackal, peacock, and finally the son of Mahārāja Janaka.

Kṛṣṇa is all auspicious and whatever He does is also all auspicious, but I am not able to understand why the king was punished so terribly.

Is there mandatory punishment meted out to those who commit offenses? Could this happen to other devotees or myself as well?

Answer: This offense is not applicable to you. So do not worry. The King committed the offense by doing what he was not supposed to do. And he did it knowingly. You cannot expect the mercy of Kṛṣṇa by acting against his injunction. Can you bless a person who is acting just the opposite of what you tell him to do?

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Question: In Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.17.22, Parikṣit says that one should not lodge a complaint against crime and against wrongdoers with the authorities since the cow and bull never complained before the King for being tortured by the personality of Kali. Otherwise, the complainer will get the same result as the criminal:

dharmaṁ bravīṣi dharma-jña  dharmo ‘si vṛṣa-rūpa-dhṛk
yad adharma-kṛtaḥ sthānaṁ  sūcakasyāpi tad bhavet   

Generally, however, we should report crime to stop a criminal from committing further crime. How can we understand this verse? What should be our duty as Vaiṣṇavas?

Answer: The keyword to be understood here is sūcaka. Although its general meaning is “indicator” or “informer,” its derivational meaning is “one who finds faults, back-bites, criticizes.” It is derived from root √ sūc (paiśunye), which means “to slander,” by applying the nvul-suffix. According to Amarakośa dictionary (3.1.47), it means karṇe-japa, that is, one who whispers in your ears or one who is a slanderer. 

This is a psychological principle. If you criticize someone, you will get those qualities yourself because you are thinking of them—you become what you think of. Kṛṣṇa says, “yam yam vāpi smaran bhāvam …” You can extrapolate the principle of this verse in the sense that one becomes whatever one thinks of. This world is bhāva-pradhāna, which means that what is important is the bhāva or consciousness of a person. This is because our actions are guided by our consciousness, and based on our actions, we get results. Therefore, results are the products of our consciousness. Many motivational speakers preach this principle. There was a famous book written on this principle entitled The book of secrets.” 

The verse that you quoted speaks about Dharma personified. There is a verse in Manu-smṛti, the book of dharma, that says that a sūcaka will meet destruction (MS4.71). So Parikṣit is not wrong.

Now coming to your question about our duty: As Vaiṣṇavas, we can inform the authorities about a criminal but without having the sense of mātsarya, envy or jealousy. A Vaiṣṇava is nirmatsara (SB 1.1.2). If you have mātsarya, then you have to pay the price. There is no doubt about it. If you have lived or live in a devotee community, you may have seen this happening. Some devotees take it as their responsibility to be sūcakas. I have seen that after some time, they get implicated in similar crimes that they were reporting because they did not report about them in a neutral mindset. They derived some pleasure out of it. You get conditioned by whatever you enjoy.

Now to turn the whole thing on its head, you have to consider the next verse spoken by the king: “Alternatively, the conclusion is that the ways of God’s māyā are inconceivable to the mind and speech of living beings.” In other words, Dharma did not complain because he was not sure if it was really Kali, who was the source of his plight.

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