Tag Archives: bhagavad gita

Forgiving Those Who Wrong You

This morning, I remembered the story of Jagai and Madai. To give you a quick summary, Jagai and Madai were two brothers who possessed qualities that were not admirable – drinking alcohol, disrespectful, thieves, etc. On one occasion, they physically assaulted Nityananda, which angered Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Chaitanya was ready to end their lives as he was very angered by this. Jagai and Madai repented and sought his forgiveness, and Chaitanya said he would spare their lives if his devotee Nityananda forgave them.

So what do we learn from this?

We learn two things:

1. The importance of forgiveness

Many of us often hold things in our hearts against those who have wronged us. I am guilty of it as well. I forgive people and I don’t hold a grudge against them, but at the same time, I begin to avoid spending time with them. If I care about the person deeply, I will try to mend the relationship, otherwise I let it fade. But by not forgiving others, we fill our hearts with unnecessary feelings that just occupy space and cause us grief. By being forgiving, we exhibit the qualities of devotees. We exhibit compassion and understanding, and these qualities are pleasing to Krishna. As in the case of Jagai and Madai, by forgiving others, we may also prevent them from suffering further. Imagine for a minute that you are the offender and you have done something to anger your best friend. If your friend chooses not to forgive you, you suffer a lot, don’t you? You feel hurt and upset and are filled with regret for making a mistake. In this way, forgiveness mends those who are wrong and those who are wronged. Forgiveness needs to be practiced. It is most certainly not easy but it is absolutely freeing. We must learn to forgive because after all, Krishna forgives us, doesn’t he? Why shouldn’t we forgive others, then?

Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand?     (From the Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXIII, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli). [Taken from Wikipedia]

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.    Matthew, 6.14-15

Needless to say, if someone is continuing to wrong you without truly repenting or feeling sorry for it, there is no reason for you to tolerate it. Simply let it slide and free yourself from the clutches of this person.

2. The authority God gives devotees

This incident of Jagai and Madai shows that as devotees, Krishna has given us certain authorities. Krishna is the ruler of this universe. He doesn’t need permission to take away someone’s life, yet he left the decision up to his devotee Nityananda. Even during the Mahabharat war, Krishna agreed to be Arjuna’s chariot driver. Again, giving his devotee the power to make decisions. Krishna steers the reins and guides the devotee’s from within, as he promises in the Gita:

“To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”    BG 10.10

I always find this incredibly amazing to think about. It fascinates me how the Creator of everything that exists sometimes follows the instructions of his devotees! It’s a lot like the way parents sometimes follow the orders of their children out of love. They don’t have to do it, yet they do because of the love that is shared. This is exactly why Krishna sometimes agrees to carry out the loving requests of his devotees. Isn’t he just the sweetest?

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Frustration

There are these moments in life where you feel frustrated and disillusioned. You don’t know whether to run or hide or whether you should take the bull by the horns or just let things fall where they may. Right now, this is how I feel. I’m frustrated because I have a psychological disorder that affects my life, because I have several dietary restrictions due to food intolerances, because I haven’t been unable to find a decent job, because I am stuck living in a country where I will always be an ‘expatriate’ no matter how long I live.

It is the last thing that frustrates me the most. I was born in Dubai and while I love this country, I’m never going to be able to call it my ‘home’ simply because they don’t grant citizenship. This leads me to worry about the fact that one day, when no one is able to sponsor a visa for me, I’m going to have to leave this country. My family and I have given our lives to this country yet it is still not our ‘home.’ I am trying desperately to look for an opportunity elsewhere, in a country that is safe and stable, so that my parents can eventually retire peacefully, and so that we can build a life somewhere new.

I have been out of a job for the past few months. I’m not even keen on working for someone because of how abusive and manipulative employers can be. I feel like I’ve been through quite a lot, in the sense that my patience was really tested at my previous jobs. I don’t want to get into the details but lets say I have seen how companies can be unethical and blatantly lie to their clients, and I have had my employers be so controlling even when it came to things like taking lunch breaks and even a 2 minute break to drink water. Feeling abused and disheartened, I left my job because I felt like I was not being respected as a human being. I wouldn’t be surprised if things like this happened everywhere around the world, too. These are tough times we’re living in.

The reason for frustration, as I understand it, is when something is lacking. I mean this on a deep level, not in the sense of material desires like having the latest iPhone or the biggest house. I mean necessities like a job, security, shelter, etc. Frustration stems from this lack of security and protection. It leads to anxiety of the future because there is uncertainty and a lack of stability. While I am sitting here, feeling waves of frustration wash over me again and again, I thought I’ll have a look at what the Bhagavad Gita says in order to deal with my feeling of helplessness.

But those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form–to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.      BG 9.22

Such deep consolation, knowing that Krishna will be there to assist you, by maintaining what you have and by making up for whatever it is that you lack. Everyone feels some sense of lacking in one way or another. Lack of strength, confidence, self-esteem, money, intelligence. So many other things. Let Krishna be your strength, your confidence, your pride, your wealth and your intelligence. Let him provide for you what you lack.

Anyone who prays unto Me and takes shelter from Me becomes My ward, and I protect him always from all sorts of calamities.     Lord Narasimhadeva, Narasimha Purana

This uncertainty of the future, of the state of my career, my wellbeing, my family, etc. are causing me great distress. I must remember to seek shelter of Krishna, and he will protect me from calamity.

He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.     BG 9:31

Ah, the peace that we are all looking for. Peace and promise of everlasting life.

The steadily devoted soul attains unadulterated peace because he offers the result of all activities to Me; whereas a person who is not in union with the Divine, who is greedy for the fruits of his labor, becomes entangled.     BG 5:12

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I have been praying and asking for things, asking for Krishna to get me out of this mess that I am in. Then I remembered that I must not hanker for the fruit of any activity. I must let Krishna decide the outcome, and I must offer the results of my activities to Gopinath and work for his sake. Do the best you can do and do what you must, but leave the results to Krishna.

Perform your duties to the best of your ability and offer the results to Krishna. He will preserve what you have and should be lacking anything, he will provide it for you, as he sees fit. All the while, he will protect you as he promises and he will give you peace. Frustration will rear its head again and again because it is the nature of this world. But lucky for us, Krishna is on our side. And we all know which side is going to win.

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“Panditah Sama Darshina”

On a blog post of mine called, “So you don’t eat meat?” a reader commented saying someone she knows, who is a Krishna devotee, speaks badly about other religions. Here’s an excerpt of my response:

Oh, it’s not nice to talk badly about the beliefs of others. I wish your sister in law would understand. If someone spoke to her badly about Krishna, she would get offended. It only makes sense then to try and avoid offending others! The Bhagavad Gita has this nice verse on equality:

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” – BG 5.18

In Sanskrit, the translation of a part of this verse is “panditah sama darshina” meaning the wise see with equal vision. I love this short, simple quote and often remind myself of it when I feel like I am being biased or unequal in my perception of things. Perhaps maybe in passing, you could enlighten your sister in law about this verse :)

Then I was going over some of my old blog posts, thinking why don’t I write here that often anymore, thinking that I don’t have much to write about… I was checking my blog statistics and found that this is the most popular post on my blog: Miracles and Experiences in Krishna Consciousness. After reading about each of the miracles I had listed, I picked one to read. This one is about an English girl named Ananda. You can read the whole story here.

I read the story, felt amazed by it once again, and then found a link about Radhanath Swami’s talk at the Google headquarters. I was reading the article and after a couple of paragraphs into it, I saw that the EXACT SAME VERSE I had quoted above was mentioned in this article. I just sat there, shocked, staring at my computer screen, staring at the poster of Krishna on my wall, feeling amazed. All the events were completely random and I was amazed that somehow, I ended up finding an article that mentioned the same verse I had quoted just a few minutes ago! It kept making me feel like Krishna is still around, he’s still here, and he’s still trying to teach me. I felt like he was trying to tell me that the message of this verse is very important. It is! It is so important to treat others equally and fairly. If only more people would realize this, the world would be a better place. I can’t even begin to tell you about the tingles I felt at the back of my neck! Krishna is just amazing. Just… amazing.

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OCD and The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 3

“All men are forced to act helplessly according to the impulses born of the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.” – BG 3.5

As long as we are in this material body, we are going to suffer from physical ailments. We are driven by the impulses that are born from the modes of nature. OCD is not our fault. It is due to chemical imbalances in the brain, due to genes perhaps, due to reasons unknown to us. But it is born of material nature. It is not the nature of our soul. It is not who we are. Know and realize that it is not your fault.

The solution? Work for Vishnu:

“Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain unattached and free from bondage.” BG 3.9

Work with a desire to please him and in this way be focused on him. Perhaps this will reduce the time I spend focusing on my OCD-thoughts?

“The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.” BG 3.42

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OCD and The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 Verses 31-40

Krishna is encouraging Arjuna to fight. Fight. Fight. I must get up and fight this obsessive thoughts. 

“Do thou fight for the sake of fighting, without considering happiness or distress, loss or gain, victory or defeat–and, by so doing, you shall never incur sin.” (BG 2.38)

We must not do anything for our own profit. Whatever we do, we must do for Krishna. Whether we work or eat or study… everything must be done as an offering to Krishna. Krishna tells Arjuna to rise above dualities and be free from anxiety, and to be established in the Self. This is what I must do. I must rise above this duality of what is clean and dirty. That is what is causing me so much anxiety. Krishna instructs Arjuna to never be attached to not doing his duty. This is what I have been doing, isn’t it? I have let my OCD stop me from fulfilling my duties. My duty now is to work and support my family but for a while, I hadn’t been able to do so. With the mercy of the Lord, I have been able to start working and I will continue to lean on Him for support to keep working so I can look after my family.

And we must continue to engage in devotional service, for that is what Krishna says will free us from karma.

“One who is not disturbed in spite of the threefold miseries, who is not elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind. He who is without attachment, who does not rejoice when he obtains good, nor lament when he obtains evil, is firmly fixed in perfect knowledge.” (BG 2.56-57)

This is what our aim should be. And the way to achieve this aim is to keep our focus on Krishna, and to immerse ourselves in devotional service. Krishna says that there can be no happiness without peace, which comes after having a steady mind. The way to have a steady mind is to be absorbed in Krishna. Krishna says that the person who is not disturbed by his desires can achieve peace, not those who strive to satisfy their desires. I am of the latter. I strive to no end to satisfy my desires of keeping myself and my things clean even if they were not dirty to begin with. I must restrain and fight these desires if I want to achieve some steadiness of the mind.

Arjuna was right when he said that it is easier to tame the wind than the mind.

But Krishna is the answer.

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OCD and the Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 Verses 11-20

“The Blessed Lord said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor the dead.” [2.11]

If life and death are not worth mourning over, are these anxieties and hygiene concerns worth it? Absolutely not. We are forgetting that the purpose of life is building a relationship with Krishna and understanding Him to be the Lord of Creation. The purport says, “The body is born and is destined to be vanquished today or tomorrow; therefore the body is not as important as the soul.” Cleanliness is important, but not so much that it occupies all my time! I ought to be spending more time feeding my soul with knowledge of Krishna!

Krishna goes on to explain more about the nature of the soul. Krishna says that there never was a time when we did not exist and never will there be a time when we will cease to exist. The body is continually changing. It grows, it becomes ill, our souls change bodies… But our souls are always the same. Our souls are indestructible. The body will change its state of being clean and dirty at different points in time, but our soul remains pure. Krishna says that self-realized souls are not bewildered by such bodily changes.

O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.” [2.14]

Yes. This is Krishna’s golden advice to us, applicable in any situation. We live in world of duality. Hot or cold, happy or unhappy, clean or dirty. Vaishnavas must overcome this duality and tolerate them with a steady mind. Yes, yes, yes. We must remember this. All of this arises from sense perception. I remember learning about this in my Psychology class – the way we feel is due to our perception of things. What psychologists have started realizing in the recent past, Krishna spoke thousands of years ago! Timeless wisdom, don’t you think? Krishna goes on to say that those who are steady in this world of duality are certainly eligible for liberation. So there we have it – further motivation to rise above this duality!

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OCD and The Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 Verses 1-10

Verse 2.1 mentions that Krishna is filled with mercy and compassion upon seeing Arjuna’s state. Similarly, we can understand that Krishna is merciful towards us when He sees us in this miserable state of confusion and doubt. We need to understand from this verse that Krishna does see our suffering and He is merciful and compassionate towards us, even though we may not realize it.

The verse further addresses Krishna as Madhusudhana. The purport by Srila Prabhupada explains that this is significant because Krishna vanquished a demon named Madhu thus giving rise to this name of His. He is addressed as Madhusudhana because He destroyed a demon and now Arjuna needs Him to destroy the demon of doubt and illusion. We too need him to do the same for us. The purport further explains that compassion for our outward bodies will not save us. Isn’t this what we are doing? I know I’m doing it. I’m wasting a lot of time everyday trying to keep myself clean, and I worry constantly and germs and getting dirty. I don’t know why I’m trying so hard to be clean and why it bothers me so much. But I do know that I am catering to the needs of my external body, rather than my spiritual needs.

Then Krishna says, “My dear Arjuna.” Oh, if only I could hear Him addressing me like this, all my worries would go away! Whether we hear Him or not, the fact of the matter is that He is always talking to us and addressing us in this way. Krishna asks Arjuna how come he is thinking such things. He might as well be asking us how we can be focusing so much on such mundane issues – worrying whether my hands are clean, whether the doors are locked, that germs are bad… Obviously, these are good things to do but people with OCD do these things a lot more times than needed. The Lord has given us intelligence and wisdom. Most of us now have the opportunity to be educated and work and build careers. So where do these thoughts come from? Krishna says, “Give up such petty weakness of heart and arise, O chastiser of the enemy.” So this is what me must do. Forget why and how things have come to be as they are. Krishna has instructed us to be strong and fight.

Again, Arjuna is confused. I can relate to his confusion by my doubts which arise, saying it is better to be clean. It is good to be clean. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Maybe my hands didn’t touch anything dirty, but can I take the risk that it did? Then I am stuck. Torn between deciding whether to shower again, wash my hands again, change my clothes again… Because I know that once I start cleaning, it’s going to take a while to stop. And I will feel even dirtier than before.

Arjuna says in verse 7:

Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.

This should be our prayer. This should be our state of mind. We are weak and flawed, but God isn’t. He is the only one who knows what is best for us and what is the best plan of action. So through this, Arjuna is teaching us that we should always surrender to Krishna. Humbly go before Him, as His disciples, ready to take instruction from Him and do what He says. Surrender to Krishna, the way Arjuna is showing us how. And like Krishna led Arjuna out of the battle victorious, He will lead us out of this victorious too.

Arjuna then goes on to express his grief. The degree of his grief and lamentation is immense which only adds to the fact that no matter the problem, God can clear all obstacles. Arjuna is teaching us again that only surrender to Krishna can solve all our problems. Arjuna then says that he will not fight. And Krishna smiles in response, in the middle of a battlefield. Can you imagine? Arjuna is bewildered, there is about to be the greatest war of all time, and Krishna is smiling compassionately upon Arjuna. Here we are, lost and confused, fighting our own wars, and Krishna is smiling down upon us.

The next post will cover what Krishna says to Arjuna and us as He compassionately smiles at us.

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