Please accept my humble pranams. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, all glories to Srila Gurudeva!
This is in continuation of the previous offering titled, "Leadership and Dharma", in which we saw Daksha as an example of a leader overcome by pride because of focus on material expertise rather than devotional auspiciousness. Thus Daksha, as the personification of expertness (daksha) cursed Shiva, the personification of devotional auspiciousness (shiva).
Later Sati, Shiva’s devoteed wife, went to Daksha in defence of her husband. She spoke against her father thus. "Twice-born Daksha, a man like you can simply find fault in the qualities of others. Lord Shiva, however, not only finds no faults with others' qualities, but if someone has a little good quality, he magnifies it greatly. Unfortunately, you have found fault with such a great soul." (SB 4.4.12)
Here the most important qualities of a spiritual leader (vaishnavaanaam yathaa shambhu) is given. While he overlooks whatever bad qualities are there, he is expert in finding out even the smallest good quality in a person and magnify that greatly (gunaamsh ca phalgun bahuli-karishnavo). Sati explained to Daksha that elevated personalities like Shiva are not bound by the rules of dharma, which otherwise bind all people on earth. "Elevated transcendentalists may sometimes forgo the rules and regulations of the Vedas, since they do not need to follow them, just as the demigods travel in space whereas ordinary men travel on the surface of the earth."
She explained to Daksha that there are two kinds of activities prescribed for people of two different symptoms, namely materially attached (pravrtti) and materially detached (nivritti). Both activities may be neglected by a person who is transcendentally situated, such as Lord Shiva. (SB 4.4.19-20)
The activities of the detached and attached in Vedic society are, in brief, as follows. Nivritti-dharma is the only practice allowed in the three ashramas of brahmacarya, vaanaprastha and sannyaasa, who are walking the path of renunciation, respectively as student (in which one can enter householder life at the completion of study), pensioner and completely renounced monk. They learn to practise dharma with the aim of moksha or the fifth goal of life called krishna-prema. Pravrtti-dharma is for those attached to material enjoyment. Out of the four ashramas in Vedic society, the Mahabharata (13.129.16) points out the grhastha (householder) ashrama as the only one for pravrtti-dharma activities (pravrtti lakshano dharmo grhastheshu vidhiyate). The goal of liberation from material life is also not forgotten in such a life, but will be in proportion to the householders taking care of regularly inviting and giving charity to the renounced orders and thus receiving instructions from them in Krishna consciousness, without which one's house is a dark well (andha-kupam).
Then, Sati chose to give up her life on the spot by the process of mystic self-combustion. She does this in order to purify herself of the sinful contamination of merely being in the same family as Daksha the offender of the pure devotee Shiva. The Bhagavatam (4.4.26-27) says, "..Sati, due to anger towards her father, began to meditate on the fiery air within the body. Sati concentrated all her meditation on the holy lotus feet of her husband, Lord Shiva, who is the supreme spiritual master of all the world. Thus she became completely cleansed of all taints of sin and quit her body in a blazing fire by meditation on the fiery elements."
In the purport, Srila Prabhupada stresses the import of giving up association with non-devotees (asat-sanga-tyaaga): "This severe example set by Sati is to be followed. One should be extremely careful about associating with persons who are not respectful to the higher authorities. It is instructed, therefore, in the Vedic literature that one should always be free from the association of atheists and nondevotees and should try to associate with devotees..."
Krishna willing we shall continue to meditate further on this topic in the subsequent offering.
Thank you very much,
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Amogha-drk Krsna dasa,
Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.