Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

How many of us like to be chastised? Many of us might not want to receive chastisement from others. But interestingly we like to chastise others or enjoy seeing others getting chastised. Many of us might have experienced how the strict nature of our parents or teachers in school has really shaped us into better human beings. So how much more true and beneficial and purifying is this chastisement in spiritual life, when we receive it from spiritual master. 

Let us try to see from scriptures as to who can chastise and how chastisement should be received.

In Bhagavad Gita verse 17.15 Lord Krishna says,

anudvega-karaṁ vākyaṁ
satyaṁ priya-hitaṁ ca yat
svādhyāyābhyasanaṁ caiva
vāṅ-mayaṁ tapa ucyate

Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature.

In the above verse, Srila Prabhupada translates the words anudvega-karaṁ vākyaṁ — not agitating words. When we chastise, we naturally agitate others mind. In the purport Srila Prabhupada makes it clear as to who can chastise. "One should not speak in such a way as to agitate the minds of others. Of course, when a teacher speaks, he can speak the truth for the instruction of his students, but such a teacher should not speak to those who are not his students if he will agitate their minds. This is penance as far as talking is concerned."

So here we can see that when one is in the position of teacher or parent, then he/she can chastise their disciple/children. Since parents and teachers are best well-wishers and don't have any selfish motives, their chastisement is recommended for the well-being of the student/child. So such chastisement will make the recipient chaste. Many times we have seen how Maharaj used to chastise some devotee when they make some mistake, but after sometime Maharaj will speak again with that person with so much love and affection, without any tinge of grudge or anger. The person who received the chastisement, though would have felt very pained or bad to have displeased Maharaj, would later feel so much encouraged by his loving dealings that they would resolve not to make that mistake again. 

In one of the lectures on Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 2 Chapter 9 given in Tokyo Srila Prabhupada narrates a very interesting incident about how his spiritual master His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswathi Prabhupada chastised his disciples. 

Srila Prabhupada says, "A spiritual master has the right to chastise. Father, spiritual master, they are advised to chastise. putraṁ ca śiṣyaṁ ca tāḍayen na tu lālayet. So father and teacher is advised by Cāṇakya Paṇḍita that "You should always chastise your son and disciple. Chastise." Tāḍayet. Tāḍayet means "Simply chastise. Always find out mistake." Don't be angry, but it is the business of the teacher and the father simply to find out your mistake, not to find out your good things. Tāḍayen na tu lālayet. Lālayet means patting - "Oh, my dear son, my dear boy, you are so nice. You have done..." Sometimes it is done, but it is the business of the teacher and the father to chastise. Never recognize the disciple's business or son's business as very good. Then they will spoil. That is the injunction of Cāṇakya Muni.

Lālane bahavo doṣāḥ: "If you simply pat, then there will be so many faults." Lālane bahavo doṣāḥ. Doṣāḥ means faults. Tāḍane bahavo guṇāḥ: "And if you chastise, oh, they will be very much qualified." Tāḍane bahavo guṇāḥ, tasmāt: therefore, putraṁ ca śiṣyaṁ ca tāḍayen na tu lālayet, "Simply chastise. Don't pat." This is the injunction, moral injunction. So, so far we are concerned, when our spiritual master used to chastise, we took it as blessing. That was very nice. And he would chastise like anything. "Damn rascal," "foolish," "stupid," anything, all good words.

"One day it so happened... That was not my fault. My another old Godbrother was... Prabhupāda was speaking. So I was very much fond of hearing. That gentleman, he was a retired doctor. So he wanted to speak something. He should not have done so, but... Just like... So naturally I also... And Prabhupāda saw it, and he became so angry. So he knew that my attention was drawn by him. He chastised him like anything. He was old man, actually almost like his age. So he was paying sixty rupees in those days per month. So he became so angry, that "Do you think that because you pay sixty rupees, you have purchased us? You can do anything and anything?" He said like that. Very strong word he used. "Do you think that I am speaking for others? You have learned everything? You are diverting your attention." So many ways, he was very, very angry. You see?So this is nice, to chastise.

There is a nice quote in English - Spare the rod and spoil the child and acaryas like Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev out of their magnanimous compassion on all fallen souls like us, knew very well, when to use the rod and when not to .So may we have the sanity to to take chastisement as blessings, try to introspect and improve ourselves, And when others are getting chastised, may we not foolishly enjoy, but learn from their mistake, so that we don't repeat it again.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Sudarshana devi dasi