Disrespect Leads to Downfall

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

In the battlefield of Kurukshetra, when both the armies were arranged by their respective commanders, Duryodhana approaches the elders in his army and speaks in a diplomatic manner. Throughout his life, he had been disobeying  and disrespecting Bhishmadev, Dronacharya, Krpacharya, Vidura and other elders. They were elder to him both in age, experience and skill. He tries to superficially show as if he has respect for them. But internally he had no respect for them and in a fault-finding mentality he says in verse 1.3

paśyaitāṁ pāṇḍu-putrānām ācārya mahatīṁ camūm
vyūḍhāṁ drupada-putreṇa tava śiṣyeṇa dhīmatā

O my teacher, behold the great army of the sons of Pandu, so expertly arranged by your intelligent disciple the son of Drupada.

Our spiritual master HH Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj has mentioned in one of his diaries that it was this disobedient attitude, which was the main cause of downfall for the Kauravas. What to speak of elders in their army, even when Lord Krishna went as a peace messenger, Duryodhana disrespected the Lord and even tried to arrest Him. In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 10.4.46, SukadevaGoswami says to Maharaj Parikshit 

āyuḥ śriyaṁ yaśo dharmaṁ lokān āśiṣa eva ca
hanti śreyāṁsi sarvāṇi puṁso mahad-atikramaḥ

My dear King, when a man persecutes great souls, all his benedictions of longevity, beauty, fame, religion, blessings and promotion to higher planets will be destroyed.

In case of Pandavas, they were always respectful to elders and very obedient to them as well as Supreme Lord Krishna. That is why even though they faced so many troubles in their life, they were saved in the most miraculous manner. In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 1.9.12, Bhishmadev lying on the bed of arrows, recollects the dangers which were underwent by Pandavas through-out their life and says to Maharaj Yudhisthir - "Oh, what terrible sufferings and what terrible injustices you good souls suffer for being the sons of religion personified. You did not deserve to remain alive under those tribulations, yet you were protected by the brahmanas, God and religion." In his unparalleled purport to the above verse Srila Prabhupada writes that - "As long as a person is fully in cooperation with the wishes of the Lord, guided by the bona fide brahmanas and Vaishnavas and strictly following religious principles, one has no cause for despondency, however trying the circumstances of life."

Even though Maharaj Dhrtarashtra and his sons had been troubling them all through-out his life, Pandavas never disrespected him. In fact, even after the Kurukshetra war, Yudhisthir Maharaj served Maharaj Dhrtarashtra and Mother Gandhari very nicely. In contrast to Duryodhana, we find Arjuna, who was even ready to give up fighting when he saw the elders who were ready to wage fight against him in the battlefield. In Bhagavad Gita verse 2.4  Arjuna says,

arjuna uvāca
kathaṁ bhīṣmam ahaṁ saṅkhye droṇaṁ ca madhusūdana
iṣubhiḥ pratiyotsyāmi pūjārhāv ari-sūdana

Arjuna said: O killer of enemies, O killer of Madhu, how can I counterattack with arrows in battle men like Bhishma and Drona, who are worthy of my worship?

In his beautiful purport to the above verse, Srila Prabhupada says - "Respectable superiors like Bhishma the grandfather and Dronacarya the teacher are always worshipable. Even if they attack, they should not be counterattacked. It is general etiquette that superiors are not to be offered even a verbal fight. Even if they are sometimes harsh in behavior, they should not be harshly treated."

Now-a-days it has become a rare thing to find obedient children. Some times children claim that parents of this age are not perfect enough as olden days. But as Srila Prabhupada has emphasised in the above purport, whatever the case may be, elders needs to be treated with love and respect. Parents and elders of this age are definitely not as cruel as how Hiranyakashipu was to Prahlad Maharaj. Hiranyakashipu mercilessly tortured Prahlad Maharaj in so many different ways. But still in all his interactions with his father, we find that Prahlad Maharaj always paid obeisances unto him, whenever he met him. He spoke with folded hands and never used any harsh words. From the examples of Arjuna and Prahlad Maharaj we find that, respecting elders attracts the mercy of Lord and brings us closer to Him whereas disrespecting elders takes us far away from Him. So whether we want to be closer to Lord or far  away from Him is a choice which we can make by our careful dealings with elders.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das and Sudarshana devi dasi.