Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.
We have been looking at the episode of Parikshit Maharaj cursed by the Brahmana boy and were learning a few lessons from this pastime in the series of offerings titled "Living the Bhagavatam Way". We had three questions from this episode:
1. Why should Shrngi cry even after cursing Parikshit Maharaj?
2. Why should Shamika rshi ask for pardon from the Lord for his son's act?
3. Why should Parikshit Maharaj accept the message of death as good news?
In the previous four parts of this offering we discussed the answers for the first 2 questions and we are yet to discuss the answer for the third question. Let us look at the 3rd question, i.e., the reason why Parikshit Maharaj accepted the curse of death as good news.
a) Recognize our mistake: The first reason why Parikshit Maharaj accepted the curse as good news is because he genuinely accepted that he made a mistake. This is the first step in the process of purification of our heart - Recognizing our faults. Our Guru Maharaj would often repeat this hindi proverb - "krpa bhai tab jaaniye jab dikhe apnaa dosh - One can say that he has got Krishna's mercy only when he can see his own faults". It is very difficult for us to see the fault in ourselves because twenty-four hours a day we keep looking at other's faults only. However we do not realize one thing - When we are looking at the faults of 100 people, all those 100 people are looking for faults in us. So, only our two eyes are looking at those 100 people's faults, but there are 200 eyes looking at our faults at the same time. So we have to be 200 times more careful in not committing any mistakes. Even if the 200 eyes are not watching us, the 12 CID's are watching us every moment (SB 6.1.42) and we cannot escape them. But when we spend all our time in looking for faults in others, how can we spend time looking for faults in ourselves? This is the question we have to ask our mind and fortunately we have the example of Parikshit Maharaj, who, inspite of being a king, did not let his ego come in between him and his accepting the fault. While returning from the sage's hermitage, he started contemplating his action and was thinking whether his action was right or wrong and by the mercy of Krishna, he did not approve of his own action as righteous.
b) Repent for our mistake: Once we recognize our fault, then the next step is automatically repentance. Repentance is the next most important step in self-purification. Parikshit Maharaj sincerely repented for his action and curses himself as heinous (nicam) and uncivilized(anaaryavat). Srila Prabhupada beautifully writes in his purport to SB 1.19.1, "The pious King regretted his accidental improper treatment of the powerful brahmana, who was faultless. Such repentance is natural for a good man like the King, and such repentance delivers a devotee from all kinds of sins accidentally committed. The devotees are naturally faultless. Accidental sins committed by a devotee are sincerely regretted, and by the grace of the Lord all sins unwillingly committed by a devotee are burnt in the fire of repentance."
Srila Prabhupada says that such repentance is natural for a good man. Normally we do not want to repent because we think that when we repent, we are accepting the blame upon ourselves and that means we are on the losing side. Our ego never wants to be on the losing side or be blamed by others. But when we see the example of great devotees, they never had any hesitation in accepting their faults (sometimes even if there was no fault they were willing to accept the blame upon themselves) and that is the reason they attracted the mercy of the Lord and advanced in devotional service in leaps and bounds. Moreover, we do not want to repent because the fire of repentance burns our false ego. If a gross part of our body such as skin produces so much intense pain when it is burnt, how much more painful it will be when our subtle false ego is burnt? It is indeed painful, one will definitely feel distressed, just like it is said here that Parikshit Maharaj was very much distressed while repenting for his action. But a repenting devotee will realize that the pain that he has caused by his offense to the other devotee and to the Supreme Lord is thousand times more painful than the burning pain he goes through in the fire of repentance. Hence he patiently endures the pain of repentance.
Infact Srila Prabhupada says that "accidental sins committed by a devotee are sincerely regretted". We are supposed to repent for even accidental sins what to speak of deliberate offences? More often than not, we justify our actions by saying, "Anyway my action was not intentional", "I did the mistake unknowingly" etc. But whether the offense is done knowingly or unknowingly, the pain and hurt is the same for the offended devotee. So, here we see an impeccable example of Parikshit Maharaj for us to follow: He did not justify his action even once by thinking, "I am a king, I should have been respected", "The sage was faking meditation", "I was feeling so thirsty, why can't he give even a glass of water" etc, etc. He simply accepted his mistake and repented for it.
c) Rectify our mistake: The next question comes - I may burn my sins by repenting for my mistakes, but how to ensure that I do not repeat the mistakes in the future? To do that we have to rectify our behavior and the rectification of our behavior begins only when we take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord unconditionally, by performing sincere devotional service. Without devotional service, if we simply repent, then it will only lead to depression. We will start hating ourselves, blame the Lord for inducing us to commit the offense, hate everyone else for blaming us and ultimately end in depression. When we genuinely love everyone in this world as Krishna's part and parcel, we will never ever get into depression. Depression arises when we keep ourselves as the center of the universe, whereas devotion arises when we keep Krishna as the center of everything and arrest Him in the core of our heart by our loving devotional service. Parikshit Maharaj did exactly that - krishnaanghri sevaam adhimanyamaana - He understood that transcendental loving service unto the lotus feet of the Lord is the greatest of all purifying processes and hence he sat down to meditate on the Lord by fasting until death. Meditating on the Lord is alright, but why should he decide to fast until death? He could have drunk something at least isn't it? It is because Parikshit Maharaj thoroughly realized that a glass of water became the cause of his offense towards a devotee and the subsequent curse to death. So this time, he developed a strong determination that at any cost he would completely fast from food and water, so that he will not repeat the mistake again. However, the only way to keep up that vow of not to drink anything is to drink something else which will quench the thirst of his soul eternally. That drink is the nectarean pastimes, qualities and activities of the Supreme Lord and Parikshit Maharaj was able to drink it by the mercy of Srila Sukadeva Goswami and ultimately achieved transcendental loving service to the Lord.
There are a couple of more points to discuss regarding the answer to the third question and we will see that in the next offering Krishna willing.
Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Kalacakra Krsna das
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