Krishna Tolerates

5th Nov 2009
Vaijayantimala devi dasi

Dear Prabhujis and Matajis,

Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble obeisances! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev!

When our dear God Brother H.G. Devaki Nandan das prabhuji came to Abu Dhabi, he spoke on the following wonderful verse from Srimad Bhagavad Gita 11.44. I shall share some of the points from Prabhuji’s lecture in this mail.

tasmaat pranamya pranidhaaya kaayam 
prasaadaye tvaam aham isham idyam 
piteva putrasya sakheva sakhyuh 
priyah priyaayaarhasi deva sodhum

"You are the Supreme Lord, to be worshiped by every living being. Thus I fall down to offer You my respectful obeisances and ask Your mercy. As a father tolerates the impudence of his son, or a friend tolerates the impertinence of a friend, or a wife tolerates the familiarity of her partner, please tolerate the wrongs I may have done You."

Srila Prabhupada writes in his short and sweet purport: Krishna’s devotees relate to Krishna in various relationships; one might treat Krishna as a son, or one might treat Krishna as a husband, as a friend, or as a master. Krishna and Arjuna are related in friendship. As the father tolerates, or the husband or a master tolerates, so Krishna tolerates.

The hallmark of this verse is the mood in which Arjuna is relating to Krishna. This verse is the turning point in Bhagavad gita of the actual evidence that Arjuna is seeing Krishna in different light. We all know that Their relationship was in the mood of friendship and we also know that Arjuna is a pure devotee of the Lord. But here Arjuna takes a step back and realizes how powerful Krishna is. No matter how close anyone could be to Krishna, a devotee is always acutely aware that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Arjuna became very peaceful because he accepted the supremacy of Krishna and this is a very important lesson for all of us. It is very important for us to initiate ourselves daily into remembering the fact that Krishna is the supreme worshipable object of our love. If we remember that, then in all our problems Krishna will give us the strength to cross over the difficulties. Hari smrtih sarva vipad vimokshanamIndeed, simply by remembrance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one becomes free from all dangers.

By speaking about the tolerance of Krishna in this verse, Arjuna is showing us as a devotee, the humility to accept the fact that Krishna is just tolerating him. When you say someone is tolerant, it means that you are not actually up to the mark, but he is just being kind to us. Arjuna readily admits this by saying ‘Krishna, I am not up to the standard but just by your mercy you are letting me be your friend’. This is the mood of a devotee. Never in our dream also should we think that we are actually ready for Krishna consciousness. We are continuing in devotional service because of the mercy of our spiritual master. This is the truth. Our beloved Guru Maharaj says that the definition of mercy is ‘an act of kindness that you do not deserve.’ But because that person is kind, he wants to lift us from the position of difficulty. This is mercy. Arjuna gives the example of tolerance of three kinds of personal relationships.

Impudence of a son: The son very often does not speak very nicely to his father, particularly when they come to a certain age. They want to exert their authority and this is impudence.

Impertinence of a friend: Impertinence simply means irrelevance. We take a friend for granted and we do not really care.

Familiarity of a husband or wife: Familiarity breeds contempt. Even in our regular congregation programs, we become familiar with the devotees and we lose the eyesight to see their devotion. We should never take a devotee for granted. Maharaj does not take anyone for granted. Even a child is very important to Maharaj and when he is travelling in a Taxi, Maharaj wants to know about the taxi driver and his family. Thus he teaches us by his behaviour not to take any one for granted.

Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport that ‘Krishna tolerates’ and because Krishna tolerates, we must also learn to tolerate. Krishna consciousness is all about tolerance. It is 99% tolerance and 1% study of the shaastras. When study of the scriptures does not translate into tolerance, then the study is intolerable. In vaishnava relationship, we must learn to tolerate and live with each other. Everybody has his own ups and downs. Every devotee has a special characteristic you either like or you cannot take. But everyone is a devotee. Maharaj says that the best materialist is still worse off than the worst devotee. Why because the devotee has accepted Krishna as the worshipable object. That is their qualification. See nothing else. Just see the fact that he is trying to spend his life, his blood, his money and his time for Krishna and for that you must tolerate him. If Krishna can tolerate, why should we not follow in the footsteps of Krishna also? Krishna’s mercy is apparent naturally to the devotees but what makes Krishna most wonderful is that Krishna tolerates non devotees also and gives them mercy as in the case of Putana. Krishna’s mercy is operational, and it does not start even with our intention but it starts even with our pretension. For us when someone is nice to us, we are nice to them also. But if someone is slapping and you are nice to them that is absolutely remarkable. If we understand how far Krishna is ready to take us back, we should change our behaviour and just try to learn to tolerate things.

Thank you very much,
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev,
Vaijayantimala devi dasi,
Abu Dhabi