Prahlāda Mahārāja said, “Oh Supreme Lord, because You are so merciful to the fallen souls, I ask you for only one benediction. I know that my father at the time of his death had already been purified by Your glance upon him, but because of his ignorance of Your beautiful power and supremacy, he was unnecessarily angry at you, falsely thinking that You were the killer of his brother. Thus he directly blasphemed Your Lordship, the spiritual master of all living beings, and committed heavily sinful activities directed against me, your devotee. I wish that he be excused for these sinful activities.”
‘Para-dukha-dukhi’. The natural devotion of those purified devotees of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is that they consider nothing of their own happiness or distress, convenience or inconvenience, but they are very much feeling pain upon seeing the distress of others. Therefore, they are willing to undergo any tribulation to give the mercy of the Lord to those who are in the distressful condition of material existence. Prahlāda Mahārāja is the supreme example of this most illustrious quality. Hiraṇyakaśipu was the most envious, violent creature. His motivation was only to cause harm, pain and death to his son, but Prahlāda Mahārāja did not even consider these matters. As a matter of fact, he was only thinking in terms of what little affection his father gave him. Just see how a devotee sees the good in even the most sinful person. Just see how a devotee is willing to overlook the faults in another. The devotee has, by the mercy of the Lord, the same qualities as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Radhanath Swami explains the forgiving nature of God
We read in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam of when Pūtanā, the great demoniac Rākṣasi, came to Vraja dhama exclusively for the purpose of killing Kṛṣṇa. How duplicitous she was! She was a horrible monstrous demon, eight miles long by nature. But she disguised herself as a friend, as a well-wisher, and as a beautiful heavenly damsel. You know, when a demon is honest and reveals himself to you as your enemy, at least that person is being straightforward, but when your enemy comes to you in the disguise, in the role as your best friend, only to exploit and to ruin you, that person is the worst person. We have so many enemies in this world. When the enemy admits I am your enemy, that person is honest. He’s not so much our enemy, but when the enemy only wants to cause harm to you, but he plays the role as your best well-wishing friend only to stab you in the back, when you’re least expecting it, that person is the worst enemy. Is he not? So Pūtanā was like that. Her only motive was to kill Kṛṣṇa and to destroy all the residents of Vrindāvan. But she was so crooked, cunning and duplicitous that she disguised herself as everyone’s friend and well-wisher. And she entered right into the house of Nanda Maharaja and she picked up Kṛṣṇa. Her breast was smeared with enough poison to kill thousands of grown men, and she put that deadly breast into Kṛṣṇa’s mouth. And Kṛṣṇa, little tiny baby. Imagine such a powerful Rākṣasi, who had the strength of ten thousand elephants. She was motivated to murder this helplessly appearing baby, infant child, who hardly was at the age where he could even crawl, what to speak of see properly or talk. So she took this tiny infant into her arms. She put her breast into His mouth, and just like a child sucking from mother, He began to drink the milk. And He sucked all the milk from her body and then He continued to suck and suck, until her very life air started coming into His mouth. And she was feeling so much pain and so much fear that she began to scream with a tumultuous roar, “Leave me child, leave me.” Then she ran out of the house. She assumed her original form, eight miles big. It’s said her mouth was like a mountain cave; her thighs were like riverbanks; her breasts were like huge mountains; her hair was like trees; her eyes were like sunken wells; her belly was like an empty lake; her fingers were like huge bridges. And the little tiny baby child like a speck was crawling upon her, sucking. And He sucked her very life from her body, and she screamed and died.
Now, such a demon with such ill motives! Kṛṣṇa did not see any of her ill motives. He did not consider that she came to kill him. He did not consider that not only did she kill Him but she was famous because she had killed thousands and thousands and thousands of other infant babies before she came to Kṛṣṇa. That is why Kaṃsa specifically sent her, because she was very famous at killing little babies. What a sinful, evil woman! But Kṛṣṇa only saw that, “Ah! This nice lady. She has offered me her milk just like my mother Yaśodā offers me milk.” He only saw that part of her and therefore he gave her the liberation of becoming His mother in Goloka Vrindavan. How Kṛṣṇa is willing to just see whatever little good is even in the worst person and how quick we are to see the bad even in the best people.
Radhanath Swami urges us to overlook the faults of devotees
Somebody is surrendering their lives, giving up so much opportunity for sinful life and sense gratification, being willing to endure so much criticism for being God’s devotee, accepting the holy name of the Lord, and just because due to his past conditioning he still has some few bad habits, we become completely infatuated, meditating on those bad habits. We love to talk about them, we love to think about them. Śrīla Prabhupāda used to say, “It is like finding pod marks in the moon.” Any devotee, any devotee who is honestly surrendering to Kṛṣṇa, whatever defects he may have due to his past life are so insignificant compared to just the fact that he wants to be Kṛṣṇa’s devotee. The desire to be Kṛṣṇa’s devotee in a person’s life is luminous like the full moon and whatever qualities that person could possibly have are like pod marks in that moon; they are insignificant. Only a crazy, envious fool will point out the pod marks in the beautiful full moon of the autumn season. Similarly, it is said that everyone who comes to this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement practically has had millions and millions of births of material conditionings. Therefore, naturally there will be some dirt still in his heart. But the fact that he’s chanting the holy names and associating with devotees and engaging in devotional service means he is like in the shower cleaning himself. Now, the fact that someone is in the shower, however dirty he may be, does anyone criticize his dirtiness? No! Everyone is very pleased that however dirt may still be on him, he’s in the process of cleaning it off. So therefore, everyone is very pleased – “Oh how nice! He is being cleansed.”
Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami, it is described in Chaitanya-caritāmṛta: he would not tolerate hearing any defect of a devotee even if that person was actually full of defects. If someone began to point out the actual defects in a devotee, Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami would hold his ears and he would go away. And as he would be leaving, he would say, “All I know is this man is a devotee of Kṛṣṇa and that’s all I want to know and hear about him. Nothing else makes any difference.” The fact that he’s a devotee means he’s worshipable. And Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami in Chaitanya-caritāmṛta, he offers his obeisances to all the Vaishnav devotees of the Lord and he says, “I take the dust from all of their feet, not only to those great paramahamsas who have surrendered their lives and souls, but also to those brand-new neophyte devotees who are just coming to this movement. I worship their lotus feet and take their dust on my head.” Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami was, according to the ācāryas, the greatest of all the ācāryas in our line. He was the author of the most important, elevated spiritual literature on earth, the Chaitanya-caritāmṛta. And how is he thinking? He is taking the dust of the feet of the brand-new neophytes who are obviously addicted to sinful activities and have so many bad habits. But the fact that they’re taking to the chanting of the holy name, to him that is so worshipable that he takes the dust of the feet on their head. It is said that the great souls, they look for gold. If they can find gold even in a filthy place, they will accept it. So factually, in this world, everyone’s heart practically is filthy, but the slightest speck of desire to approach Kṛṣṇa is like gold. So the devotees of the Lord, they’re not looking for the dirt. Anyone can find dirt. They’re looking for the gold, and if they find even the slightest trace of gold that’s all they’re concerned with – “I have struck gold.” It is said that a devotee of the Lord, he is constantly looking, even in the conditioned souls who are most sinfully inclined, he’s constantly searching for the tiny speck of a spark of a desire for devotional service. It is already understood that there’s a mountain of, vast mountain of bad habits and sinful desires in practically everyone’s heart. It does not take a great person to see that. It does not take any glory to point that out. Anyone can point that out. But one who finds that tiny little infinitesimal spark of desire for devotion in another man’s heart and disregards that whole mountain, that whole ocean of defects, that person is a Vaishnav. And he will glorify that spark in that person for the rest of his life, and not even mention the mountain of defects. That is a Vaishnav. That is why it is said that a devotee is like a honeybee, and an unfortunate person is like a fly. The honeybee, even if he’s in the middle of garbage dump where there’s all garbage and waste, he’s simply looking for the flower. If there’s one little flower in that vast ocean of garbage and sewage – you have seen sometimes there’s sewage all over, but there may be one little flower – and the honeybee will be right in that flower; not only in the flower, but at the very essence of the flower, the whorl where he’s sucking the honey from that flower and he is absolutely unconcerned with the vast ocean of sewage all around. But the fly, even if he’s in a beautiful, beautiful flower garden, full of the most wonderful lotus flowers filled with succulent honey, sweetness, nectar inside, he’ll just be looking for one little piece of stool that might be somehow or other left there by some creature. And disregarding all the hundreds and thousands of beautiful lotus flowers, he’ll find that one little speck of stool and he will take great joy sucking the juices from that. So the devotee of the Lord, he is always looking for the sweet honey of devotion in everyone’s heart. He is looking for Kṛṣṇa in everyone’s heart, and he is always finding great pleasure in glorifying that. And those who are neophyte devotees, who do not understand the true qualities of a Vaishnav and those who are materialistically oriented, they love to taste the sweetness of finding the faults in others. To them, it is like nectar.
When we overlook faults, we can easily forgive
Prahlāda Mahārāja is here speaking about his father. His father was a Rākṣasā. He would maintain his body by killing human beings and drinking their blood without discrimination. His father persecuted the most pious of all beings, especially. We read in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam how he sent his armies, and personally led them especially to where Brahmins were. To kill them, to destroy their sacrifices, to establish himself as God. He caused havoc to the world. He blasphemed, defied and tortured even the demigods who were the most pious representatives of God in the universe. His only motivations in life were lust, pride, envy, greed. His very name ‘Hiraṇyakaśipu’ meant he had two purposes for his existence: to enjoy the sexual pleasures of young women in soft beds and to usurp as much gold or wealth as possible. And his own son Prahlāda, simply because he would not accept Hiraṇyakaśipu as the Supreme God, this man was such an arrogant fool that he wanted to kill his son. How many ways he tortured him! How many ways he blasphemed him and blasphemed God as well! Hiraṇyakaśipu was an unlimited, fathomless ocean of faults. Somebody says one little thing wrong against us and we just are so anxious to jump on that person – “Why did he say like this? What kind of a person is this? What kind of a devotee is this? Why he’s treating me so unfair?” We’re very anxious to think about this person’s little defect that he said something bad against me. Hiraṇyakaśipu said so many bad things about Prahlāda, not only with his mouth, but with his own sword he tried to sever his child’s head, tried to poison him. He tried to kill him in hundreds of ways and he was constantly blaspheming God and all the devotees. But here Śrīla Prabhupāda is describing that Prahlāda, as a Vaishnav son, despite all the inconveniences imposed upon him by his father, he could not forget his father’s affection. Somehow or other, his father had some affection for his son, tiny speck of affection. He would smell his head and tears would come to his eyes. But then after he would hear Prahlāda speak, he hated him and wanted to kill him, but Prahlāda did not see the hate, did not see the envy, did not see the violence, but he would only see that tiny little temporary spark of affection that once existed in his father’s heart. That is all he wanted to see and that is all he saw. Therefore, in great love, he is begging Lord Narsingh Dev for only one benediction. Lord Nara Hari could have given Prahlāda anything: Mukti, elevation to Goloka Vrindavan or Vaikuntha, heavenly delights, mystic powers. He could have had anything. Can you imagine! If the Supreme controller of everything that exists was standing in front of you asking, “I’ll give you anything you want, as much of it as you want. Just ask.” We would probably sit down and say, “Let me think of, let me really think of the best thing.” Prahlāda Mahārāja did not even hesitate. He said, “My Lord, I only ask one benediction. Give my father liberation. He’s such an abominable sinful person. Let him go back to Godhead. Let him free from all sins. Let him find happiness and pleasure in his life.” How forgiving is a devotee!
Prabhupāda describes in the ninth canto of Bhāgavatam that of all the qualities of a devotee, the most prominent is his forgiveness. A devotee is always anxious to forgive anyone of anything. There is no offense so great that cannot be immediately forgiven by a devotee of the Lord. Now the Lord, He may not forgive a person of offenses committed to a devotee. But devotee, he will instantly forgive, especially as soon as a person desires forgiveness. This is the quality of love. This is the quality of devotion: the willingness to forgive and forget. There are so many wonderful examples in the shastra. Ambarīṣ Mahārāja! Durvasa Muni was very envious of Ambarīṣ Mahārāja. He wanted to kill him. He created a huge monster only for the purpose of killing Ambarīṣ. Of course, Viṣṇu is very harsh with Durvasa Muni, and Durvasa Muni had to travel throughout the universe for over a year trying to escape the Sudarshan Chakra. But when finally, he realized that his only hope was to get the blessings of Ambarīṣ, he came to Ambarīṣ, who was standing at the doorstep of his palace; he fasted that whole year waiting for his guest to return. And Durvasa muni said, “Please, please forgive me for the offence I have committed to you.” And Ambarīṣ Maharaj said, “What? Forgive you? My God! All the inconvenience I’ve caused you; I kept you waiting for your Prasad for one year all because of me! I should be begging forgiveness from you.” This is the nature of a devotee.
Radhanath Swami explains the forgiving nature of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahāprabhu… when Ramachandra Puri came into Jagannath Puri, he was an ocean of bad qualities. We know the story. Ramchandra Puri, he was one of the great disciples of Madhavendra puri. When Madhavendra Puri was on his bed during the last days of his earthly leela, in the ecstasy of separation from Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, he was crying out: “Oh Lord of Mathura, why you are not here with me today? Where are you? Why I have not obtained you?” Ramchandra Puri said to him, “Ha! You are not seeing the Lord of Mathura? Then you should meditate on Brahman.” And Madhavendra Puri was very angry: “This rascal, he calls himself my disciple…he is telling me to meditate on Brahman when I’m about to leave my body! Get out of here you rascal. I never want to see your face.” Because he offended his spiritual master in this way, he lost all of his good qualities. If one offends a great soul, no matter how elevated and great he is, that person loses his lifespan and all his good qualities in due course of time. And we factually have seen this even with our own eyes in this Hare Krishna movement. Even great, great persons who have done so much service to the Lord, if they continuously with envy in their heart commit offense to the great souls, they soon lose all those devotional qualities; they become un-manifest. So Ramacandra Puri, after this incident, his only business was to find faults in others even with the Supreme Personality of Godhead (break)
And then like so many people in India they say, “Oh you must have more, you must have more.”
“No no. I better.”
“No no. Little more, little more. One more one more.”
“No no no no”
“Yes, yes, yes.”
And then they drop it on your plate. Then you eat. Then “Ah. One more one more one more.”
“No no no no.”
“Yes, yes. One more, one more.”
“No, no, no. I’ve had enough. I am full. Puran, Puran.”
“Yes. Yes.” They put it on your plate. Then you eat.
So he would do this to the devotees of Lord Chaitanya, and then after they would be complete, then he would begin to chastise, “Just see! You sense enjoyer! You call yourself a brahmachari and you overeat so much. You eat all sweet meats, eat all opulent foods. You are just a disgrace to the renounced order of life. All these devotees of Lord Chaitanya, they’re simply concerned with their tongues and their bellies and they are sense enjoyers. It is disgusting. Huh!”
And then the people would… “My God! What to do?” They would walk out.
He even did this to Lord Chaitanya. He invited Chaitanya. He came in. The devotees, they saw Lord Chaitanya Mahāprabhu as the Supreme Lord. Their greatest pleasure in life was only to serve Him nice Prasad. So, when he would come into the house and see Lord Chaitanya eating so many nice preparations, “What type of sannyasi is this? Such opulent food! Oh He is not a sannyasi. He is not bona fide. He is simply a sense enjoyer.” Although Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu was factually, He would only eat a little tiny sample… and He was giving His life: He took sanyasi; He gave up the most beautiful, elegant, chaste and faithful wife; He gave up the most well-wishing mother only to show compassion to other living beings; He was spreading the Yuga-Dharma to everyone without discrimination; He delivered millions and millions of people in South India from the clutches of birth and death and awarded them all pure love of God; He even delivered the animals and the jungles of Jharikhaṇḍa, gave them love of God. Ramachandra Puri did not see any of these qualities in Lord Chaitanya. He only saw that He eats too much. And therefore he was possessed with blaspheming the Lord for that purpose. And the devotees! My God, they wanted to beat this Ramchandra Puri and just throw him out of town. But Lord Chaitanya, He said “No. no no. Don’t think like that. He’s actually my friend. He’s helping me become a good sanyasi. He is my guru’s disciple. I mean my guru’s God brother. So he should be respected. If he says I eat too much that means I eat too much. So from this day on, I will only have one handful of steamed rice, boiled rice. Nothing else.” It was like that, and then even after he was doing like that, one day He was sitting in His room, Chaitanya Mahāprabhu, and Ramachandra Puri, he came in and he saw two or three ants crawling on the floor. “Just this hypocrite nonsense Chaitanya calls Himself a sanyasi, makes everyone think He’s eating so little, but He’s secretly, in His room eating sweet meats and the proof is that these ants have come to taste the sugar dropped on the floor.” Lord Chaitanya could have got up and took a Sudarshan Chakra and chopped his head off like He did to Jagai and Madhai but because the offense was toward Him. If it was toward His devotee, Mahāprabhu would have, My God! what He would have done to Ramachandra Puri but because the offense was toward Him, He was very humble. He just looked down and didn’t say anything. He accepted whatever Ramchandra said as for His benefit. How forgiving was Chaitanya Mahāprabhu! How forgiving! How He was willing to see the good.
In regard to our own spiritual master, His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, he came to the Western world and he became intimate friends with the most degraded, sinful people on earth. People who were having illicit sex every day, people who were intoxicated 24 hours a day, people who ate meat for every day in their life and people who were gambling their whole existence away! 24 hours a day! What to speak of everything else they were doing? Well Śrīla Prabhupāda never criticized them. If he saw the slightest trace of a desire in such a person to serve Krishna, he would glorify that person. It didn’t matter what else he was doing, chain-smokers, drug addicts, alcoholics, sex mongers, prostitutes. If he saw the slightest inclination for them to even want to try to have kirtan with him, he would think ‘Oh! this person is very great. He wants to chant the holy names’. If someone said “but what about all these other defects?” Prabhupāda would say “He wants to chant the holy names. What else matters?” What to speak of someone who is chanting the holy names with a vow! And it was only because of this infinite forgiveness that Śrīla Prabhupāda was able to change people’s hearts and spread the glories of the holy name all over the world. Unless we begin to acquire this quality, we cannot really be preachers. We cannot really effectively preach on behalf of our spiritual master. The devotee of the Lord is the well-wisher of everyone. This is the quality of the great souls. It is only this quality that gives the people of this world hope for spiritual life.
Lord Jesus Christ, what they did to him? They blasphemed him, they insulted him. They said “You call yourself the King of the Jews. Here, have a crown.” They made a crown out of sharp thorns. They pushed it on his head and caused… pierced his skin and cause blood to flow all over his face. Then they spit on him right in his face, they shoved him to the ground, they put a cross on his back, they forced him to carry it. Meanwhile, they were whipping him, beating him, insulting him. Then they nailed him to the cross, and then while he was in that most suffering and helpless condition, they began to just insult him more. “Just see… where is your God now ? You’re so great, king of the Jews!” And Jesus, with tears in his eyes, not for his own suffering but for them, tears of sympathy for them, he looked up to the heavens and prayed to God, “Oh father in heaven. Forgive them. They know not what they do.” This is the quality of a Vaishnava.
My dear God brothers, God sisters, it is very important that you analyse your own hearts. How are you seeing the good qualities in others or how are you looking for the defects. Think about the example of Prahlad Maharaj, Lord Jesus Christ, Śrī Chaitanya Mahāprabhu and all these great devotees who we are supposed to be following in their footsteps. How forgiving! How magnanimous! How much they were like honeybees looking for the nectar, however small it may be in the hearts of another. How they couldn’t care less, they avoided seeing the defects in others. How much are we following in their footsteps? Let us search our own hearts, let’s examine what we are saying, what we are thinking during the day, and let us with great concentration and sincere effort learn to follow in the footsteps of these great ācārya predecessors who are teaching us what it means to be a Vaishnav? What it means to be a devotee of the Lord and how to please the Lord? By always seeing Krishna in everyone’s heart, by always looking for Krishna in everyone’s heart, by being the sympathetic, kind well-wisher of every living being regardless of their position. Let us strive, as an austerity in life, to engage in this most pleasing service to the Lord. Let us pray for the welfare of all living beings and let us be willing to endure and accept any inconvenience to assist our spiritual master in fulfilling this prayer.
Thank you very much.