By Radheshyam Dasa
In the section below, I have shown in italics, the relevant portions for our discussion on Conflicting roles of Sati:
It is said, “Satī was very much anxious to see her relatives at her father’s house, but at the same time she was afraid of Lord Śiva’s warning. Her mind unsettled, she moved in and out of the room as a swing moves this way and that.” [SB 4.4.1]
Satī felt very sorry at being forbidden to go see her relatives at her father’s house, and due to affection for them, tears fell from her eyes. Shaking and very much afflicted, she looked at her uncommon husband, Lord Śiva, as if she were going to blast him with her vision. [SB 4.4.2]
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport to above verse, “Satī felt very sorry at being forbidden to go see her relatives at her father’s house, and due to affection for them, tears fell from her eyes. Shaking and very much afflicted, she looked at her uncommon husband, Lord Śiva, as if she were going to blast him with her vision.”
Thereafter Satī left her husband, Lord Śiva, who had given her half his body due to affection. Breathing very heavily because of anger and bereavement, she went to the house of her father. This less intelligent act was due to her being a weak woman. [SB 4.4.3]
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport to above verse, “Generally, separation between husband and wife is due to womanly behavior; divorce takes place due to womanly weakness. The best course for a woman is to abide by the orders of her husband. That makes family life very peaceful. Sometimes there may be misunderstandings between husband and wife, as found even in such an elevated family relationship as that of Satī and Lord Śiva, but a wife should not leave her husband’s protection because of such a misunderstanding. If she does so, it is understood to be due to her womanly weakness.”
What should a Sadhaka do while encountering Conflicting roles?
Sati faced a tug of war between her desires to go to father’s house V/S Fear of disobeying Lord Siva her husband.
Her desire got better off and that impelled her to go ahead, making a bold decision.
Srila Prabhupada clearly draws a conclusion that in husband-wife relationship, it is better for wife to co-operate with the husband in a bitter situation than to quit the scene and take shelter of parents seeking a sweet relationship with them. If one considers this matter seriously, one can see that any parent will want to see their daughter happily settled with her husband. But sometimes it is seen that a woman boasts about her great parentage to her husband and picks quarrels seeing his deficiencies, often leading to separation or divorce. Prabhupada calls such attachment to one’s parental home as `womanly weakness’.
Desire and Attachment, though can offer instant pleasure, lead to pain in the long run.
Obedience and Tolerance, though noble qualities that are difficult to practice, bring long enduring success.
In our life, definitely we should put Principle before Pleasure, if we want to experience ultimate success.
Arjuna was willing to be killed in the army unarmed instead of destroying all his kinsmen and enjoying an unrivaled kingdom, tainted with their blood. This shows his nobility of purpose in goodness, which of course, was rejected by Krishna due to it being subordinate to transcendental goodness. Still it carries some weight for those who are serious about practicing spiritual life.
Haridas thakura did not succumb to the pleasure of association of a prostitute, even in a private place, since his heart was fixed in the Lord’s pleasure. Character is what we are, when no one is around. To have such strength of Character like Haridas Thakura, we should practice in our everyday life, the art of putting Guru’s and Superior’s instruction at the topmost pedestal of our heart and kick out leanings for personal sense gratification. As one keeps doing this on a regular basis, there is a likelihood of some frustration arising in one’s mind. That frustration can be evaporated by higher taste that comes from genuine six loving exchanges in Vaishnava sanga, Gorgeous Darshan of Deities and Festivals, Lord’s reciprocation that comes in the form of appreciation from devotees, developing deeper and deeper understanding of KC wisdom and its practical application, sweet realizations revealed by Lord within our heart when we show some detachment for the pleasure of Guru and Krishna etc. Eventually one will delightfully choose the option of surrendering to Guru’s will and kick out any tendency for sense gratification. That will become a second nature for a sincere and serious devotee.
We can give many practical life examples to illustrate the above point :
- Matapyar das brahmacari goes home for a couple of days after taking permission from his Temple President. While at home, he gets used to latenight chatting with relatives and casual time-pass with old friends. Being reminded by mother of his childhood days, his old fond attachment to parents is revived. Now a week has passed at home and he is wondering whether to keep his mobile in switched off mode to `escape’ Temple President’s angry call.
- After the Yatra got over in Mayapur dham, Sankirtanprem das brahmacari came to know on the last day of yatra that after four days, there is `Kirtan mela’ in Mayapur dham. Many brahmacaris asked TP whether are we going to extend our stay in Mayapur to join the same. TP clearly said that the tickets for return were booked long ago and nobody should stay back in Mayapur. Sankirtanprem prabhu was in no mood to ask TP again, simply to be turned away with a No. He deliberately `missed’ the train and went to Mayapur to complete the `Kirtan mela’. After it was over, he called TP and said, `Sorry prabhu. I missed the train and had to wait for a week to book my ticket for return.’ TP didn’t know the actual fact and said alright. Sankirtanprem prabhu was delighted to share this with one of his equal friends who didn’t feel it was proper behavior.
Small small units of disobedience to superiors, gradually grow in future, leading a devotee to deviate and even fall away from KC. Once I asked my Spiritual master, “I have to make hundreds of decisions at Pune as a TP. How will I know whether I am making right decisions, since you may not be available for consultation for every decision I make.” In reply he said, “If you obey the instructions that I have already given you, with sincerity, seriousness and without ulterior motives, then whatever decisions you make will be in line with my desire.” It really made sense.
Jagadananda pandit had a strong desire to go to Vraj. Lord Caitanya allowed him reluctantly, but with many instructions : when you go stay with Sanatan; do not associate with Vrajbasis, else you’ll commit offenses; do not stay for many days there, return soon etc. This goes to show that even if our superiors are likely to deny our request, it is best for us to consult them at the risk of being denied our request. This is true obedience.
Balabhadra Bhattacarya asked Lord CM whether he could go to see Krishna dancing on Kaliya at night. Lord CM lovingly slapped him and denied saying that Scriptures don’t quote such a thing. Later the brahmanas who came next day revealed the fact that some fisherman with his lantern was boating at night and people concocted him to be Krishna and the lamp to be jewels on Kaliya’s hoods! Anyway, Balabhadra bhattacarya obeyed Lord CM and did not go to see Krishna in Yamuna, because he had faith in Lord’s words.
Independent plan-making, Doing something without consultation, Disobeying instructions given, Rebelling and justifying, Offending superiors with blasphemy, Claiming one’s superiority over superiors in talent or skill or knowledge etc are increasing degrees of wrong behavior that takes us away from Krishna’s lotus feet.
Doing what we are told obediently by superiors, doing it with faith love and sincerity, doing it with the desire to please the superior, willing to extend more than what we can do, putting oneself at the beck and call of superior like a child to parents, never making complaints even when chastised by superior for small mistakes committed, willing to unconditionally surrender in all circumstances without any desire for any credit etc are increasing degrees of right behavior that takes us closer to Krishna’s lotus feet.