Draupadi – dishonored yet honorable

Draupadi – dishonored yet honorable

By Chaitanya Charan das

Draupadi. Her admirable character is revealed in the most humiliating incident of her life – her disrobing by the wicked Dushasana. Though victimized in body, she refuses to be victimized in her heart. Her exceptional character transforms the lowest point in her life into the highest point. The incident in which she is the most dishonored, she emerges as the most honorable.

On that dark day, her period has just ended and she has emerged after bathing, wearing a single cloth before she puts on her royal dress as the chief queen of the reigning monarch. Unknown to her, the monarch Yudhisthira has, in a rigged gambling match, lost everything, including all his property, his brothers, himself and finally her.

The jeering Karna suggests that Draupadi be brought into the assembly and be disrobed publicly for she was now the Kauravas’ slave. If the Kauravas had succeeded in disrobing her, whether they would have physically violated her in the public assembly is doubtful. The atrocious idea was not just driven by lust but by power play – the Kauravas saw Draupadi not as a person, but as a tool to demean the Pandavas. Objectification of women runs through and through in the Kauravas’ attitude. They order a court messenger to summon Draupadi to the palace.

When the messenger informs her that she has been summoned to the assembly and tells her all that has transpired there, she is aghast. But pulling herself together with amazing speed, she comes up with a strategy to buy time. She tells the messenger to ask the assembly whether she had been rightly gambled and lost when Yudhishtira had already gambled and lost himself – when he was not his own master, was he her master to have gambled her?

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Srila Bhaktivinoda recommends that we move like a person climbing a ladder

Srila Bhaktivinoda recommends that we move like a person climbing a ladder
By Vaisesika Das 

Question: What if I can only chant Hare Krsna right now, but I can’t do much service? Answer: Chanting Hare Krsna is service.

However, when you are chanting “Hare Krsna,” you are also requesting service. After chanting, don’t be surprised when you are awarded more service. And then when Krsna gives you service, there may be a question about how much service you should take. On the one hand, Krsna advises in the Gita (18.66) that we simply surrender to Him. And this is actually the main business of a devotee. On the other hand, Krsna tells Uddhava in the Srimad-bhagavatam, sve sve adhikari ya nistah … “It is a good quality to take service according to one’s Adhikari, or current capacity.” (SB 11.21.2)

Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in his Sri Caitanya Siksamrita, explains how to reconcile these two sides through vigilant introspection.

He says, If we are ready for more service, but hesitate to take it, our devotional service will slacken. Or, if we aren’t fixed in the service we have now, and we hastily take more than we are qualified for, we may fall down.

To advance, therefore, Srila Bhaktivinoda recommends that we move like a person climbing a ladder, who moves from a lower rung to a higher one only after finding a secure footing. In our devotional service, we should similarly gain a solid footing in whatever service we have now and then grasp for the next highest level of service when we can actually reach it. Our gaining solid footing and our looking for the next higher rung should go on simultaneously, he says.

“If we are in too much in a hurry to climb to a higher step, we may slip and be forced to step down. Or, if we don’t try to take the higher step when we are actually ready, our progress will stop. Therefore, considering both haste and hesitancy as obstacles, we should rise up by becoming fixed on the rung of advancement we have achieved and then reach for the next higher step. Many express sorrow about not getting devotion to Krishna; but the fact is that they do not try their best to rise up to the steps leading to advanced devotion to Krishna.” (Adapted from Caitanya Siksamrta; p 112. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)

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Radhanath Swami tells a true story of Positive Attitude

Radhanath Swami tells a true story of Positive Attitude

I want to tell the story of a lady Kuntidevi, also a disciple of my guru Srila Prabhupada. She was never a big leader; she was never a person that people honored and respected as being a person of high position. She was a simple mother and a very, very dedicated devotee of Lord Krishna. Those who knew her well honored her, but there weren’t so many people who knew her well. When she got cancer of the breast, that cancer spread viciously, and entered into her spine and into her organs and just crippled her. It was such a ferocious case of cancer that the doctors said, “There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do. You have six months to live, maximum.” She was practically paralyzed from the waist down. She was in a wheelchair. According to the medical analysis, she was racked with pain. Yet, she was always smiling, always encouraging and making everyone happy. It was so phenomenal. How blissful she was! How positive she was! The local television station heard about it. They met her and they had never seen anything like this in their life. I saw that television show too. It was a half hour program and it was incredible. The hostess was just praising her. Kuntidevi was talking to people and giving lectures about the beauty of life, the beauty of bhakti, and the good fortune of anyone who has Krishna. The hostess asked her, “How could you be so happy when you are in such a condition?” She replied, “Because I know I am the soul, I am eternal, this body is just a temporary situation and this situation is bringing my soul closer to God. Therefore I am rejoicing and I am happy.” According to the doctor’s diagnosis, her physical symptoms and everything else was utterly hopeless and miserable except one thing—her consciousness. I happened to have the fortune of being at her bedside when she left the world. She was surrounded by loving devotees chanting the holy names and she just lovingly gave her heart and her life to Krishna in a totally positive, grateful and happy state. Now, you cannot get that consciousness even from the best psychologist or psychiatric. They can do good to a certain extent, but a really true and deep positive attitude in life comes by knowledge and realization of the eternal blissful nature of the soul, the all attractive, all merciful, beautiful nature of God, our relationship with God and the beautiful and wonderful opportunities to serve God that we have at every moment.

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