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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Ravana refused Rama’s invitation and met with annihilation

Ravana refused Rama’s invitation and met with annihilation

 

By Purushottam Nitai Das

With just his tail, Hanuman effortlessly burned the entire city of Lanka. But he too wasn’t successful in burning the lust and ego of Ravana, the powerful king of Lanka. In fact Ravana’s real well wishers such as his brother Vibhishana and his chaste wife Mandodari had tried their best to counsel him several times against kidnapping Sita, wife of Lord Rama. Ravana not just refused to listen to them but he even humiliated them. Upon being reminded by Vibhishana that kidnapping someone else’s wife is an immoral act and he would suffer the consequences for this nefarious deed Ravana became mad with anger at his brother and threatened to kill him. He finally forced Vibhishana to leave his kingdom. Ravana thought he would succeed in killing Rama and would then forcibly enjoy with Sita.

Hanuman was just one of the soldiers of Lord Rama and had almost decimated the entire Lanka. Any sensible person would have easily gauged the strength of his opponent seeing the power of just one of the soldiers of his opponent. But lust and ego had created such a thick covering over Ravana’s intelligence that he was not able to see his imminent disaster. Just like Ravana we too want to enjoy the property of the Lord claiming to be ours. And when reminded that everything moving and non -moving in this world belongs to Lord we refuse to accept it and we start making plans to defeat the plans of the Lord. The material energy of the Lord keeps on demonstrating as how helpless we are in front of her. We see devastation everywhere in the form of flood, famine, earthquake, tsunami, war, deadly diseases and death. But like Ravana we refuse to learn from it and always think that with my efforts and prowess we will be able to subjugate the material world and will enjoy it by becoming the controller.

Lord Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and for him to kill Ravana wasn’t difficult. He is the creator and maintainer of all and when required he destroys everything. But just like a father who always hope that one day his disobedient son would get reformed and will finally return to home, similarly Lord Rama the Supreme father was hoping that may be Ravana would give up his demoniac mentality and would come back to him. And this is why, he waited and through Hanuman and Angad sent him messages that he should act righteously else his end is certain.

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