When the Pandavas were so virtuous why did Krisha let them suffer so much?
Question: When the Pandavas were always virtuous why did they suffer so much? Why does Krishna teach through the suffering of His devotees like this?
Answer: Our sufferings, for most of us, are because of our past-life karma. And through undergoing our sufferings in devotion, maintaining our faith in Krishna, continuing our devotion to Krishna, by accepting suffering that way, we get purified. So our sufferings are for our purification.
But for great devotees, their sufferings are for their glorification. They do not have any past karma because of which they are going through sufferings.
What do we mean by glorification?
The greatness of gold is seen by how it shines. That’s one way of telling if it’s gold. But there can be some coating on some other object also, gold-plated, and just like gold, it shines. But when it is heated, then all the contaminants melt away and only the pure gold remains and then it blazes effulgence.
For our devotion also, it’s like that. As we become purified, the anarthas go away and then the pure, effulgent desire to serve Krishna always, to love Krishna always, that is what remains. And that is the supreme glory of the soul.
For advanced devotees, Krishna lets them go through some sufferings, so as to demonstrate to us how we should go through sufferings and maintain our faith.
Srila Prabhupada would give the example that a newly married woman, when she comes to her in-laws place, she may not know the specific customs and the mores of the in-laws place, and she’s already apprehensive: I have come to a new place, what is going to happen? So if the mother-in-law wants to teach her something, if she instructs or corrects her daughter in-law, the daughter in-law may feel very scared about it. So in our culture sensitive households, what the mother-in-law does is she instructs her daughter: Why are you serving like this? Serve like this. The daughter already knows how to serve. But when the daughter is told, the daughter understands. The daughter and mother have an intimate relationship and that relationship is not there between the daughter in-law and the mother-in-law. So the daughter is instructed and the daughter in-law observes: Oh, I am meant to do like this. And she corrects herself.
So Krishna’s advanced devotees are like the daughter, and we, the upcoming devotees are like the daughter in-law. The sufferings that they go through are meant for their glorification and our instruction. Even amid so much suffering, they continue their devotion. How glorious is their devotion? And as we see that we will get some suffering but it will not compare at all with the extent of their suffering, so surely we should tolerate our sufferings also and continue our devotion.
That’s actually a selfless sacrifice of these exalted devotees that they are ready to go through such sufferings for the sake of pleasing the Lord and participating in the message and the instruction that He wants to impart in the world.