Why did Krishna not protect Yudhisthira from errors of judgment?
Transcription by– Keshavgopal das & Ambuj Gupta
Question: Why did Krishna not protect Pandavas from the errors of judgement that they committed?
Answer: Two things- first is that Krishna when He descends in this world He does not always act in His divine capacity. He always does not act as God. When Krishna descends to this world He quite often acts in a mortal capacity. Doesn’t become mortal but He acts in a human capacity to demonstrate to us how we should act. If you want to take this from Krishna’s point of view then we could even say that how can God fail! God is omnipotent. I gave a talk on one of the shaantiduta pastimes, “When God fails- the bhakti message in the peace messenger pastime”. When Krishna personally went to barter for peace then God Himself is coming and God is all powerful then how can God fail?
The point is that when Krishna descends to this world in His pastimes He sometimes demonstrates to be omnipotence, at other times He demonstrates some other principles apart from omnipotence. So when He is going as a peace messenger, His focus is not to demonstrate omnipotence in a finally conclusive way. His purpose is to demonstrate the defiance of Duryodhana and the tolerance of the Pandavas. Even after all the attrocities are performed still the Pandavas are ready to settle for peace. Even when peace is offered to Duryodhana in the most accommodating terms still he is not ready to see sense. So through this what Krishna demonstrates? Actually when Krishna come as shantidoot He stays at Vidura’s house and Vidura cannot bear the thought. Actually Duryodhana is already set that I will arrest Krishna. If we arrest Him because He is one of the aces in the Pandavas camp If He is out of the equation then the odds should dramatically shift towards Kauravas. At that time Bhishma is so angry and he said it’s unthinkable. First of all according to ettiquette a messenger should never be harmed and what to speak of a messenger who is Keshava who is always supreme. Bhishma get so disturbed by that. He said I cannot sit in an assembly like this and walks out. So Vidura when the previous night Krishna comes to his house, Vidura says O Krishna why do you want to go to that assembly. You know Duryodhana is not going to listen to you. Vidura’s heart cannot tolerate the idea that just as Draupadi was insulted in the assembly, Krishna may also be insulted in the assembly. Off course Krishna is far more powerful but still somebody goes and makes a request and request is neglected then that is also an insult. Then Krishna speaks to him. He says that I know Duryodhana will insult Me but I want to make sure that the Pandavas will never get blamed for causing this war.
Through the shaantiduta pastime Krishna demonstrates something else. What is that? He demonstrates that if somebody is defiant, somebody is obstinate then that defiance becomes a law which prevent that person from even let him God do something. What it demonstrates is Krishna’s respect for His devotees. Also you could say it demonstrates Krishna’s respect for the free will of the living entity. That Krishna is God, He does not bang down on any living being. He respectfully petitions and after that He rests. He doesn’t trample with anyone’s will. Just as that pastime demonstrates a particular lesson, similarly in this particular pastime the errors of judgement of His devotees are the way through which He demonstrates the glorious devotion of those devotees. What does it mean? If Yudhisthira had not gambled then Draupadi’s glory could not be demonstrated in such an extraordinary way.
When the Lord’s devotee do something, it’s categorically of a different nature. Some youth might get frustrated and go to a fifty story building and jump down from there and commit suicide and all that happened by this that person just land up in a pile of broken bones and blood. If there is a famous movie director which is directing a movie and there in that the hero doing a stunt, jumping from a fifty story building. What happens? The same activity is there but that hero is lauded and is paid for that. That activity is the same but the context is different. When these pastimes happen, at one level we understand that for learning ourselves what is the right action to do, what is the wrong action to do, we should look at things from ethical point of view. Ok, this was right, this was wrong. But from transcendental perspective we understand that Lord’s devotees are inspired by Lord to act in the particular ways to teach certain principles. So this whole pastime is to demonstrate the glory of the devotion of Draupadi and the Pandava’s error of judging are also meant ultimately to serve the Lord.
This does not mean that we make errors of judgement and say that Krishna is trying to teach something to others, no. We have to try to understand and act properly. But we understand if sometimes mistakes do happen then Krishna is so expert that even through our mistakes He can bring out something good if we continue stick to Him. The point is we should not give up devotion no matter what happens. Even if there is an error on our part or error on part of those whom we love, those we respect still we continue to persevere in the principle of bhakti and ultimately we will be protected. You see again in the pastime of Akshay patra. Draupadi was a responsible and careful house wife. So when they had Akshay patra, such a precious plate, after the food is served on that and eaten then Draupadi normally would wash that plate very carefully. But on that particular day one morsel of food remained over there. How did that remain, Dropadi was not careless but her mistake was meant to be used by Krishna to demonstrate other principle. What is that? Yasmine tushtam jagat tushtam (one can satisfy the whole universe by satisfying Krishna). Krishna has several reasons. From ethical point of view we can learn certain lessons about right and wrong but for our application but we don’t extrapolate that and judge the associates of the Lord as right or wrong. We understand that they are acting on behalf of the Lords to demonstrate some higher truth. Thank you.
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