If forgiving unlimitedly a sign of humility?

by Chaitanya CharanJanuary 26, 2024

Answer Podcast

Question: Is forgiving unlimitedly a sign of humility?

Answer: No, it can be a sign of stupidity also. Ultimately, I think all these virtues like forgiveness or humility or tolerance, they have to be seen in the light of serving Krishna. What does forgiveness mean? Let’s consider: There was Juhu temple land, there was Mr. N who was trying to take the money and not give the land also, and Prabhupada did not forgive him. Prabhupada fought to get the land. Eventually, after Mr. N passed away, then Mrs. N also tried to continue the fight. Then eventually, she realized the whole tide of public opinion had gone against her and she realized this is too big, I can’t do this. Then, she came to a conciliation. At that time, she even came and sought forgiveness from Prabhupada, and Prabhupada said, you are just like my daughter, I’ll take care of you. So, Prabhupada in that sense didn’t hold it against her afterwards. But it was not that, oh, you want to take the money, you want to take the land, take it. No, Prabhupada fought. So, I would say that the service to Krishna or the purpose of serving Krishna is most important and within that context, we can see what forgiveness means.

I think this is a big subject, and if you go on my website, just search for “Forgiveness London”. I gave a two-part seminar with a lot of question-answers on the topic. The theme was balancing forgiveness and justice in bhakti.

I’m the editor for Back to Godhead and some other online sites also. We often ask devotees to give stories on “how I came to Krishna Consciousness”. There was one young man who was introduced through jail preaching. In the jail, he became introduced and he became a devotee.

It’s quite a nice story and we were planning to publish it, but then later on, we came to know why he had gone to jail. That was because he had tried to molest some congregation devotee’s daughter. He was not a devotee at that time and he didn’t even know that she was a devotee. Then we considered, we say he has become a devotee, but how will that family, how will that community, feel? So, we decided we’re not going to publish this article. So, we have to consider other things also.

Bhakti can transform and ultimately Krishna can forgive us for all our wrongdoings, but in this world, the wrongdoings we may have done, they have consequences. We can’t just wish them away.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu forgave Madhai, but still he built that Madhai Ghat and he begged forgiveness from people and he tried to make amends at the practical level also. If somebody is doing something wrong, there is certainly forgiveness in terms of past wrongs, let’s put them behind, that’s good. But there’s a difference between forgiving and trusting.

Trusting is for the future; forgiveness is for the past. We can forgive the past wrongs, but trust has to be earned. Trust can’t be automatically just given. We may forgive somebody for the past, but we may withhold trust, otherwise they will keep making the same mistake and keep hurting us, keep hurting others, keep misusing resources. We can let the past be in the past, but we can’t simplistically forgive and let people injure others or injure us, hurt us by continuing the mistake. So, we should differentiate between forgiving and trusting.

We can forgive some people, but they will have to act in a trustworthy way, show that they have changed, only then we can give them our trust. That’s how we have to balance.

End of transcription.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan