Some Radiant Exponents of Brotherhood
Enlightened Devotees Recognize God in All
By J. N. CHAUDHURI, B.L.
Sanatana Dharma, which goes by the name of Hinduism, speaks of unity of life, which means that One Life functions through all forms and kinds of living beings -human, animal, vegetable, etc. This doctrine of unity of life may be well illustrated by the following story of Narada's visit to Dwaraka, the kingdom of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. One day, Narada went to Dwaraka and was received with due honor by the Lord. Narada said to the Lord, "I wish to see the different chambers of your palace." Sri Bhagavan assented, and accordingly Narada was led by an attendant from one chamber to another, and to his surprise he saw Sri Krishna in every one of these chambers; in one chamber he was seen bathing, in another, he was seen playing with children and so on. So in every chamber of the Palace of Life, i.e. in every living being, there is the One Life-God in human beings. God in birds, God in beasts, God in trees and so on. In short, every living creature is a temple of God.
According to the teachings of Sanatana Dharma, the best description of worshipping God is to feel the divine presence in, and love all living beings. It, therefore, teaches Ahimsa (non-violence) as an article of faith, so to say, almost unknown to other religions. The ancient books of the Hindus teach us to avoid doing harm to any form of life. There are five commandments for Yogis in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and the very first commandment is harmlessness.
Sanatana Dharma teaches us to show kindness to all beings belonging to this world, as also to other worlds, as dearly appears from the following Vedic Mantras uttered by orthodox Hindus during Tarpana (libation of water) :
"To the Devas, the Yaksas, the Nagas, the reptiles, the trees, the Vidyadharas, aquatic creatures, those flying in the sky, those going without food and those who are inclined to sin. I make this offering of water, with a view to soothing their tormented souls. Let those who are or are not related to me in a former existence and those who expect an offering of water from me, derive satisfaction from this offering of water."
It also teaches us to pray for peace to all and sundry, as appears from the following Mantras:
I pray for peace to the heaven firmament, earth, water, vegetable kingdom, and the Devas, Brahma all and sundry, and let that peace come unto me."
Now let us see what scriptural tests there are in support of the proposition that God is the Indweller in all-living beings. The Swetswatara Upanishad says:
"There is only one God who lieth hidden within all sentient beings, who is all-pervading, who is the inner self of all living beings."
"God-the Creator of the universe, the kind-hearted Indweller in the hearts of all creatures."
The Bhagavad Gita says:
"God dwells in the hearts of all beings."
"And I am seated in the hearts of all."
"He who seeth Me everywhere and seeth everything in Me. of him will I never lose hold and he shall never lose hold of Me."
The Manu-Samhita says:
"He who thus seeth the Self in all living beings through his self becomes equal-minded to all and entereth the supreme state."
Love of God connotes the love of all His created beings. Without loving all living beings, there can be no true love of God. Suppose I do always profess my love and affection for A. but bear a grudge against his children. In such a case, is it likely that A. will be lovingly disposed toward me? Not at all. I shall be called a hypocrite by A. and he will turn an enemy to me in no time. All living beings are so many children of God, and, if some of them be inimically disposed toward some others, then the former can never expect to win the divine grace. As the good king bears equal affection for all his subjects-high and low, rich and poor-so the Almighty King loves equally all living beings. He is the same to all. The Lord says in the Gita:
"The same am I to all beings" and, for this reason, He enjoins upon us an equal treatment of all sorts and conditions of beings on earth. Thus we read in the Gita: "The wise look equally on a Brahman endued with learning and humility, a cow, an elephant, and even a dog and an outcast."
One grand result of seeing the Supreme Being or God in all beings is that the heart becomes too full -of the milk of human kindness, so much so that one who becomes blest with such a happy frame of mind, looks upon all living beings as manifestations or temples of God; even his worst enemies are regarded by him as his dearest friends. Thus the Isopanishad says: "He who sees all beings in the Supreme Spirit and the Supreme Spirit in all beings, hates none in consequence." He is truly nonviolent in deed and thought even under circumstances of grave provocation. "Resist not evil" becomes the motto of his life. He follows to the letter what the great law-giver Manu says: "Even though persecuted one must not speak words which may cut others to the quick. He must not injure others in thought or deed. Let him not utter words which may make others afraid of him." (Manu-Samhita IL 161). He is ever inoffensive, harmless and devoid of malice, even to the deadliest enemy.
We read in the Bhagavata and Vishnu-Purana that Prahlada was sought to be put to death by his father, King Hiranyakasipu, who had recourse to various means such as throwing him to a big elephant to be trampled under its feet, throwing him into a blazing fire, throwing him into the sea with a big stone tied to his body, throwing him before a venomous snake to be bitten by it, striking him with a sword, mixing poison with food offered to him, etc. Nevertheless, Prahlada's mind did not cherish the least ill-will against his cruel father. On the contrary, he prayed to God for the liberation of his father from the effects of these sinful acts on his part.
King Ambarisha, even when violently treated by the ever ireful Rishi Durvasa (whose conduct was wholly disapproved by Sri Bhagavan when prayed to for mercy by him while about to be destroyed by the divine Chakra, and who was asked by the Lord to go back to the King and beg mercy of him) had been fasting since the Rishi left him, without food and drink, and thought it quite improper on his part to break his fast till the return of Durvasa and his proper entertainment. At last, when Durvasa came back to the King, the latter received the former with great reverence and humility as if he were never cruelly treated by the Rishi, and offered him hospitality with a devout heart. He broke his long fast only after Durvasa had taken his food and drink. The Rishi said to the King: "Today I witness a very wonderful magnanimity on the part of a servant (devotee) of God, for though I have offended against you, still you are thinking of my good. Nothing is impossible for those holy servants of God (ever affectionate and gracious to His servants) who have conquered Him by means of Bhakti (devotion). What remains unobtainable by those holy servants of His, the very hearing of whose name purifies the hearer?" (Bhagavata IX. v. 14-16).
Nityananda, the great Vaishnava saint and associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was one day struck on the head with the edge of a broken pitcher by Madhai, the lewd Brahman youth, totally spoiled, like his brother Jagai, by riches in unworthy hands and by the high office held by them under the then ruler of Bengal. Nityananda was out on his preaching mission with some of his followers on the public road of Navadwip and when the party, singing the name of Hari*, was passing by the house of Jagai and Madhai, Madhai came out and wounded Nityananda as stated above. On this the followers of Nityananda grew excited; but he pacified them with entreaties and supplications quite unheard of and, with a smiling countenance and a heart full of compassion for his assailant, said to him: "Never mind, friend, what you have done; but I would ask you to take the name of Hari at least once. I can very well bear the wound inflicted upon me by you just now, but hardly can I afford to bear the sight of your ungodliness."
Only the devotee whose consciousness has so expanded that he sees Divinity in all things can radiate the -sincere and selfless love which is a prerequisite of brotherhood.
Haridas was a devout Vaishnava and a follower of Sri Chaitanya. Though born of orthodox Brahman parents residing in Buran (now located in the district of Khulna), he was brought up as an orphan in a Mahomedan family. Never the less, he became an ardent Vaishnava and the name of Hari was ever on his lips. As a result, the Mahomedans of the locality felt much annoyed and complained to the local Mahomedan executive officer against the supposed ungodly conduct of Haridas. Accordingly, the latter was ordered to renounce Vaishnavism and re-embrace Islam. On his refusal to comply with this executive fiat, he was, under the orders of the Qazi, taken in chains through some twenty-two bazaars one after another and whipped mercilessly all the while. But, so long as he was in possession of his consciousness, he was repeating the name of Hari cheerfully and also praying for the welfare of his torturers.
Kuresa, a disciple of Ramanuja, was, as a result of some misunderstanding, deprived of his eyesight by some people of Chaturgrama, a village in Southern India. Ramanuja advised him to go to Kanchiput village and pray for his eyesight before the image of God there. Accordingly, Kuresa went there and appeared before the deity; but, instead of praying for his eyesight being restored, he prayed for the welfare of his assailants.
Needless to say, the annals of India furnish numerous such noble instances.
The Rishis of Ancient India not only loved and kindly treated the deer and other animals but also the trees and plants. In Kalidasa's Sakuntala we read that on the eve of Sakuntala's departure from the hermitage of Kanva Muni-her fosterfather-she takes leave of the deer she fed and the plants she watered, with eyes full of tears, addressing them with words full of affection thus: "God willing, I may come back and find you all hale and hearty."
Lord Krishna had a great love for cows and took intense delight in the duties of a cowherd.
Lord Buddha is said to have carried on his shoulders a sheep and saved it from the sacrificial flame by earnestly pleading for its life before the king.
It is said of King Sivi that he became ready to lay down his life even for saving the life of a pigeon.
Kuvera, a holy man of Southern India and a spiritual associate of Ramanuja, was one day baking his bread in his hut. There came a dog and it ran away with a piece of bread from the wafer on the hearth. And, taking the ghee pot in hand, Kuvera followed it running and telling it all the way: "Wait a bit, 0 Narayana (God), let me besmear the bread with ghee, else it would not be palatable to you."
We read in the Chaitanya-Chartamrita that Sri Chaitanya, during his South Indian tour on foot, one day, came across a big tiger. Balabhadra Bhattacharya - the Brahman attendant of Sri Chaitanya-became greatly terrified at the sudden unwelcome appearance of the "king of the forest" and hid himself behind the back of his master. But the latter patted the tiger on the back and asked it to utter the name of Hari. whereupon it stood on its hind legs and screamed forth as if in compliance with his advice and after a while left the spot to the great relief of the terrified Balabhadra.
Conversion by Example
Even at the present day, in the wilds of the Himalayas and other retreats, there live Sadhus who have had ferocious animals, such as lions, tigers, and venomous snakes, as their constant companions. In one such retreat in the Himalayas there lived one such Sadhu and at a considerable distance from his Ashram there was a Khoda (an enclosure for capturing wild elephants). One Mr. Anderson, an Englishman, was in charge of it. One day, he was out on shikar with a rifle in hand. He sighted a big tiger and shot it outright.
The wounded animal rushed toward him with untold fury.
The Sahib took fright and ran toward the Ashram. In a brief moment, the tiger appeared there and was about to overtake the Sahib. The latter took shelter behind the seated Sadhu. He said to the Sahib, "What is the matter? Why do you look so frightened?"
The Sahib replied, "Sir, look sharp, I am about to be overtaken by that tiger."
"Why so? Did you do any harm to it?"
"Yes, Sir, I have wounded it with my rifle."
"Did it do any harm to you before you wounded it?"
"No, Sir, but as a shikara I am in the habit of shooting wild animals."
When the two were thus talking, the angry tiger was threatening to pounce upon the Sahib, whereupon the Sadhu raised his hand and addressed it thus: "Buchha (my child), keep quiet.,, At this the tiger did not move an inch but sat still before the Sadhu. The kindhearted Sadhu massaged very tenderly the wounded parts of the tiger's body and in a moment it seemed to have got rid of all its pain and with it the angry feeling, and then and there left the place.
The Sahib seemed thunderstruck, as it were, at what he saw, made obeisance to the Sadhu and left the spot. It is said that later on he became a Chela (disciple) of the Sadhu.
Love Supplants Fear
While in Gendaria Ashram at Dacca, Sadhu Bejoykrishna Goswami used to live in a small hut, which contained a big hole inhabited by a boa constrictor (ajagar). The Sadhu used to spend almost the whole night in meditation and the ajagar was in the habit of taking its seat on the matted hair of his head.
One night, a disciple of the Sadhu happened to see this terrific sight and raised an alarm, with the result that the snake instantaneously left its favorite seat and took shelter in its hole. Next morning, the Sadhu asked the inmates of the Ashram never more to go to his hut at night and disturb him in that way. One of them said, "If the snake be not killed, it may kill you one day."
The Sadhu replied, "I do no harm to it, then why would it kill me? Even ferocious animals, you know, reciprocate a feeling of nonviolence and love toward them." -Kalyana Kalpataru.
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