Friday, March 19, 2021

Forbearance - Characteristic of the Soul

Kannada Article by: Vid. Narasimha Bhat

English Rendering by: M R Bhashyam

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Every day as we get up in the morning, we pray to Mother Earth with the sloka “Samudra Vasanê Dêvi …” begging her to forgive us for treading on Her with our feet. The capacity of Mother Earth to pardon is so great.  In a similar way we pray to the Lord after our worship – Sarvāparādhān Kshamasva- kindly forgive all our sins. The Lord can forgive all our sins. We hear the story from MahāBhārata that Lord Krishna forgives one hundred sins of that personification of evil, Sisupāla. The mistakes made by children are tolerated by parents and elders. So, a question arises, what is meant by Kshaanti – Tolerance?

The word Kshānti in Sanskrit has several meanings – pardon, tolerance, counsel, capability, ability etc.  The ability to tolerate the mistakes and offence of others is generally understood as Kshānti.  One has to be punished for the mistakes he/she commits or he should be counselled not to commit it again. Instead of that, would not mere tolerance become foolishness? However, pardoning others mistakes is in reality not foolishness but it shows the large heartedness of the person. Waiting patiently for an appropriate opportunity to counsel the individual without getting agitated is a virtue. Everyone errs. If there is someone who has the fortitude to forgive and if the person who errs can correct his mistakes because of that influence, that individual will elevate himself quickly.  If someone pardons us, then it is an opportunity given to us to correct ourselves. The pardon is only for someone who errs unknowingly or out of compulsion but not for the ones who keep repeating the same intentionally. Punishing such people is itself tolerance.  Further, if one restrains himself even while possessing the potential to punish, then that can be called tolerance. In MahāBhārata, the tolerance of Shri Krishna can be termed as forbearance and is laudable.

When others trouble us, not troubling them in return is patience. Sometimes when others hurt us, our anger rises against them.  If the anger swells, then it may result in our picking up a stick in the hand.  If one is strong enough, then he may physically avenge the hurt. If one is incapable, he may be unable to do anything as the saying goes (in Kannada): “Kailaagadavanu mai ellaa Parachikonda (the incapable ones scratch their bodies-”. But not retorting due to  incompetence is not patience. Once revered Śri Śri Rangapriya Swamiji asked ŚriRanga Mahāguru: “We at times become angry against someone. Sometimes that anger may result in our wanting to beat that person. Even though we may not physically hurt that person, still in our minds we would have. Will that result in sin – Pāpa? Will the effect of the sin be same as physical beating?” Mahāguru had replied “Mental beating alone will not result in as much sin as physical execution. However, if that results in physical action, then the sin will be high.  Hence even though one may be agitated internally, it should not be exhibited externally. The best however, is not to lose one’s balance even internally”. The ability to control the internal agitation and maintain equanimity can be termed as  forbearance – Kshamā.

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs.