Not humiliation, but illumination1

How Sri Krishna used to smash Arjuna's pride! Arjuna was Sri Krishna's dearest, dearest friend and disciple, but when necessity demanded, he used to smash Arjuna's pride most powerfully.

Once Arjuna went to Sri Krishna's place, Dwaraka. Sri Krishna was so happy to see Arjuna. They were chatting and chatting about everything —- cabbages and kings.

A middle-aged brahmin came and pleaded with Sri Krishna to fulfil a strong desire of his. He and his wife had had very bad fortune. His wife would give birth to a baby and then, in a few hours, the baby would die. It had happened twice. He and his wife were so miserable. The brahmin came to Sri Krishna for the protection of his third baby. His wife would soon give birth to another baby, so he was begging Sri Krishna to save the baby this time.

Sri Krishna was only interested in talking about family affairs with Arjuna. Sri Krishna was not paying any attention to the Brahmin, but Arjuna felt very sad for this man. He was begging and begging Sri Krishna to help the man. Finally Arjuna said to the brahmin, "I am going to save your baby! I am coming to your place. As soon as the baby is born, I will protect him. Nobody will be able to kill him, nobody on earth! And if I cannot protect your son, I will kill myself."

The brahmin said, "No, not that kind of promise! I cannot accept that kind of promise!"

But Arjuna said, "I know I will be able to protect your child. There will be no problem! I will come and protect him. But in case I cannot keep my promise, I will commit suicide by throwing myself into a burning fire."

Again the brahmin said, "No, I cannot allow you to do this."

Arjuna said, "I know what I am doing. I will be able to save your child. Do not worry!"

Sri Krishna gave his sanction, and he made the brahmin feel that Arjuna would be able to protect his child.

Arjuna had full confidence. He was a warrior; everywhere he could protect everybody! He could kill any enemy; he could protect anyone; he could do anything. Arjuna went with the brahmin to the brahmin's place.

The following day the brahmin's wife gave birth to a beautiful baby. After four or five hours, right in front of Arjuna, the little one died. The mother was crying, the father was crying, but the father was begging Arjuna not to take his life. Arjuna said, "No, I am a kshatriya! I want to, I have to kill myself. I have to keep my promise!" Although the brahmin had lost the child, the brahmin was begging Arjuna not to take his life, but Arjuna did not want to listen; he wanted to kill himself.

Arjuna was all ready; he was about to enter into the fire. Then who appeared? Sri Krishna appeared, and he stopped Arjuna. Arjuna said, "No, I must keep my promise."

Sri Krishna said, "Yes, I want you to keep your promise, but let us do something first."

Arjuna said, "I do not want to hear anything! I want to keep my promise."

Sri Krishna said, "Can we not do something first? The Creator is Brahma. These three little ones are Brahma's creation. Let us go and ask Brahma why it happened, why these newborn babies died. What was the reason? What has the brahmin done, or what has his wife done, or what is wrong with the family?"

Sri Krishna and Arjuna went to Brahma. Sri Krishna asked Brahma, "Please tell us, O Creator, why, why that poor brahmin family has to suffer? You created these children. Are you not responsible for the death of these babies? Please tell us the reason for their death."

Brahma said, "The reason is very simple. Inwardly I have been begging you, Krishna, to come and visit me, with your dearest friend-disciple Arjuna, but you do not listen! You do not listen to me, and I have been dying to see you. I wanted you both to come here, so I created everything. There was no other way to bring you here. Only in this way was I able to bring you to my palace."

They all talked and talked, and Brahma was so pleased. Then Brahma said, "Not only the last one, but the previous two children also I am sending back to the family." One child was six years old, one was four years old, and one was a newborn baby. They all came back to that family.

This is our Indian mythological story! In order to see Sri Krishna, Brahma created this whole situation. The wife gave birth, but Brahma the Creator would not allow Vishnu to preserve the child. He would give life, and then he would take it away. Why? Only because Sri Krishna was not listening to Brahma's request in the inner world. Although he could go to Sri Krishna in the subtle body, Brahma wanted to bring Sri Krishna to him, because Sri Krishna at that time was in the physical world. In order to see Sri Krishna and Arjuna, Brahma did all this.

From time to time I will tell you stories. I will be very happy if you can dramatise them. And you can embellish them in your own way, the way you have done during our Christmas Trips. I used to tell two-line jokes and you made them into two-page stories! You showed your extraordinary talents, and I was so proud of you.

These kinds of stories have their own inner significance. The inner significance you know. Sri Krishna's absolutely dearest was Arjuna, but Sri Krishna wanted to smash Arjuna's pride. He did not want Arjuna to have pride. For hours and hours Arjuna would pray to the Highest, with countless flowers. But so much pride entered into Arjuna! You know the famous story about Bhima. Bhima used to put his fingers to his third eye for two seconds. Like that, before he ate he used to invoke Lord Shiva. People were carrying carts of flowers for the worship of Lord Shiva, and Arjuna was praying for hours and hours. But Sri Krishna smashed Arjuna's pride by appreciating Bhima. Not how many hours, but how sincerely and how devotedly we pray: that is of paramount importance.

Many, many times Sri Krishna smashed Arjuna's pride. Why? Because pride is our worst enemy. When our pride is smashed, it is not humiliation; it is illumination. The human in us will take it as humiliation when our pride is smashed into pieces. But the divine in us will take it as the most significant experience of illumination.

If somebody scolds you or insults you, do not take it as humiliation. If you dive deep within, you will find that it is not humiliation, but illumination. That illumination can come from a street beggar or from somebody else who appears to be infinitely inferior to you. God can give us illumination in His inimitable Way.

  1. HCE 18. 26 March 2005, Aspiration-Ground, Jamaica, New York