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Symbol of Tolerance

In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 6.9.6, Sukadeva Goswami while describing about the appearance of the demon Vrttrasura says to Maharaj Parikshit

brahma-hatyaam anjalinaa / jagraaha yad apeeshvarah
vatsaraante tad agham / bhutaanaam sa vishuddhaye
bhumy-ambu-druma-yoshidbhyash / caturdhaa vyabhajad dharih

Although Indra was so powerful that he could neutralize the sinful reactions for killing a brahmana, he repentantly accepted the burden of these reactions with folded hands. He suffered for one year, and then to purify himself he distributed the reactions for this sinful killing among the earth, water, trees and women.

It is understood here , that Indra could distribute his sinful reactions, to earth, water, trees and women, since all these are a symbol of tolerance. Only because they have the capacity to tolerate silently, they were distributed with this high responsibility of neutralizing for mistakes not committed by them.

In this regard, 11th canto 7th chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam we come across the conversation between the greatly powerful King Yadu and an avadhuta brahmana wherein the avadhuta brahmana glorifies the tolerant nature of earth, water and trees.

Lessons learnt from the earth

As stated in the purport of verse 11.7.37 – “The earth is the symbol of tolerance. By deep oil-drilling, atomic explosions, pollution, and so on, the earth is constantly harassed by demoniac living entities. Sometimes lush forests are cut down by greedy men with commercial interests, and thus a wasteland is created. Yet, despite all these disturbances, the earth continues to provide all the necessities of the living beings. In this way one may learn the art of tolerance by studying the earth.

We build thousand of houses, everything on this earth. We sustain on this earth only, still we are not very grateful to her. Still by the Lord’s grace, she is providing us with the basic necessities without asking anything in return.We call earth as Mother also. We call her as mother, since mother tolerates everything without a sigh. Hence because of this tolerating capacity the sin of Indra was forwarded to the earth.

As said by the avadhuta that just like the earth the sober person, even when harassed by other living beings, should understand that his aggressors are acting helplessly under the control of God, and thus he should never be distracted from progress on his own path.

Lesson learnt from water

Water is a symbol of purity along with tolerance. We dump all the wastes in the water, still its tolerating. We contaminate the water, and then comment that the water is not hygienic. Mother Ganga, wherein people dip their sins in, is just tolerating us day by day and years after years. We use water for all our basic necessities but still we are never pay our debt back, by being grateful, and taking care not to make the water bodies dirty.

Thus the avadhuta says in verse 11.7.44 that saintly person is just like water because he is free from all contamination, gentle by nature, and by speaking creates a beautiful vibration like that of flowing water. Just by seeing, touching or hearing such a saintly person, the living entity is purified, just as one is cleansed by contact with pure water. Thus a saintly person, just like a holy place, purifies all those who contact him because he always chants the glories of the Lord.

Lesson from Trees

Trees are symbol of dedication along with tolerance. As stated in the purport to the verse 11.7.38, one may take excellent lessons from the pious trees, who offer innumerable benefits, such as fruits, flowers, cooling shade and medicinal extracts. Even when a tree is suddenly cut down and dragged away, the tree does not protest but continues to give service to others in the form of firewood. Thus, one should become the disciple of such magnanimous trees and learn from them the qualities of saintly conduct

Trees dedicate all their wealth and assets for the welfare of others. It is the most selfless personality, since all day long it just stands for others providing the shade, gives the flowers and fruits for others consumption, and finally gets its body parts being cut just for the use of others. And the best part is when a person cuts the tree, before being cut, same tree provides shade to that tree cutter so that he can take rest.

Lessons from women

Women in general tolerate many pains in her lifetime be it the role of daughter, wife or mother. Every stage of her life is just based on her tolerance. The more she is tolerant, the more powerful she becomes. A woman tolerates all the pain of labor, tolerates all the hurting words of her near and dear ones.

Hence, due to innate quality of tolerance, all these four people were selected by Indra for neutralizing his sins, because Indra knew that they would tolerate without saying a word of uncomfort or pain. As Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita verse 7.11 – “balam balavaataam caaham“, – “I am strength of the strong”. So whatever good qualities are present in anyone, we should remember to see that the source is Krishna.

I pray to Lord Krishna and Srila Gurudeva to give me the strength to be tolerant to sustain the pains of this material world and to follow the lessons mentioned in Bhagavatam.

Thank you very much.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudeva,
Nayanapriya devi dasi,