Judging Character

Hanuman executing devotional service “Lord Krishna has made a firm promise for all time. If one renders service unto Him, Krishna correspondingly gives him an equal amount of success in devotional service to the Lord.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 8.90)

A person’s character can be ascertained based on their behavior and personal characteristics. By analyzing how a person acts towards us and towards others in all types of situations, we can get a better handle on their true nature.

Sometimes it’s difficult to get a read on someone else’s nature. The stereotypical used car salesman presents the biggest challenge. Selling cars is a cut-throat business, with profit margins hinging on the final sale price of the automobiles. The selling price is usually determined through negotiations between the dealership and the customer. Used cars are even harder to sell than new ones. They usually don’t come with any factor warranty, so caveat emptor is the motto that customers go by. “Let the buyer beware for this car may not be all it’s cracked up to be.” Since used cars are tougher to sell, a highly skilled salesperson is required to get them off the lots. Because of this, people that sell used cars tend to be expert at duplicity, deceit, and outright lying. This type of personality is good for selling cars, but not so good when it comes to making friends or maintaining long term relationships. Similar types of people also exist outside the realm of selling cars. This makes it tougher for us to judge someone’s character, since anyone can be nice to our face, but words alone don’t convey sincerity.

The most effective way to judge someone’s character and also at the same time judge how they feel about us, is to use comparison. If we compare how someone treats us versus how they treat others, we will have a pretty good idea as to what kind of person they are. If someone seems overly friendly to us, but then is mean and rude towards others, we can understand that their kindness towards us probably isn’t sincere. The opposite holds true as well. One who is kind towards all is recognized as a saintly and learned person, pandita sama-darshinah.  This comparison technique can also be applied in relationships, and in fact it is already employed by many wives towards their husbands. In any close relationship, especially of the romantic variety, each party is always wondering whether the other person loves them or not. The best way to gauge someone’s love for us is to see how they behave towards others. For example, many wives get upset because their husbands show preferential treatment towards their other friends or towards hobbies such as golf and video games. Husbands also get upset if they see their wives talking or laughing with other friends, especially if those friends happen to be male. A wife wants to feel like she is the most special person in her husband’s life and the same holds true for the husband. A person wants and expects preferential treatment from their spouse since they give all of their love to their significant other.

Lord Krishna instructing Arjuna From analyzing God’s activity and behavior, we can get an idea of who He likes and who He doesn’t like. As declared in the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna is by nature equally disposed towards every living entity:

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Bg. 9.29)

He makes an exception to His vow of neutrality for His devotees. Evidence of this fact can be found by studying the life of Lord Rama. Krishna comes to earth from time to time when there is a decline in the practice of dharma. The Lord came to earth in the form of a prince named Rama during the Treta Yuga to deliver His devotees from the reign of terror imposed by Ravana and his fellow Rakshasa demons. Since the Lord took birth in the family of the famous Ikshvaku dynasty, He was committed to dharma, or religiosity, from His very birth. He was loved and adored by all while He was growing up. This was due to His kind nature and the fact that He treated everyone with love and respect. As the son of a king, Rama was trained in the military arts, as was customary for kshatriyas. The warrior class of men serve as the police or military and they are known as kshatriyas in the Vedic system. According to the varnashrama dharma system, kshatriyas are to also serve as the government leaders, taking council on all matters from the brahmanas, the priestly class of men. During Lord Rama’s time, this system was in place. Rama was an expert warrior who had to administer justice from time to time. Yet, as stated by the Lord’s younger brother Lakshmana, Rama’s enemies even liked Him and could find nothing bad to say about Him.

“I do not find any such man in this world, even amongst great enemies, who, forsaken for heinous sins, can cite, even in His absence, any fault of Him” (Lakshmana speaking to Kausalya about Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 21)

Hanuman worshiping Lord Rama Lord Krishna’s statements in the Bhagavad-gita were true, for Rama treated everyone equally and fairly. Yet He made exceptions for His devotees. Sita Devi, His wife, and Lakshmana were both allowed to accompany the Lord while He was serving His fourteen year exile sentence in the forest. This is not something to be overlooked, since actually all the citizens of Ayodhya wanted to accompany the Lord as well. They loved Rama so much and figured that life wasn’t worth living without Him. Only Rama was ordered to live as an exile, so He wasn’t about to let the citizens suffer the same punishment as Him. He made an exception to this rule for His most elevated devotees, Sita and Lakshmana.

There are many other examples of Rama’s preferential treatment of His devotees. The great Vanara warrior, Hanuman, was considered to have a low birth since he was only a monkey. Yet due to his pure love and devotion to Rama, he was given everlasting fame by being enlisted as the chief warrior in the Lord’s fight against Ravana, who had kidnapped Sita. To this day, Lord Rama isn’t worshiped alone, but rather with His primary devotees in what is known as the Rama Darbar. Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, and Hanuman make up this most exalted group. Hanuman was also given the boon of remaining on earth for as long as the story of Lord Rama’s life was still being told. He is eternally linked with Rama, and his name is synonymous with courage, strength, love, and devotion as it relates to serving God.

Rama Darbar These are just some of the examples of the Lord’s favoritism and there are countless others involving Krishna and His various incarnations. Knowing this fact, we should strive to become the Lord’s devotee, since He will then give us His unconditional love. In actuality, He gives us this love now, but we don’t accept it. We’re rather interested in matters of sense gratification, thinking of all possible ways to forget about Him. If we simply shift our focus by embracing the Lord, very easily and quickly, we can enjoy great happiness.

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Categories: devotional service

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