Three Reasons Devotees Are Known To Be Forgiving

[Chaitanya with devotees]“Advanced transcendentalists are called sudhiyah. Sudhi means ‘intelligence,’ sudhi means ‘highly advanced,’ and sudhi means ‘devotee.’ One who is both devoted and highly advanced in intelligence does not take action against the soul or the body. If there is any discrepancy, he forgives. It is said that forgiveness is a quality of those who are advancing in spiritual knowledge.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.20.3 Purport)

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It plays a prominent role in certain spiritual traditions.

“Don’t keep your anger. Many people have wronged you, for sure. You have committed sin; that is the reason to confess. But you also have to let go. Don’t harbor a grudge. Just as you make mistakes, sometimes without cause, so others have the same deficiency.”

The great bow warrior Arjuna once wondered about this issue. People know better, yet they continue to do things that are harmful to both them and others.

“Arjuna said: O descendant of Vrishni, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.36)

Kama, which can be translated as “lust,” is the all-devouring enemy of this world when it combines with wrath. Along with steering the individual towards dangerous territory, another result is that forgiveness becomes hard to come by. From studying Vedic philosophy, and particularly the Shrimad Bhagavatam, we see that a simple Sanskrit word helps to explain how the souls devoted to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead tend to be forgiving.

1. Intelligence

The advanced transcendentalists are called sudhiyah, with the root word of sudhi. One meaning for this word is “intelligence.” A devoted soul doesn’t have to be a MENSA scholar. They don’t necessarily have a high intelligence quotient. Rather, they are intelligent because they know some simple things that easily get overlooked. Indeed, without approaching a spiritual master in the bona fide disciplic succession, this vital knowledge may never reach the individual.

“Even if you are considered to be the most sinful of all sinners, when you are situated in the boat of transcendental knowledge, you will be able to cross over the ocean of miseries.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.36)

I am not the body. I am spirit soul. I am Brahman, which is the spiritual energy, the fundamental functioning unit of life, found in all spaces and coming in all shapes and sizes. Further realization is Paramatma, which is the all-pervading localized aspect of the spiritual energy. For analysis purposes, Brahman and Paramatma are not the same.

The devotees have the highest intelligence because they know Bhagavan. In simple terms, this is God the person. Bhagavan is the more complete realization of the Divinity. He expands as Paramatma, which witnesses the activities of every spark of Brahman, or the spiritual energy.

Since the devotees know Bhagavan, they tend to be forgiving. They realize how difficult the material existence is. They understand that the six senses, which include the mind, cause trouble. They also know that a person who is surrendered to God the person can easily cross beyond the suffering.

“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.14)

2. Highly advanced

The tendency is for the youth to be more idealistic and the elderly to be more practical. The reason for the difference is obvious. The youth doesn’t know what they haven’t seen. The elderly have experienced a lot, and they know that while sticking to your principles is important, to be able to function and deal with others requires some give and take.

The devotee is highly advanced because they have both theoretical knowledge [jnana] and practical knowledge [vijnana]. Both are sourced in the spiritual master, though technically vijnana comes from applying the principles learned. It is amazing to consider. Many years’ worth of experience can be acquired simply through hearing from someone.

It is not easy to forgive when you don’t really know why other people make the mistakes they do. Even in the neophyte stage, agitation and frustration will be caused by others who may obstruct the practice of devotion. A person doesn’t have to be old to be highly advanced in this regard. One of the most forgiving people in history was a five year old boy, a son to the king named Hiranyakashipu. Prahlada forgave his father, who had committed the worst offenses. That forgiveness was only possible due to the advancement in intelligence of the boy.

3. Devotee

Circular logic? Axiomatic truth? The devotees are forgiving because they are devotees? It makes sense specifically due to whom they are devoted. The Supreme Lord Himself is the most forgiving. This truth can be verified from one factor alone: Paramatma.

“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)

The Supersoul has been witness to every single thing done by every single conditioned living entity since the beginning of time. Those actions took place in the material world, and the large percentage had no relation to spiritual life. In essence, God has been right there with us as we have sinned. The real definition of sin is enjoying separately from the person who has loved us the most.

[Chaitanya with devotees]And yet the opportunity for spiritual life can only exist if Paramatma is the most forgiving person in the world. He welcomes us back at any time, no matter how low we may have dropped. It makes sense that those devoted to Him would be just as forgiving. If I have spent so many lifetimes forgetting Bhagavan, then so have others. Now that I have been blessed with transcendental knowledge, it is time to share it with others. If no one is receptive, I understand why. If some try to obstruct my practice of devotional service, I also understand the cause. Forgiveness in this area is only natural.

In Closing:

As devotees of Supreme Lord known,

By them forgiveness naturally shown.

Since God behaving in way the same,

Witnessed all, from best to shame.

Intelligence from spiritual understanding,

This knowledge the guru to them handing.

To practice devotion so fortunate am I,

Obstinacy in others also understanding why.

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