“Lord Brahma said: O son of Kashyapa Muni, please get up, please get up. All good fortune unto you. You are now perfect in the performance of your austerities, and therefore I may give you a benediction. You may now ask from me whatever you desire, and I shall try to fulfill your wish.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.3.17)
Friend1: Let’s talk about the issue of liability today.
Friend1: You know how if something goes wrong with an automobile that leads to an accident, there can be a lawsuit afterwards?
Friend2: By wrong, you mean a malfunction? Something faulty in the construction?
Friend1: Yeah, where they should have issued a recall, but they didn’t.
Friend2: Oh, sure. You can have a lot of people join in. The class action lawsuit. The people injured can sue for damages.
Friend1: Pain and suffering.
Friend2: Right. The bill adds up pretty quick.
Friend1: And there is similar stuff with other industries.
Friend2: The tobacco case is one of the more famous ones.
Friend1: Now I don’t want to argue the merits and demerits. Who knows if these companies really should be liable.
Friend2: There is the counterargument that the customers knew the risks going in. NFL players knew they weren’t going to be sitting at a chessboard. Violent contact was expected, so on what grounds can they complain after the fact?
Friend1: Yeah, the whole concussion thing. Anyway, let me transition to spiritual life. Specifically, let’s look at demigod worship.
Friend2: Your favorite topic.
Friend1: We have the two notable instances of Ravana and Hiranyakashipu.
Friend2: Notable for what?
Friend1: Many things, but in this case let’s focus on death and destruction.
Friend2: Oh, there was certainly a lot of that.
Friend1: In Ravana’s case, he sent his men to go out and eat people. They wouldn’t just kill. And the targets were the most innocent adults in society, living in the least threatening areas.
Friend2: The sages residing in the tapo-vanas, the forests conducive for austerity and penance.
Friend1: Ravana’s men would attack right at the time of sacrifice. This is one of the reasons the sage Vishvamitra sent for Shri Rama as a bodyguard. Though only a youth, the Supreme Lord in the incarnation form was a perfect protector.
Friend2: It’s funny to hear Maricha describe the ability, which he witnessed firsthand. In fact, Maricha had a boon from Lord Brahma, too, I believe. Ravana’s most trusted advisor became powerful in a way similar to his boss.
Friend1: I guess you read my mind. That is exactly where I was going with this.
Friend2: Of course. You want to know if the demigods are liable for the destruction caused by the use of their boons.
Friend1: Precisely. Ravana and Hiranyakashipu wouldn’t have been able to terrorize were it not for Brahma, the creator. He more or less gave them whatever they asked for.
Friend2: You ask if he is liable, but you already know the answer.
Friend1: He is not. The demigods are just playing their role. They are not to make character judgments. Dealing with them is like doing business. I get that, but we see that certain businesses have become liable.
Friend2: That is in the court of public opinion, which is flawed. Moreover, many companies are not liable. We know that terrorists use smartphones to carry out their work. The manufacturer is not charged in the subsequent crimes.
Friend1: Are you telling me that Brahma and others can’t tell who they are dealing with? They live in the mode of goodness, which includes intelligence. Why not say “no” to the bad characters?
Friend2: Like I said, that is not part of their duties. The material world is compared to a prison for a reason. You can rise to the top. The illusion of forgetting God can reach the apex. The potential is there. Rule the world. Have sufficient food and beverage. No worries about having to work. No fear from enemies. Still, there is no peace. There is another factor to consider.
Friend1: What is that?
Friend2: If you want to sue Brahma for damages, you should give him praise, as well. His boons allowed two powerful figures to create such dangerous conditions that the Supreme Lord Himself had to step in. That is to say these boons paved the way for the Divine appearance, which the devotees delight in.
Friend1: That is true.
Friend2: Only the Supreme Lord understands the complete picture. There is plenty of blame to go around, otherwise. The sun is complicit in every activity conducted in the world. So is the rain. The earth is the field for both pious and sinful activities. The Divine opinion is what matters most, and His attention is won particularly through devotional acts, like chanting the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
How boon-giver from liability released,
Since due to him power increased?
Since true to role only he gave,
Situation bad enough for God to save.
Then worthy also of praises,
In Ravana and Hiranyakashipu cases.
Mattering in Divine opinion’s court,
Krishna’s vision both long and short.