“When the Supreme Personality of Godhead is pleased with the living entity because of his devotional service, one becomes a pandita and does not make distinctions between enemies, friends and himself. Intelligently, he then thinks, ‘Every one of us is an eternal servant of God, and therefore we are not different from one another.’” (Prahlada Maharaja, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.12)
स यदानुव्रतः पुंसां
अन्य एष तथान्यो ’हम्
sa yadānuvrataḥ puṁsāṁ
anya eṣa tathānyo ’ham
Friend1: You ever see these campaigns against a particular type of violence?
Friend2: I’m not sure I understand what you are referring to.
Friend1: Say a case of domestic violence goes national. That is to say a famous person is captured on video striking their girlfriend or wife. They then lose their job, and everyone on television shows outrage, either real or fake.
Friend2: Oh, I see. Yes, I am familiar with those situations.
Friend1: Setting aside for a moment my opinion that the people who protest the most often happen to be abusers themselves.
Friend2: Yeah, they are only lecturing people because they themselves need to heed the advice.
Friend1: But in most cases the uproar seems warranted. You have an infamous case of a girl getting raped. It is a national story, covered for months.
Friend2: Setting aside for a moment my opinion that there is no proportion. You have millions of people who don’t commit crimes on a daily basis. Just because one story becomes famous due to news and websites doesn’t mean that the overall crime rate has changed.
Friend1: Agree. Anyway, people create these campaigns to raise awareness. “Stop domestic violence.” “Improve the treatment of women.” “The death penalty for rapists.”
Friend1: Accompanying is the perfunctory denouncement. Each public figure has to tell everyone just how offended they are by the behavior. If they throw in that they hate those who commit these crimes, all the better.
Friend2: To be expected. Do you have a problem with this? Why are you bringing this up?
Friend1: Aside from the idea that the outrage seems contrived to me, there are no issues on this. What I wanted to do was make a juxtaposition with one of the important teachings from Prahlada Maharaja.
Friend1: He says that a pandita, a wise person, has no friends or enemies. In other words, they never view with the lens just referenced.
Friend2: As in, “criminal versus law abiding”?
Friend1: As in, “I hate that person, I love this person.” The concept doesn’t exist to them. Give Prahlada Maharaja credit; he doesn’t just offer high philosophy to hear himself speak and boost his stature. His behavior against the great antagonist, his own father, proved that there was no lasting enmity.
Friend2: Think about that for a second. Here we have the publicly displayed outrage against certain crimes taking place, and then Prahlada Maharaja faces lethal punishment as a five year old boy on multiple occasions. The entire art of modern psychology is based on events that occur during childhood and how they influence a person in adulthood.
Friend1: It’s a great excuse for blaming the parents for everything wrong. “My dad did this when I was a child.” “My mom didn’t show me enough attention.” “Now I am screwed up.”
Friend2: I’m not saying some of those concerns aren’t legitimate, but look at Prahlada. He could have said the following:
“My father tried to kill me in so many ways. Who throws their son off a cliff? Who intentionally feeds a five year old poison? My only crime was worshiping Lord Vishnu, and personally at that. I did not insist that the father open up a temple and install a deity to be praised and honored on a daily basis. That would have benefitted him, no doubt, but I did not interfere with his ruling of the kingdom.”
Friend1: Prahlada took everything in stride. He did not actively promote a campaign to get revenge on Hiranyakashipu. I think it’s a great contrast. People will wonder, though. Which attitude is better?
Friend2: Prahlada’s or Hiranyakashipu’s?
Friend1: No. The idea of delineating good and bad, strongly denouncing criminal behavior, and the concept of no friends or enemies.
Friend2: Oh, I see what you are asking. It is not mutually exclusive.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Prahlada’s attitude was not that criminals shouldn’t be punished. He would become the king, after all. He ended up succeeding Hiranyakashipu on the throne; sooner than the father thought. The idea is to punish properly. Certainly, don’t favor or condone harmful behavior, especially the violation of personal rights. At the same time, understand that the conditions are relative.
Friend1: What conditions?
Friend2: A person is my friend today and my enemy tomorrow. In truth, I should have the same compassion for everyone. We all share a common trait, in that we are spirit soul, always serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even Hiranyakashipu was, though the connection was to the rear portion, the shadow of illusion known as maya.
Friend1: Murderers, thieves, rapists and the like are worshipers of God?
Friend2: Absolutely. They are worshiping in ignorance, so they receive the reward of continued ignorance. While we condemn their behavior, we understand that the body is not everything. No one can actually kill another person.
य एनम् अजम् अव्ययम्
कथं स पुरुषः पार्थ
कं घातयति हन्ति कम्
ya enam ajam avyayam
kathaṁ sa puruṣaḥ pārtha
kaṁ ghātayati hanti kam
“O Partha, how can a person who knows that the soul is indestructible, unborn, eternal and immutable, kill anyone or cause anyone to kill?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.21)
To settle the debate, Prahlada’s attitude is superior. It is based on knowledge, and in every case knowledge is better than ignorance. It may seem that ignorance is bliss, but in the long run jnana leads to a better destination.
A public campaign to wage,
For future victims to save.
Bad behavior to denounce,
New legislation to announce.
But Prahlada with different view,
No friends or even enemies too.
Still punishment for wrong giving,
But with proper knowledge living.