“Everyone, including the rulers of the various planets, was extremely distressed because of the severe punishment inflicted upon them by Hiranyakashipu. Fearful and disturbed, unable to find any other shelter, they at last surrendered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.4.21)
तस्योग्रदण्डसंविग्ना: सर्वे लोका: सपालका: ।
अन्यत्रालब्धशरणा: शरणं ययुरच्युतम् ॥
sarve lokāḥ sapālakāḥ
śaraṇaṁ yayur acyutam
Friend1: Have you ever tried to put yourself into situations that others face?
Friend2: As in physically taking their place? Swapping with a prisoner in a jail, for instance? That seems kind of crazy. What is the purpose?
Friend1: This is a theoretical exercise, only. I am not talking about accepting someone else’s punishments.
Friend1: I would say the purpose is a kind of exercise in preparedness and strategy.
Friend2: Oh, something like, if I were ever in that situation, how would I handle it? How would I escape the danger?
Friend1: Yes, exactly that.
Friend2: Sure, I think about that from time to time.
Friend1: There are so many interesting situations to contemplate. The soldier on the battlefield. The person stuck in a broken down car, in the middle of winter, with no help in sight. The woman going into labor, when there is no transport available to reach the hospital.
Friend2: Oh, those are good. Any of those is possible, even in the modern day.
Friend1: Which is why I find them interesting. Here is one for you. The troubled spouse.
Friend2: What exactly is the trouble? Are they the ones causing it or receiving it?
Friend1: Receiving. Let’s say they are in a situation where the spouse they live with is abusive.
Friend2: Physical or verbal?
Friend1: Mostly verbal, but sometimes physical, as well.
Friend2: Oh boy.
Friend1: I try to think how I would handle the situation.
Friend2: How bad is it, exactly? The textbook advice is to leave the situation.
Friend1: That seems too easy. At least to me. We are trying to maintain some semblance of dharma.
Friend2: A marriage in righteousness. Not sense gratification.
Friend1: That is a great way of putting it. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that Arjuna began the Bhagavad-gita conversation a military man and he ended it the same way. The difference was that in the beginning he was thinking of sense gratification. At the conclusion of the talk with the guru, he was thinking of the interests of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna.
Friend2: Which is a great way to summarize the primary lesson to take from that sacred text. It is the aim of life, as well. Work for God instead of your senses. That will be beneficial in both the short-term and long-term. Svartha and paramartha meet.
स्वारथ परमारथ सकल सुलभ एक ही ओर |
द्वार दूसरे दीनता उचित न तुलसी तोर ||
svāratha paramāratha sakala sulabha eka hī ora |
dvāra dūsare dīnatā ucita na tulasī tora ||
“When your personal and supreme interests can be easily obtained from one place, it is not sensible for you in weakness to beg at the doors of others, O Tulsi.” (Dohavali, 54)
Friend1: Getting back to the situation I mentioned. Imagine that it feels like you are living with Hiranyakashipu.
Friend2: The Daitya leader described in Vedic literature?
Friend1: The very one. There are many verses describing how the demigods were afraid of him. They weren’t even living with him. They were constantly on edge. The demon could strike at any moment.
Friend2: That is how this person feels living at home with their spouse?
Friend1: Exactly. It is a perfect comparison, if you ask me. What would be the best path moving forward? How do you tolerate the situation?
Friend2: Given the parameters you have self-imposed, there aren’t too many options. You could always try to be like Prahlada Maharaja.
Friend1: I don’t think I could survive the same level of abuse. Plus, he was only five years old. It’s not like he had pressing business to attend to. How am I supposed to work if someone is constantly harassing me? How can I find peace if there is constant concern over being attacked?
Friend2: Right. Those are good points. Well, I can only leave you with a Bhagavad-gita verse for comfort. If you want to go to Krishna, He will show you the way. He gives guidance from within. You will have to trust that is true. If Krishna is really the one you want to serve, to make happy, He will eventually fix the situation for you.
ददामि बुद्धि-योगं तं
येन माम् उपयान्ति ते
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te
“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.10)
Troubling situation to find,
With nary a peace of mind.
Worry from morning until night,
That perpetrator again to strike.
Assurance that Krishna to save,
Like protection to Prahlada gave.
And Arjuna in proper direction guiding,
So my only choice confiding.