2020. It’s been a rough year. Brutal for some. Revelatory for others, especially that the leaders in the Kali-yuga (the age of quarrel and hypocrisy) are pretend leaders. There is no proper training on how to be a leader. This pretending has been going on for quite some time, and now it has only become more evident.
In Mahabharata, the teacher, Dronacarya, sent the two prime candidates for leadership into the city to perform a task. Duryodhana is sent to find someone better than himself. Yudhisthira is sent to find someone lower than himself. Duryodhana examines the people he encounters, but he can’t find anyone better. He thinks he himself is the best and greatest. Yudhisthira, on the other hand, sees the value in the various members of society: the brahmanas, the tenders of the cows, the merchants and workers. He concludes that he himself is the lowest.
Later in the story, the sage Narada instructs Yudhisthira that the leaders of society must take responsibly for the happiness of the citizens. And who are the citizens? Not only the human beings, but even the animals and the trees. In the Bhagavad-Gita (12:13), the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna expands on this point, urging us all not to be envious, but to be a “kind friend to all living beings.” He goes on to declare that a person who behaves in this way is very dear to Him.
In instructing the warrior prince Arjuna, Krishna gives us all a simple criteria to understand His teachings. Krishna mentions it repeatedly.
Gita 4:3 “Because you are My devotee and friend, you can therefore understand the transcendental mystery of this ancient science.”
Gita 9:1 “Because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.”
Gita 18:64: “Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you My supreme instruction, the most confidential knowledge of all.”
Krishna tells Arjuna not to be envious, to be a friend, to see the Supreme Lord everywhere and in all things, to accept His illuminating guidance, and to understand we are eternal, spiritual beings, not a lump of mundane desires and impulses. So without this type of guidance how can we have a peaceful society?
Kindness, compassion, and being a friend to all are foundational principles for those on the path of bhakti. True kindness begins with respecting all life, to see every living entity as a person. But this is not possible when society is maintaining so many slaughter houses and torturing animals who are dying in agony. Slaughterhouses are a great disturbance. Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport of Srimad Bhagavatam 1:17:3, they are “responsible for all the troubles in present society.” We can live healthier and calmer lives, personally and as a society, without slaughterhouses.
So like the warrior Arjuna, we can also be a warrior in being a kind friend to all living beings. As we enter 2021, let us resolve to understand, act in, and teach kindness.
I hope and pray the new year finds you in good health and spirits. May all be well. Walk in love and joy and gratitude. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare / Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Sankirtana Das is a longtime resident of New Vrindaban and an award-winning author and storyteller. His recent book, Hanuman’s Quest, is acclaimed by scholars and authors. For more info about his work see www.Mahabharata-Project.com