Chakra Discussions

Shastra Never Condones Abuse

by Krishna dasi

Posted October 31, 2007

I read April Hammond's letter posted on Chakra ("Happiness or Distress: Taking Responsibility"), wherein she presented some questions. She asked:

"How do we find our mothers in abusive and neglectful relationships while they quote the Bhagavatam about why they need to stay in that nonsense?" Can they or her supply any quote that advises someone to remain in a neglectful, abusive situation?

It seems that the persons may be following their own imagination or are unable to extricate themselves from a situation (which is not uncommon in cases of abuse) and are using Shastra to justify their predicament. Our philosophy does not support or condone abusive behavior, neither did our Founder Acharya, Srila Prabhupada. There are clear examples to the contrary. He did promote and condone chaste behavior, for men as well as women.

"How do we live in poverty just so that we are not contributing to the capitalistic society?" Again, I must ask, where is this notion coming from? Where is this promoted in our teachings or by Srila Prabhupada? Some may misinterpret an instruction such as "live simply" to mean that we should live in poverty. We do not wish to live like materialistic persons, ignoring our higher calling, but that is not the same as choosing to live in poverty.

"How do we let our children go untreated for illness because we do not agree with allopathic health care?" Who are the "we" that she refers to? It is certainly not in our doctrine or teachings that we reject allopathic health care. Where is this idea being promoted? It is irresponsible.

"Do we see Krishna in our happiness, in our distress, or in neither?" One who is in knowledge sees Krishna everywhere, in happiness and in distress. That is Krishna's teaching to the conditioned soul in the Bhagavad-gita. How we see Krishna is up to our level of purity and advancement, but if we are behaving foolishly, we cannot lay the blame on Krishna for our mistakes.

"Are we calling out the Lord's name honestly or in vain?" That depends upon the individual. We should always cry out honestly, knowing that even if we are filled with faults and committing aparadha, there is no question of "vain." The result may be substantially reduced for one who is deceitful or without faith, but even then, Krishna accepts us to whatever degree we cry out. It is our call.

Krishna is the intelligence in the living being, so He has given intelligence. It is up to us to utilize that intelligence for the purpose it was intended (God-realization). In so doing, our doubts and fears and ill-begotten conclusions will be cleared away and the person will be able to decipher what is to be done and what is not to be done. Krishna explains this clearly in the Bhagavad-gita. We are taught to accept the reactions of our past misdeeds with patience, offering the Lord our respectful obeisances with our heart, words and body. In this mood, one is eligible for liberation. This is assured in Srimad Bhagavatam 10:14:8.

Nowhere, however, does it say that anyone is supposed to accept abuse at the hands of another. Furthermore, we should not be willing to tolerate such abuse of another Vaishnava (male or female). One Vaishnavi took this instruction to heart and laid her life on the line when she saw Vaishnavas being attacked. She threw herself at the aggressor and was in turn slain, her body tossed into a river like so much trash — but how glorious was her ending: chanting loudly the name of Krishna and putting her life down to stop another from suffering.

As conditioned souls, we must try not to confuse Krishna's wonderful plans with our own feeble misadventures and then blame Him when we find out that we don't like what is happening. Whatever He does for us is meant to grab our attention and redirect it away from Maya towards His Lotus Feet. If we have that faith and meditation, we will certainly make swift advancement towards the spiritual realm, which is completely free from material considerations — no birth, death, disease and old age; no abuse or poverty.

Unfortunately, the conditioned soul is very stubborn. We know we will get burnt, but remain determined to put our hands in the fire. Then we become angry at the result. This is conditioned life. Srila Prabhupada described this conditioning as "dog-like stubbornness," and we should make every effort to avoid this kind of foolish behavior.

April seems like a sensitive, caring person. As she develops her Krishna consciousness, Sri Krishna will certainly reciprocate with her, revealing more and more how to come to Him, how to serve Him. I wish her all the best in her path of Krishna Conciousness.