Adventures in Humility

News, Views, and Chews on spiritual issues.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Mahaprabhu loves humility

I've been looking through a Net edition of Bhakti-ratnakara lately and, with all my recent reflections about the importance of humility and so on, I found this nice passage that touched my heart:

"Whoever got the mercy of Sri Caitanya developed humble behavior. A devotee never considered himself great but took a most humble position. Although Sri Krsna Caitanya was God Himself, He nevertheless maintained the humble mood of a devotee. Gaura Raya knew that happiness lay in the mood of humility and He taught that principle amongst his followers." (BR 615-618)

This made me realise that even the principle of humility is observed by the mercy of Gaura as it is ia function of His kripa, and that those who are truly humble are such because they have received said kripa. At the same time, by virtue of the trinad api sunicena verse, His followers are enjoined to practice humility in all their dealings.

I thought about it for a long time, but I eventually decided against writing my reflections on recent less-than-civilised events in certain forums as I felt that that little good would be accomplished by my doing so. However, the said events did make me realise just how easy it is to give lip-service to the principles of Vaishnavism and to perhaps project an image of oneself as a "perfect" practising devotee. It then becomes interesting to observe the standard of behaviour employed when events happen that disrupt the general understandings of people. It seems to me that people are very quick to rip apart and demonise before first taking a step back and wondering if their reactions are really justified, or will they inflame the situation further. In any case, history has usually shown that it is not humble behaviour.

I find it useful to read and re-read the "basics" every once in a while, Bhagavad-Gita and all of that. The reason is because we may sometimes get carried away with our vanity and "higher knowledge" that we think we are in the "university class" and the lessons of the "elementary school" have been learnt long ago and are taken for granted. This is noted in Madhurya-kadambini as 'taraṅga-raṅgiṇī', a fault that is an eventual outcome of becoming 'proud' of one's devotional achievements. Although I think I'm being rather loose with that definition. In any case, a lesson from Bhagavad-Gita is useful here, I think:

anudvega-karaṁ vākyaṁ
satyaṁ priya-hitaṁ ca yat
svādhyāyābhyasanaṁ caiva
vāṇ-mayaṁ tapa ucyate

"Words that are unagitating, truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and engaged in the study of scriptural texts, certainly count as austerity in relation to speech." (Bhagavad-Gita 17.15)

In any case, I would venture to say that it goes without saying (!!) that such 'austere' speech would certainly consist of humility and humble expressions. I think it is vertaibly impossible to describe the wondrous nature of humility as a large number books can be written about the manifold ways in which this principle can be observed in all sorts of situations. Maybe that's why it is written in Bhakti-Ratnakara above that true happiness lies in humility and this is why Sriman Mahaprabhu made it a point to teach it to His followers. More so that humility descends as a a result of His mercy. What else is there to say?

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