Srila Prabhupada narrates the pastime in context as below, “The great sage of the name Pulastya is the father of all demoniac descendants. Once upon a time Parasara began a sacrifice in which all the demons were to be burnt to death because his father had been killed and devoured by one of them. The great sage Vasistha Muni arrived at the sacrifice and requested Parasara to stop the deadly action, and because of Vasistha’s position and respect in the community of sages, Parasara could not deny the request. Parasara having stopped the sacrifice, Pulastya, the father of the demons, appreciated his brahminical temperament and gave the blessing that in the future he would be a great speaker on the Vedic literatures called the Puranas, the supplements of the Vedas. Parasara’s action was appreciated by Pulastya because Parasara had forgiven the demons out of his brahminical power of forgiveness. Parasara was able to demolish all the demons in the sacrifice, but he considered, “Demons are so made that they devour living creatures, men and animals, but why on that account should I withdraw my brahminical qualification of forgiveness?” As the great speaker of the Puranas, Parasara first of all spoke on the Srimad-Bhagavata Purana because it is the foremost of all the Puranas.”
Parasara was forced by circumstances to give up the sacrifice intended to burn all demons to death, because he was thus requested personally by respectable superior Vasistha Muni.
Generally when one’s desire to hurt or harm others is thwarted by someone more superior, then one is forced to stop one’s action. For instance, in villages sometimes there is a fight between two parties and police comes inbetween and stops the fight. Although the fight temporarily comes to a halt, people maintain vengeance towards one another and at a later opportune time they retaliate. This is not uncommon in this world. Drupada and Drona both harbored malicious intentions when their attempt to defeat one another was thwarted.
The living entities subjected to three modes are afflicted by the diseases of insecurity, competition and envy whereas SB is meant for `nirmatsaranam’ `nonenvious’. Srila Prabhupada writes what was the state of mind of Parasara : “…….Parasara was able to demolish all the demons in the sacrifice, but he considered, “Demons are so made that they devour living creatures, men and animals, but why on that account should I withdraw my brahminical qualification of forgiveness?”……”. This clearly shows that Parasara had consciously forgiven the demons by attributing their nature to their activities and had given up his pent up feelings. Thus he did not harbor any further malice towards the demons. Also he was intelligent because he could see that by developing hatred towards those demons in vain, his brahminical qualifications can be diminished. He considered it nor worthy. Often times in our dealings with devotees, in the name of getting some work done, we ruin our sweet relationship with devotees by dealing with them harshly, carelessly, offensively or critically. There is no doubt Krishna’s work is important, but if leads to ruining relationships with too many devotees it is worthy for us to take a look at our dealings. Vaisnava etiquette is the ornament of a vaisnava as taught by Lord Caitanya. Dislike leads to hatred leading to offenses to other living entities. Gita and Bhagavata repeatedly warn us not to develop attachment or hatred towards other living entities, as they keep our heart unclean.
By cultivating forgiveness, we can transcend the problems of material world and be free to develop loving relationship with the Supreme Lord. If we are really serious about going back to Godhead, we should follow in the footsteps of Parasara.
Now on what grounds can we give up our tit for tat mentality and cultivate forgiveness?
- We can understand, `to err is human; to forgive is divine’. When we lit up fire, smoke also comes without being invited. Even we also commit mistakes. Then why should we demand that other living beings should be free from mistakes?
- Forgiveness and Compassion are the virtues of great souls, mahatmas. They never delight in retaliating, insulting, causing pain to other creatures etc. They are quick to forgive. Let us follow in the footsteps of mahajanas.
- Maintaining malice in our heart hurts us more than hurting others. It leads to negativity and choking of spiritual progress. Then why harbor malice?
- All material situations of happiness and distress are mere orchestrations of maya; other living entities are mere playtoys in her hands. There is no use developing anger towards them.
- All living beings are part-and-parcel of the Lord and thus deserve to be respected as our brothers and sisters. How can we plan to injure them?
- Supreme Lord is attracted to one who exhibits brahminical qualities. `ksama rupam tapasvinah’ it is said. Spiritualists should cultivate forgiveness for their good and others’ good and for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord.
Because Parasara forgave the demons, he was blessed to get the opportunity for hearing Srimad Bhagvatam– a transcendental good fortune!
The article is an answer to the Open Book Exam (Canto 3.1-14), by Radheshyam Dasa, to the question: “Does the incident of Parasara muni [in chapter 8] reveal that “forgiveness” is a qualification to receive and speak knowledge of Srimad Bhagavatam? If so elaborate on this?”