Intelligence is in the details, and patience
    Published in: The Pioneer
    Category: Spirituality
    Dated: 5/22/2006
In Mahabharat, there is a mention of Shishupal, a cousin of Lord Krishna. However, he was very jealous of the Lord and repeatedly offended Him. Krishna wanted to punish him, but Shishupal’s mother begged for his mercy. Then he agreed to condone Shishupal’s 99 offences. This, however, made no difference to Shishupal, who continued to behave badly towards the Lord and the count continued to rise. Krishna continued to tolerate him till Shishupal committed his 100th mistake. Then Krishna beheaded him. God is never in a hurry to punish the errant. Normally, a criminal escapes punishment if death intervenes before the legal process is completed. God has no such infirmity: He can punish in the next life. Legal process relates to the material body, whereas God’s jurisdiction extends to the soul. God can and does punish in the next birth, if necessary. There is no escape from His justice. (Bhagavad Gita : 16.19). There are other reasons for God not to be too anxious to punish the offenders: He is our father and is especially merciful and compassionate towards us as any natural father would be. He gives us ample opportunities and time to reform ourselves. Punishment is not a priority with Him, reformation is. Self-reformation, however, is the best option since that is likely to last. Changes under force have a strong likelihood of reappearance. Punishment also does not always bring the desired result, though it is meant for that purpose only. Independence would have no meaning if we were to be punished instantly; the delay in punishment allows us to experience the feeling of freedom to act, whichever way we want. In any case, God does not move at a speed decided by us. Also, the relationship between us and Him is unequal. Therefore, God is more tolerant than what we are in relation to others. He might be accused of being despotic, if He was anxious to punish us. Good deeds or sins are carried forward till they are exhausted by suitable rewards and punishments, this process continues from one life to the other. Record is maintained in the individual soul itself (15.8) under the knowledge of God (13.3). God is desirous of bringing us to our senses and punishment is the last resort. He never wants to punish us unnecessarily, unless it is essential. He does not have to since being all-powerful he can exercise His authority any time. Delay in punishment should not be perceived as proof of non-existence of the Supreme Being. All of God’s actions are well-thought out and deliberate. What does all this indicate? Let us not sin hoping to escape retribution. And if a mistake is made, one can by proper repentance, austerity and penance to avoid the likely punishment from God. One someone is ready to be reformed, the purpose of punishment is already met. There is something else very important to learn from this : We should never be in hurry to punish others, if we are powerful than others; God sets a very good example for us to follow. Punishment should bring the desired result, and not a reaction.
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