Misfortune and Defeat are the Result of Lacking Mercy of the Elders
The blessings of those who are older and wiser than us have tremendous power – this is the fundamental position of Vedic culture. All the misfortunes that we experience in this world, the defeats that grasp us here – all are the result of insufficient grace of the elders.
In this connection, a story from the Mahabharata immediately comes to mind to vividly illustrate this fact.
This story happened immediately after Krishna finished telling Bhagavad-Gita on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, when the armies, eager to join the battle, stood across from each other. The warriors inspired each other, the conches sounded raising the fighting spirit.
Imagine this scene: horses are neighing, war elephants are trumpeting, warriors can’t wait to start fighting, their blood boils, they shower curses on each other, they say: “Who are you, you’re a wimp! Do you want to fight against me?!” Someone pounds his chest, someone pulls the string of his bow.
At this moment, Yudhishthira, the king of Pandavas, who was to start the battle by blowing his conch, suddenly took off his protective armor and helmet, put down his weapon and went barefoot towards the enemy’s army.
Nobody understood what was happening. His brothers rushed after him and each of them tried to ask: “Where are you going?! What are you up to?”
Yudhisthira’s army went into an uproarious panic, people looked at each other and thought: “He probably went to surrender without a fight. And, well, he will disgrace us all! We will have to sign for this defeat without even starting to fight! He was afraid, he goes to surrender, he goes barefoot, he has already laid down his arms! ”
Yudhishthira did not look around, did not listen. One need to have a very big power to get through this: on the one hand, a line of scoffing enemies in front of him, on the other hand, the rumble of panic that he feels behind his back.
He approached Bhishma, the leader of the opposite side and his grandfather, who was already 90 years old but very strong and practically unconquerable. Yudhishthira fell at Bhishma’s feet and said, “Please bless me so that I can win.” With tears in his eyes Bhishma blesses him: “The victory will be yours!”
Further on Bhishma continued:
– It’s good that you did it, otherwise I would curse you and you would be defeated. Now ask me for everything you want, I will fulfill your every desire.
– I do not want anything. I just want you to do your duty, but so that I can win.
– Yes, of course, as you wish. But maybe you still want something?
– Yes, I want to know how to beat you.
– It is impossible to defeat me and with all my desire I cannot tell you how to do it. Since my time to leave this world has not come yet. But when it comes, I will tell you how to defeat me.
After that King Yudhishthira got blessings from other significant persons who by the will of fate happened to be on the opposite side of the battle field. Those persons were Guru Drona; Kripacharya his teacher, and his maternal uncle Shallya.
Bhishma’s words came true: although the Pandava’s army was half the size of that of their opponents, they won in this bloody war.
The point of this story is that if we really want to achieve something in this world, then it is very important to receive the blessings of other people.
The Vedic culture teaches that there is no other way to attract blessings than to serve.
There are three types of service to elders:
– serving parents;
– serving teachers;
– serving other elders.
Sri Chaitanya says in Shikshamrta: “A person should follow the instructions of his parents and serve them as much as possible. People must serve those who defended them when they were helpless children. They also must serve those who gave them knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge.”
How do we determine whether a person is senior to us? This can be indicated by the fact that they are
- a respected person,
- one who is older in age
- one who has more knowledge.
We must respect them and serve them.
In other words, a superior person means a respected person. The same is true for someone who is older or has more knowledge.
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Respect does not mean that a younger person should blindly follow all instructions or orders of those above him. At the same time, it does not mean that they should show hostility towards them, using disrespectful or rude words.
You should not follow incorrect orders, but in no case should you act disrespectfully, because the elder always remains the elder. A younger person might try to stop them or to protect them from wrong behavior. The rule of thumb is that we should show respect by using very gentle words, by kindly exhorting them, as well as choosing the right moment for such actions.
We can correct, even have to correct, if the senior does something wrong, but they remain senior to us. And how do we approach it? We choose the right moment, for example, after a good meal, when one feels happy. This can be a right time to humbly appeal to them: “I understand that I am a fool, but can I say one thing that bothers me?” Extraordinary humility will smooth out even very harsh words we sometimes have to utter.
All persons that are superior to us represent the principle of the guru. Guru-tattva, or the principle of seniority, manifests itself in our parents (regardless of whether they cared about us or not); in those who took care of us in childhood; and in those who give us knowledge. These are the three manifestations of the universal guru principle in our lives.
It is very important to understand that it is the way how God manifests in our life: through their care, through their love, through their selflessness. And it is very important to behave in such a way as to receive their blessings. These blessings become something of a protective armor. When we have the blessings of elders, we have nothing to fear. When we reject this principle of seniority in our lives, we immediately become defenseless. And this helplessness makes us very angry, aggressive. But if we feel this care, the protection that we achieve by our correct behavior, then we can feel very calm and protected, because we have the blessings of our elders. Through the elders come the blessings of God.
TODAY’S TIP: You have probably heard that families in traditional cultures always endeavour to invite as many guests as possible to the weddings. Moreover, they give presents to those guests and not otherwise. That is because they know the secret power of blessings. Only blessings and not money can give the new family power to build a reservoir of piety to withstand difficulties that will inevitably appear in their life just like seasons come and go in due time.