Radhanath swami narrates a pastime from the First Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam to illustrate that in the association of devotees we need to be united in the service of Krishna even though we may have difference of opinions.
Ashwathama, son of Dronacharya, out of envy towards Pandavas, had killed five sleeping sons of Draupadi and released very powerful weapon to kill the child within the womb of Uttara, wife of King Abhimanyu. Arjuna with Krishna runs after him and in due course of time catches him. As Arjuna is standing to kill Ashwathama, Draupadi requests Arjuna to release him. Draupadi, being a devotee of Supreme Lord Sri Krishna is very soft hearted. She says to Arjuna that his father, Dronacharya has taught you the Military arts and by using that we have won many wars. Also Ashwathama is the only son of Droni, wife of Dronacharya & she should not suffer the way I am suffering due to loss of my sons. But Bhima was against of this, he desired strongly that Ashwathama be killed. Bhima had the heart of a Kshatriya and he fought very violently during Mahabharata war.
Radhanath swami explains that these two great personalities had different opinions, Draupadi, a heart of mother, wanted to forgive Ashwathama and Bhima in the spirit of Kshatriya, desired that Ashwathama be killed. Maharaj explains that although these two great personalities had different opinions, who are we to judge their opinion. They are pure devotees, personal associates of Sri Krishna.
Further Radhanath swami explains that even though both Draupadi and Bhima had different opinions, they had full faith on each other. Bhima had full faith on the chastity and purity of Draupadi and Draupadi had full faith on the protection of Bhima. So we see even though there is different opinions still there is full faith, love, trust and unity amongst them.
Radhanath swami explains that united we stand in the service of Krishna. Like a bundle of sticks that is bound by a string – no one can break it. But individually it can easily snap. So Maya’s work is to somehow or the other impede the progress individually and collectively in our Krishna consciousness. So the first thing she is going to do is to somehow or the other break that string – break that string that keeps us united. Maya is Krishna’s energy. We have no power to resist but if we surrender, take shelter, then Krishna will protect us, inspire us and empower us. Co-operation is a very, very essential aspect of our surrender because it is a primary order of our beloved guru Srila Prabhupada.
There may be so many differences we have. We are all like flowers in the garland. There are different colors, there are different shapes, there are different fragrances but the flowers are not fighting one another, “Who is better!”The flowers are not trying to stand in front of each other to get more attention or recognition. They are all together and what keeps them together is the string. The same string that keeps the sticks bound together. And that string is the higher purpose – the higher purpose of our will to please Krishna.
Radhanath Swami explains that yuga dharma for this Kali yuga is Sankirtana, which means together – we are together to glorify Krishna by hearing and chanting and doing so many activities. The real Sankirtana is when we come together to chant the holy names with our hearts united on the string of that higher purpose to please Srila Prabhupada, to give that grace to each other and together to move forward to the end of the string. And all the differences in our past, our opinions, our temperaments, everything else is a detail in comparison to that. We should not take them so seriously.
Radhanath swami continues that if we examine our own body, we will get a glimpse of this principle. Each limb of the body has a different shape, many are different colors and all together different functions. The heart cannot do what the lungs do. The lungs cannot do what the kidneys do. The eyes can’t do what the feet do but it is not that, “Feet you are low! I am the eyes!” Every part of the body with all of its differences in every way is working together for the whole body. That is the meaning of Sankirtana.
yatra gayanti mad-bhaktah tatra tisthami narada [Padma Purana]
Krishna says, You will find Me wherever My devotees are gathered together to chant My names.” Nothing in Krishna consciousness is superficial. It is with deep substance. Bhakti is a thing not of just the body but when the body is harmonized with the heart and the heart is harmonized with the law of Krishna.
Radhanath Swami says that Srila Prabhupada endured heart attacks, sea sickness, strokes, poverty to begin this Krishna Consciousness movement. What all he had to tolerate! He gave his life. He told us that he had shed buckets of blood for every devotee. He said that in the spirit of how important it is to take care of each other and to honor and respect each other. Amanina mana-dena [Cc Adi 17.31] That is what Srila Prabhupada did for us and in his last days he asked us to do something for him – to show our love for him by how we could co-operate. It will be difficult but that is how we can show our love – by taking shelter of the holy names, the Srimad-Bhagavatam and by creating a family based on this higher principle that will attract the whole world.