Suffering of Devotees: Surrender Manifest

Suffering of Devotees: Surrender Manifest

Easter brings to mind the suffering of Jesus on the cross. A question might arise for us: why do devotees of God suffer so much? Not only Jesus, but there are several similar examples through history. Sri Haridas Thakur, was beaten mercilessly in twenty-two marketplaces, Prahlad was tortured by his own father and even Meerabai faced ill treatment and attempts on her life. Sakubai was regularly beaten by her family and many other great saints like Jnanadeva and Namdeva faced difficult family and societal situations and lived in poverty. One might think, if God loves them, then why does He not give them an easy life, if not a grand and luxurious one?

Often, there is talk in spirituality about the tests God gives those who seek Him. Not that He wants them to fail, but to make them stronger, so that they reach even deeper within themselves and find His strength. As Queen Kunti of Mahabharata prays to Lord Krishna, may calamities befall so that Krishna is always remembered.[1]

It is said that the Lord uses such willing vessels to teach others through their example. In their non-resistance to insult and injury, they show His greatness. Their humility reflects the compassion of the Lord. Their gentle equanimity is a reflection of the Lord’s own smile. Their lack of ill-will is a glimpse of His Love.

Perhaps only crazy devotees who are only half in this world allow Him to release these divine qualities onto the human scape. Their emptiness or lack of personal will, as if attracts worldly karma to be resolved through them so that Nature may maintain its balance. Their extreme openness, allows duality to have its play, unchecked – a cosmic collision may happen but is allowed to wash through their being. Surrender manifest. As the verse from the Bhagavad Gita states (2.70):

āpūryamāam achala-pratihha
samudram āpa
praviśhanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā ya
praviśhanti sarve
sa śhāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī

 Just as the ocean remains undisturbed by the incessant flow of waters from rivers merging into it, likewise the sage who is unmoved despite the flow of desirable objects all around him attains peace, and not the person who strives to satisfy desires.

The devotees have no desire to safeguard a reputation or some notion about themselves or to be perceived in a particular way. Such desire, as any desire, if thwarted, would lead to anger. But the devotees show no reaction, except cooperation and blessing. Thus Mirabai readily accepts the poison given her in guise of the Lord’s charanamrit and responds to patriarchy with poetry; Prahlad boldly declares, ‘yes, my Lord is also in that pillar’ instead of retorting with a rebuff like, ‘why should my great Lord reveal Himself for a demon like you?’; Haridas Thakur willingly complies at being beaten and even playing dead when asked as such of his beaters; and Christ proclaims, ‘forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do’, becoming a symbol of forgiveness and compassion that the world cannot forget.

[1] Srimad Bhagvad Chapter 8



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