I will read a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Three, Chapter Two, Text 23. This verse is very significant. Not only is the verse beautiful, but it also has historical significance, because when Sukadeva Gosvami came out of the womb, after sixteen years, he left home immediately, and his father, Srila Vyasadeva, followed him into the forest. And when he came close enough to him, he recited two verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam, one describing Krishna’s beauty, from the Tenth Canto, and one describing Krishna’s mercy, which is this verse.
When Sukadeva Gosvami heard these two verses—the one describing Krishna’s mercy and the one describing Krishna’s beauty—he became attracted. Although liberated, he became attracted by the transcendental qualities of Krishna, and he came back to hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from his father, Vyasadeva.
aho baki yam stana-kala-kutam
jighamsayapayayad apy asadhvi
lebhe gatim dhatry-ucitam tato ’nyam
kam va dayalum saranam vrajema
ho—alas; baki—the she-demon (Putana); yam—whom; stana—of her breast; kala—deadly; kutam—poison; jighamsaya—out of envy; apayayat—nourished; api—although; asadhvi—unfaithful; lebhe—achieved; gatim—destination; dhatri-ucitam—just suitable for the nurse; tatah—beyond whom; anyam—other; kam—who else; va—certainly; dayalum—merciful; saranam—shelter; vrajema—shall I take.
Alas, how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than He who granted the position of mother to a she-demon [Putana] although she was unfaithful and she prepared deadly poison to be sucked from her breast?
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Here is an example of the extreme mercy of the Lord, even to His enemy. It is said that a noble man accepts the good qualities of a person of doubtful character, just as one accepts nectar from a stock of poison.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
The Lord is absolute. He is all good for everyone, and He is neutral toward everyone. He is always thinking of how to do good for others. So even if one approaches Him as an enemy, He will try to do good for the person, as was the case with Putana. Although she came to kill Him by administering poison from her breast, He elevated her to the position of a nurse, like a mother, in the spiritual world.
Srila Prabhupada said it is a mark of a good man that he takes the good side, not the bad side, of others. He gave the example of his guru maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta had a disciple named Kunjabihari dasa—people used to call him Kunja Babu—who, Srila Prabhupada said, came to do business with their guru maharaja, to profit personally from his relationship with him and from his service in the Gaudiya Math. But Srila Prabhupada said their guru maharaja didn’t take Kunja’s dark side, that he was coming to make business, but took the bright side, that he was coming to offer service.
“Putana Raksasi—she offered Krishna poison. But Krishna is so nice that He thought, ‘She took Me as My mother,’ so He took the poison and delivered her. Krishna does not take the bad side. A good man does not take the bad side—he takes only the good side. Just like one of my big godbrothers—he wanted to make business with my guru maharaja, but my guru maharaja did not take the bad side. He took the good side. He thought, ‘He has come forward to give me some service.’ ” (Talk with Bob Cohen, February 28, 1972, Mayapur)
In His babyhood, the Lord was administered deadly poison by Putana, a she-demon who tried to kill the wonderful baby. And because she was a demon, it was impossible for her to know that the Supreme Lord, even though playing the part of a baby, was no one less than the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
On the occasion of the wedding of Vasudeva and Devaki, Kamsa, who was Devaki’s brother, was driving their chariot, and he heard a voice from the sky (akasa-vani) saying that the eighth son of Devaki would kill him. And he was so selfish and egoistic and demonic that he didn’t wait for the eighth child; he killed all the sons of Devaki, one by one. Then, eventually, Krishna appeared, and He manifested His four-handed form of Vishnu to convince them that He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But still, out of parental affection, they were afraid for Him, and thus Vasudeva carried Krishna to Vrindavan.
Kamsa sent many demons to Vrindavan to kill Krishna, and Putana was one of them. And it is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam that when sucking Putana’s breast, He sucked out her life air. It is also described that He closed His eyes, and commentators explain that He closed His eyes because He didn’t want to look at her because although she was a demon, she was a woman who appeared to be showing motherly affection.
And because she was a demon, it was impossible for her to know that the Supreme Lord, even though playing the part of a baby, was no one less than the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. His value as the Supreme Lord did not diminish upon His becoming a baby to please His devotee Yasoda. The Lord may assume the form of a baby or a shape other than that of a human being, but it doesn’t make the slightest difference; He is always the same Supreme. A living creature, however powerful he may become by dint of severe penance, can never become equal to the Supreme Lord.
Lord Krsna accepted the motherhood of Putana because she pretended to be an affectionate mother, allowing Krsna to suck her breast. The Lord accepts the least qualification of the living entity and awards him the highest reward. That is the standard of His character. Therefore, who but the Lord can be the ultimate shelter?
This verse reminds me of Srila Prabhupada: How shall I take shelter of one more merciful than he? There was no one more merciful than Srila Prabhupada. Lord Nityananda is most merciful, and Srila Prabhupada manifested the same quality of mercy as Nityananda Prabhu. Continue reading »