Question:

What is the definition of compassion? How can we be compassionate to those who trouble us intentionally? In that case how to react as the devotees of the Lord. Can we fight with them? How come we remain humble in that situation.

Answer:

If absorption in maya increases by associating with or helping a person, our actions are not compassion. As long as we are thus in illusion, we cannot help another out of illusion. We must become established in the truth ourselves. We should not think we are the givers of blessings, mercy, and so forth. Blessings and mercy come from God. By God’s mercy, absorption and realization of His names, form, qualities, and pastimes will arise in our heart. That is real compassion, and it comes from God and His associates.

For ourselves, when attacked or opposed, we should follow the lessons of scripture to be tolerant, as Mahaprabhu spoke in the Siksastakam, verse 3, and as the Bhagavatam states:

tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk

My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.

At the same time, we should not give mercy to someone who is like a snake or demon. Milk given to a serpant only increases its venom. A sadhu may try to help someone who is like a scorpion or poisonous snake again and again, but it is very difficult to change such a person’s nature. Unless we are very exalted and powerful, it is better to humbly tolerate, while also maintaining distance, and not trying to directly change them. We may try to change them again and again with compassion, but doing so, we may just spell our own doom.

The Bhagavad-Gita (2.1) states: Sañjaya said: Seeing Arjuna full of compassion, his mind depressed, his eyes full of tears, Madhusūdana, Kṛṣṇa, spoke the following words.

In his purport, Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada comments:

Material compassion, lamentation and tears are all signs of ignorance of the real self. Compassion for the eternal soul is self-realization. The word “Madhusūdana” is significant in this verse. Lord Kṛṣṇa killed the demon Madhu, and now Arjuna wanted Kṛṣṇa to kill the demon of misunderstanding that had overtaken him in the discharge of his duty. No one knows where compassion should be applied. Compassion for the dress of a drowning man is senseless. A man fallen in the ocean of nescience cannot be saved simply by rescuing his outward dress – the gross material body. One who does not know this and laments for the outward dress is called a śūdra, or one who laments unnecessarily. Arjuna was a kṣatriya, and this conduct was not expected from him. Lord Kṛṣṇa, however, can dissipate the lamentation of the ignorant man, and for this purpose the Bhagavad-gītā was sung by Him. This chapter instructs us in self-realization by an analytical study of the material body and the spirit soul, as explained by the supreme authority, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This realization is possible when one works without attachment to fruitive results and is situated in the fixed conception of the real self.

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