STRAY THOUGHTS ON DHARMA

STRAY THOUGHTS ON DHARMA *CHAPTER X* *FORBEARANCE*

1. Its Nature

The Sanskrit word ‘Kshama’ is ordinarily taken to mean forbearance with respect to a harm done to us. Sri Sankaracharya points out that it ought not to be confounded with meekness but that it really forbearance by a person who is quite able to retaliate. If a loafer chooses to abuse a great man, the latter will not ordinarily stoop bandy words with him but will contemptuously ignore the abuse; this is not forbearance, it is really a mixture of resentment and pride. If a silly man out of ignorance abuses another, the latter, aware as he is of the silliness and ignorance of the former, will not resent the abuse, much less attempt to retaliate; this is not forbearance, it is toleration born of pity and pride. Genuine forbearance is where there is not the slightest trace of contempt, resentment, superciliousness, pity or pride or other disagreeable sentiment which is incompatible with absolute goodness of heart. A person can pardon an offence done to him only when he feels offended; forbearance is therefore quite distinct from pardoning. It is pure Sattva. A dull-witted person may not feel offended at all when abuses are showered upon him; he cannot be credited with forbearance; for his passive attitude is due to insensibility, the result of Tamas. A man endowed with the virtue of forbearance is usually very sensitive; but the armour that he wears is strong enough to ward off all attempts to wound him and disturb the equilibrium. He remains therefore quite himself even in the midst of provocation. Sage Valmiki in describing Sri Rama as the ideal man says of him ;

न स्मरत्यपकाराणं शतमप्यात्मवत्तया। "He does not remember any disservice, though it be a hundredfold, as he ever had control of himself." This is not forgetfulness" but "unmindfulness"; the former would imply only a weak memory. It is really an attitude of mental vigour. The test to see whether there has been real forbearance is at the time when an opportunity is given to help the individual who has harmed us. If we entertain the slightest sense of pleasure at his situation when he is in need of help, especially from ourselves, we fail in the test. If we graciously pardon him and magnanimously go to his help, we fail equally in the test If we help him and tell him at the same time that we are doing so in spite of the harms done by him, we ignominiously fail in the test. Very subtle are the under-currents of the mind and it is very difficult to keep it pure according to the standard of purity which alone can be called Sattva. A tale from the Mahabharata may be interesting in this connection. Apart from the lesson of forbearance which it inculcates in all its pureness, there are several side lessons which we can derive from it and profit by.

Om. Jnanananda Bharati Swamigal.
Will continue.

Author: renjiveda

I'm not I

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