Srimad Bhagavatam 01.07.43 - Principles of Tolerance (download mp3)
by Gaur Vilas Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
uvāca cāsahanty asya
mucyatāṁ mucyatām eṣa
brāhmaṇo nitarāṁ guruḥ
She could not tolerate Aśvatthāmā’s being bound by ropes, and being a devoted lady, she said: Release him, release him, for he is a brāhmaṇa, our spiritual master.
As soon as Aśvatthāmā was brought before Draupadī, she thought it intolerable that a brāhmaṇa should be arrested like a culprit and brought before her in that condition, especially when the brāhmaṇa happened to be a teacher’s son.
Arjuna arrested Aśvatthāmā knowing perfectly well that he was the son of Droṇācārya. Kṛṣṇa also knew him to be so, but both of them condemned the murderer without consideration of his being the son of a brāhmaṇa. According to revealed scriptures, a teacher or spiritual master is liable to be rejected if he proves himself unworthy of the position of a guru or spiritual master. A guru is called also an ācārya, or a person who has personally assimilated all the essence of śāstras and has helped his disciples to adopt the ways. Aśvatthāmā failed to discharge the duties of a brāhmaṇa or teacher, and therefore he was liable to be rejected from the exalted position of a brāhmaṇa. On this consideration, both Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna were right in condemning Aśvatthāmā. But to a good lady like Draupadī, the matter was considered not from the angle of śāstric vision, but as a matter of custom. By custom, Aśvatthāmā was offered the same respect as offered to his father. It was so because generally the people accept the son of a brāhmaṇa as a real brāhmaṇa, by sentiment only. Factually the matter is different. A brāhmaṇa is accepted on the merit of qualification and not on the merit of simply being the son of a brāhmaṇa.
But in spite of all this, Draupadī desired that Aśvatthāmā be at once released, and it was all the same a good sentiment for her. This means that a devotee of the Lord can tolerate all sorts of tribulation personally, but still such devotees are never unkind to others, even to the enemy. These are the characteristics of one who is a pure devotee of the Lord.