Friendly and Sympathetic

By Giriraj Swami - 13.7 2017

Speaking in Los Angeles about the qualities of a devotee, Srila Prabhupada said, “Sympathetic. We should be very much sympathetic. If any of our fellow men fall sick, we must take care of him, give him help. Because, after all, we have got this body, sometimes we may fall sick. So we should be sympathetic. And friendly. Everyone’s friend. As Krsna is friend of everyone, suhrdam sarva-bhutanam, so if we are Krsna’s representative, how I can be enemy of anyone else? I must be friendly.”

Reading about Srila Sanatana Gosvami recently, in Sri Bhakti-ratnakara (Fifth Wave), I was struck by how friendly and sympathetic–how loving and caring–he was:

“After staying in one town, when Sanatana would go to another town, the people would follow behind him. Whether a young boy or old man, whoever it was, all would lose their patience and cry as the Gosvami would leave. Sanatana Gosvami himself would shed tears as he solaced them and sent them back to their own homes. Only after they all stopped crying and returned to their houses would Sanatana leave for the next village. As Sanatana approached the next village, the people would watch him coming from a distance. Whether young or old, man or women, everyone would say, ‘Here is Rupa, Sanatana.’ The Vrajavasis displayed wonderful affection.

“The villagers could not sit in one place, but went to welcome Sanatana. Just as a poor man experiences unlimited happiness if he suddenly obtains a valuable jewel, so the Vrajavasis by seeing Sanatana also felt unlimited happiness.

“The old and very old men and women all treated Sanatana as their own son. Someone said, ‘My dear son, how did you pass so many days forgetting us? Thinking about you we were almost dead.’ Speaking these words they all looked on the face of Sanatana Gosvami. Seeing the wonderful arrangements for his welcome, Sanatana was greatly pleased. The men, women and youths who were born in that village all had brotherly affection for Sanatana. . . .

“O Srinivasa, just by seeing Sanatana Gosvami everyone forgot even to offer obeisances, etc. Whoever came rushing to welcome him would embrace him, take his hand and lead him along. The villagers would jubilantly have him sit under a sacred tree and everyone would sit around him. They would all bring yogurt, butter and milk from their homes for Sanatana. After he finished eating, they would all sit happily with him.

“Sanatana out of great affection inquired from each person about their well-being. He inquired about how many children, daughters and sons, they had; whether they were married; where they were married; what were their names; and what was their education. He asked how many cows and bulls one had; how their agriculture was; how much grains they produced and what was their daily routine. He also asked them how their health was and what was their state of mind.

“Hearing these inquiries, everyone felt happy. Gradually each one of them answered his questions. When Sanatana heard someone’s distress, he also felt distressed. By Sanatana’s solace they felt relief from their distressed condition. In this way they passed the whole night.

“By seeing others happy, Sanatana would also become happy. . . . Who can describe the affectionate dealings of Sanatana Gosvami?”

Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, in his Vilapa-kusumanjali (6), appreciated Srila Sanatana Gosvami as krpambudhi, an ocean of mercy, who was para-dukha-dukhi, who felt sorrow in the sorrow of others, and so he prayed, sanatanas tam prabhum asrayami, to take shelter of him.

We also pray to take shelter of Srila Sanatana Gosvami, and to imbibe some of his wonderful qualities–being friendly and sympathetic, loving and caring–in Krsna consciousness.