Monday Morning Greetings 2018 #45 – The World’s Biggest Ass

November 5th, 2018

I can imagine who most of you think this article is about, but I am not talking about an elephant, but a donkey, and this is not a political statement.[1] I just finished lecturing here in Vṛndāvana on Chapter Fifteen of The Tenth Canto entitled “The Killing of Dhenuka (the Ass Demon)” and I became very inspired by the concept expressed in the story of what makes the biggest ass, or the most grossly ignorant person.


In the Śrī Caitanya-Śikṣāmṛta Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura reveals the very intriguing point that each of the demons that Krishna kills in krishna-līlā represent a different anartha (unwanted quality), and thus, among other things, hearing these pastimes with faith has a subtle psychological effect to remove the particular anartha that each demon represents. Dhenukāsura specifically represents the anartha of ignorance, or gross materialism, and subsequently, he is personally killed by Krishna’s brother Balarama, who represents guru. Why does Dhenukāsura specifically represent the greatest ignorance?


Dhenukāsura is intensely guarding the Tāla forest, where he is residing, to prevent anyone from tasting the very lush tāla fruits lying on the ground. Now here’s the catch: Donkeys only eat grass. The lush fruits were therefore just rotting on the ground. This attitude, “I can’t enjoy something, so no one else should” thus represents the greatest ignorance. Let’s go through what I see as a step-by-step logical progression of why this level of envy is the grossest ignorance.


The basis of ignorance is when the blissful, eternal soul thinks it’s the temporary, suffering body.


The cause of such identification is the desire to be the enjoyer and controller rather than the servant of Krishna, which is our very essence.


The crux of material desire, or enjoyment, is thus the desire for superiority.


This desire to be the Supreme enjoyer naturally also manifests in envy or hate of others, for one’s relish of superiority is tempered if others seem better than us.


Therefore, the grossest manifestation of ignorance is to prevent others from enjoying simply out of such spite or envy, instead of servings others, which is the very nature of the soul.


After writing this a doubt came. My readers are quite spiritual people. They are definitely not like this. What is the message for them? Actually, the message here is most relevant. Although we may have too much integrity to be overtly spiteful, the desire for superiority and consequent envy is subtly in us all. To advance spiritually it must be rooted out at its core. That is the subtle message conveyed by the killing of Dhenukāsura.


If you doubt this is your problem, just mark your internal or overt response the next time someone points out your fault or tells you that you are wrong. How vehemently do you defend yourself no matter what? If that is not a fear of one’s superiority being diminished and consequently the seed of envy, then what is?


Note, that when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu brought Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī in His assembly as a new devotee and had him reluctantly read his non-paralleled poetical compositions describing the beauty of Krishna, He deliberately looked at His most senior disciples to test their reaction. [2] Of course, they only glorified and blessed Śrī Rūpa, but Śrī Caitanya’s message was clear. We are born into this world overcome with the dualities of desire and hate.[3] The potential for envy thus lurks at the highest level, what to speak of within us.


If we seriously introspect can we deny that envy sometimes unwittingly arises in our hearts? A clear choice is offered: Reject such thoughts, acknowledge that person’s glories, and, if possible, at the next opportunity serve them rather than risk becoming the world’s greatest ass




[1] For those that are not aware of American politics the symbol of the Republican party is the elephant and the symbol of the Democratic party is the donkey.

[2] “Just to examine Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya and Rāmānanda Rāya, the Lord began to praise the transcendental qualities of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī before them.” (Cc. Antya-līlā 1.106)

[3] “O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” (Bg. 7.27)


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