“When Lord Shri Krishna was in Dvaraka, He offered His respects by bowing down at the lotus feet of Narada. When Sudama Vipra came to His house, Lord Krishna personally washed his feet and gave him a seat on His personal bed. Although He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Shri Krishna offered His respects to Maharaja Yudhishthira and Kunti. The Lord's exemplary behavior is to teach us.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.21.38)Download this episode (right click and save)
The experts give the warning, “Don’t try this at home.” The statement is necessary since the good ones make it look easy. They can do extraordinary things, while the visual shows practically no effort. If this is true of experts of the material world, imagine the scale with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In His descent to this world as Krishna, God once devoured an entire forest fire. The flames went into His mouth without a problem. This saved the friends, family, and members of the community of Vrindavana from burning to death.
He also once lifted a massive hill and held it on His finger for seven straight days. Again, this was to provide protection. The residents were surrendered at His lotus feet in thought and word. The surrender was shown in deed as well through relying on Krishna to keep them safe from the heavy downpour of Biblical proportions that suddenly befell them.
Krishna also danced with many beautiful cowherd girls simultaneously. They were at the highest level of surrender, and for God there is no issue in accepting an unlimited number of devotees. Each gopi wanted to dance with Him alone, so Krishna used His amazing ability to meet their desires.
No mortal should try to imitate these feats. Even the great god, Lord Shiva, should not be imitated in his holding poison in the throat. Still, there are many exemplary pastimes of Krishna that do set a wonderful path to follow. One category of note is respect.
1. Narada Muni
As mentioned, Shri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the wonderful, insightful and wholly accurate translation to the Sanskrit term “Bhagavan,” given by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Each term in the translation is significant and necessary. Many cheating scholars and pretend gurus try to say that God is formless, that everyone is God, or that every spark of spirit can one day merge into the Supreme.
The truth is that the living beings are sparks of the spiritual energy, identical to Bhagavan in quality but different in quantitative ability. The ideal relationship, which should exist eternally, is that of servant-master. The sparks should serve the original source. Then everyone is happy.
To that end respect of authority figures is important. Shri Krishna taught this by giving respect to Narada Muni. The world traveler spreading the glories of Hari, which is another name for God, Narada once visited Krishna in the city of Dvaraka. Krishna was presiding as king; hence one of His names being Dvarakadisha.
Narada is a servant of Krishna. He is a spiritual master, or guru. He teaches so many people the real meaning to dharma, which often gets translated as “religion.” Narada should be respected by everyone. Anyone descending in the line of instruction from Narada should get the same respect. The guru is not God, but they are God’s representative. Even the Supreme Lord offers them respect.
2. Sudama Vipra
Another name for Krishna is Brahmanya-devaya. He is the deva, or deity, of the brahmanas, which is like the priestly order. Brahmanas are part of the four general occupations laid out for man. The divisions are determined by guna, or quality, and karma, or work.
“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)
Among those divisions, the brahmanas are most dear to the Supreme Lord. This is because they can give instruction to all types of people. They assess the students to determine the proper knowledge to be revealed and at which time. The ultimate goal is always the same: go back home, back to Godhead. Any person, from any class, can achieve that goal, but sometimes a gradual approach is necessary.
Due to the nature of their work, brahmanas are often poor. One time Sudama Vipra visited Krishna in Dvaraka. The Supreme Lord was so honored by the visit that He washed Sudama’s feet. The water was then sprinkled on the head of Krishna and His chief queen, Rukmini.
To the uncultured, such an act is repulsive. The feet are generally dirty, after all. And what makes a person so special that they deserve this kind of treatment? The idea is that if a true brahmana is respected, then everything good comes as a result. Shri Krishna showed the way in treating respectable personalities.
3. Yudhishthira Maharaja
People within Hindu or Vedic culture are familiar with the practice of touching feet. If your grandparents come to the house, the initial greeting is not a hug or a kiss. Touch their feet. The same goes for aunts and uncles. Touch the feet when greeting and do the same when departing.
Shri Krishna appeared in a family, and so the same designations were there. Krishna had parents, aunts, uncles, and even cousins. Yudhishthira was the eldest of the five Pandava brothers. These were Krishna’s cousins. Since Yudhishthira was a little older, Krishna would offer respect to him.
Yudhishthira is dharma-personified. The objective of dharma is service to Krishna. And the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not beholden to anyone. Still, Yudhishthira was both an elder cousin and a king, so Krishna showed respect to set the proper example for others.
4. Kunti Devi
The mother of the Pandava brothers went through so much. She suffered the loss of her husband. She witnessed the torture her sons were subject to. None of this was deserved. She had done nothing wrong. She was a very chaste lady, and also dedicated to the Supreme Lord.
Krishna showed her respect as well. Kunti offered amazing prayers to Krishna, which are passed on in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. She set the best example on how to respect God, and yet God always offered her respect.
The example set by Krishna is for our benefit, after all. The little things add up to something much bigger. Something as basic as showing respect can take a person a long way towards fulfilling the ultimate objective of a human existence.
Bound by work are me and you,
But for Krishna nothing to do.
To the Supreme Lord one meaning,
Abilities that others of only dreaming.
Still respecting setting example for,
Like water on Sudama’s feet to pour.
To Narada and Arjuna’s elder brother,
And Kunti too, the devoted mother.