Because You Deserve Peace
The Value of Forgiveness
This article is also available as a podcast on Apple, Google, or Spotify.
“Forgive Others Not Because They Deserve Forgiveness but Because You Deserve Peace.” — Jonathan Lockwood Huie.
Merriam-Webster defines forgiveness as,
There are many instances in our daily life where one may face or feel resentment towards others. There are times where this resentment may be something bigger than us — a grudge between two families, prejudice towards a group, a fight with your coworkers, etc. Or there are times where the resentment may seem trivial — a negative thought, feeling jealousy, the blame-game, etc.
But rarely does one double-check how their thoughts, actions, and words affect our relationship with others. We keep running through life thinking everything is fine when in reality, we might subliminally be severing our relationships with others.
However, we must become the bigger person in the room and learn to forgive. Like in the famous quote by Jonathan Lockwood Huie, it is for our own benefit that we forgive others, both mentally and verbally.
The lives of two beings help us better understand the value of forgiveness and how to forgive — Bhagwan Shri Ram and Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
Forgiveness in Hinduism
What better example of forgiveness than from the Ramayana.
The Ramayana, a prominent Hindu scripture, shows the epitome of forgiveness.
Being the eldest son of the King, Bhagwan Shri Ram was going to inherit his father’s, King Dashrath, throne as the King of Ayodhya. However, on the day of Shri Ram’s coronation, something else was about to happen.
King Dashrath’s second wife, Queen Kaikeyi heeded the poisonous words of her maid, Manthara.
Manthara has a burning jealousy for Shri Ram and the wished-for Prince Bharat (Queen Kaikeyi’s biological son) to become the king. Listening to Manthara’s words, the queen had a change of heart.
King Dasharath gave Queen Kaikeyi two promises that she can use anytime. The queen decided that this was the time to use the promise. She wished to put Prince Bharat on the throne and to send Shri Ram away into a fourteen-year exile. As the king could not go back on his promises, he was bounded to the unjust situation.
At that moment, Shri Ram had to leave his family, wealth and dreams of becoming the King of Ayodhya.
If one were to simply be kicked out of their own home for no wrong doing whatsoever, one would instantly be fueled with anger and hate!
However, Shri Ram accepted her words like his own mother’s words. With his wife, Sitaji, and his brother, Prince Lakshman, he gave up his entire wealth and prestige and left for exile.
After fourteen years of exile, Shri Ram returned to Ayodhya. During this time, he could have blamed Queen Kaikeyi for…
- Leaving the throne and comforts
- Leaving his father and never seeing him again
- Spending exile in the forest and in isolation
- His wife, Sitaji, being kidnapped
- Waging a war, costing many lives
However, Shri Ram said the exact opposite. After fourteen years, Shri Ram respectfully bowed at Queen Kaikeyi’s feet and said,
“O, Mother! Because of your blessings, I have learned so much. I learned and understood…
- The love of my father
- The virtues of Prince Bharat
- The might of Hanumanji
- The friendship of Sugriv
- The devotion of Prince Lakshman
- The purity of Sitaji
- My own strength
- The strength of my enemies
O, Mother! If it were not for you, I would have not understood any of these matters.” ¹
Shri Ram had all the right to not forgive Kaikeyi. However, for his own peace and to keep peace for those around him, Shri Ram forgave the queen. Additionally, he took the situation in a positive light as a learning opportunity to be grateful of those around him.
Bhagwan Shri Ram teaches us that forgiveness is important in not bringing justice but bringing peace onto oneself and to those around them.
I Ask For Your Forgiveness
The second incident is from the life of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, whose birth centenary celebrations are being celebrated in 2022.
In 1978, some youths from Mumbai (India) had organized a unique cultural program with entry tickets for all. The earnings from the show would be used to pay for the expenses of the program.
Prior to the commencement of the program, the entire hall was occupied by devotees before the ticket owners came for the program. Subsequently, the ticket owners protested angrily outside the hall. The manager of the hall became worried and told the youths, “You calm down the situation or else I’ll call the police.”
The youths became anxious and rushed to inform Pramukh Swami Maharaj who was watching the program inside the hall. Instantly, Pramukh Swami Maharaj got up, and came outside the hall and humbly apologized,
“I ask for your forgiveness. It was my mistake. We will arrange a special program for you all.”
On hearing Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s words, everyone calmed down and dispersed quietly. The youths who had organized the program felt ashamed and guilty. They regretted, “Pramukh Swami Maharaj took their mistake upon himself and also apologized on the occasion of his own welcome assembly.”
After the program was over, Pramukh Swami Maharaj returned to the mandir in Dadar. At that time the youths expressed their regrets to Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He answered obligingly,
“You all do seva (selfless service) so shouldn’t I do this much for you!” ²
Pramukh Swami Maharaj teaches us the second lesson on forgiveness: Forgiving isn’t something that we should expect from others, rather we must bring it about ourselves.
Although it was not Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s fault, he still apologized on behalf of others to relieve tensions. The youths felt guilty, however Pramukh Swami Maharaj took the situation as a gesture to give back to the youths.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s motto shows this value of forgiveness, “In the joy of others, lies our own.”
If one want to make others happy, it is upon them to bring that happiness to others. Hence, if one wants to being peace onto others, then it maybe up to them to forgive first by putting aside past differences and looking to the future.
Start with the small things
It is human nature to find it difficult to forgive, espectially in grave situations. Through time and experience, forgiveness is possible. It does not begin with large gestures and words but rather small actions and thoughts.
Below are common situations and that many face and how one can practice forgiveness:
- Thinking negatively/ill about a person? Try to find 3 positive qualities in that person.
- Holding on to a grudge? Find the fundamental cause of the grudge and see if there are any ways to resolve the conflict and clearly communicate with the other person.
- Talking to someone that holds a different opinion compared to yourself? Listen to their opinion, express your opinion, and find common ground.
- Have no idea where to start? Start by thinking positive thoughts and speaking positive words. (It goes a long way!) Even if others may keep bitterness and negativity in their life, it is on us to spread positivity.
If one is able to learn to forgive others in the smaller acts of life, then when a curveball is thrown at us, we are able to hit it with the tools already at hand.
Because it may be not that others deserve forgiveness, but one deserves peace.
¹Ramachandraji's Return: A Glass Half Full – Timeless Hindu Wisdom Series: Session 6, https://youtu.be/G3pUDSCLUa4?t=1035
²Pramukh Swami Maharaj: 100 Inspiring Experiences, 1st Edition, September 2019, pages 8–9.
Mauktik Dave, Chicago, Illinois
Student in Accounting