Swami narrates episodes and short stories: "Silence is strength" & "Krishna and Karna"
Silence is strength
There was a muni who wanted to do penance all alone in a secluded place. His hermitage was near a river. He was doing penance with single minded devotion undisturbed by any other thought. Then a deva purusha came in disguise to test this muni. The deva purusha in disguise used to abuse this muni with very foul language throughout the way from the muni's hermitage to the river when the muni went to have his bath. This was going on for several months. But the muni never spoke a word in return. He would quietly come back to his hermitage and would resume his tapas.
One day, the abuses were on and that too, with greater intensity. That day, the muni stopped at the entrance of his hermitage and kept on listening to the shower of abuses hurled by the other man. When the abuser was tired and totally exhausted, he asked the muni - for such a long period of time I have been abusing you. But you have never spoken back. You were patiently listening without uttering a word. Today, you have even waited and listened to my abuses. Why do you not react to my abuses?
Then also the muni did not speak. The muni was thinking to himself that it was probably in his karma to listen to these abuses. Why then reply and increase the load of karma? Perceiving the muni's thought, the deva purush revealed himself and said that he appreciated the muni's enormous patience, determination and single minded devotion. He blessed the muni and disappeared. Silence is the greatest strength and patience the biggest asset. Swami says — Mounamaaga irundhaal gnanam unnai thedi varum (if you remain silent, enlightenment will come searching for you).
Krishna and Karna
Swami has repeatedly narrated the story of Karnan and Krishna and has drawn tears from many devotees. When Karna was stuck in the chariot, Krishna asked Arjuna to draw his arrows and kill Karna. Arjuna fired a number of arrows, but all of them seemed to stop short of Karna. Lord Krishna saw that the Goddess of dharma was protecting Karna. All his life Karna had been unselfish and never refused help or charity to anyone. All these acts of dharmam had accumulated and were now protecting Karna.
Krishna called Karna Dharma Prabhu. This shocked Arjuna, who said when the Lord talked so highly of Karna, it would be the biggest sin to kill Karna. He dropped his bow and arrow. Krishna felt that the object of his avathar would remain incomplete if Karna was not killed. Only Arjuna was capable of killing Karna among the Pandavas. Immediately the Lord took the form of a brahmin. He came to Karna and asked him "Can you tell me where I can find Karna?". Karna was surprised to find a brahmin in the middle of a battlefield searching for him, hence did not reveal his identity. Instead he asked the brahmin why he was searching for Karna. The brahmin said that when Karna was the king of Angadesam, he (the brahmin) went to him but did not ask for anything for he needed nothing at that time. But should a situation arise, he had said that he would come back to Karna. To the best of Karna's knowledge, he had given away all material things he owned on earth. All that was left was his life, his chariot, bow and arrow and all these now belonged to Duryodhana. Karna explained this to the brahmin and told the brahmin it was futile to search for Karna now. The brahmin (Krishna in guise) feigned annoyance and told Karna, "well, I only asked you where Karna is, I know what he has with him else I would not have come to the battlefield, so kindly teli me where I can find Karna".
Karna could not hold back since he wanted to know what was it that he owned and was known only to the brahmin. Karna revealed himself and asked the brahmin to ask for whatever he needed. The brahmin said that as a result of so many charitable acts, Karna had accumulated a lot of punyam. He now wanted karna to hand over this punyam to him as well as any punyam that would accumulate as a result of donating his punyam. Karna was perplexed and asked the brahmin how he could donate punyam. After all, it is said that punyam comes with you into the next janma (birth) also, so how does he hand it over to someone now?
Karna was bleeding as a result of being wounded from a number of arrows. The brahmin said that all Karna had to do was to pull out an arrow and the blood would flow out in the form of a jet. The brahmin would consider this to be the Ganges and receive it in his hands. Karna would have to say that he was donating to this brahmin all his punyam as well as punyam accruing as a result of this charity. This according to the brahmin would transfer all punyam from Karna to him.
When Karna got ready to perform the act, the Goddess of Dharma could not hold back. On the one hand, she was happy to see that he would go to the Lord (who had come as a brahmin). But all these years she had taken care of her son and was now reluctant to leave her child. She wanted to do something good for the child before leaving him. As soon as Karna pulled an arrow to let blood flow into the hands of Krishna, the goddess reacted and revealed that the brahmin was none other than Lord Narayana. Krishna was forced into his original form of Lord Vishnu, the Vishwaroopam. Karna exclaimed — Narayana!
That was when Krishna understood that His form had changed. Krishna was caught unaware by this sudden turn of events. He said, "Karna, I am now helpless. Three more days of the war remain and a lot more needs to be achieved to complete the work of my avathar. I cannot be reborn and come back as Lord Krishna. To return back to my original form I need your help".
Lord Vishnu asked Karnan to ask for a boon. All his life, Karna's hands were up and all others' hands down, because Karna always gave and never asked or received from anyone. Even the Lord Himself was forced to keep His hands below Karna and ask Karna for something. Now if Karna asked for a boon, the Lord's hands would be above Karnas' and Lord Vishnu could regain his original form. When coaxed by Lord Vishnu to ask for a boon, Karna asked that if he had a rebirth, may he be blessed with the same heart and mind to donate always with unselfish motives. Till that moment, because of his punyams, Karna had no rebirth. The moment he asked "if I have", the Lord said "yes, you shall have". Lord Vishnu granted him the wish. By asking for a boon, Karna was lured into a trap by Lord Krishna who made it a barter deal of giving and taking. This could enable Lord Vishnu to return to the form of Krishna. Krishna came back to Arjuna and told him, "look at that paapi (sinner) — kill him". Arjuna was shocked. He asked how till a minute back, Karna was a punya aathma and now suddenly, a paapi. Krishna said, "don't question me. Shoot the arrows and make sure Karna is killed. What I say is right, Karna is a sinner". Arjuna shot the arrows which now fatally struck Karna.
Swami explains the moral. If divinity (which is the epitome of dharmam) itself does any action that is contrary to dharmam, then divinity also has to face the consequences. The Lord wanted to reveal this truth to the world and chose Himself to give this lesson to the world. And so long as the Goddess of Dharma was with Karna, no sin could touch Karna, for he had no desire of his own, even though He was with Duryodhana and a witness to all evil. But the moment all punyam left him, his level also fell down to that of any mortal and had to face the consequence of good and bad deeds. So he became a sinner when all punyam left him.
Swami drew a few parallels between Krishna and Karna. Both were born somewhere and grew up in the care of persons who were not their parents, elsewhere. Both had to cross a river just after birth. Krishna drove Arjuna's chariot and Karna was brought up as the son of a charioteer. Both of them had to face humiliation whilst helping their friends. Swami also pointed out that though Karna did all charity imaginable, he did not do annadhanam which is the greatest of charity of all religions.