Notes on Bhagavatam, Canto One, Chapter 7.
The Value of Discrimination:
Lord Krishna said, “This man is an assassin and murderer of your own family members. Not only that, but he has also dissatisfied his master. He is but the burnt remnants of his family. Kill him immediately.” (S.B. 1.7.39)
In spite of this unequivocal instruction from Lord Krishna who was personally present, both Arjuna and Draupadi wanted to spare evil Ashvattama for the sake of being kind and gentle to all Brahmins and brahmana-bandhus. Neither Srila Prabhupada nor Lord Sri Krishna faults them for their sentiment because such rare sentiments illuminate the matchless quality of great Vaishnavas. Such kind and forgiving qualities can’t imitated by ordinary devotees. It would be beyond the imagination of lesser devotees to forgive a false Brahmin who had mercilessly and enviously attacked and killed ones sons—just for spite–while they were sleeping.
It would also be impossible, and beyond our duty or power, to forgive 1.) those who secretly fed poison to Srila Prabhupada or 2.) those who went along with persons who tried to hide this incident due to political motives. Devotees who are not great paramahamsa uttama-adhikaris should hear carefully Srila Prabhupada’s final conclusions on these matters.
“The specific words used in this sloka are vama-swabhava, ‘mild and gentle by nature.’ A good man or woman accepts everything very easily, but a man of average intelligence does not do so. But, anyway, we should not give up our reason and discriminatory power just to be gentle. One must have good discriminatory power to judge a thing by its merit. We should not follow the mild nature of a woman and thereby accept that which is not genuine.” (S.B. 1.7.42, Purport)
Had he been killed for his heinous sins, as Lord Krishna had advised, Ashvattama may have been much better off. Instead he was fully humiliated, denuded of the magical jewel in his forehead, and cast out into the cold with nothing but a curse that made him suffer in his wretched body for another 2,000 years.
“Such a death sentence for the murderer [as Lord Krishna advised] is the lowest possible punishment offered to him, and it is said in the smriti-shastras that men who are punished by the king on the principle of a life for a life are purified of all sins, so much so that theymay be eligible for being promoted to the planets of heaven.” (S.B. 1.7.37, Purport)
Only a nitya-siddha parishad of Krishna, acting fully under the direction of Lord Krishna’s internal yoga-maya, can second-guess the Supreme Lord’s advice. It’s obviously better for other devotees, and the whole world in general, that we not second-guess Srila Prabhupada’s instructions or try to imitate great uttama-adhikari devotees. Srila Prabhupada warned, “By imitating a maha-bhagavata, one will eventually become degraded.”