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True Compassion

A few days ago, I received this painting from a friend. The painting is by the well known cartoonist Keshav, who works for the newspaper, The Hindu. It really opened my eyes as to what true compassion is.
The painting, as you can see is from the story of Gajendra Moksham, wherein a crocodile grabs the leg of an elephant when it comes to drink water at the river. The elephant, Gajendra, in divine fervor, calls out to the Almighty and Lord Vishnu rushes to his rescue. This is the version we have heard and typically we will sympathize with the elephant and either ignore or deride the crocodile.

But the painting, as you can see, shows that the Lord, ever compassionate (Avyaja Karunasindhu) is equally sympathetic with both the elephant and the crocodile. The crocodile, has repented its mistake and surrenders at the feet of the Lord and He embraces him too. A very profound perspective to how compassion should be practiced.
While one may dismiss this as a story of imagination from the Puranas, two real life stories illustrate that truly compassionate people practice this in their daily lives.

Case 1 - Mehmet Ali Agca attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981. And while Mehmet was imprisoned for his crime, Pope John Paul II visited him in prison and befriended him and forgave him. The Pope stayed in touch with Mehmet's family and requested the authorities to pardon him. Years later when Mehmet Ali Agca was released, he visited the tomb of Pope John Paul II and laid roses at his tomb.
For reference - Pope John Paul II and his would have been assasin

Case 2 - A South African woman forgave a police office who murdered her husband and son during the apartheid days. A beautiful true life example where the woman forgave the police officer, adopted him as her son and poured out her love on him.
For reference - Forgiveness

True compassion is embracing everyone irrespective of their actions towards you.

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