The Right Whip for the Right Dog

This expression, “the right whip for the right dog”, derives from a verse spoken by Srila Sukadeva Gosvami in SB Canto 10, chapter 68, verse 31:

nunam nanamadonnaddhah santim necchantyasadhavah tesam hi prasamo dandah pasunam lagno yatha

[Lord Balarama said] “Clearly the many passions of these scoundrels have made them so proud that they do not want peace. Then let them be pacified by physical punishment, as animals are with a stick.”

This remark was made by the Lord when the Kauravas of Hastinapura greeted with derision His efforts to make peace between the Kaurava and the Yadu dynasties after Krsna’s son Sambha was imprisoned for his attempt to kidnap Duryodhana’s daughter Lakmana. Lord Balarama then decided to drag away the whole city of Hastinapura with His plow and dash it into the Ganges.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura comments, “People who have no respect for any good thing in this world usually turn a deaf ear to preaching. It is also offensive to offer good advice and preaching to them. They should be simply treated on the principle of ‘right whip for the right dog.’”

In this connection, though a Vaisnava will tolerate any offense to himself, he does not stand idly by to hear criticism of his spiritual master and the Vaisnava community. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says it is “a true Vaisnava attitude that one becomes agitated at any criticism hurled against the spiritual master and the Vaisnava community.” He points out that Mayavadis will tolerate any offense even to their own gurus because according to their philosophy, their gurus are just ordinary men.


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