Śrī Bhāgavata 4.7.13 ~ 15:
“Aho! What great affection you have shown to me, despite my insults,” Dakṣa exclaimed to Śiva. “Your punishment has corrected me.
“I am not truly a brāhmaṇa, I merely claim the title by some formality. Yet, Your blessed self and Hari never neglect to show affection to anyone related to a brāhmaṇa. What can be said, then, about how you care for the dutiful brahmaṇas themselves?
“You created the learned brāhmaṇas first, to protect knowledge of self-realization by their qualities of scholarship, discipline, and religious practices. Your punishment protects those brāhmaṇas from all deviations, like a shepherd herding his flock with a stick.
“I am one of your animals, but since I know and see only ignorance I injured you with arrows of cruel words in front of everyone. You did not mind, but my insults of the most exalted person made me fall from my haughty heights. After all this, you saw me with compassion and lifted me back up. I hope your Blessed Lordship will find the act of compassion satisfaction in and of itself, for I think I could never repay you or thank you properly.”
“Your punishment has corrected me.”
Śiva’s punishment utilized the vehicle of anger but was not motivated by hatred, and therefore is not really “anger” in the way we usually experience it. His punishment was, like punishment given to a student or child, an effort to help. When we insult someone and they react, we should not fault them for it. The reaction is their compassion on us, to help correct us. If our hand is inadvertently over a flame, we should not fault the pain we feel, rather we should be thankful that the pain alerts us to the danger and inspires us to move our hand to a safer position.
The daṇḍa (punishment) is not the first method of correction, it is the last. First one tries to use reason, rewards, and other techniques. If these fail, punishment is the last resort. Parents and teachers should not immediately and constantly recourse to punishment, this merely shows a lack of patience, the result of too much selfishness and not enough love. Similarly we should not immediately punish insults. Like Śiva, first we should tolerate them for a very long time, and see if there is any way they might resolve on their own.
“I am not truly a brāhmaṇa, I merely claim the title by some formality.”
Here I am expressing the meaning of Brahma-bandhu. Dakṣa identified himself as such.
“You created the learned brāhmaṇas first,”
This identifies Śiva as identical to Brahmā, for it is Brahmā who created the Brāhmaṇas from his first (Eastern) mouth (as explained in Canto Three). Śrī Viśvanātha Cakravarti mentions this in his comments. Atreya’s experience of Śiva, Viṣṇu, and Brahmā confirms it, also (See Canto Four Chapter One). The three guṇa-avatars are identical to one another because they are all expansions of Nārāyaṇa.
“[they] protect knowledge of self-realization by their qualities of scholarship, discipline, and religious practices. “
The way the brāhmaṇas protect brahmātma-tattva is by cultivating vidya, tapa, and vrata. Not necessarily by “preaching” or posting to facebook or debating, they protect the science of self-realization by practicing and perfecting self-realization themselves.
“Your punishment protects those brāhmaṇas from all deviations, like a shepherd herding his flock with a stick.”
The word for punishment is daṇḍa, which is the same word for “stick.” (Because a stick / staff / rod is used to inflict punishment). So the analogy is very poetic in the original language.
“You did not mind, but my insults of the most exalted person made me fall from my haughty heights. “
This is important, and Śrī Viśvanātha also talks about it in the sādhu-ninda section of Mādhurya-kadambinī. We tend to think, “Man, I was lucky, I insulted her but she didn’t mind. Now I don’t have to apologize.” BIIIIIG MISTAKE! If a person doesn’t mind your insult, you are in even worse trouble, because it shows that the person really doesn’t at all deserve your insult. If someone minds our insult we should apologize a few times, but if someone doesn’t mind an insult, we should apologize forever.
It is not the anger of the offended person that ruins us. The anger of the offended person saves us. It is the insulting attitude itself, lodged in our so-called heart like an emotional cancer, which ruins us.
Jai Śrī Hari.
Vraja Kishor dās