The below article is an answer to the Open Book Exam (Canto 6.1-9) to the question: Parikshit was compassionate to conditioned souls despite having only a few days to live. To what extent may a sadhaka imbibe this spirit?
The compassion exhibited by Parikshit Maharaj is indeed exemplary. Although he had a few days to live, still he interrupted Sukadev Gosvami, after hearing the discussion of people suffering in various types of hell. Overcome with compassion, he asked Sukadev Goswami the way how these people could be relieved from these suffering conditions. Now to what extent and in what way, a sadhaka can imbibe the spirit of Parikshit Maharaj is important to note.
To the extent one has one can give
Only a person owning goods can offer it to others for help. One may have an inclination to do charity but unless he has resources available with him, what can he do? Parikshit Maharaj being a vaishnava, was para-dukha-dukhi. So when he heard the suffering of others, he became concerned for them. His concern was natural and spontaneous. Srila Prabhupada says that this is the problem faced by a vaishnava, he has no personal troubles, but he is very unhappy to see others in trouble.
Examples are to inspire us to strive to uplift ourselves
The important point is that the example of parikshit Maharaj is to inspire a sadhaka to strive hard in his own endeavour to uplift himself in Krsna Consciousness so that he could earn compassion. Compassion is quality of godly beings. It is not to be imitated. It is to be experienced. Unless one experiences, how could one apply?
Example: One who is out of quick sand only can save one who is getting buried in it; one who is trained in swimming can save one who is drowning in water.
Imitation is never long lasting
One may make a show of being compassionate, but how long will it last? There is no delight in imitation. However, if one is imitating consistently, that means he has ulterior motives and he is delighting in his ulterior motivations. For Example, pseudo gurus show false compassion, just to attract followers; politicians exhibit compassion just to attract votes.
Love for Krishna transforms into compassion for living entities
Unless one has love for Krishna, one cannot have compassion for others. When the softness in the heart is directed towards Krishna, it is called love and when the same softness is exhibited towards living entities, it is compassion. Example: Narada Muni always feels compassion for those suffering and endeavours to uplift them. How much one’s compassion is genuine can be understood from how much one is advanced in Krishna Consciousness. Without Krishna consciousness, people are becoming compassionate upon others in the name of philanthropy, altruism, etc. This is not real compassion.
Becoming instruments of compassion
However, if one follows a great soul and assists him by being an instrument of his compassion, one actually gets that compassion. A submissive student, who follows the orders of Guru, becomes an instrument of change in the world.
Preaching is by action and not words
A sadhaka can imbibe the spirit of Maharaj Parikshit by increasing one’s taste in hearing just like him. To develop the qualities of someone, one has to follow his activities. One becomes a recipient of the good qualities of great souls by sincerely following in their footsteps. One who is filled with divine qualities is a good preacher.
Compassion should be verified by guru, sadhu and sastra
A sadhaka being engaged in cultivation of Krsna consciousness, might naturally feel compassionate for others. But since he is in cultivation stage, he should verify his compassion. Maharaj Bharat had become compassionate for a baby deer. But his compassion had lead to his downfall although he was in bhava stage. So it is very essential to verify our compassion.
In essence, one can imbibe qualities of great souls by following in their footsteps. A sadhaka must be on guard regarding the genuineness of the divine qualities exhibited by him. Best practice is to assist an advanced soul and become an instrument in his hands