The mercy of the Supreme One is evident in all His avataras. Lord Krishna said that He would forgive Sisupala every time he sinned, but that this forgiveness would be limited to hundred sins. The moment Sisupala exceeded the figure of hundred, The Lord would slay him.
And yet, although eventually the Lord did kill Sisupala, his sins were beyond the stipulated hundred.
Nammazhvar says Sisupala’s words were so rude as to hurt the ears of the listener. Sisupala’s words of abuse against the Lord were many, and if every time he insulted the Lord were to be counted as a sin, then he should have been killed long ago. So how was it that his life was spared for so long? The answer to that question lies in His mercy.
Sisupala had many words of abuse for the Lord, but even he tended to repeat some abusive words. But the Lord, in order to postpone Sisupala’s death, chose to count all the many occasions when the same word was used, as just one instance of sinning! Thus, although an abusive word might have been repeated dozens of times, since it was the same word that was used, it was counted as one, said Akkarakkani Srinidhi, in a discourse.
There was another reason for Sisupala being pardoned. Every time he took up the Lord’s name to insult Him, he was uttering the Lord’s name. The Lord was prepared to use even this as an excuse to forgive him!
Such patience is also evident in preceptors. Once, a man approached a preceptor, not to seek instruction but to insult the preceptor. But the preceptor did not respond to him rudely. His disciples were puzzled. A little later, a lady brought him some fruits.
The preceptor blessed the lady but told her to take back the fruits. The preceptor explained to his disciples that he had given back the fruits to the lady who had brought them, and in the same way, he had, by observing silence, returned the abusive words to the abuser.
The patience of the Supreme One does not run out easily, and the same is true of our Acharyas too. The Sisupala incident shows that even the smallest excuse is enough for the Lord to postpone punishing us.