Kripa and Karuna: separating mercy and compassion by Gauri das
There are many words that can describe the disposition of a heart. Two prominent words in Sanskrit are kripa and karuna, meaning mercy and compassion respectively. Among the unlimited names of Krishna (Vishnu) we find Kripa Sindhu and Parama Karuna. These names described the qualities of Krishna as being an ocean of mercy and supremely compassionate. Likewise the soul possesses the same attributes of kindness and compassion. These are expressions of the soul's loving nature. It is love in action by meaning no harm and reaching out with empathy and help. The soul's disposition is benevolence. While the words mercy and compassion are somewhat synonymous, a distinct difference sets them apart in Sanskrit. When God or a person is beseeched for attention or help, the mercy received is called kripa. When no such request or prayer has been made and mercy is received it is karuna. In both cases mercy is received but mercy without cause is karuna or compassion. With cause or without we must become attuned to our loving nature through little acts of kindness. In turn we will automatically find that the same is spontaneously afforded to us from above.