Krsna describes in nineth chapter in Gita that the great soul, the mahatma is always under the divine protection of the personal energy of the Supreme Lord. Krsna describes in Gita
” man mana bhava mad bhakto
mad yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo si me”
Value of Spiritual and material advancement/ Utilization of valuable time of our life
That one who always remembers Krsna, one who offers obeisances to Krsna and accept the position of Krsna, that fortunate soul comes to Krsna without fail. In devotional life whatever we achieve can never be lost. Therefore any advancement we make in Krsna Consciousness is more valuable by millions of times than anything of the material world because whatever we gain in this material world inevitably be lost whatever it is. Whether it is fame or prestige or money or material wealth or material possession; whether it is a nice family, a nice wife, nice children; whether it is power or beauty or intelligence , everything is taken away by the power of time. Sometimes time is compared to black serpent that it is constantly chasing behind us, and we could run far so long but we are never away from this black serpent. Eventually it devours everything we are and everything we have. That is why great poet Govind Das has prayed “e dhana yauvana putra parijana ithe ki ache paratiti re; kamala dala jala jivana tala mala bhajau hari pada niti re” My wife , my children, my family , my friends , my society , all my wealth all my education, everything my dear Lord I have , what is the nature of these things. “kamala dala jala jivana tala mala”, like a drop of water on the lotus flower . Today it is here and within the next moment it lapses away, it is gone forever. That drop of water which we are thinking is so important, so dear to us, within a second its slips away , dropping back into the vast ocean of material existence. We will never be able to find it again. “Bhajau hari pada niti re” . Therefore why not utilize the valuable time in our life to accumulate that which is not subject to the influence of time.
Reality and illusion
Krsna says in Gita
“nasato vidyate bhavo
nabhavo vidyate satah
abhayor api drsto ntas
tv anayos tattva darsibhih “
That which is real has no satiation and that which is not real has no endurance. Reality means that which is eternal and illusion is that which is temporary. So why should a human being with good intelligence spend his whole life simply chasing after illusion. With the same time we have in our hand why not pursue that which is eternal.
The story of Gajendra
In this regard there is a beautiful narration in the Srimad Bhagavatam. One of the very very famous stories which is often remembered and recited by the great devotees of Lord. The story takes place as a narration between Srila Sukhdev Goswami and Maharaja Parikshit. Sukhdev Goswami describes that within the vast ocean of milk , there is a very very beautiful and very very high mountain. It is called the mountain of jiguta and such a beautiful paradise this is that the ocean of milky waves are constantly washing upon the base of this mountain and rather than sand the beach is covered with beautiful emerald , rubies and diamonds. In this mountain there are beautiful beautiful varieties of all auspicious trees and each tree is only growing the most fragrant flowers and all delicious fruits. They are also so many auspicious animals, beautiful birds always singing with charming voices to create a very soothing and peaceful atmosphere . Upon that mountain there are beautiful rivers and beautiful lakes which are filled with lotus flowers and varieties of swans and ducks . In fact there is one garden within this mountain which is the favourite place for all the demigods and apsaras to come for their vacation. Now can you imagine living in the heavenly planets of demigods where would you want to go for vacation. They would come to this place. That is the quality of beauty of this heavenly abode. It is described that living within the jungle of this most beautiful atmosphere was one great elephant of the name Gajendra.
He was the king of all the animals in the forest. In fact when he would walk to the forest paths even a great tiger, lions , rhinoceros, they would all stand aside in respect for him and the innocent animals like the rabbits and the foxes, the squirrels, they all felt completely happy and protected because they knew that Gajendra would not allow any unrighteous act to be inflected upon anyone. Similarly, perfect peace, perfect tranquility and perfect harmony . Gajendra, he had many many most loving chaste and beautiful wives and he had wonderful children who were obedient and very kind and very respectful in all respects. So he was living a most pleasurable and successful life far beyond of what we can imagine . Living in a city of Bombay specially like this. Of course Bombay is a great city in many many ways, but how can we compare this beautiful forest at the chikuta mountains. There were no traffic jams, no pollution no terrorist no standing in trains. It was a very beautiful natural atmosphere. So of course like everyone who is enjoying life in this world, Gajendra was thinking he was the controller, he was the master of his destiny. So on one very common typical, on an apparently normal day, he decided to go out with his family and friends and enjoy a beautiful day in the forest. So they came to one very very large lake filled with fragrant lotus flowers. This lake had water which was refreshingly cool and clear like crystal. So Gajendra went into this water and became very satisfied and refreshed by taking his bath and then with his mighty trunk he began to drink water of this beautiful lake and he was most satisfied. And of course when we find something beautiful we naturally want to share it with those we love most. So with great labour he took his trunk, he began to fill it with these water, these crystalline refreshing water, and he began to lovingly shower this water upon his many wives children and friends. And they were all feeling great happiness in the reciprocation of such affection. Of course we know that the nature of this material world, that calamity can strike at any moment. I am sorry I should phrase it more accurately. It is not that calamity can’t strike at any moment, calamity will strike at any moment. Ha ! this is the truth. No matter how nicely we arrange our lives, ultimately we are not in control. Whoever we are, however great we are, powerful, influential, wealthy, circumstance in this world ultimately are beyond our control.
So as Gajendra was relaxing and enjoying life with his loved ones at the least expected moment the most incomprehensible event took place in his life. A crocodile with his mighty jaws took his sharpen teeth and clenched the feet of Gajendra. Gajendra was in very great pain and individually he tried to save himself but the more Gajendra tried to release himself from the mouth of the crocodile, the more the crocodile tightened and tightened his grip and thus a great fight ensued. Gajendra was thinking that he was the most powerful of all beings in the forest, which he was. But however great you are, there is always someone who will defeat you in due course of time. So they began to fight. Gajendra was trying to find his way out of the water and Crocodile was trying to pull back him. Please understand that Gajendra was a very religious and pious man but still even though he was very religious and very pious man, he was an elephant man. Of course he was still thinking that I am the controller. He was still thinking that I am the doer, that I am the enjoyer and thus because the crocodile was in the water, the crocodile was in his natural atmosphere, the crocodile was getting stronger and stronger but Gajendra, it was not his natural place to be in water so he was becoming weaker and weaker and weaker and he looked at all his friends and he looked at his wives and he looked at his children and they were all crying and they were all trying to help but they could do nothing. After all of their efforts the most they could do was that they stood there with tears in their eyes crying and seeing their beloved object in such a condition of life.
Gajendra began to think in deep contemplation that what is the value of all these relationships, at the time of need no one can help me. I have spent my whole life simply by attaching myself to all of these objects of affection and what can they do for me. In America we say ” A friend in need is a friend indeed”. This is a fact. Nobody knows who a friend is until there is a crisis in life. Anybody can appear to be a friend. If we can get something from each other we are very good friends. If I can enjoy your company and you enjoy my company then we are friends. If we have certain things in common, if we can benefit each other in business, in social life then we are friends. But when we are in need, when we are in crisis, where is your friends, then you know who is your friend and who is not. There are many stories in history. The story of the avanti brahman. He had so many friends, so many loving relatives. He was a very rich man but when his wealth was taken away there was no longer friends in his association. Nobody wanted to do anything for him. They all fled. In this case with Gajendra his so called friends and loved ones they wanted to help him but they could do nothing. That is why Srimad Bhagavatam describes such associates as fallible soldiers. They are actually the army of maya. They give us a promise in illusory form of security but when there is a real need they cannot help. So Gajendra realized that I have wasted my life. That no one around can help me and that I cannot help myself and in this condition he began to think that there is only one person who can save me and He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Narayan Sri Krsna and nobody. He is my only object of shelter in this world. So Gajendra began to pray beautiful prayers of love petitioning the Lord to be merciful upon him.
This is a very very important story because it is the story of everyone’s life. This is not simply story of elephant that lived on mountain. This is the story of our life. Our nature, our tendency is to find comfort and security, to find shelter in the trans… illusions of this world. But there will be a time in your life either today or tomorrow for nothing can help you, nothing can save you, save and except whatever you have done for Krsna.
We see this great elephant Gajendra in his previous life was a king. His name was Indradyumna and he was a very great devotee of the Lord but what happened although he was a good devotee, that is not enough. We have to learn how to helplessly cry out for Krsna and for Krsna alone until we learn that we are not fit for the kingdom of God. So king Indradymna one time, aha! it is described after he became a little older he returned his kingdom to his children he took the life of an ascetic . He lived in the forest performing devotional service to Lord Hari. At one time he was so absorbed in meditation that the great sage Agastya Muni came to where he was and Maharaja Indradyumna did not properly welcome him. So agastya Muni cursed him that you are so dumb that you do not even show proper respect to a sadhu. Then what is the use of human form, you should take the form of a dumb animal. I curse you to become an elephant. Now it is really a curse. Krsna always protects his devotee, even though he keeps his devotees in a certain state of life for sometime. Ultimately God is good. God does everything for his devotee good. Therefore we find through our history that great souls are always put in the most difficult predicament. why?
Sign of a real devotee
Just to show the rest of us how to have complete faith and welcome whatever comes by God’s grace. It is easy to welcome good things when they come but the sign of a real devotee is he welcomes with a gracious heart even the most difficult thing that may come upon him because he sees nothing bad, there is nothing worse, there is terrible if we remember Krsna. Every situation in life is a perfect opportunity to become Krsna Conscious and the more apparently horrible things are, from the material point of view, the greater opportunity we have of turning to Krsna. And the devotee who has this vision is always peaceful because whoever you are, where you are, there will be happiness and distress. As long as you are trying to avoid distress then you will be in complete anxiety when it will be beyond your control. But if you learn to see the loving devotional hand of God as the cause of all causes, then you welcome distress with love. Then there is no anxiety and there is no fear .
Fear the greatest anxiety
There is no greater anxiety than fear. People are more disturbed and feel more pain by fear than anything else. Otherwise why is the national budget practically in every country of the world in defense. How much of India’s budget is spent in defense. Larger than in any portion. Same with America, same with Pakistan, same with Iraq , same with Israel, same with Russia. Practically every nation in the world, they take more money from the people to put it in bomb weapons, in arms and in armies. Why? Because everyone is feeling the pang of fear and each and everyone of us, however much we fear disease , we fear old age, we fear death, we fear infamy, we fear that we will lose something . we have and the more you have the more you have to fear. Correct. This is the great pain to the heart , to the core of the heart.
Solution to fear
But it is said by Govindas ” bajhau re mana sri nanda nandana” That when the mind fixes itself in devotional service to Sri Krsna by remembering Him, then there is no more fear because in the presence of Krsna fear cannot exist. Fear is due to darkness, fear is due to ignorance and Krsna is compared to the Sun and in the presence of the Sun can darkness possibly exist? Bhagavatam states that fear personified is afraid of Krsna. So if we remember Krsna with faith, what is this faith? Faith is based on knowledge, not sentiment but knowledge . Krsna says in Gita
suyate sa caracaram
That this material nature is working under my direction “sarva karna karanam”. That Krsna is the cause of all causes. He is all that is. Everything is emanating from Him alone. He is the absolute truth that Supreme truth from whom all other truths are dependent on. Therefore it is said that not a blade of grass can even move without His direct sanction.
“sarveshwara sarveshwara” He is the controller of all controllers. So is there anything in our lives that can take place not in control of God. Is there anything that can come into our life that is not according to His sanction. Therefore a devotee who has this faith, who no longer see things in terms of ‘this is good or this is bad or this is pleasurable or this is not pleasurable’, he is simply seeing Krsna’s mercy everywhere . Bhagavad Gita defines this consciousness
” brahma bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad bhaktim labhate param”
This is called the brahman state of consciousness where you do not hanker or lament for anything. Prasannatma, you are simply joyful because you are on the brahmabhuta platform of consciousness. Where you are seeing the spiritual source of everything and everywhere. Krsna says in Gita for one who sees me everywhere and everything in me, for him I can never be lost nor he is ever lost to me. This is what is meant by Krsna Consciousness. So although Maharaja Indradyumna was cursed to become an animal, it was all by the divine arrangement of the Lord
” vedaham samatitani
bhavisyani ca bhutani
mam tu veda na kascana”
because Krsna knows past present and future, He knew that this crocodile would come during the life of this elephant and forced to surrender to Krsna with all helplessness and Krsna had a plan way before this great sage Agasthya Muni’s .
Life of great devotees / Standard of surrender
We see in the lives of great souls, they show by their great example that before, there is victory there is always apparent defeat. For instance the Pandavas, do you know what the pandavas had to go through? They were put in the house of varnataka which was burnt with the intent of burning them to death in the fire and they had to flee and hide in the jungles. They were given poison. They were cheated and everything was taken away from them they possessed. Maharaja Uddhistir the greatest and the most righteous, virtuous of all devotees, he was in a condition which was worse than put in prison. He lost everything, his palace, his armies, his wealth, his prestige and he was forced to live in the jungles like a beggar for 14 years not just for a few minutes. Sometimes if something happens not our ways, we enquire why God is doing like this. But 14 years he was in exile. He had to live in incognito, the most powerful warrior on the earth, during the last year in Virata.b What did they have to do? They had to live, one as a cowherd boy, one as a caretaker for horses, one advisor, one as a cook and Arjuna had to take the role of a dance teacher or a girl. Such humiliation. Is it just the jobs of the king of the earth? But in the end Krsna had to put these devotees through all this to show that my devotees never lose faith, my devotee depend on Me in all circumstances and in the end Krsna made Uddhistir the king of the earth.
Similarly in the life of Prahlad , how he much was being persecuted, how much he had heard that everything was finished. His father Hiranyakasipu was torturing him in so many ways, you all know the story, for a long time but in the end Prahlad was put on the throne. He was the king of universe.
So this is how Krsna works and he has to use his greatest devotees to show to the rest of the world what is the standards of surrender and if we learn to follow the example and teachings of such great souls then our life will become perfect.
So Maharaja Indradyumna essentially in the life of this elephant, he forgot his devotional life to Sri Hari. But at the time of greatest distress when he had no where else to turn he had to look within his heart and then he remembered the beautiful strotras, the beautiful slokas that he had memorized and learnt in an attitude of great sincerity in his previous birth and he began to offer these beautiful prayers to the Lord from his heart. He wasn’t simply reciting but he was praying with his life and soul. He was expressing his helpless condition of life and he was turning to Krsna and Krsna alone. And Krsna who is within everyone’s heart, He hears our prayers, He also hears everything else we say and he reciprocates accordingly. So at that time the Supreme Lord Narayan descended upon his bird carrier Garuda and although Gajendra was in a very very painful condition of life, he plucked a lotus flower with his mighty trunk and he offered it with great devotion and Lord Narayan came down off his bird carrier and to the amazement of everyone, He took His sudarshan chakra and severed the mouth of the crocodile.
Immediately the crocodile turned into a great Gandharva of the name Maharaja Huhu, who also was cursed by Devala rishi to take this form and Maharaja Huhu with the blessings and permission of the Lord returned to the heavenly abode and then the Supreme Lord took Gajendra, put him on his bird carrier Garuda and personally brought him back to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world .
Krsna never forgets His devotees
So this is certainly a beautiful story but the meaning that the story represents to our life is most essential. We should know that any spiritual advancement that we make in our life will never be lost. At the time of the greatest need it will be there to help you. Krsna never forgets anything you do for Him. This is His love. Even if you forget Him, He will never forget you If you, even once in your life, chant the name of God sincerely, Krsna will never leave you alone.
I remember one devotee, he became after some time very much influenced by his previous habits and his previous conditions and he became very very degraded and engaged in very very sinful activities and was not participating in the activities of Krsna conscious spiritual life and our Guru Maharaja Srila Prabhupada wrote to him, he said “because you have one time chanted the name of Krsna sincerely, you will not be able to remain in maya for a very long, Krsna will eventually drag you back”. And this particular devotee, he spent many years in maya just chasing after the illusions of sense enjoyment and he was apparently attacked by the worst condition of life. He was struck with terminal cancer. He was told that he has 6 months to live. He was in horrible pain and all his loving relationships and affection that he could see, were going to be dragged away from him and in this situation devotee realized that the doctors cannot help me, my family members cannot help me, I cannot help myself, but because he one time had chanted the name of Krsna sincerely, in that situation of life he realized that Krsna can help me. He began to pray that I have abandoned Krsna, I have abandoned my Guru but they have never abandoned me and now by their causeless mercy this is just what I need to surrender and he surrendered completely. He was grateful to the Lord that this disease is the greatest benediction of my life because it exactly is the perfect arrangement to surrender to You. If it were anything less, then I would never had surrendered. And in that surrender he felt great joy, great peace and even his body was in such a nice condition internally he was feeling fulfilling and he left this world chanting the Holy Names with tears in his eyes .
So Krsna is very kind. He is the most merciful. So we should know that ultimately we have to come to the platform of total surrender and surrender is not like the concept in this world. If you are defeated then you surrender. It is a very very horrible experience. But in devotional service surrender is the topmost expression of bravery. It is the sign of greatest inner strength and will and it is the source of all peace, all fulfillments and all joy.
When we voluntarily give up all hopes in our own illusory opulences and we put our life completely at the feet of God, my dear Lord if you want you can embrace me, if You want You can make me broken hearted by not being present before me, if You want you can trample upon me, You can stamp upon me, You can persecute me, You can kill me, You can imprison me, You can break my body, in due course inflict me fatal disease, if You want You can protect me, You can curse me, I am Your servant You have every right to do.