Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya

Ittham gajendrah sa yadapa sankatam

Pranasya dehi vivaso yadrcchaya

Aarauamm atma vimoksane ciram

Dadhyav imam buddhim athabhyapadyata

When the king of the elephants saw that he was under the clutches of the crocodile by the will of providence and being embodied and circumstantially helpless, could not save himself from danger, he was extremely afraid of being killed.  He consequently thought for a long time and finally reached the following decision:

Na ma mime jnataya aturam gajah

Kutah karinyah prabhavanti mocitum

Grahena pasena vidhatur avrto

‘py aham ca tam yami param parayanam


Krishna – the Shelter

The other elephants who are my friends and relatives could not rescue me from this danger.   What then to speak of my wives?  They cannot do anything. It is by the will of providence that I have been attacked by this crocodile and therefore I shall seek shelter of the supreme personality of Godhead who is always the shelter of  everyone even the great personalities.

Purport by Srila Prabhupad:

Danger at every step

This material world is described as padam padam  yad vipadam, which means that at every step there is danger.  A fool wrongly thinks that he is happy in this material world but in fact he is not, for one who thinks that way is only illusioned.  At every step, at every moment there is danger. In modern civilization one thinks that he has a nice home and a nice car and his life is perfect. In the western countries especially in America it is very nice to possess a good car but as soon as one is on the road there is danger because at any moment an accident may take place and one would be killed. The record actually shows that so many people die of such accidents. Therefore if we actually think that this material world is a very happy place, this is our ignorance. Real knowledge is that this material world is full of danger.  We may struggle for existence as far as our intelligence allows and may try to take care of ourselves, unless the supreme personality of Godhead – Krishna, ultimately saves us from danger all our attempts will be useless.


Taking shelter of Krishna

Therefore Prahlad Maharaj says: balase neha saranam pitarau nrsimha, nartasya cagadam udanvati majjato nauh, taptasya tat pratividhir ya ihanjasestas, tavad vibho tanu bhrtam tvad-upeksitanam’ We may have done so many ways to be happy and to counteract the dangers of this material world but unless our attempts are sanctioned by the supreme personality of Godhead they will never make us happy. Those who try to be happy without taking shelter of the supreme personality of Godhead are moodhas or rascals na mam duskritno mudhah prapadyante naradhamah’ those who are the lowest of men refuse to take Krishna consciousness because they think that they will be able to protect themselves without Krsna’s care. This is their mistake. The desertion of the king of elephants – Gajendra, was correct. In such a dangerous position he sought shelter of the supreme personality of Godhead.


Description of Trikuta mountain

We are reading this morning from the 8th. Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam which is describing  the beautiful narration of the king of the elephants – Gajendra. It is described herein that there was a mountain of the name of Trikuta. And the forest that surrounded this mountain was in all ways the most heavenly place.  There was a garden of the name Rithi math. This garden belonged to Varuna  the great demigod of the waters. And it was a beautiful sporting place for demigods and beautiful damsels from throughout the universe. This place was full of the most beautiful auspicious trees which yielded only the most fragrant and beautiful flowers and the sweetest most luscious fruits. It was also a place where there was beautiful waterfalls, lakes with crystalline clear waters, and beautiful animals such as swans & ducks & sweet birds chirping. The song of these birds was most pleasing to the ears. In this way it was a heavenly atmosphere , & even the most opulent in our wealth of living beings would come to this place to find satisfaction.


King Gajendra – the elephant taking bath in a lake

Now the king of this great jungle was an elephant of the name Gajendra. And he was most highly respected, most highly adored by all the creatures of the jungle .He was considered the leader and no one dared to go against his will. In fact Gajendra was finding such happiness in his life- such happiness we do not even know in this world. He had a most beautiful family, he had wonderful children, he had everything. So one day, & this day appeared to be  a most ordinary and typical day,  on this particular day he was enjoying with his family. They decided to go on picnic, they were traveling through the jungles enjoying each others’ company & they came to a beautiful lake and there they decided to take a bath to refresh themselves.


There is danger at every step

Of course we never know what is about to come upon us.  That is the nature of this world, padam padam yad vipadad’ there is danger at every step.  Generally it is  the time when we look when we seek enjoyment, that we are most frustrated. We see as Prahlad maharaj explains ‘if you are not concerned with finding happiness in this world then you will never be frustrated or disappointed when there is distress’. In the western world the owl is considered very wise so he is the symbol of wisdom. So rather than just looking at this owl that has just come in the temple, we should be concentrating on the wisdom of the Srimad Bhagvatam. This is the message of the owl.

Equipoise in every situation

If you are not expecting happiness from a particular situation then when the resources come then there is no reason for distress if you are equal throughout the environment.  Equal means you are not seeking pleasure, then you will not be frustrated when there is pain, but to the degree you are looking for happiness, to that degree you must suffer when things do not go according to your desire.


Surrender  to God

So the situation of the great elephant Gajendra was he came into this lake thinking let me enjoy, let me enjoy with my most beloved friends &  family members. But while he was in this lake a very great crocodile came and  with his very sharp teeth captured the foot of the great elephant Gajendra and this crocodile happened to have himself in a very very strategic position because a crocodile is very powerful in the water but an elephant is not very powerful in the water.  So therefore the crocodile was able to battle against Gajendra  and this battle lasted a long time. But because there was no food for Gajendra  he was getting weaker and weaker and weaker and the crocodile was getting stronger and stronger and stronger. At that time Gajendra could  understand that despite my being the king of the jungle, despite my being the wealthiest, the most powerful of all living beings in this land I cannot save myself from this imminent danger. Despite my great wisdom I cannot save myself. Although I have a wonderful loving and caring family, a chaste and faithful wife, obedient children, so many friends so many ministers, in this situation no one can save me.  He came to a crude realization, neither he could  save himself nor anyone around him could save him.   So in this desperate condition, for a materialist, he would be considered completely hopeless. Materially he was in the most hopeless position. It is a position no one ever wants to be  in this world. It is a position that through out our whole life we try to avoid, but we understand the spiritual principal that until there is utter hopelessness there is no hope because a materialist is in a hopeless condition because he thinks there is hope in his material situation in life. There is no hope in your family members because they cannot save you at the time of need; there is no hope in your wealth; there is no hope in your intelligence there is no hope in your wealth or your beauty or your strength or your position in society.  As long as you  think that there is hope in any of these things you are in a hopeless condition.   But when you realize that all these things are not worth a drop of water on a leaf of a lotus flower, they are so temporary and useless to my real need of life, when you come to that understanding from the bottom of your heart then there is hope in your life. Because only then will you turn to Krishna, turn to Krsna with all sincerity . So Gajendra, he believed in God all his life.  He was basically a  religious man or elephant but he never knew what it was really about – surrender to God.

We hear about what it means to surrender, we talk about what it means to surrender, but how many of us know what it means to surrender.  Generally it is only at times when we are put in a situation like Gajendra that we really understand what does it mean to surrender. Surrender means to repose all ones dependence on God.   Surrender means even in the most averse and hopeless condition to have complete faith in the mercy of God.  Surrender means to know that Krsna is always with me, he is within my heart, he is the controller of all controls.  Even a blade of grass cannot move without his sanction.  He is the cause of all causes, He is not the cause of some causes, He is not the cause of what we like, He is the cause of all causes. Everything is happening under  His supervision. The material world is a direct manifestation in which Lord Sri Krsna is revealing His pastimes for the enjoyment between Him and his devotees.  And this material world that is described ‘mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa caracaram’ this material nature is working under my direction.


Krishna promises to protect His devotees

According to the laws of nature Krsna is directing everything around us and KRSNA promises ‘ kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati’  that I will always protect My devotees; that I will always look after those persons who turn to Me; that I will never neglect one who is remembering Me.


Material anxiety / spiritual anxiety

So if we have this faith then what is there to fear, what is the need for anxiety, what is the need for worry. Anxiety and worry only come about when there is no faith in God. Of course  there is two types of anxiety- there is material anxiety and spiritual anxiety. Material anxiety is when we are, according to our own sense perception, feeling a great difficulty in life and we cannot tolerate this difficulty so it puts us in great anxiety. This is a source of great unhappiness and illusion. But spiritual anxiety means when we are in anxiety of how to better serve our spiritual master and Krsna. In other words we are not self centered in our thinking, we are thinking in terms of how I can better serve and that anxiety is a cause of great bliss, great happiness.  It brings us closer to Krsna. But if we have complete faith in the lord then material  anxiety cannot enter into our life. Why should we wait? If Krsna is in control then he is always protecting his devotees then any situation in life is meant for my good & This is the very very essence of the lesson to be learnt in this beautiful story of Gajendra the elephant.  As long as he thought that he was the controller, that he was the enjoyer, that he was the protector of himself or any of his loved ones, he was in a hopeless illusion.  But in this utterly hopeless condition, do not think that this hopeless condition only lasted for  a few seconds, he was battling with this great crocodile for many many celestial years. In fact in his battle with the crocodile, from the very beginning, he was gradually losing ground. As he was fighting it was becoming, moment by moment, more and more evident that he was about to die that he could not win. He was imprisoned.  He was put in a predicament that he could not get out.  He could not come out of that water, he could not come out of that crocodiles mouth by any of his own efforts. So factually Gajendra was being tortured and he was  imprisoned for years and years and years and in that condition he realized that now I am about to die. He understood what the Bhagvatam says- that all of your friends, all of your society members, all of your family members they are all fallible soldiers. Soldiers are meant to protect us, protect us from harm, protect us from pain. And factually that is why we come into a society to make friends and to have family. We are expecting these fallible soldiers to protect us from pain. From the pain of loneliness, from the pain of poverty, from the pain of no facility for sense enjoyment or prestige.  Isn’t it a fact that all of our relationships in this world we take shelter of, is a means of being relieved from pain in this world. But it is all an illusion because they are fallible soldiers. When the fight against maya becomes really intense, none of these fallible soldiers can be of any value or assistance to us. All they can do is stand by and watch and cry and say  ‘we are very sorry, we hate to see you like this’.  But their tears and their best wishes are useless in this situation of life. Gajendra had no one else to turn to except Krsna . Therefore with his mighty trunk he gave up the fight against the crocodile. Its not that he gave up meaning, that he stopped all hope. he understood that the only defense is to utterly take shelter of Krsna. That is the real beginning of our fight.

A devotee knows that he should not give up the fight, but he knows how to fight Arjuna, in the Bhagavad Gita  you’ll find, before he began the battle he surrendered to Krsna.  He took shelter of Krsna. Then he understood how to fight. Then it was absolutely certain he would be victorious, not in the worldly sense, but in the ultimate sense. Krsna told Arjuna  “do not care whether you are a success or a failure,  do not care for victory or defeat, if you surrender to me you are victorious”.


Fear is due to darkness

We are not concerned with what the people of this world think, we are concerned with whether we achieve the goal of life. So similarly Gajendra, he offered this beautiful lotus flower to Lord Hari and he began to offer beautiful prayers of  surrender to the Lord, knowing that the Lord will protect me, with full faith, with full confidence. As soon as he remembered Krsna he was no longer in fear. It is said that even fear personified is afraid of Krsna. Fear is due to darkness.  Darkness cannot exist in the presence of the sun.  So similarly when we remember Krsna  when we depend on Krsna, then all anxiety or fear ceases to exist because the remembrance of Krsna illuminates our heart.


Remembering Krishna in helpless condition

Actually Gajendra was most fortunate, the only time he was ever really safe in his life was when he was in the clutches of this crocodiles mouth, because in his helpless condition of remembering Krsna he was beyond birth and death. Throughout the rest of his life he was in the clutches of maya’s mouth, thinking I am the enjoyer, enjoying heavenly comforts, luxuries, beautiful relationships, having beautiful children, having beautiful wife.  Understand in that condition he was under the clutches of illusion, he was in the most miserable hopeless condition possible. But when he was stranded in this water with no one to help him and he was about to be slain and he was fatigued, he was tired, he gave up all hope in himself and in everybody around him, it was at that time alone that he was really and truly in a fortunate condition.  Because it was only in that situation that he could repose all of his consciousness at the lotus feet of Sri Krsna. Therefore it was the most blissful experience in his life.  Full confidence that Krsna would protect him. And in this situation Gajendra began to offer beautiful prayers to the Lord. In his prayers he is explaining how foolish he had been throughout his entire life to think that  anything or anyone else could save him except Krsna.


For a devotee even a curse becomes benediction

To think that there was anything or anyone else that was of any real value except Krsna . You see, in Gajendra’s previous life he was a great king of the name Indradyuna  and he had performed much devotional service to Lord Hari and he had learnt many beautiful prayers, prayers spoken by the previous Acharyas and although he was cursed, ultimately this curse was a benediction. For a devotee ultimately everything becomes a benediction. One may think this is a very sorrowful situation, to be a great king then to be cursed to become an elephant.  But ultimately Krsna knows past, present & future. Krsna puts through the soldiers curse,  it is all Krsna’s arrangement to put this great king in an elephant’s body knowing that he would be helplessly in the clutches of this crocodile in due course of time; knowing that this would be the situation that would finally and ultimately bring him to absolute surrender. It was all Krsna’s plan, it was all Krsna‘s leela . Anything we do in devotional service Krsna will see and he will never forget.

Devotional service performed is never lost /The greatest gift of God

Similarly in the life of Ajamil when he was young he was a very nice devotee, but it wasn’t enough, he had to fall down, he had to become the lowest of the low.  He had to be put in a horrible situation of being face to face with the yamadutas, before he could really and truly understand what it meant to surrender to Krsna and that’s exactly what he did.  Any devotional service that we perform in our life is never lost. Krsna never forgets it and He is in our hearts, He is directing our wanderings and He always will direct our wanderings.


Goal of life

So therefore a devotee has this great faith that if I simply attempt to surrender to Krsna, alternately He will put me in a situation where I must surrender to Him or I have the complete facility to surrender utterly. Therefore when some such circumstances come into a great soul’s life, they welcome the opportunity, they are not so concerned with materially whether I am here or there or whether I am happy or distressed, they are only concerned with the goal of life, which is to completely surrender and if this situation gives me the opportunity to completely surrender, I welcome this as the most auspicious gift of God. This is a very very wonderful lesson that we must learn how to accept with grateful devotion the gifts of God in whatever way they come .


Greatest gift of God

The greatest gift of God is when he puts us in a situation where we have no other alternative but to surrender to him utterly. Of course we always have alternatives we always have choice, but when Krsna puts us in a situation where we realize that all of our other alternatives except for Krsna are futile and hopeless and they cannot save me, that is his greatest benediction. Yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad dhanam sanaih tato ‘dhanam tyajanty asya svajana duhkha duhkhitam’ Krsna says that the first installment of mercy I give to My devotee is I take away everything, so that the devotee has nothing else to turn to except Me and this is exactly what he is doing to Gajendra.  He is taking away everything, so Gajendra has no where else to turn to except Krsna. And how much he is turning towards Krsna with such devotion which such dependence with such helpless feeling, like a baby crying out for its mother. Gajendra is offering prayers and chanting the names of Lord Hari.


Kirshna’s  vow

And we are about to read how Krsna always responds to the call of His devotee. This is his promise, this is his vow.  Krsna is about to descend and with his own sudarshan chakra sever the head of this crocodile  and then He offers the benediction of pure love to Gajendra and right then and there  He takes Gajendra back to Vaikunta the spiritual world. This is the result of remembering Krsna in the time of great need. So therefore, we must see how the mercy of Krsna is directing our life?  How he gives us ultimately what we need to advance in Krsna consciousness. And of course without the example of such great souls turning to Krsna helplessly in the most desperate times, the common man will never understand really what it means to surrender.


Surrender really means!

We talk about surrender, we hear about surrender, but do we really know what it means to surrender.  That is why krsna puts the greatest of his devotees in situations where there is the greatest exhibition of real surrender.  Because unless the great souls teach us by their examples, we will never understand what it really means, we will never take it seriously.  It will go in one ear and out the other . So how and why Krsna deals with his devotees in such inconceivable ways is the compassion of  Krsna towards the aspiring devotee, compassion and love to show us the way back home, back to Godhead .


“Any Questions? “


Krishna is our real friend

To the extent they are reminding us of Krsna , they are not different from Krsna, in the sense that remembering them is remembering Krsna . But to the extent our relationships with them is based on material attachment , they are fallible. To the degree they are bringing us closer to Krsna, to that degree they are real friends. Krsna is the only friend – a friend in need is a friend indeed – Right- this is a saying in English – a friend in need is a friend indeed.


Crisis reveal everything

You don’t know who your friends are until you are in a crisis . Actually crisis reveal everything.  Nobody knows what is what until a crisis.  You don’t know who you are, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know who a good devotee is, you don’t know who anybody is until there is a crisis. Anyone can pretend, anyone can be loyal, under circumstances of convenience but when there is a crisis we understand who is who . So at the crisis of death who is there to protect you, only Krsna, nobody else is there.


God centered relationships

Therefore Krsna is indeed the only friend we have, and one who is bringing you closer to Krsna, he is your friend and he is as much your friend as Krsna, because what is the difference – he is directing you to Krsna, or she is directing you to Krsna. So therefore that person is as much your friend as Krsna, because there is no difference. But if our relationship is based on anything outside of sharing and reciprocating Krsna consciousness, then our only one true friend Krsna is not present within that relationship. Therefore that person is not in any way, shape or form,our friend. Therefore in a God centered society, God centered family, God centered relationships, Krsna is always in the centre . And therefore such relationships are the most valuable and most precious moments in our life to have such relationships. That is why it is said that there is nothing so important as association of devotees . Sadhu sanga, sadhu sanga sarva sastre kaya, lava matra sadhu sange sarve siddhi haya’; even a moments association with a Sadhu can save you from all the calamities of life, why? Because a sadhu is bringing you to your one true friend Krsna. He is the representative of that one true friend Krsna.


Relatinship with  Kishna’s soldiers

Rupa Goswami says that the most important principle in making advancement in spiritual life is the association of devotees, because in that association they learn how to make friends with Krsna. So when we look for a friend, when we look for a husband, when we look for a wife,  when we look for a god brother, when we look for someone to reciprocate love with, our only consideration should be, not how much money this person is going to provide for me, not how much prestige and security and life for false security this person is going to provide for me, not how much fun I have with this person, or how much I enjoy the personality of this person. This is all maya, this is all illusion, this is all simply a distraction from the goal of life. Our only consideration should be how much we can reciprocate by helping each other to become better servants of Krsna. How much we can assist one another in our Krsna consciousness . This is the only consideration a Krsna conscious person has in any of his dealings with others, intimate dealings. Everything else besides this, is an illusion. It is maya and will only create a catastrophe in our life in due course of time. How much this relationship with this person will improve my service to my spiritual master and Krsna. That is our only consideration. Then our relationships are not fallible soldiers, but they are Krsna’s soldiers, they are infallible soldiers.

Any other questions ?

Krishna – the source of all compassion

Every living entity is part and parcel of Krsna. Compassion and love can only, in truth, be that feeling that divine feeling between the living entity and God. When we love Krsna, then and only then can we love his parts and parcels. To the degree we love Krsna to that degree we can be compassionate to His parts and parcels. In the sense that to the degree we love Krsna to that degree we will become empowered by Him with compassion. Krsna is the source of all compassion, we have no power to be compassionate, but as we become purified the compassion of God can manifest through us for the benefit of others.

Thank you very much.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.