evaà bruväëa utkåtya
tayä sa nirmame tasmai
As Durväsä Muni said this, his face became red with anger. Uprooting a bunch of hair from his head, he created a demon resembling the blazing fire of devastation to punish Mahäräja Ambaréña.
täm äpatantéà jvalatém
asi-hastäà padä bhuvam
na cacäla padän nåpaù
Taking a trident in his hand and making the surface of the earth tremble with his footsteps, that blazing creature came before Mahäräja Ambaréña. But the King, upon seeing him, was not at all disturbed and did not move even slightly from his position.
Näräyaëa-paräù sarve na kutaçcana bibhyati (SB 6.17.28). A pure devotee of Näräyaëa is never afraid of any material danger. There are many examples of devotees such as Prahläda Mahäräja, who was tortured by his father but was not at all afraid, although he was only a five-year-old boy. Therefore, following the examples of Ambaréña Mahäräja and Prahläda Mahäräja, a devotee should learn how to tolerate all such awkward positions in this world. Devotees are often tortured by non devotees, yet the pure devotee, depending fully on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is never disturbed by such inimical activities.
The Relationship of a Devotee and Kåñëa:
na kutaçcana bibhyati
(Srimad Bhagavatam 6.17.28)
A devotee of the Lord is content in any situation of life, simply knowing with faith that Kåñëa, who is all pervading, who is in between every atom, who is the Supreme controller of all the controllers; out of love, he is always caring for his devotees. A devotee of the Lord is always seated within the loving palm of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and in all circumstances feel they want and the protection of that love. The material body inevitably must be destroyed simply by the process of material creation, maintenance and destruction. Therefore, the devotees’ experience of being protected by the Lord is not on the bodily concept of life. Some people, they become confused and bewildered, if a great devotee of the Lord who has surrendered everything to the Lord meets with great physical difficulties, tortures, sometimes even death; after all Kåñëa explains in Gita “kaunteya pratijänéhi na me bhaktaù praëaçyati” (Bg 9.31) that I would always protect my devotees, declared boldly to Arjuna, ‘My devotees shall never perish.’
The Lord’s Protection:
So how is it we find in the life of the many of the Christian saints, in fact all of the apostles of Jesus Christ who were severely tortured, and although one of them was killed, on the other one- there was an attempt to killing his life but he survives. They exiled him to a deserted island for the rest of his life. So someone may ask how is this? The Lord is promising protection; they’re unflinchingly depending on his mercy. They are practically, by their devotional activities offering their bodies as sacrifice. Why does the Lord allow this to happen? You see such devotees, for them although there is physical torture upon them but within the heart, they are feeling the ecstasy of God’s love. They are experiencing the divine entrance in that time where it appears the most catastrophic to our eyes, they perceive the doors to the eternal world of God opening before them. Therefore for them, how grateful and how lovingly they want to reciprocate with the Lord, knowing that this is true protection. When the Lord promises to protect his devotee, he is not speaking of some physical temporary arrangement of protection, ultimately in the form of time, Kåñëa is going to kill your body whether you are a devotee or not a devotee and that is a fact. Everyone is killed by Kåñëa in the form of time, physically. Whether you are killed today by a demon or whether you are killed tomorrow by old age or disease, there really is not there much difference, is there? Kåñëa protects devotee by protecting his consciousness in all circumstances, in life and death. In life, that sincere devotee is protected by Kåñëa. By Kåñëa all he is giving him the association of devotees or atleast always giving him remembrance within the heart. And at the time of death, however that death may come, but it will come. Death is a physical form. The Lord protects by being right there personally to escort that devotee to the eternal abode of transcendental pleasure. Of course, the Lord knows exactly the situation that is required for every devotee.
Here, are given the example of Maharaj Ambarish. Maharaj Ambarish was here, being very very violently accused of a crime, he did not commit. He did everything within his power to show respect, adoration to this great sanyäsé Durväsä Muni. But Durväsä Muni, having some other motivation, part of an excuse by which Ambarish Maharaj must be punished, does not left to be judged. We find that here, Durväsä Muni is judging the character of Ambarish Maharaj and of course, in many ways it is very easy to judge a character of a humble devotee of the Lord because they’re pride less and they do not defend themselves. They will defend the Lord, they will defend the other devotees but basically, there is nothing too bad that you can say about them. They feel that they are worse.
Ambarish Maharaj’s Humility:
So Ambarish Maharaj did not make any excuses. He knew in his heart that he was simply trying his best. He knew in his heart that he was innocent of any malice intention but when Durväsä Muni was telling him that he is a bogus devotee, he is simply attached to sense gratification, Ambarish Maharaj had no arguments. He stood there humbly accepting as God’s mercy these great insults. Now Durväsä Muni did not stop there, he wanted to destroy his devotee. He wanted to destroy the Lord’s pure soul. So therefore, he created this very very great mystic fiery demon. This demon was like the fire of devastation with a powerful trident in his hand and with his cruel eyes, he was simply looking to devour this simple and humble king. And it is described here, how the king upon seeing this great creature of destruction was not at all disturbed. He did not move even slightly from his position but rather with folded palms, he accepted whatever Kåñëa desired. Great belief! This is the quality of a great soul.
Of course, whether that fiery demon would have killed Ambarish Maharaj or whether he would not kill Ambarish Maharaj really doesn’t make any difference. Because in either case Ambarish Maharaj was fully protected by the Lord and his blessed soul was always seated within the heart of the Lord and the Lord was always seated within the core of his heart.
sädhavo hådayaà mahyaà
sädhünäà hådayaà tv aham
mad-anyat te na jänanti
nähaà tebhyo manäg api
(Srimad Bhagavatam 9.4.68)
The Lord’s Love for his Devotees:
Later in this chapter we find how Durväsä Muni, being punished by the Lord for his offense against his devotee, ultimately fell at the feet of Lord Narayan, the source of Sudarshan Chakra and begged forgiveness. And we will read how Lord Narayan tells Durväsä Muni that ‘I have no power to forgive you, only if when my devotee forgives you, will you be free from the reaction to this offense. Because my devotee, he knows nothing but me. Therefore, I know nothing but him. I am always seated within the heart of my devotee; therefore, my devotee is always seated within my heart.’ The reciprocation of the Lord and his devotees is always full of intimacy, full of love. And the Lord swears to always protect that devotee, by never allowing that devotee to any process of persecution, by any power of this world to forget him, what to be without him or not to feel his love. It is only when that devotee voluntarily by his own free decides to forget about the Lord; does the Lord disappear from his vision.
The Glorious Srila Haridas Thakur:
So in this regard we also find the sweetness of the love of the Lord and his devotee in the story of Srila Haridas Thakur. We all know the story; how he was preaching the glories of the chanting of the Holy Name of Kåñëa. But he was in a very very susceptible position. First of all, at the time that he was preaching in Bengal, most of India was under the rule of the great Moghul Empire and emperors. Most of who had a ferocious hatred for all Hindus, considering that they were allies of the devil due to not accepting their own particular religious doctrine. So Haridas Thakur happened to be born in a family of Muslims, but he accepted the highest principle of all religions which is to love the Lord with all his heart and expressing that love through the glorification of his holy name. He became an intimate associate of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and therefore, this was outrageously an insult to the Muslims; that here he is, one of us and he is going around everywhere, telling everyone to chant Hare Kåñëa Hare Kåñëa Kåñëa Kåñëa Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. And at the same time, amongst the Hindus, Brahmin class of men who were too much attached to the bodily conception, who are very proud of their high birth and very much taking advantage of the facilities that that birth provides. They considered Haridas Thakur to be the greatest threat in all the world because after all, then with their high birth, people were not very interested in listening to; because basically they were just explaining by performing some rituals, by chanting some shlokas and by accepting profit adoration and distinction in the process. But Haridas Thakur was totally selfless. He asked for nothing. He was a truly compassionate soul. He was only concerned with the upliftment of all. And he was an outcaste. He had no birth statics in the Hindu society. And yet he was getting more recognition than any one. Not only was he getting the recognition, but he was exposing the hypocrisy of the lives of the great spiritual leaders of that time.
The Horrifying flogging of Haridas Thakur:
So therefore, Haridas Thakur was hated. He was considered the greatest threat by both the Hindus and the Muslims. It was only the innocent people, who were sincerely trying to understand how to love God and it was only the devotees of the Lord who had the great appreciation and love for his mission and for his qualities. So ultimately we know the story of how the Brahmins came together with the Muslim rulers and they sentenced Haridas Thakur to death by killing him with whips and with sticks in 22 market places. It was a brutal scene. People were so aghast. They could not even witness it. It was horrible. There were simply big powerful executioners with mighty arms were simply beating him and beating him and he had a very fair and saintly body. He was being constantly bludgered practically from the sunrise to sunset; they were smashing these canes, sticks and whips upon his fragile body. One such blow will be enough to break every man’s limb and kill him. Haridas Thakur, not only was he beaten in each market place but he was beaten on the way between each market place. Throughout the day he was constantly being barraged by ferocious verbal insults and blaspheming and by inconceivable physical pain inflicted on him. In the end they could not kill him because Haridas Thakur; his mind, his body, his soul, his every drop of existence were simply depending fully on the mercy of Kåñëa as he was chanting the holy names –
hare kåñëa hare kåñëa
kåñëa kåñëa hare hare
hare räma hare räma
räma räma hare hare
And people could not believe, how is it possible for anyone to live through this? It is not possible. At the end, those who tried to kill him were so exhausted. They had to admit defeat. And Haridas saw the anxiety. He wilfully entered into a state of Samadhi, where he appeared to be dead and they threw his body into the river. Later on, he came out of that river and resumed his preaching. And even those Brahmins and the Muslim Rulers; when they saw this great miracle, many of them too fell at his feet, begging for forgiveness and became his followers.
Mahaprabhu’s Maha Prakash Lila:
So some time later, many years after this, during the transcendental pastimes of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Navadvip Dham, he was displaying a very rare and special darshan to all the devotees. And during the famous Maha Prakash Lila where Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who was generally hiding the fact that he was God, he was playing the part of the humble devotee of the Lord. During these twenty-two hours of the Maha Prakash Lila, he revealed to each devotee, especially according to their love, his divine form as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So he called Srila Haridas Thakur and when Srila Haridas Thakur appeared before him, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in a beautiful form of Lord Shyamsundar; with a complexion black like a tamal tree, decorated with beautiful peacock feather and playing on his flute, the transcendental abode of Vrindavan all around him. Haridas Thakur fell at the feet of the Lord began to offer humble prayers. And then Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu began to explain Haridas Thakur, “Do you remember when you were beaten in those twenty-two market places? How do you think it was possible for you to live through such brutal punishment?” He said, “I could not tolerate seeing my devotee put into such conditions. Therefore my dear Haridas; let me tell you what I did. I took my back and I put my back over yours so that you could not feel the pain and I personally accepted upon my own back all the beatings so that you could remain peaceful and chant my holy names. And then Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed upon his own back, all the scars and brutal impressions of that great beating; because Haridas Thakur who is constantly taking shelter of the holy name, the Supreme Personality of Godhead took personal interest in protecting his devotee.
In this way Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he was revealing to all of his devotees, his special love for all of them. There was one devotee to whom Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Do you remember the time, when the Muslim king was about to capture you, punish you and imprison you and your family; and probably when they would do that, soldiers were tracing you. They would certainly molest and rape your wife. Do you remember when you were running from them; running so fast trying to escape and you came upon a river and it was just about sunset time and the soldiers were coming up from behind and you realised that there would be other scandal that would take place. It would be a most horrible and contaminating scene for yourself and all the family of those soldiers who were to catch you. And you had nowhere to run because the river was before you. And there was no bird around to be seen and you and your family were simply crying out, My Holy Names in a helpless condition; and it was night, a time when there are no boat men on that river. He said, “Do you remember in that other desperation. Out of nowhere a boat man appeared, took you on that boat and took you across the river Ganges. Do you remember this?” and the devotee said, “Yes, my Lord, I remember.”
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said ‘No one else knows this story, but I know that story because I personally came as the boatman to take you across the river.” “kaunteya pratijänéhi na me bhaktaù praëaçyati” (BG 9.31) The Lord is the Supreme Controller. He is perfect and complete and he is always there to protect his devotee. So in life or in death, Kåñëa knows exactly, how best we can serve him? And a devotee accepts gratefully, Kåñëa’s will.
Devotees’ Best Meditation:
Therefore we find that Ambarish Maharaj, he was not praying that the Lord protect his body nor he was praying to destroy his body. He was simply praying, “My Dear Lord, you know what is best, how can I best serve you? If I can best serve you by dying, I’ll be glad to die. If I can best serve you by living, then what do I have to fear from this fiery demon. He cannot do anything; he cannot even touch one hair on my head.” So the devotees of the Lord, this is their meditation. How can I best serve you, My Lord?
Bhaktivinod Thakur prays, “If you want to kill me, my Lord, go ahead, kill me. If you want to protect me, my Lord, what do I have to fear? I am your servant; you have every right to deal with me in any way you please.” When you have that faith, when you have that trust, in all pervasive power of the Lord and in the loving protection of the Lord, then what is there to disturb your mind in this world? Disturbance only comes about, when that love is not dwelling within our heart. Love means to trust. You cannot love without trust. The symptom of one who loves God is that the person trusts God in all circumstances of life. In this way, we find such a wonderful response towards Ambarish Maharaj, even in his most difficult situation, imaginable.
Sometimes a devotee, to protect the innocent; by protecting the preaching mission, a devotee will fight vigorously to defend the principles of religion and to defend the facility to preach. Some devotees are little bewildered because here Ambarish Maharaj was insulted and he just standing there with folded hands; whereas Arjuna was insulted and he was ready and willing to stand there with folded hands and Kåñëa told him to pick up his bow and fight. So what is the difference? You see although Arjuna was fighting with great force and great enthusiasm, Kåñëa tells in Bhagavad Gita, ‘Do not be attached to victory or defeat. This is the way I want you to serve me.’ Ambarish’s service was simply by standing there with folded arms saying Kåñëa ‘Do as you like.’ But it wasn’t Arjuna’s order by Kåñëa to serve him by fighting with all of his strength and all of his enthusiasm to defend the principles that Kåñëa established in world. But in his heart to be on the same mood as Ambarish Maharaj- ‘My Lord, whatever you like, it is perfect.’
Develop the Consciousness to Serve the Lord Always:
So the heart of the devotee is always in this condition of humility and gratitude and trust. But according to how you can best serve the Lord, we may respond to different situations in different ways. Therefore, we should not be bewildered by this apparent contradiction. After all Ambarish was a Kshatriya also. They were both Kshatriyas; one fought and one stood humbly, ‘How can I best serve you Kåñëa, now?’ This is a very important word now because from time to time we can best serve Kåñëa different. When we are on the complete purified platform, Kåñëa within our heart directs us. “teñäà satata-yuktänäà bhajatäà préti-pürvakam (BG_10.10) But we are not on such a high level of consciousness and we require the help of a spiritual master and the association of advanced devotees, to help us to understand- ‘My Dear Lord Kåñëa, how can I best serve you now?’ The best way we can serve Kåñëa now is to execute the order of the spiritual master but in all times, in the consciousness of Ambarish Maharaj we should strive for this. Because factually, the essence of Bhagavad Gita, the consciousness in which Kåñëa told Arjuna to fight was identical to the consciousness in which Ambarish Maharaj stood with folded hands.
So let us understand these internal principles of life. By practising the teachings of Bhagavad Gita and chanting the holy names –
hare kåñëa hare kåñëa
kåñëa kåñëa hare hare
hare räma hare räma
räma räma hare hare
And then we can, by the mercy of Sri Kåñëa attain the state of consciousness of true peace, true happiness, and true love in all circumstances; in life or in inevitable death. The loving hand of God will always be felt to caress our heart and that is the great joy, the eternal joy of the soul.
Is there any questions?
Maharaj: All devotees. But according to your purity, he takes you to a different place. He takes you where you require to be; to further your purification if you are not yet completely pure. But he personally takes that responsibility within his own hands.
Maharaj: I’ll tell you later. Any other questions?
At this time Haridas Thakur; when these men were beating you, with my Sudarshan Chakra, I was ready to cut off their heads and destroy them instantly.” He said, “But you were feeling such compassion and love for them, you were so forgiving toward them, you were so much thinking of their welfare that I knew, that if I would have killed them that would have put you in more distress in anything because you have such love and forgiveness. Therefore, I; inorder to not cause you any real pain, I had to spare their lives and allow them to continue. This is the quality of the compassion and the forgiveness of the Lord’s devotees.