By Srutadeva dasa
This material world is always an extremely difficult place to be in with danger at every step. But sometimes we may feel a little bit comfortable and then sometimes, due to different circumstances, it can seem more difficult than ever. Now the world is terrified by the threat of a worldwide pandemic. However, as Srila Prabhupada says….
This is the way of materialistic life: not being satisfied by the absolute necessities of life, people ambitiously create extra demands, and their illegal desires are checked by the laws of nature, or the laws of God, appearing as famine, war, pestilence and similar catastrophes.
Any country where people indulge in unnecessary killing of animals will have to suffer from wars and pestilence imposed by material nature. Comparing one’s own suffering to the suffering of others, therefore, one should be kind to all living entities. One cannot avoid the sufferings inflicted by providence, and therefore when suffering comes one should fully absorb oneself in chanting the Hare Krsna mantra.
At this time of trouble, when temples and devotees are having to deal with a frightening situation, we offer these words of Srila Prabhupada as a source of comfort and solace.
The Finest Quality of Transcendental Love
Helpless By the Will of the Lord
In the Bhagavad-gita it is also said that such fallen devotees are given a chance to take birth in a family of highly qualified brahmanas or in a rich mercantile family. A devotee in such a position is not as fortunate as one who is chastised by the Lord and put into a position seemingly of helplessness. The devotee who becomes helpless by the will of the Lord is more fortunate than those who are born in good families. The fallen devotees born in a good family may forget the lotus feet of the Lord because they are less fortunate, but the devotee who is put into a forlorn condition is more fortunate because he swiftly returns to the lotus feet of the Lord, thinking himself helpless all around. (SB 1.15.19)
That Is His Favor – Special Favor
Devotee: …withdraw that independence, can we request Krsna to force us to surrender to Him, due to our conditioning?
Prabhupada: Yes, you can request Him. And He sometimes forces. He puts you in such circumstances that you have no other way than to surrender to Krsna. Yes. That is special favor. That is special favor. Yes.[pause] My spiritual master wanted me to preach, but I did not like it, but he forced me. Yes. That is my practical experience.
I had no desire to accept the sannyasa order and preach, but my spiritual master wanted it. I am not very much inclined, but he forced me. That is also done. That is special favor. When he forced me, at that time I thought that “What is this? What…? I am committing some mistake, or what is that?” I was puzzled. But a little after, I could understand that it is the greatest favor shown to me. You see?
So when Krsna forces somebody to surrender, that is a great favor. But generally, He does not do so. But He does so to a person who is very sincere to Krsna’s service, but at the same time he has got slight desire for material enjoyment. In that case He does, that “This foolish person does not know that material facility will never make him happy, and he is sincerely seeking My favor. So he is foolish. Therefore whatever resource, little resource he has got for material enjoyment, break it. Then he will have no other alternative than to surrender unto Me.”
That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, er, Srimad-Bhagavatam: yasyaham anughrnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih.
Krsna says that “If I do somebody special favor, then I make him poverty-stricken. I take away all his means of sense enjoyment.” You see? That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Because here in this material world everyone is trying to be happy by earning more money, by business, by service, by this way or that way.
But in special cases, Krsna makes his business or service unsuccessful. Do you like that? [laughs] At that time he has no other alternative than to surrender to Krsna. You see? But sometimes, when we are unsuccessful in our business attempt or earning attempt, we become sorry, that “Oh, Krsna is so cruel upon me that I could not trust in this.” But that is His favor, special favor. You should understand like that. Yes.
(Day after Sri Gaura-Purnima Lecture / March 5, 1969, Hawaii)
Depend Only On Krsna
The only remedy is to surrender to Visnu and always pray to be excused. One should depend only on the causeless mercy of the Lord for deliverance and not even slightly on one’s own strength. That is the perfect position of a Krsna conscious person. The Lord is everyone’s friend, but He is especially friendly to the surrendered soul. The simple process, therefore, is that a conditioned soul should remain surrendered to the Lord, and the Lord will give him all protection to keep him out of the clutches of material contamination. (SB 4.7.30)
That Is The Only Solace
This statement of Srimad-Bhagavatam should be the guide of all devotees. A devotee should not expect immediate relief from the reactions of his past misdeeds. No conditioned soul is free from such reactionary experiences, because material existence means continued suffering or enjoying of past activities. If one has finished his material activities then there is no more birth. This is possible only when one begins Krsna conscious activities, because such activities do not produce reaction. Therefore, as soon as one becomes perfect in Krsna conscious activities, he is not going to take birth again in this material world. A devotee who is not perfectly freed from the resultant actions should therefore continue to act in Krsna consciousness seriously, even though there may be so many impediments. When such impediments arise he should simply think of Krsna and expect His mercy. That is the only solace. (Expecting the Lord’s Mercy – Nectar of Devotion)
Krsna Understands Our Suffering
If anyone can completely perceive another’s distress without doubt, it is the Lord Himself. If someone is in distress and wants to get relief from his friend, sometimes it so happens that his friend does not appreciate the volume of distress he is suffering. But for the Supreme Lord it is not difficult. The Supreme Lord, as Paramatma, is sitting within the heart of every living entity, and He directly perceives the exact causes of distress. (SB 3.20.28)
Clear Direction What To Do
srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah, punya-sravana-kirtanah
hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani, vidhunoti suhrt satam
Then gradually the dirty things within our heart will be cleansed, and there will be clear direction what to do in which circumstances and how to do it. Everything will come.
(SB Lecture / Vrindavan – November 10, 1972)
Krsna Is Pleased With His Devotees
Lord Krsna is very much pleased with His devotees, even if they are not on the topmost stage of devotional service. Even on the lower stages of devotional service one is transcendental, and if one continues with devotional life, he continues to be a deva or sura. If one continues in this way, Krsna will always be pleased with him and will give him all instructions so that he may very easily return home, back to Godhead. (SB 8.5.24)
Krsna Is So Kind To His Devotees
In this connection, Queen Suniti advised her son that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is known as bhrtya-vatsala, which indicates that He is very kind to His devotees. She said, “You came to me crying, having been insulted by your stepmother, but I am unable to do any good for you. But Krsna is so kind to His devotees that if you go to Him, then the combined kindness of millions of mothers like me will be surpassed by His affectionate and tender dealings. When everyone else fails to mitigate one’s misery, Krsna is able to help the devotee.”
No Need To Ask
Since He is the witness of everyone’s body, nothing is unknown to Him. He knows what we need. Our duty, therefore, is to execute devotional service sincerely, under the direction of the spiritual master. Krsna, by His grace, will supply whatever we need in executing our devotional service. In the Krsna consciousness movement, we simply have to execute the order of Krsna and guru. Then all necessities will be supplied by Krsna, even if we do not ask for them. (SB 8.6.14)
The Lord Gives Him the Necessary Strength
Although bereft of his riches, fallen from his original position, defeated and arrested by his enemies, rebuked and deserted by his relatives and friends, although suffering the pain of being bound and although rebuked and cursed by his spiritual master, Bali Maharaja, being fixed in his vow, did not give up his truthfulness. It was certainly with pretension that I spoke about religious principles, but he did not give up religious principles, for he is true to his word.
Bali Maharaja passed the severe test put before him by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is further proof of the Lord’s mercy toward His devotee. The Supreme Personality of Godhead sometimes puts a devotee to severe tests that are almost unbearable. One could hardly even live under the conditions forced upon Bali Maharaja. That Bali Maharaja endured all these severe tests and austerities is the mercy of the Supreme Lord. The Lord certainly appreciates the devotee’s forbearance, and it is recorded for the future glorification of the devotee. This was not an ordinary test. As described in this verse, hardly anyone could survive such a test, but for the future glorification of Bali Maharaja, one of the mahajanas, the Supreme Personality of Godhead not only tested him but also gave him the strength to tolerate such adversity. The Lord is so kind to His devotee that when severely testing him the Lord gives him the necessary strength to be tolerant and continue to remain a glorious devotee. (SB 8.22.30)
There Are No Unfavorable Conditions For A Devotee
In the Bhagavad-gita the Lord says that a devotee who knows Him perfectly is very dear to Him. Four kinds of pious men take to devotional service. If a pious man is in distress, he approaches the Lord for mitigation of his distress. If a pious man is in need of material help, he prays to the Lord for such help. If a pious man is actually inquisitive about the science of God, he approaches the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Similarly, a pious man who is simply eager to know the science of Krsna also approaches the Supreme Lord. Out of these four classes of men, the last is praised by Krsna Himself in the Bhagavad-gita. A person who tries to understand Krsna with full knowledge and devotion by following in the footsteps of previous acaryas conversant with scientific knowledge of the Supreme Lord is praiseworthy. Such a devotee can understand that all conditions of life, favorable and unfavorable, are created by the supreme will of the Lord. And when he has fully surrendered unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, he does not care whether his condition of life is favorable or unfavorable. A devotee takes even an unfavorable condition to be the special favor of the Personality of Godhead. Actually, there are no unfavorable conditions for a devotee. Knowing that everything is coming by the will of the Lord, he sees every condition as favorable, and in any condition of life he is simply enthusiastic to discharge his devotional service. This devotional attitude is explained in the Bhagavad-gita: a devotee is never distressed in reverse conditions of life, nor is he overjoyed in favorable conditions. (Krsna Book, Prayers to the Personified Vedas)
One Should Not Be Discouraged
43. In the autumn season all the birds, beasts, and men become sexually disposed, and the bull, the stag, the male bird, the man, and other male creatures forcibly impregnate the fair sex. A similar impregnation takes place as a result of devotional service to the Lord.
Devotional service to the Lord never goes in vain. Just at the right moment, the result of one’s particular devotional service will come, even if one has no desire for it. The pure devotees do not wish any return from the Lord in exchange for their service; they do not make business exchanges with the Lord. But the Lord, out of His own accord, fulfills all the desires of the devotees.
It may appear that a devotee of the Lord is becoming poorer and poorer in terms of material prosperity, but factually he is not. The typical example is the Pandavas. The five brothers, headed by King Yudhisthira, underwent all sorts of difficulties because of the conspiracy of their cousins, headed by Duryodhana. But in the long run King Yudhisthira was enthroned by Lord Sri Krsna, and his enemies were vanquished. King Yudhisthira was never disturbed by all the calamities that overcame them even though Lord Krsna was ever their companion. The Pandavas never prayed to the Lord for anything but His devotional service, and in due time everything came out in favor of the devotees.
A devotee, therefore, should execute his devotional services with full energy, endurance, and confidence. He should perform his scheduled duties, he should be pure in heart, and he should serve in association with devotees. All six of these items will lead the devotee to the path of success. One should not be discouraged in the discharge of devotional service. Failures may not be detrimental; they may be the pillars of success. One must have good faith in the regulative principles followed by the self-realized souls, and one should not be doubtful about the ultimate result of such devotional service. Rather, one must go on executing his prescribed duties without hesitation, and one should never be influenced by unwanted association.
We should not consider going back to Godhead a plaything. We must take it seriously, as enjoined in the scriptures. For a strict follower, the result is sure and certain, and when the time is right the result will come of its own force. Dhruva Maharaja went to worship God to gain something, but when he actually came in contact with God he did not want anything from the Lord. The Lord, however, awarded Dhruva Maharaja both benefits—that is, the Lord fulfilled his desires and also gave him eternal salvation. Such are the lessons we learn from all the revealed scriptures. The almighty God awards the results we desire, and therefore we should desire that which is eternal, blissful, and full of knowledge. In devotional service we should not endeavor for that which is temporary and useless. (LoB verse 43)
Krishna Does Not Like to See His Sincere Devotee Suffer
19 December, 1972
My dear Tejiyas,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated December 10, 1972, and I am very much disturbed to hear from you that you have become disturbed in your mind. Do not be disturbed. There is no cause for anxiety. You are doing your best to serve Krishna, that is very much appreciated, so do not lose enthusiasm out of frustration, that will spoil everything. Krishna Consciousness means we should always be satisfied and happy, not that we must work something impossible, becoming overburdened, and then because we are unhappy by so much trouble we lose enthusiasm altogether and give up all hope. No, if too much endeavour is there, that is to be avoided. By all means we must preserve our spiritual status, that is the point, not that we are mad after big buildings, many devotees, life-members, this, that—no, these are only ways to engage the devotees so that they may apply the principles of devotional living to some kind of work for practical realization of these principles. It is not the result of the work we want. If only one person daily, if we sincerely preach to such one person in a day, that is sufficient, never mind big, big programmes. So my request to you is that you do not be bothered by these things, and I have instructed Tamala Krishna and Syamasundara to send you men, so they will do it, rest assured. Krishna does not like to see His sincere devotee suffer or become frustrated or depressed. He will not stand idly by in any such case, so do not fear on that account. Krishna has got some plan for you, always think in that way, and very soon He will provide everything to your heart’s desire.
Hoping this meets you in good health.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
The Finest Quality of Transcendental Love
The mercy bestowed upon the tried devotee by the Supreme Personality is described as brahma, which indicates that the greatness of that mercy can be compared only to the all-pervasive greatness of Brahman. Brahma means unlimitedly great and unlimitedly expanding. That mercy is also described as paramam, for it has no comparison within this material world, and it is also called suksmam, very fine. Not only is the Lord’s mercy upon the tried devotee great and unlimitedly expansive, but it is of the finest quality of transcendental love between the devotee and the Lord. (Krsna Book, Chapter 88, The Deliverance of Lord Siva)
nunam me bhagavams tustah
yena nito dasam etam
nirvedas catmanah plavah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Hari, who contains within Himself all the demigods, must be satisfied with me. Indeed, He has brought me to this suffering condition and forced me to experience detachment, which is the boat to carry me over this ocean of material life.
The brahmana could understand that the demigods, who award different types of sense gratification as the result of one’s fruitive activities, cannot bestow the highest benefit in life. When the brahmana lost all his property he could understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who comprises all the demigods, had given him the highest perfection, not by awarding sense gratification but by saving him from the ocean of material enjoyment. Being thus deprived of the opportunity to cultivate religiosity, wealth, sense gratification and liberation, the brahmana became detached, and transcendental knowledge awakened within his heart.
Krsna Loves Us More Than We Love Him
Krsna comes here with a purpose. What is that purpose? He comes here to reclaim the fallen souls. We are part and parcel of Him. So Krsna loves us more than we love Him. Right now we do not love Him. But Krsna loves us. Krsna loves every living being. He says, “Every living being, whatever form he is, that doesn’t matter, I am the bija-pradah pita, I am the seed-giving father.” So the father is always affectionate to the sons. The sons may forget the father, but the father cannot forget. So Krsna comes here out of His love for us to deliver us, to give us the right path. “My dear sons, why you are rotting in this miserable world? You come to Me. I’ll give you all protection. You are the son of the Supreme. So you can enjoy life very supremely, very magnificently, without any death. Why you are rotting?” That is Krsna’s mercy. (New York, July 1966)