Graceful Degradation - Part 1

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupad and Srila Gurudev.

Recently, in a recent Webex discussion with some devotees, we were discussing the topic of the qualities of time, we were looking at  following verse from Srimad Bhagavatam 1.13.17

evaṁ gṛheṣu saktānāṁ pramattānāṁ tad-īhayā
atyakrāmad avijñātaḥ kālaḥ parama-dustaraḥ

(Vidura to Dhrtarashtra) Insurmountable, eternal time imperceptibly overcomes those who are too much attached to family affairs and are always engrossed in their thought.

In this verse, Vidura is telling the ageing Dhrtarashtra, who continued living under the able care of the Pandavas, neglecting the need to focus on the Supreme Lord even at the waning years of his life, about two important qualities of time. The two seemingly dangerous yet interesting attributes of time described here are "insurmountable" and "imperceptible". Time, an agent of the Lord, is insurmountable and eternal that can never be overcome materially, irrespective of our efforts, since the entire material creation upto the planet of Brahmaji is subjected to the deleterious effects of time. To add fuel to the fire, another core strength of time is its apparent sneakiness, to pull surprises imperceptibly when they are least expected. Death comes in without notice when our time on the earth is finished and totally alters our ability to persist with the current body we have and also affects near and dear ones. This is true and is visible in plain sight for all of us to see, more so in the light of the recent pandemic, which caught the entire world unaware and helplessly staring at the barrel of death when a few months ago time seemed to be on our side with everything going on "relatively smoothly". A further description of the "imperceptible" nature of time can be found in Srimad Bhagavatam (4.24.66), spoken by Lord Siva.

pramattam uccair iti kṛtya-cintayā
pravṛddha-lobhaṁ viṣayeṣu lālasam
tvam apramattaḥ sahasābhipadyase
kṣul-lelihāno ’hir ivākhum antakaḥ

My dear Lord, all living entities within this material world are mad after planning for things, and they are always busy with a desire to do this or that. This is due to uncontrollable greed. The greed for material enjoyment is always existing in the living entity, but Your Lordship is always alert, and in due course of time You strike him, just as a snake seizes a mouse and very easily swallows him.

Our beloved Gurudev, HDG Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj often quoted this verse and liked it very much. He often referred it in his discourses because it describes the mad rush we seem to be in, as we participate in the unending "rat race"  of our lives, completely oblivious to the "sneaky snake of time" that can overcome and overtake us and finally gobble us up at any moment, irrespective of our standing in the race. We wish to keep our attempts to overtake others in an attempt to win the race but there seems to be a possibility that someone who is not from within the race could do an unexpected maneuver and overtake us and that might end in something that might not be very pretty for us. The simile of  the "rat race" that is part of common parlance in the world seems to be nicely aligning with this beautiful analogy in Srimad Bhagavatam. As I read about the dark side of the attributes of time, due to my limited intelligence I began to feel more and more powerless against this humongous and all debilitating opponent. Was there no way to deal with this insurmountable and imperceptible opponent called time? Do I have to just consign myself to the fact that some day the time will just catch me off-guard at an unsuspecting condition with no recourse from my side and I will be completely overcome and overtaken? 

Krishna willing we shall meditate further on this topic in the subsequent offering.

Thank you very much.
Your humble servant,
Krpana Vatsala Krishna das
Houston.