Lord Krishna is the Only Shelter - Part 1

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

When H.G. Devakinandan prabhu, our beloved Godbrother from Singapore was in Abu Dhabi during the second week of March 2010, Prabhu took a very wonderful class on the following verse from Srimad Bhagavatam 8.2.33:

yaḥ kaścaneśo balino ’ntakoragāt
pracaṇḍa-vegād abhidhāvato bhṛśam
bhītaṁ prapannaṁ paripāti yad-bhayān
mṛtyuḥ pradhāvaty araṇaṁ tam īmahi

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is certainly not known to everyone, but He is very powerful and influential. Therefore, although the serpent of eternal time, which is fearful in force, endlessly chases everyone, ready to swallow him, if one who fears this serpent seeks shelter of the Lord, the Lord gives him protection, for even death runs away in fear of the Lord. I therefore surrender unto Him, the great and powerful supreme authority who is the actual shelter of everyone.

I shall try to post few of the wonderful points spoken by Devakinandan Prabhu in this and ensuing mails.

Maharaj like this verse very much. Whenever he spoke this verse, he used to speak with the conjunction with the two verses before. Because they give us nice idea of how Gajendra actually came to this conclusion. And those two verses are also particularly important to us. Because they give us the psychology of the devotees who is facing crisis, difficulty - at that time how the devotee reacts is very important. 90% of the time when devotees get into material difficulties we become so discouraged that we think better I just leave this devotional service and go to do everything else but devotional service. But it is foolishness, shastras tells us. Because whether or not you leave devotional service, the fact remains that without the shelter of devotional service death is also coming, birth is also coming and for those who cannot escape from birth and death only the devotional service offers the hope to come out. There is no other way. Sometimes people say that I am suffering so much and what has Krishna given me? Better I leave all these and go and pray somewhere and do something else. But they don't realize at the point of death, the only personality in this entire universe who can save them from the difficulties of death and make them cross over this ocean of birth and death is KRISHNA. Not anyone else. Maharaj says it is very short-sighted of a devotee to get consumed by the material difficulties. To such an extent he loses faith in the Lord. He must understand that the material difficulties are not coming on the account of the Lord, but on the account of our own sinful activities. So who are we to blame except ourselves? And because the sinful activities have their reaction and because we are not on the pure devotional platform, naturally we are going to suffer the consequences of our actions. But to blame it on Krishna and to say that the solution should come out of Krishna consciousness is foolishness. If Gajendra an elephant could come to the proper intelligence and understanding, what we should do when presented with the crisis? Surely as devotees who have taken the birth in a human form of life should learn from the pages of Bhagavatam, how to handle the difficulties of life. Srila Prabhupada gives one nice proverb "Whatever bhajan and sadhana you have performed throughout your life will be actually tested at the time of death". For us Guru Maharaj is a very good example of fulfilling this proverb. Because it was obvious at the time of death that Maharaj was so fixed with Krishna that it was the reflection of how his full life of bhajan and sadhana must have been. That's why Maharaj said we may be covered or we may be pretending to be devotees all our life, but we will be exposed at the time of death. At that point we will become naked in front of the Lord in the form of mrtyuh. A real devotee of the Lord will die in the way the death becomes his platform for higher life in devotional service. So this is something we should remember.

In the two verses before, we know Gajendra was in too much difficulty. He was placed in an inexplicable situation. He was the king. He was very proud of his possessions. He had so many queens under him. He had so many little elephants around him. And in spite of all that, he finally met more than his match in the form of crocodile. And the crocodile was so powerful and Bhagavatam tells us that for a thousand years, Gajendra could not move. If we are beaten by a mosquito we cannot bear it. This is the clutches of a crocodile for 1000 years. Gajendra tried everything. He asked help from everybody but no body could help him. At that time Gajendra sings these verses. Srimad Bhagavatam 8.2.31

itthaṁ gajendraḥ sa yadāpa saṅkaṭaṁ
prāṇasya dehī vivaśo yadṛcchayā
apārayann ātma-vimokṣaṇe ciraṁ
dadhyāv imāṁ buddhim athābhyapadyata

This is the first verse that he sings. "saṅkaṭaṁ" - Prabhupada describes as dangerous position. So the first thing Gajendra accepts is that he is in dangerous position because he is under the clutches of the crocodile. He cannot come out and circumstantially he is helpless. His body is in difficulty and nothing is going to help him at this point of time. So thinking that way he says that he was afraid of being killed and he consequently thought for a long time. This is what devotees must do. Maharaj says this "Consequently thought for a long time" is very significant. Because when we are presented with the difficulties, we should not break down and loose faith. We must apply our intelligence. It may take some time. But by trying to apply the intelligence, Krishna gives us the intelligence to come back to him. This is the point of teshaam satata yuktaanaam - for one who is trying to serve Krishna or one who is having faith in Krishna, He will somehow or the other give the intelligence to come back to Him. This is very important. And Gajendra had that intelligence. Srimad Bhagavatam (8.2.32)

na mām ime jñātaya āturaṁ gajāḥ
kutaḥ kariṇyaḥ prabhavanti mocitum
grāheṇa pāśena vidhātur āvṛto
’py ahaṁ ca taṁ yāmi paraṁ parāyaṇam

And in the second verse he chants very nicely. Maharaj says that these verses should not be chanted just because we have to chant them. They should be chanted lovingly to understand the mood of the devotee. So we should not rush through the verses. Please don't be in a hurry to finish your Pranams. Please don't be like a Baroda express. We should always sing lovingly and slowly. Then only we can really feel the mood of the verse. So Gajendra then goes on to say that it is happening to him only by the will of the providence. This is nice realization of the devotee. If we understand that anything happening to us is only by the sanctioning of the Lord, then we can see the hand of Krishna. But if we think that what a disastrous life I am leading, then we don't realize that it is not that Krishna has forsaken us it is because we lack the faith in Krishna. So please don't blame Krishna for the misfortunes or calamities, rather you embrace the calamities as Krishna's way of making us remember Him more. If we believe the solutions for the calamities are in the material world, then we are again more foolish. Gajendra realized all the material solutions are going to be zero. He then realized that the only solution that is there is to turn to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because He is the only shelter. And he believed in that point correctly that this crocodile was sent by the will of Krishna. This crocodile is very nicely stated as pāśena meaning 'network of ropes' who bind the man. The network of maya and illusion bind us in this material world. So having understood the background, then he comes to the conclusion I must take shelter now to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because He is paraṁ parāyaṇa. He is the one who can give shelter for everyone. We may think that we are doing devotional service for many years and we know Krishna is the only shelter, but knowledge is one thing, action is other. When the time comes to test us, do we really believe Krishna is our shelter or we go to all material solutions and when everything fails, then we come back to Krishna. The true mark of the devotee is to remember Krishna at the time of difficulty. Death is yamasya karunaa naasti meaning no mercy. When the time comes we must be ready. So whole life, practice for the time of your ultimate performance. And that performance will be determined by Krishna in the stock of your good behavior.

I shall try to post the wonderful message from the class by Devaki Prabhu on this verse in subsequent mails, Krishna willing.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Anuradha devi dasi,
Abu Dhabi.