“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.” (Kunti Devi, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.25)
When you’re in trouble, there is no better rescue than the Supreme Lord. As He is absolute, He can bring that rescue simply through memory. It is no wonder, then, that one of the famous verses from the Shrimad Bhagavatam is the prayer of Kunti Devi requesting for so many calamities to happen again. In that distress she sees God, who is the well-wisher of their family.
Krishna saved the Pandavas on many occasions. They always seemed to find trouble. Five brothers of the utmost character, they faced hardship early by losing their father at a young age. Then their uncle unfairly took their kingdom away from them. Their cousins then tried to kill them in so many ways. Kunti Devi was left to helplessly watch all of this. The saving grace was the favor of Shri Krishna, who in the earthly realm was related to the family through Kunti’s brother Vasudeva, who was Krishna’s father.
In the definition provided by Parashara Muni, Krishna is Bhagavan, which means the person who possesses six opulences to the fullest degree and simultaneously. Krishna is all powerful, all wealthy, all knowledgeable, all famous, fully renounced, and the most beautiful. One who can remember Him is supremely blessed, even if the circumstances seem otherwise. Geeta was explaining this concept to her friend one day by relaying a story from her own life.
It was supposed to be a routine visit. I had made this trip many times before. As you know, my parents live about five hours away by car. I don’t mind making these long journeys, as I miss my parents very much. They used to drop me off to college all by themselves. Can you imagine driving over five hours to some place, dropping someone off, and then driving the same distance back home in the same day? My parents would do this for me consistently, throughout my years in college.
Though I hoped to get placed near my parents’ home for my job, that didn’t happen. In this world things are generally out of our control. So I am quite a distance from them, and I try to visit them as often as I can. I don’t mind the drive, but the last few times had been quite stressful, with the traffic and all. For some odd reason, this time I chose to take a bus. I know what you’re thinking, that I’m crazy for choosing that route. And based on what happened, I think you are right.
I boarded the bus on time, and every seat was filled. I was not worried though, as I didn’t have to drive. I kept thinking how I could now just sit back and relax. This bus was wifi equipped; so I could surf the internet if I wanted to. Perhaps it was the heavy meal I had a few hours before, but I wasn’t feeling very well going into the trip. I would take a deep breath every minute or so. It didn’t help matters that it was very hot outside.
A routine trip quickly turned dangerous when our bus stalled in the middle of the journey. We were stuck in traffic and so there was no place to go. They informed us that a backup bus was coming to pick us up in about an hour. I don’t know what happened to me, but suddenly I started getting a panic attack. Have you ever thought about your breathing? Have you ever monitored every breath that you take? For the first time in my life, this happened to me. It was terrifying. The air conditioning stopped working on the bus, so it became hotter and hotter. I started to worry that I might not make it until the replacement bus came.
I kept telling myself that the problem was all in my head. “Just get through it. You’ll be fine. You’re worrying over nothing.” For some reason this only increased by anxiety. As a last resort, I pulled out my japa beads. Following the instructions of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I regularly chant the maha-mantra. I do a fixed number of rounds each day.
Typically I chant in private. I don’t like attention, so I was reluctant to take the beads out of my bag. Since I was so desperate, I finally did. I started chanting “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,” over and over, not caring what others around me were thinking.
And wouldn’t you know it, I did that for two straight hours. That’s how long it took until the replacement bus came. My breathing was then back to normal. The panic attack went away. So relieved, I kept thinking of how much I owe Shrila Prabhupada and those who came before him. I was so grateful to Krishna Himself, for being so beautiful and passing on that beauty in the sound of His holy name. I kept thinking of how all those saints who say that the holy name is the elixir to cure all ailments have been right all along. I never trusted them fully, but now I had tangible proof. The holy name saved me, and I have never been the same.
On bus seated comfortably in the back,
When stopped suddenly a panic attack.
Conscious of every breath to take,
Thinking even more anxiety to make.
Relief only when japa beads in hand,
Finally potency of holy name to understand.
From then on never to be the same,
Appreciating fully Krishna’s holy name.