“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.” (Queen Kunti speaking to Lord Krishna, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.8.25)
vipadaḥ santu tāḥ śaśvat
tatra tatra jagad-guro
bhavato darśanaṁ yat syād
One of the many names for the Supreme Lord is Adhokshaja. This Sanskrit word means “one who is beyond the perception of blunt instruments.” This makes sense if you think about it. We can get a temperature reading by using a thermometer. We get the weight of something using a scale. Yet weight and temperature both have limits. As God is the unlimited, there is no accurate quantification of His mass. He can make His transcendental form hotter than the hottest also.
santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
yaḿ śyāmasundaram acintya-guṇa-svarūpaḿ
govindam ādi-puruṣaḿ tam ahaḿ bhajāmi
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is Shyamasundara, Krishna Himself with inconceivable innumerable attributes, whom the pure devotees see in their heart of hearts with the eye of devotion tinged with the salve of love.” (Brahma-samhita, 5.38)
Despite being beyond the measure of any instrument, it is still possible to see God. It is possible to both notice and appreciate His presence. The Brahma-samhita says that the only requirement is a specific kind of vision. Only when the salve of devotion is applied to the eyes is it possible to see God. A famous queen in ancient times saw the Supreme Lord in His all-attractive and original form of Krishna quite frequently. She appreciated this vision, despite the otherwise trying circumstances. Indeed, it seemed as if she only saw Him when things were going bad.
Queen Kunti and her sons survived calamity after calamity. They knew that their survival was due only to the personal protection of Shri Krishna. Therefore when one time Krishna was leaving their company, Kunti famously prayed to have all those calamities happen again. In that way she would see Krishna, who gives protection to His devotees.
Harry was reciting this verse to his friend one day. His friend was having a difficult time understanding why someone would pray for bad things to happen.
“Isn’t God supposed to rescue us? Aren’t we supposed to be happy with the Supreme Lord by our side? To me it sounds like Queen Kunti was praying for rain, when in fact God should be the greatest sunshine.”
These were the questions put forth, and to help explain Harry described a recent incident from his own life.
As you know, I practice bhakti-yoga pretty regularly. I would never say that I’m a devotee; I’m aspiring to be one. I believe in the words of Queen Kunti, that Shri Krishna ends the cycle of birth and death through His favor. One of His many names is Mukunda, which means one who grants liberation. I regularly chant the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I also try to avoid the four pillars of sinful life: meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex.
My life isn’t very stressful. I hold down a job and family, and I practice bhakti side by side. About a week ago, though, I think I had the worst experience of my life. At the company I work for, the file server suddenly went down one morning. You don’t need to know all the ins and outs of the IT business to understand the severity of this issue. Imagine if the bank suddenly lost your account, if they didn’t know how much money you had. Imagine if your car broke down and there was no one around to pick you up.
This is sort of what happened. This file server got corrupted and all of our disaster recovery channels were closed. Backups of files failed and the backup servers were not online. The only option we had was to run this scan to repair the system. The problem was that no one had any idea how long it was going to take. It was running for hours and there was no way to tell the progress. The life of the business hung in the balance. All the pressure was on me; this was my responsibility.
In this helpless state, I prayed so much to the Supreme Lord and His wife, the goddess of fortune. This is a clear example of impure devotion. You’re not supposed to ask things from God for your material benefit. He’s not an order supplier. If you want those things, you can go to other divine figures. You can try your hand at karma in the material world. Yet I had no other recourse. I must have spent hours in prayer, waiting for this scan to finish.
Luckily it finished in a single day and we didn’t lose any data. The business was intact and later on I thought about the lesson of the whole incident. Everything does happen for a reason, and while there was neglect in terms of management of the file server, I couldn’t help but think in terms of my own devotional efforts. Perhaps I was too immersed in other things, forgetful of God. Maybe that is why He forced me to remember Him by putting me in such a difficult situation.
I don’t know that for sure, but the incident certainly brought Kunti Devi to mind. When she asks for the same calamities to happen again, she knows that in those dangerous times she will be forced to remember Krishna. That is the aim of bhakti-yoga; Krishna consciousness. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says that to those who meditate on Him with undivided attention, He carries what they lack and preserves what they have. In the difficult situation, He brings to the devotee the opportunity to remember Him. That remembrance is the ultimate benefit of the calamity, as everything else soon gets forgotten.
In this most trying time,
Troubled with fear is my mind.
Perhaps since the Lord I forgot,
This opportunity to me He brought.
Like with famous Kunti Devi praying,
In calamities with Krishna staying.
Praying for relief showing bhakti impure,
But benefit from that trouble for sure.