“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)
You did everything right. You prepared. You were responsible. You prioritized. You paid attention. You took the task seriously. You put in the required effort, even going beyond. Every preparation was made for the arrival of success.
In the end it didn’t happen. You failed. Things just didn’t go your way. This happens to a lot of people, in a variety of circumstances. Sometimes they go the extra step and pray to a higher power. They make a direct plea:
“God, you know that I don’t ask for much. I want this. If you could make it happen, I would be so grateful. I promise not to bother you again.”
Does the lack of success prove that God doesn’t exist? It’s natural to think this way. There is frustration when a particular desire goes unmet, but what about tragedies and the like? Bad things happening to good people. Innocent women and children suffering throughout the world. A celebrity spending millions of dollars on a single party, while an entire community goes without food.
How can God allow this to happen? While it is easy to lose faith, there are some examples from history that show the Divine’s impact to be above the results of karma. With fruitive activity happiness and sadness essentially come on their own, without endeavor. Understanding this, the wise maintain their faith and firm belief in the Almighty, who they know with certainty to exist.
1. The people of Vrindavana
It was a leap of faith. The preparations were already arranged. It was an annual occurrence, after all. Worship the god of heaven, Indra, so that there will be sufficient rainfall. The boon is a yield of plant life to sustain the cows and the people.
In Vrindavana this was the tradition, but one year the son of Nanda Maharaja had a different idea. He suggested worshiping the nearby Govardhana Hill instead. Nanda proposed performing both yajnas, or sacrifices, but this was declined by Krishna. The darling child, the all-attractive one, convinced the father to change course.
The first Govardhana Puja went well, but things turned dramatically in the immediate aftermath. There was a devastating rainstorm, instigated by an offended Indra. In this case the people had put their faith directly in God, who was there in person as Krishna, urging the change in tradition. What was their reward? They faced imminent death.
Still, the people maintained faith. They did not think that Krishna was wrong. They did not curse Him. Instead, they extended even more faith, taking shelter of the just worshiped Govardhana Hill. Krishna lifted that gigantic mass of land and held it up as an umbrella until the rain stopped.
2. The brahmanas of the Dandaka forest
They weren’t bothering anybody. They went to the forest specifically to practice austerities. That is why the area was known as tapo-vana. They should have been left alone, but that is not in the nature of the Rakshasas. These are the man-eating class of men, and a long time ago their leader held tremendous power in the world.
As king of Lanka, Ravana ordered the Rakshasas to go and harass the sages in the forest. These man-eaters were also known as Nishacharas, which means “night-rangers.” They would attack in the dark of night, kill the sages and then eat them.
These were brahmanas, which is like the priestly class. They were directly engaged in worship of God and getting deadly punishment as a result. Instead of losing faith, they extended it even further, asking Shri Rama to help protect them. Rama is the same Krishna, God in the flesh. He happily obliged the request, giving the priestly class some peace of mind.
3. Kunti Devi
The people of Vrindavana extended faith when He was in the childhood form, and further along in the timeline there were close associates in the Pandavas. They suffered so much. They were kicked out of their kingdom unjustly. Like Ravana, Duryodhana wouldn’t leave well enough alone. He wanted his adversaries dead, not just weakened.
He tried to kill the Pandavas several times, but each attempt failed. Kunti Devi was there with her three boys and two step-sons. She did not lose faith in the process. She knew that Krishna was protecting them, as He was a well-wisher to the family.
Her faith grew so much that she lamented when Krishna left their company. She prayed to have the calamities return, as that would mean remembering Krishna more. The queen teaches an amazing lesson through her prayer. Ups and downs, highs and lows, birth and death – the material world is full of duality. If a person can remember God on a constant basis, then they have achieved something. That is the reward most worth seeking.
For desire every preparation made,
Even obeisance to Almighty paid.
But failure only in the end,
A waste those prayers to send?
In Vrindavana to Krishna still calling,
No turn even when massive rain falling.
And priests harassed by man-eaters so,
Kunti Devi protection of God to know.
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