“For one who worships Me, giving up all his activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, who has fixed his mind upon Me, O son of Pritha, for him I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 12.6-7)
ये तु सर्वाणि कर्माणि
मयि सन्न्यस्य मत्-पराः
मां ध्यायन्त उपासते
तेषाम् अहं समुद्धर्ता
भवामि न चिरात् पार्थ
ye tu sarvāṇi karmāṇi
mayi sannyasya mat-parāḥ
māṁ dhyāyanta upāsate
teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā
bhavāmi na cirāt pārtha
“One of the horrible things about this pandemic has been the prohibition on religious gatherings. I never viewed myself as a churchgoer. Rather, I was meeting with like-minded individuals. Sadhu-sanga. Association with people who were on the sat side, in terms of the Sanskrit word.
“Sat refers to reality. Sat is the essence of life. Sat is eternal, the undying force that animates the entire collective and also the localized fragments. In other words, sat is what powers the universe and it is the cause of life in the individual.
“Sat extends to those who are associated with the eternal way of living, sanatana-dharma. The recommendation is to stay with the eternal, sat-sanga, and renounce the temporary, asat-tyaga. I have taken this recommendation to heart. I consider it to be more than a rule that some religious person has handed down.
“I understand the underlying purpose. Every rule and regulation descends for our benefit. It is not some way for a person to wield power and authority, to mimic the autocrats of recent history, who have killed so many dissenters and driven millions into poverty, unnecessarily.
“I crave sadhu-sanga. I need it, but what am I supposed to do? Recently, I saw people worshiping God the person in His most merciful incarnation, the archa-vigraha, but wearing masks. It is just so ridiculous to me. Shastra has accounted for everything, and somehow the Vedic seers didn’t realize that people might be contagious? Not to mention that so many experts in science and medicine say that wearing the mask in this way is useless.
“We can work from home. We can stay inside and watch television. We can order delivery for meals. But how do I get the association of devotees? How am I supposed to worship properly, when I am all alone?”
If a person can successfully carry out their work at the day-job through audio and video connections, then why would there be barriers in meeting the best friend, the well-wisher to the entire population? Why would it be impossible to see Him, when we can already see others who may be physically separated from us by many miles?
In Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna explains that He is the swift deliverer for the surrendered souls. This is neither hyperbole nor a mere theoretical exposition. The Supreme Lord will literally come to me and offer rescue. If He is able to arrive, it means that He is able to be reached.
He can hear my prayers. He notices when I chant the holy names with love and attention: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Though I may be separated from others, I am not apart from the Supersoul.
This expansion of the Divine is within the heart. It has always been there, is standing by today, and will never leave me in the future. Sadhu, shastra and guru remind me of this close proximity and teach me how to stay connected. That connection is yoga, and if I look close enough I will see that no matter the world’s situation, I will always have the opportunity for being rescued from the cycle of birth and death.
Better the health official knows,
So now the temples closed.
Others worshiping with mask,
How descended to madness so fast?
That sadhu-sanga far away,
And forced in isolation to stay?
But Krishna at any time to rescue me,
Noticing most my devotion to see.