“He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.31)
क्षिप्रं भवति धर्मात्मा
न मे भक्तः प्रणश्यति
kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā
na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati
“The list goes on and on. We would be here for at least a week if I were to cite every reference from authorized sacred texts. Some people might have to turn off the sound or first move away from the pages. This is because the content is not suitable for minor children. Some might be so horrified that they will never return to the subject matter, no matter how desperate the plea from the other side.
“I am speaking of bad things happening to people strongly associated with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Known by many names within Sanskrit literature, there is only one God for everyone. Even reaching that understanding is a milestone, a significant step forward in the development of the consciousness. The human birth carries the highest potential for such development.
“From the Mahabharata we have the story of the five Pandava brothers. Their shared wife, Draupadi, is not spared the pain and heartache. Queen Kunti, the mother, suffers one calamity after another. These people were directly associated with Shri Krishna, who is known as an avatara of Vishnu.
“Then there is Prahlada Maharaja, from the Daitya family. He was connected to God through consciousness. Deep and meaningful meditation in yoga. He never wavered in his faith, but he sure did suffer at the hands of the wicked father, the king named Hiranyakashipu.
“In more recent times, there are the children growing up in a spiritual community and abused by the elders in school. The disciples who lost faith after accepting fake and cheating gurus. The gross mistreatment of women within the same societies. The list goes on.
“My question is that in the face of such overwhelming evidence, what do people actually gain from following sanatana-dharma? How is their life any different from the person who has no connection to God in consciousness, who takes aim at increasing sense enjoyment as life progresses?”
The question essentially answers itself. It is not that people outside of devotional culture are immune to such calamities. The wise person understands that the greatest tragedy is thinking that what occurred in the past, with previous generations, will not occur moving forward.
अहन्य् अहनि भूतानि
शेषाः स्थावरम् इच्छन्ति
किम् आश्चर्यम् अतः परम्
ahany ahani bhūtāni
śeṣāḥ sthāvaram icchanti
kim āścaryam ataḥ param
“Day after day countless living entities in this world go to the kingdom of death. Still, those who remain aspire for a permanent situation here. What could be more amazing than this?” (Maharaja Yudhishthira speaking to Yamaraja, Mahabharata, Vana-parva, 313.116)
As soon as a person takes birth, the death process starts. This is the guaranteed end. No one says that the road will be easy. No one can guarantee that the eventual exit will be quick and painless. Rather, time is ruthless. The same word in Sanskrit for both time and death: kala. This is the greatest devouring agent, and it is undefeated.
The person in ignorance will lose everything. The expensive house. The high-end automobile. The occupation they love. The close friends and family. The dedication to the nation of birth. The enjoyment from eating, sleeping, mating and so forth. Everything will be gone.
The same applies to the person following spiritual life. They live under the same strict rules of material nature, which is an overwhelming force that attacks with three primary sources of misery. From the heavens, from other living beings, and from within – there is barely a moment of respite, to be free from the onslaught.
The distinction with dharma is that the occupation never ceases. It is immune to the effects of time. Draupadi suffered at the hands of the Kauravas, but nothing could shake her devotion to Krishna. Hiranyakashipu tried to physically beat the devotional spirit out of his son, but this effort was a dismal failure.
Through the conduit of the disciple named Arjuna, Krishna has it boldly declared to the universe and generations moving forward in time that pure devotion never perishes. The servant may appear here and there, travelling to different places to purify others with their association, but the occupation will remain the same, singing the glories of the Almighty in complete bliss: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Whether loss or gain,
The destination the same.
That despite everything found,
To eventual release bound.
With devotional life distinction,
That never the spirit extinction.
That if Supreme Lord to cherish,
Service to Him never to perish.