The following is a transcription of a discourse delivered by Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja in Australia, on January 20, 2000
Once upon a time there was a war between the demigods and the demons. The demigods came to Earth, to India, where there was a powerful king named Khaṭvāṅga Mahārāja. They requested him to help them – to become their general, their commander. He told them, “Yes I am coming.” And he went to the battlefield.
It was a very big war, and at last the king defeated the demons. Some of the demons were killed, and the rest fled away. All the demigods then requested the king, “Whatever boon you want, we will give you. We will give you anything you want.” The King said, “Actually, I want salvation from this world, and I want to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” The demigods said, “We are not able to give you that. You can ask for another boon.” The King then said, “Then you should tell me when my death will come.” They replied, “Very soon; in twenty-four minutes.” He therefore requested that, “At once take me to the Earth, to India.” And they did so.
By the time the king arrived, half of the time was gone and only twelve minutes remained. He sat in a lotus position like a muni and concentrated on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. Thus, in a moment, he was liberated; and he had a chance to serve the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa.
Even a moment can give us all this; but what are we doing? We are not engaged in pure bhakti. We have so many requirements – worldly requirements. To maintain our life we are busy with so much āropa-siddha-bhakti (the performance of those activities which may resemble devotional service but which are not actually. The word ‘bhakti,’ or ‘devotion,’ is rather superimposed on the activity). We are very busy to solve our material problems. As much as we try to solve these problems, however, more problems are coming like waves of the ocean – one by one. We consider, “Oh, if I cross this one, everything will be alright.” But instead we see that, “Oh, now there are more problems!” So don’t try to do all this. What should we do? We should chant and remember Kṛṣṇa. Thus, automatically all the waves of problems will be solved, and life-maintaining will also be accomplished. Everything will be done. We should only try to solve the problem of how to attain the service of Kṛṣṇa, and especially how to attain vraja-bhakti. If you want a little money, you can attain it with very little effort. However, if you want the highest thing, you’ll have to do so much effort. It will not be quickly achieved. And what is that highest thing? Prema-bhakti. You will have to give your precious time – everything – for this. You will have to be a street beggar, and there is no harm in that.
(Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja gestured towards the photo of Śrīla Prabhupāda on the wall opposite him.)
Oh, see Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja smiling. Perhaps this picture is of his last days?
Devotee: It’s in Australia on a morning walk in the botanical gardens in Melbourne.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: What year?
Devotee: I can’t remember…early seventies… 1974.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: (In his naravata, human-like pastimes) he was also like this in the beginning, in his early life. He was solving so many problems, but then he did like this (Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja raised his hands as in full surrender). Suppose someone has come to kill you. If you are doing this and that, he will try to kill you. But if someone has come to kill you and you raise your hands, then…
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: White flag – surrender.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja ‘surrendered’ in Mathurā (when he went there as a vānaprastha). He was a very powerful ācārya. And such a powerful ācārya was serving all – my Gurudeva and others.
You are seeing me. I have no problem at all – not even a death problem. Never do I have any problems, and I think that I will have no problems to solve in the future. My only worry is for your spiritual benefit. Try to realize that.
After the great battle of Kurukṣetra, as told in the Mahābhārata, everyone was killed except for Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas. And on the other side, Kṛpācārya, Aśvatthāmā, and Kṛtavarmā were left. Practically all were killed. One blind person, who had made all the problems, was also there to realize all these things. Who was that blind person? Mahārāja Dhṛtarāṣṭra. At that time there was one blind person, and now all are blind. We have no strong faith in Kṛṣṇa and kṛṣṇa-bhakti, and thus we are all blind.
So the war was finished, all were killed, and the Pāṇḍavas were weeping so much. They lamented “We have killed everyone. Now there are only widows in India.” Only widows remained alive and all were crying. Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja and all the Pāṇḍavas thought, “We are the main cause of all the destruction. Why did we do so? We shall give up all this kingdom and become street beggars.” But Kṛṣṇa told them, “You should be ready. We are going to visit Grandfather Bhīṣma. He is still alive.” Because he was so powerful, Bhīṣma Pitāmaha (grandfather) could stop his death for six months. A boon was given to him that he would leave his body at his own will. Otherwise, death would be waiting; and now death had been waiting for six months.
Kṛṣṇa took all the five Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī, and they went to Bhīṣma Pitāmaha – where he was lying on the bed of arrows; and where his entire body was pierced with arrows. The five Pāṇḍavas and Draupadī offered him praṇāma (obeisances) and sat by his feet. When Bhīṣma Pitāmaha saw Kṛṣṇa, he offered praṇāma with his eyes, because his hands and everything else were pierced by arrows. With his eyes he prayed to Kṛṣṇa to sit in front of him – very near. So Kṛṣṇa sat very near, and the Pāṇḍavas sat by his feet.
Kṛṣṇa said, “O Bhīṣma Pitāmaha, you are such a high class of devotee, and you know all the Vaiṣṇava-tattva. You should try therefore to pacify them. They are distraught, thinking that they have killed so many – all.” When Pitāmaha then began to tell something, Draupadī was smiling. In what way was she smiling? She was hiding her smile behind her veil. She was not laughing, “Ho ho, ho…”, but she was smiling. Bhīṣma Pitāmaha looked at her and questioned, “My dear daughter Draupadī, why you are smiling? I want to know.” Draupadī replied in a very humble way, “O Bhīṣma, you are about to give knowledge, but where were you when Duryodhana was trying to make me naked? You are giving a high class of knowledge, but where were you then?” Bhīṣma very humbly said, “My dear daughter, at that time I was taking my meals from Duryodhana, the demon. The mood of a demon was there – in those meals. At that time I knew all these things, but I was so weak. At that time I could not check him. I could not control him. I thought that Duryodhana would be unhappy, and that is why, by weakness, I could not. But now six months have passed. All my blood, which was created by his meals has gone. Not only blood, the other bodily substances – everything has gone. And now my heart is pure; especially now that I have had the darśana of Kṛṣṇa. That is why I am now able to speak.”
Draupadī was satisfied. Then Bhīṣma Pitāmaha said, “O Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Arjuna, and all Pāṇḍavas. Hear carefully. There was a widow, and she had a son of only twelve years – very beautiful and qualified. The old lady used to worship and serve the Deity of Nārāyaṇa. Every morning she used to collect flowers and perform arcana. One day she was engaged in another job, and she told her son, ‘O my dear son, you should go and pick some flowers and return.’ It was brāhma–muhūrta (the period which is ninety minutes before sunrise until sunrise). It was the end of the night, but was dark and somewhat cloudy. The boy went into the nearby forest and began to pick flowers from a bush – belī, camelī, and others. As he was picking the flowers, a very poisonous black snake – with a hood and large teeth bit him, and in a moment the boy fell and died. A hunter had been coming that way, and he saw that for no reason the snake had bitten and killed the boy. The hunter knew a mantra for controlling the snake and, putting the snake in a clay pot, took the boy’s dead body on his shoulders and went to the old widow. She had been waiting for her son, and now she saw that ‘O my son is coming.’ She realized, however, that it was not her son, but only his dead body. ‘Oh, what happened?’ she asked. She began to cry and beat on her heart. She cried out, ‘O God, what happened? He was the only stick of my blind self.’ ” As a blind person uses a stick, the son is like a stick to help her in old age. “ ‘What happened?’ She became senseless. Then, after some time, when she came in sense, that hunter told her, ‘Mother, I was coming from that way. The boy was picking flowers. He did nothing wrong, but this black serpent snake came and bit him. Now you should order me to kill it at once and burn it to ashes.’ ”
“The hunter said this repeatedly – two times, three times, four times – but the old widow was only lamenting and weeping. At last she told him, ‘Oh hunter if you kill this snake and burn it, will my son come back to life or not?’ The hunter began to think, and he replied, ‘Oh, your son cannot be alive.’ She said, ‘Then why do you want to uselessly kill the snake? Let him go free.’ The hunter again replied, ‘Oh, I cannot do that because these snakes are evil and always angry. Without any purpose they bite others.’ ” Animals like them – snakes, scorpions, rats – will cut up all your clothes without any purpose. And another thing; termites, without any reason, without any gain – from one ant they will soon become lakhs and lakhs, and will make your roof fall. Then, after some time, your whole house will be finished. If you keep any clothes or anything else – they like these ‘very precious things’ very much – in a moment they will take it all.
“The hunter continued, ‘So the snake should be killed. Otherwise, the next day he will kill another, bite another, and then another. So I must finish this snake.’ Again the widow prohibited the hunter, ‘O, you should not kill him. Please set him free.’ But he told her, ‘I will not, I will kill him. Why did he bite your son?’ ”
“The hunter was just about to kill the serpent, when the serpent said, ‘Why are you killing me? I’ve done nothing wrong. Why did I not bite others? Why only to this child? Kāla came to me. Do you know Kāla? Time came. Death came and told me, “You should bite this boy.” Then I did it.’ ”
“Then the hunter replied, ‘This is not logic. If someone is biting or killing anyone on the order and inspiration of someone else, then both are guilty. So you must be punished, and that Kāla should also be punished. I will kill you. This is not logic.’ ”
“At once Kāla appeared in the shape of a person, and told him, ‘Oh hunter, why are you accusing me?’ And he told the serpent, ‘Why are you accusing me? I am not the cause; I have not told. The reason is this. In his past birth this boy killed that snake who had been in the form of a human being; and then his activities, in this form, have become Kāla. Then I, through you, bit him. The cause is not myself; it was his activities. In this world no one is a friend and no one is an enemy.’ ”
So we should try to remember this. If anyone is insulting you, if anyone is beating you or doing any abuse to you, don’t think of him as an enemy. Your activities are your enemy. So how should your activities be from now on and in the future? Do not criticize, do not offend, do not do anything wrong. Otherwise your activities will return and do this.
In this world, therefore, no one is an enemy or anything. Śrī Nārada Gosvāmī used to go to Kaṁsa Mahārāja, and Kaṁsa used to think, “He is my guru.” After that Nārada would go to Vasudeva Mahārāja and he also used to think, “He is my guru.” Nārada Ṛṣi once went to Kaṁsa and said, “Oh, why are you waiting? Why are you not killing all the sons of Vasudeva? When they will come collectively, what will you do? So you should go on. I went to Kailāsa, and I was present in the council of all the demigods when they were making a conspiracy and planning how to kill you. The demigods have now taken birth in the Yadu and Vṛṣṇi dynasties and they will kill you if you are not alert. So you should be alert.”
After this, when he went to Vasudeva Mahārāja, Nārada Ṛṣi said, “Oh, don’t worry. Your bad times have gone. Now, very soon, the eighth son of Devakī will kill Kaṁsa. So wait a little; wait a little. Don’t feel so weak.” Nārada Ṛṣi knows everything.
So you should try to do bhajana always, not thinking that, “He insulted me. He is my enemy. He is my friend.” Don’t be like this. The only friends are Kṛṣṇa and Guru. It is very hard, very rare, to find a real devotee, who is a real friend, and who, without any desire for personal gain, will do good to you and always think of your welfare. Your wife, your sons, and your friends will always bluff you, and they will try to enjoy their sense gratification – not for you, not that you should be happy. Try to know all these things.
Wealth also cannot save you. Try to realize these things. Be one-pointed to Kṛṣṇa, and then try to be very happy, without any problem. The only problem is, “Oh, how can I attain Kṛṣṇa? Oh, where is Vrajendra-nandana? Where is Vrajendra-nandana? Where is Rādhikā?” Sometimes be in Vṛndāvana, sometimes here and there – like Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and others. As Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja has told, “My office is in Bombay, my sādhana-kṣetra (place of sādhana-bhajana) is in Māyāpura, and my abode is in Vṛndāvana.” In his last days, therefore he was there in Vṛndāvana. Always think of Vṛndāvana, Vṛndāvana-candra and Vṛndāvana-candri.
Image(s) made possible by Pixabay.com, Krishnapath.org and/or Bhaktiart.net
Unless indicated differently, all verse translations and quotes are from the books by Śrīla Prabhupāda (Vedabase.com)