The following is a humble attempt to transcribe the enlightening lecture delivered by our beloved God brother HG Devakinandan prabhuji in Chennai on 27th May 2011 on Srimad Bhagavatam verse 7.2.40
pathi cyutam tishtati dishta-rakshitam
grhe sthitam tad-vihatam vinashyati
jivaty anaatho ‘pi tad-ikshito vane
grhe ‘bhigupto ‘sya hato na jivati
“Sometimes one loses his money on a public street, where everyone can see it, and yet his money is protected by destiny and not seen by others. Thus the man who lost it gets it back. On the other hand, if the Lord does not give protection, even money maintained very securely at home is lost. If the Supreme Lord gives one protection, even though one has no protector and is in the jungle, one remains alive, whereas a person well protected at home by relatives and others sometimes dies, no one being able to protect him.”
1. Nothing is in our hands: This is a verse which Maharaj found very humorous and very very enlightening. In Srimad Bhagavatam 7.9.19 Prahlada Maharaj prays
baalasya neha sharanam pitarau nrsimha
naartasya caagadam udanvati majjato nauh
taptasya tat-pratividhir ya ihaanjaseshtas
taavad vibho tanu-bhrtaam tvad-upekshitaanaam
“My Lord Nrsimhadeva, O Supreme, because of a bodily conception of life, embodied souls neglected and not cared for by You cannot do anything for their betterment. Whatever remedies they accept, although perhaps temporarily beneficial, are certainly impermanent. For example, a father and mother cannot protect their child, a physician and medicine cannot relieve a suffering patient, and a boat on the ocean cannot protect a drowning man.”
Here Prahlada Maharaj gives three examples of how powerful the Lord’s protection is and no matter what we do, we cannot do anything in this world until we get the blessings of the good Lord. There is not a blade of grass that can move without His sanction. There is not a crook in this world or a criminal in this world who can plan a crime without His sanction. Very powerful statement.
Prahlada Maharaj says that very often, we love our children like anything. But when the child falls sick, we have all been in situations where we are helpless. We want to make sure the child gets better but no matter what we do, until the time is right, the child does not recover. The second example is the example of the physician. When we are sick, no matter how much money we may have in this world, money we know cannot cure diseases. You may have the best physicians in the world and even then they will not be able to help us. If Krishna does not want, then there is no physician in this world who can prolong even an inch or a second of a moment longer than what is destined. The third example is very nice. He says what is the use of a boat which is floating on the ocean for a man who is drowning. A man who is drowning cannot swim. So even if he sees a boat in the ocean, it is no point because he cannot swim to the boat and he will drown. So Prahlada Maharaja uses these examples to tell us that, frankly speaking, until and unless Krishna gives mercy, Krishna gives sanction, there is no possibility of us being able to do anything in this world.
The example that is given in the verse SB 7.2.40 is so practical. How many times we have been in this situation. Some of us have actually lost money on the street and you may have come back to the same place and found it. But you have kept your money very safely in the bank and because of inflation or this or that, the money has lost its value. How many of us have kept money so well? My father has this habit. He keeps something so securely that he forgets where it is and half the time goes in trying to find out and if I ask him where he kept it, he will say, I have kept it in such a good place that now I have forgotten. If Krishna wants, no matter how well you keep something, you may end up losing it because he does not give you the memory to remember it. But you may keep something vey haphazardly, but if Krishna wants to protect it, then nobody can touch it.
So every time Maharaj read this verse, he would laugh because he said, “By nature, living entities are stingy pokers number one. We love our money so much that it is very very hard to part with it. Very often Krishna finds His own ways to make us part with the money. We try very hard but eventually either the money goes in His service or it goes in the service of maya or if you keep it very well, when you are dead or you are dying, we realize that we cannot take it with us. When we realize that nothing can come with us, then we accept our destiny. It is very important that when you cannot accept that nothing goes with you, then you cannot accept anything in your life. That is why we always must remember the day of our death.”
Maharaj kept saying this a million times over that until you remember that you are going to die, you think that everything is within our control, but actually it is not true. Nothing is in our control. Really really nothing and this is a fact. That is why Alexander the great – he was a great warrior, great conqueror but you all know historically he conquered the whole world but at the end of the day, he died of a simple fever and he died at the height of his empire’s conquest. He was very young when he was dying and he told his ministers that he has three wishes and they must fulfill them when he dies. “The first wish is that you must put me in a coffin and you must open the coffin and make sure my hand is outside. My palms should be facing outside.” Then he said, “All my doctors who are working very hard to save me now should carry my coffin when I am gone and thirdly I want that whatever money I have in coins is strewn on the streets.” So the ministers asked him why all this elaborate arrangement and he said that, “I have realized one thing now at the point when death is coming. I want people to know that at the point when someone leaves this world, his palms cannot carry anything with him. They will be open but they cannot clutch anything. I cannot take Greece with me. I cannot take Rome with me. I cannot take anything. Even this body I cannot take with me. The second thing, I want everyone to know who are the doctors who treated me, not because I want the people to throw stones at them, but because the fact is, no matter how hard they try, when my time has come, they cannot do anything and the third point that I want everyone to know is, I want all my coins strewn all over the street, so that everybody will know that these coins which make me conquer kingdom upon kingdom, unfortunately will not save me at the point of my death.” So they said this is very nice. But Alexander added one last point. He said that, “This is all nice, but you also realize that when coins are thrown on the floor, everybody will pick up the coins and they will hold it very tight in their hands and they will go home thinking, I am able to save this money and that is the truth of this world that we never learn our lessons.” We never learn our lessons until and unless we come to Krishna and that is why a million births have gone by and hopefully not a million births will go by, so thatwe learn our lesson that nothing is in our hands and everything is in His hands.
2. How to know Krishna’s plans? In Srimad Bhagavatam 7.10.64, Maya Daanava says,
devo ‘suro naro ‘nyo vaa / neshvaro ‘stiha kashcana
aatmano ‘nyasya vaa dishtam / daivenaapohitum dvayoh
Maya Daanava said: “What has been destined by the Supreme Lord for oneself, for others, or for both oneself and others cannot be undone anywhere or by anyone, whether one be a demigod, a demon, a human being or anyone else.“
If Krishna has fixed our quota, that will be our quota. There will be nothing more and nothing less. Srila Prabhupada in his powerful purport writes: Maya Daanava said, “However I plan, you plan or both of us plan, the Lord has planned what is to happen. No one’s plan will be successful without His sanction.” We may make our own various plans, but unless they are sanctioned by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, they will never be successful. Hundreds and millions of plans are made by all kinds of living entities, but without the sanction of the Supreme Lord they are futile.
Now the problem we may ask always is, “Alright, so Krishna’s plan is supreme. How do we know what the plan is? At least if we know His plan, we will go by His plan.” Maharaj said that also is a fallacy because the truth is even if we know what Krishna wants for us, still our nature is to argue. Still our nature is, “Krishna I accept all this, but… I have one thing to ask.” This is our problem that we always think we can also argue with Krishna. The arguments that we have is not only confined to the lawyers. But the truth of the matter is, we all are not satisfied with what Krishna gives and because of lack of satisfaction, we do not meet our destiny well and when we go against the tide of what Krishna is giving, naturally we will suffer. Srila Prabhupada gave an amazing point on one occasion. He walked to the top of the cliff with few of his disciples and he saw the waves. The waves were forcibly coming and they were crushing on the rocks and Prabhupada said, “Do you know that there are fishes in these waves and when the waves crush against the rock, the fishes never die. How is it that the fishes can be crushed against the rock and they do not die? But if elephants are put in the same place, it will be instantaneously crushed by the same waters. But the fishes escape.” So he asked why and all the disciples were stunned and finally Prabhupada said, “It is because the fishes have an intimate connection with the sea and the elephant does not have any connection with the sea. Because it has an intimate connection with the sea, the fishes do not go against the flow of the sea and therefore the sea protects, but the elephant not knowing better, they will use their puny strength to go against the force of the waves and in doing so they are crushed.”
This is exactly what the verse is about. This is why destiny always frustrates us. When we want something and we do not get it, we become dissatisfied and we blame Krishna. Actually Krishna is not to be blamed. We are not listening to Him. That is why Maharaj said, “By looking at other people’s palaces, you please do not burn your hut.” Beautiful point. Be satisfied by what comes because what comes of its own accord is meant for us. What comes out of over endeavor will stay for a while but after that over endeavor is finished; you will also have to go through the karmic effects. To accept this requires patience and it requires confidence in Krishna. Maharaj says, “If we do not have patience in the devotional process, we cannot be confident and once we become impatient, then we become patients in the hospital.” This is the other problem in our life. But those who are patient, they are like the fish; no matter what happens in destiny, they are peaceful. Nothing happens to them. So how to know what is the plan of Krishna and that is the key. Maharaj says, “the best way to know the plan of Krishna, is to accept that you do not know the plan of Krishna. This is the starting point of understanding His plan. Bhishmadeva quotes this very nicely in Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.16.”
na hy asya karhicid raajan / pumaan veda vidhitsitam
yad vijijnaasayaa yuktaa / muhyanti kavayo ’pi hi
“O King, no one can know the plan of the Lord [Sri Krishna]. Even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered.“
Yudhisthira was very sad thinking that the whole reason for the Mahabharat war is basically because of his fault and greed. He was such a great devotee that he blamed himself for the massacre of the Kauravas but when he came before Bhishmadeva, Bhishmadeva said that it was the arrangement of the good Lord. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna tells in 11.33
tasmaat tvam uttishtha yasho labhasva
jitvaa shatrun bhunkshva raajyam samrddham
mayaivaite nihataah purvam eva
nimitta-maatram bhava savya-saacin
“Therefore get up. Prepare to fight and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasaaci, can be but an instrument in the fight.”
So Krishna says very clearly that it is His arrangement. He says, “I am killing Arjuna. You are not killing. I have decided, soldier A will die, soldier B will be beheaded, soldier C will be struck. I am killing everybody just by seeing them. It is My plan.” Arjuna asked, “So what do I do? What is the point of me shooting the arrows?” Krishna is saying, “You great shooter of arrows! Please note that you are shooter of arrows, but you are not killing anyone.” It is too much! Isn’t it? Maharaj said that this is transcendental sarcasm. Krishna has time for humour even right before the battle starts. So He says, “You are savyasaachin (expert shooter of arrows). But you are useless. You are savyasaachin, but your arrows will not find the targets unless I destine it.” This is how He is teaching us, because Arjuna is actually perfect and He is telling Arjuna that, “Arjuna, you may have great talent. If you think that you are the person who possesses that talent, then you are wrong. The person who possesses the talent is Myself, but I am loaning the talent to you. Once the purpose is finished, the talent is withdrawn.” That is why when the whole Mahabharat war finishes we find in the first canto fifteenth chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam, Arjuna speaks beautiful verses. In 1.15.21, he says
tad vai dhanus ta ishavah sa ratho hayaas te
so ’ham rathi nrpatayo yata aanamanti
sarvam kshanena tad abhud asad isha-riktam
bhasman hutam kuhaka-raaddham ivoptam ushyaam
“I have the very same Gaandiva bow, the same arrows, the same chariot drawn by the same horses, and I use them as the same Arjuna to whom all the kings offered their due respects. But in the absence of Lord Krishna, all of them, at a moment’s notice, have become null and void. It is exactly like offering clarified butter on ashes, accumulating money with a magic wand or sowing seeds on barren land.”
Arjuna says that, “there is no power and potency to whatever paraphernalia that I have, including myself and this is because Krishna does not want.” So here lies the clue to the way to accept the Lord’s plan and how it is to be done is very beautifully described by Devaki prabhuji and the same shall be offered in the next mail, Krishna willing.
Thank you very much,
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayanti mala devi dasi,