While conversing with Vyaasadev about his previous life, Narada muni describes how after the demise of his mother, he started travelling alone. When his mother was alive, he was blessed with the association of sages, who pleased by his service had blessed him with transcendental knowledge and had left. In verse 1.6.13 he says
nala-venu-sharas-tanba / kusha-keecaka-gahvaram
eka evaatiyaato ‘ham / adraaksham vipinam mahat
ghoram pratibhayaakaaram / vyaaloluka-shivaajiram
“I then passed alone through many forests of rushes, bamboo, reeds, sharp grass, weeds and caves, which were very difficult to go through alone. I visited deep, dark and dangerously fearful forests, which were the play yards of snakes, owls and jackals.“
In his wonderful purport to the above verse Srila Prabhupada explains that – “It is the duty of a mendicant, parivraajakaacaarya to experience all varieties of God’s creation by traveling alone through all forests, hills, towns, villages, etc., to gain faith in God and strength of mind as well as to enlighten the inhabitants with the message of God. A sannyaasi is duty-bound to take all these risks without fear.” He also further continues that, “In this age, devotional service of hearing and repeating the holy glories of the Lord is strongly recommended, and one who takes the vow of renunciation of family life need not imitate the parivrajakaacaarya like Narada or Lord Caitanya, but may sit down at some holy place and devote his whole time and energy to hear and repeatedly chant the holy scriptures left by the great acaryas like the six Gosvamis of Vrindavana.”
The word ekah in the above verse meaning -”alone” is worth meditating. Doing things together in the association of devotees gives lot of enthuse and energy. But real test for our sadhana is known when we are left alone. Our beloved spiritual master HH Mahavishnu Goswami Maharaj used to say that our intensity of bhakti can be tested by how long we are able to sit alone with Bhagavatam. Gurudev being a Mahabhagavata himself had shown by his own personal example that even when there were trying situations, he was fixed in studying Srimad Bhagavatam for 12 to 14 hours in a day. He has painstakingly written so many notes and diaries of what all he studied as well. Gurudev has the habit of writing the place, date and time as well whenever he makes notes. When we were going through them, we were simply taken aback to see the different names of countries and the timings when Gurudev had been writing. Be it 2 am in the morning or 11:45 pm in the night, Gurudev had religiously taken notes of whatever he studied in his diaries. Not only did he study alone, but he has also travelled alone to different countries across the globe, in-spite of his old age and ailing health conditions and with great compassion broad casted the message of Srimad Bhagavatam to the suffering souls.
A child feels completely safe when he is under the protection of his parents. Similarly one is completely safe when he is under the protection of spiritual master. But the reality of life is that, we cannot always have the luxury of physical presence of either the parent or the spiritual master with us always. In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 10.49.21, Akrura says
ekah prasuyate jantur / eka eva praleeyate
eko ‘nubhunkte sukrtam / eka eva ca dushkrtam
“Every creature is born alone and dies alone, and alone one experiences the just rewards of his good and evil deeds.”
Whether we like it or not, we would be forced to travel alone in this world, which like the forest described by Narada muni, is dark dangerous place, with different kinds of living entities. But as Srila Prabhupada has mentioned in the first line of the purport to the above verse, Krishna is blessing us with such lone moments “to gain faith in God and strength of mind as well as to enlighten the inhabitants with the message of God.” So we need to make the best use of available time and energy in hearing and repeatedly chanting the glories of the holy scriptures which are gifted to us by Srila Prabhupada and Maharaj.
We pray at the lotus feet of Srila Gurudeva and Srila Prabhupada to grant us the resolve to stay fixed in devotional service in all circumstances.
Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das and Sudarshana devi dasi.