All through scriptures it is seen that one calls out Lord’s holy names fervently only in danger. For instance Gajendra, Ajamila, Draupadi, Uttara etc all called out the Lord in dangers. In our practical life also, we see that we tend to go to a `comfort zone’ in spiritual life, not feeling much need for Krishna in our life or not much dependence on Krishna. Everything appears alright and cozy. This also happens in mundane piety, where one feels good about oneself and does not feel a strong need for Lord in his life.
Once in a housing colony, I asked the people whether they’ve any problem. One of them said, “Sir, we only have two hours of drinking water supply. I wish they make it 24 hours.” Another said, “Sir, it would be nice to have a library for our society so that we could get all newspapers everyday.” Yet another said, “They have built such a nice housing colony and they’ve such a huge garden. Why not have a swimming pool in the center for us to practice swimming everyday?” I understood that these people are focused only on immediate problems. Then I asked them, “Imagine you are travelling in a train. Imagine one of you feel, `why only two fans? Why not four?’. Another feels, `we could have cushion seats instead of wooden ones. But at that time, if there is a siren and announcement that a time bomb is kept in the train by terrorists and the train stops asking all passengers to quit as soon as possible. How many of your luggages will you want to carry while quitting?” All of them in a chorus said, “None!”. Yes, it is obvious, because saving one’s life is everything at that time.
Then I told them that death comes in everyone’s life unannounced. “We would not want to even loose one finger of our left hand. But we loose our whole body, our relatives and friends, our Laptop, our house, our job, our car etc. Is it not a painful transition. And that death can come at anytime for us. How many of you would like to be told in advance the date of your death so that you can prepare yourself?” Everyone raised hands.
Basically sastras say, “Ante Narayana smriti”. At the time of death if a human being can call out Supreme Lord’s names, he will be transported to spiritual world. How many of you would like to get that chance to return back home back to Vaikuntha? Everybody raised hands.
Since we don’t know our date of death, it is better for us to allot a portion of every day of our life, to do little of the preparation for that final hour by chanting Hare Krishna, by reading SB etc. Great devotees even pray to Supreme Lord, “O Lord, let me not become complacent in my life and forget You. Please give me some pinches to remind me of the miseries of material existence so that I will always remember my relationships with you.” Now do you all understand WHY great devotees beg the Lord to help destroy the complacency?
Once an orphan boy was playing cricket and got hurt in the knee. Since it was bleeding, his friends took him to a nearby hospital and handed him over to the Doctor. A nurse cleaned and dressed the wound, all the while nicely caring for him and talking to him sweetly. The boy had tears in his eyes having become reminded of his lost mother. Another day, after he had gotten well fully, when he was playing cricket, he told his friend, “I wish I get hurt today again.” And his friends wondered, “Is he mad or what?” Little did they know that the boy wished to be admitted in the hospital to again experience the motherly treatment of the nurse. Similarly Kunti maharani is inviting calamities in life, so that she can pray to Krishna fervently without becoming complacent. Similarly it is experience of all practicing devotees that seriousness arises making us spiritually awakened only when there are challenges in our life.
Thus not only the calamities and sufferings impel us to turn to Lord for safety and security. They also help us to get the sublime association of Sri Krishna who reveals Himself more and more as we call out His holy names helplessly, desparately, inoffensively with no other shelter to go. This is why we should not fear the calamities in our life. They are various way that Lord arranges to help us come closer to Him, just like the Tests that a class teacher conducts for the children to bring about seriousness in their studies. Hare Krishna.
The above article is an open book essay on Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 1.1-9, written by HG Radheshyam Das for the following question: Kunti maharani prays for more and more difficulties so that she can remember Krishna. Write your thoughts on presenting this kind of mood of a devotee to a newcomer in or non-practitioner of Krishna Consciousness.