By Gauranga Darshan Das
“God doesn’t miss an opportunity to show His mercy to those who serve Him or seek His shelter even indirectly, inattentively and unintentionally.”
Story 1: “To Whom So Ever It May Concern!”
Would you be willing to help someone who doesn’t call you out specifically? How concerned would you be about such a person?
Here is a story where Lord Hari once eagerly protected a suffering animal, although the animal didn’t call out His name specifically!
Gajendra was the king of elephants. Once he entered a lake along with his wives, children and companions and happily enjoyed in its waters. In the midst of this apparently unobstructed enjoyment, an unexpected tragedy came upon him. An angry crocodile caught his leg. Mighty Gajendra, with all his strength, tried to free himself, but couldn’t. The other elephants couldn’t rescue him either. In this world we also encounter many difficulties that we cannot possibly overcome by our own strength or even with others’ help.
Gajendra and the crocodile fought, pulling each other in and out of the water for a thousand years. Seeing this fight, even the demigods were astonished. Gradually, Gajendra’s mental and physical strength depleted due to being in a foreign environment (water). On the other hand, the crocodile’s strength increased because of its being a water animal. Weakened, finding no refuge, Gajendra thought that there must be some person who has the power to protect him. But Gajendra didn’t know His name or who He was!
By the grace of God, in this time of crisis, Gajendra remembered a prayer that he had learned in his previous life. The Lord is grateful for even the slightest amount of bhakti rendered by His devotees and protects them in the most dangerous circumstances.
Gajendra prayed, “O Lord! You are the supreme father, supreme director, supreme enlightener, supreme master, supreme source and supremely worshipable. You are attained by a devotee who acts in bhakti-yoga. You can liberate surrendered animals like me from bondage because You are capable, merciful and attentive to the needs of Your dependents. I don’t wish to live anymore after being released from the jaws of this crocodile. What is the use of an elephant’s body covered by ignorance anyways? I desire liberation from this body.”
In his prayers, Gajendra didn’t call out any specific name or form of God such as Krishna, Rama, Narasimha or Varaha. In fact, he didn’t know the identity of God. But he described the qualities of some Supreme Person whom he thought of having the power to protect him. The demigods also heard Gajendra’s prayers and they were capable of protecting him, but they didn’t intend to do so, because Gajendra didn’t call out their names in specific. But the Supreme Lord Hari is never indifferent towards the suffering of a devotee. Although Gajendra didn’t call out a specific name of the Lord, all the qualities that he described in his prayers are present in the personality of Lord Hari. So, the supremely compassionate Lord Hari hastily arrived on His bird carrier Garuòa to protect Gajendra.
In fact, the Lord Himself inspired Gajendra from within to offer this prayer and later He responded to the prayer by coming to rescue him. Overwhelmed by His magnanimity, Gajendra, though reeling in acute pain, picked up a lotus with his trunk and offered it to the Lord with devotion. Lord Hari severed the crocodile’s head with His Sudarsana cakra and saved Gajendra.
The Lord saved Gajendra even when he had not called the Lord specifically by a name. Then what to speak of addressing the Lord lovingly and eagerly by His holy name?
Story 2: “My dear child, please come here!”
Just because your name matches someone else’s name, would you respond when he or she is called for? And would you go and help a person when you know that he or she is indicating someone else whose name is just same as yours? Once Lord Narayana protected a person on the death bed who was calling his son whose name also happened to be ‘Narayana!’
Ajamila was a brähmaëa well versed in scriptures and was a reservoir of good qualities. He was pure, simple, gentle, truthful, self-controlled and non-envious. Once he went to the forest to collect fruits and flowers. On the way home, he saw a lusty man shamelessly hugging a prostitute. Both were drunk. Infected by the vulgar scene, lusty desires arose in Ajamila. He tried to control them by remembering scriptural injunctions but couldn’t. Losing all good sense, he meditated on that prostitute and gradually abandoned all brahminical principles. He even gave up his chaste wife and started to live with that prostitute. He maintained his family by sinful means.
Ajamila had ten sons of whom the youngest was named “Narayana.” The eighty-eight years old Ajamila was so attached to his son Narayana that he always thought of him and called his name with great affection. In due course of time, Ajamila’s death arrived and three fierce Yamadutas arrived with ropes to take him to hell. With tears in his eyes, Ajamila loudly and anxiously called out his son, “Narayana,” who was playing nearby. But the innocent and ignorant child didn’t have the ability to understand his father’s situation. Hearing their master’s name being chanted so desperately, the servants of Lord Narayana, the Vishnudutas, at once arrived there. They cut the ropes of the Yamadutas and stopped them from taking Ajamila to hell.
While calling his son, Ajamila had affectionately uttered “Narayana” several times. And on the death bed, he anxiously uttered “Narayana” in a helpless state of mind. His chanting of the name of Narayana was unintentional, without faith and to indicate his son. Yet, this chanting had completely purified Ajamila from all his sinful reactions of millions of life times and saved him from entering hell.
After being protected by the Vishnudutas, Ajamila regretted for his misdeeds and became determined to perform bhaktiunto Lord Narayana by all means. Thus, he went to Hardwar and worshiped Lord Vishnu without any deviation. At the end of his life, Ajamila once again saw the Vishnudutas who took him to Vaikuntha in a golden airplane.
The Lord’s name is non-different from Him. Even if one chants the Lord’s name to indicate someone else or while joking, for musical entertainment or out of neglect, He destroys unlimited sins and material desires. What then must be the potency of chanting attentively to call the Lord with love?
Of all the qualities of God, His mercy upon His devotees is the foremost. The Lord finds some reason or the other to show compassion on His children.
Story 3: “I will kill him with milk!”
When someone comes to you in an attractive attire but with an atrocious attitude, would you entertain him or her? Knowing that there is malice and deceit behind the external pleasant dealings of a person, would you be willing to show any kindness? Lord Krishna once bestowed great mercy on a witch who came to kill Him.
Putana was a rakshasi accustomed to drinking the blood of infant babies. Once she smeared her breast with a fierce poison and came to Gokula. Disguising herself as a beautiful woman, she attracted the attention and won the trust of all the residents of Gokula. She entered Nanda Maharaj’s house and walked towards the cradle of baby Krishna. Even Krishna’s mother Yashoda didn’t stop Putana.
Putana took infant Krishna on her lap and started feeding Him her poisonous milk. The Supreme Lord Krishna eagerly sucked her milk along with the poison and then her very life airs. Unable to tolerate the acute pain, Putana loudly wailed and ran out of the house. Assuming her original gigantic and ghastly form as a witch, she collapsed, crushing all the trees under her twelve-mile long body. Seeing this unusual incident, the gopis were terrified. They picked up baby Krishna who was unharmed and playing happily on the body of the rakshasi. The gopis then did various rituals and chanted mantras to invoke the protection of Lord Vishnu on the baby.
The Vrajavasis cut the body of Putana and burned it with wood. The burning body of Putana emanated a sweet fragrance due to its being purified by Lord Krishna’s spiritual touch. Because she offered her milk to Krishna, although poisoned, Krishna nonetheless gave her the position of being a motherly nurse in the spiritual world!
Krishna accepted Putana’s motherly attire and actions, overlooking her wicked intentions. Who else could be more merciful than Krishna? Krishna searches for some reason, direct or indirect, to shower His mercy even on the demons, what to speak of His devotees?
Story 4: “I have to avenge the death of my siblings!”
Can you be kind to a person who intends to kill you? And if he even tries to harm your near and dear ones as well, will you be able to forgive him? Here is a story where Lord Krishna once showed unparalleled mercy on a python who wanted to kill Krishna and the Vrajavasis.
Aghasura was the brother of Putana and Bakasura. Earlier, little Krishna had killed Putana and Bakasura who came to kill Him. Seeking revenge for the deaths of his siblings, envious Aghasura wanted to kill not only Krishna, but His gopas and calves as well. Aghasura thought that if the gopas and calves were killed, their parents would also die! Thus, Agha wanted to practically destroy the entire cowherd community in Vrindavan.
Aghasura appeared in the forest in the form of a huge python – eight miles long. He lay down on the road opening his mouth wide like a cave. The innocent little friends of Krishna misunderstood the python’s body to be a nice scenic spot. Attracted to the so-called cave, they playfully entered the python’s mouth along with their calves. Krishna wanted to stop them, but they had already gone. Aghasura didn’t immediately swallow the gopas and calves, but waited for Krishna to enter.
Invincible Krishna then entered Agha’s mouth and enlarged Himself within his throat. Agha also increased his body, yet he was suffocated and his breathing stopped. His eyes popped out and his life air burst from the top of his head. Krishna then glanced at the gopas and the calves who had collapsed by the poisonous fumes inside the demon and brought them back to life.
From Agha’s body, a glaring effulgence came out and entered Krishna’s body. Krishna gave Agha saarupya-mukti or the liberation of attaining a spiritual form exactly similar to the Lord’s form in Vaikuntha. Although Aghasura intended to kill all the Vrajavasis, Krishna took pleasure in entering his mouth in a sporting spirit along with the gopas. By that sporting association of the Lord and His dear devotees, Aghasura was purified of all sinful contamination and could achieve eternal association of the Lord in the spiritual world. After Agha’s death, even his dried-up python-shaped body became a playground for the Vrajavasis for a long time.
Although Aghasura’s purpose was to kill Krishna, he thought of Krishna with devotion for a moment and Krishna and His associates wanted to sport within Aghasura’s mouth. So, Krishna liberated Aghasura. If even only once or even by force one thinks of Krishna in one’s mind, one can attain salvation. Then what to speak of those who always lovingly think of the Lord within their hearts?
The Take-home Message
- Elephant Gajendra didn’t call the name of the Lord specifically.
- Brahmana Ajamila didn’t even call out for the Lord but called his son.
- Witch Putana even tried to kill the Lord.
- Python Aghasura intended to kill not only Krishna but all the Vrajavasis too.
But the Lord took only the good in all of them and gave them His mercy. He considered that –
- Gajendra described the Lord’s qualities while in deep anxiety.
- Ajamila chanted the Lord’s name “Narayana.”
- Putana displayed an attire and behavior like a mother.
- Aghasura gave sporting pleasure to the Lord and His associates.
Krishna does reciprocate according to the mood in which a person approaches Him. Yet in His various forms, He is merciful enough to forgive and accommodate even sinful people. But one shouldn’t take undue advantage of His mercy and purposely commit sins. God doesn’t miss an opportunity to show His mercy upon those who serve Him or seek His shelter even indirectly, inattentively and unintentionally. Then what to speak of directly, attentively and intentionally serving Him and seeking His shelter?
Gauranga Darshan Das, a disciple of HH Radhanath Swami, is dean of the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha at ISKCON Govardhan Eco Village (GEV). He is a member of ISKCON Board of Examinations and GEV Administration Counsel. He has written books namely Gita Subodhini, Bhagavata Subodhini, Caitanya Subodhini, Disapproved but not Disowned and Bhagavata Pravaha. He teaches sastric courses at several places in India.