Freedom From All Calamities
A lecture by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
(Reprinted from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust)

vipadah santu tah sasvat
tatra tatra jagad-guro
bhavato darsanam yat syad
apunar bhava-darsanam

"I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths."

Prabhupada: So that is very interesting verse that vipada, calamities, danger, that is very good if such danger and calamities remind me of Krishna. That is very good. Tat te 'nukampam su-samiksamano bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam. A devotee, how he receives dangerous position? Danger must be there. Danger... Because this place, this material world is full of dangers. These foolish persons, they do not know that. They are trying to avoid the dangers. That is struggle for existence. Everyone is trying to become happy and avoid danger. This is the material business. Atyantika-sukham. Atyantika-sukham. Ultimate happiness. A man is working and thinking: "Let me work now very hard, and let me have some bank balance so when I shall get old, I shall enjoy life without any working." That is the inner intention of everyone. Nobody wants to work. As soon as he gets some money he wants to retire from work, and to become happy. But that is not possible. You cannot be happy in that way.

Here it is said: apunar bhava-darsanam. The real danger is... She is speaking of apunah. Apunah means... A means not, and punar bhava means repetition of birth and death. The real danger is repetition of birth and death. That has to be stopped. And not this so-called danger. This is all... The material world is full of dangers. Padam padam yad vipadam. Just like if you are on the ocean. If you are on the ocean, you might have very strong ship, very safe ship, but that is not safety. Because you are on the sea, at any time there can be dangers. Perhaps you remember from your country, there was, what is that, Titanic?

Devotee: Titanic.

Prabhupada: Everything was safe, but on the first voyage it was drowned, and all important men of your country, they lost their life. So danger there must be because you are in a dangerous position. This material world itself is dangerous position. So our business is... That danger must be there. Now our business should be how to cross over the sea as soon as possible. So long you are on the sea, you are on the dangerous position, however strong your ship may be. That's a fact. So you should not be disturbed by the sea waves. Just try to cross over the sea. Go to the other side. That is your business. Similarly, so long we are in this material world, there must be dangerous calamities because this is the place of calamity. So our business is, even within these calamities, dangers, how we develop our Krishna consciousness and, after giving up this body, we go back to home, back go Krishna. That should be our business. We should not be disturbed by the so-called calamities. They are not so-called; they are factual.

So this question was there by Arjuna to Krishna that: "Whatever You are speaking, it is all right. That I am not this body, I am soul. Everyone is not this body. He's soul. So on the annihilation of this body...on the annihilation of the body the soul will exist. But when I see my son is dying, or my grandfather is dying, I am killing, how can I solace me that my grandfather is not dying, my son is not dying, the... simply it is changing. Because I am accustomed to think like that. So there must be grief. So Krishna replied: "Yes, that's a fact. So that you must have to tolerate, that's all. There is no other remedy." Tams titiksasva bharata.

Krishna never said that these are not facts, what Arjuna explained that: "I know that when my son is dying, my son is changing the body, or my grandfather is dying, changing the body, I know this, but still, because I am affectionate on the skin, so I must suffer." The Krishna replied: "Yes, the suffering is there. Because you are also on the bodily concept of life. So suffering must be there. So there is no other remedy than to tolerate. There is no other remedy." Matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah.

Just like in your country it is very chilly in the morning to take bath, a little difficult task. But does it mean that those who are devotees, they will stop taking bath? No. Even it is chilly, cold, one must take bath. The duty must be done. The duty must be done. Even it is little suffering. That is called tapasya. Tapasya means we must prolong or proceed with, with our Krishna consciousness business in spite of all dangerous and calamitous condition of this world. This is called tapasya. Tapasya means voluntarily accepting the difficulties of life. Sometimes tapasya, in the system of tapasya, in hot season, summer, in scorching heat of the sun, still they ignite some fire all around and sit down in the midst and meditate. There are some processes of tapasya like that. In chilly cold one goes into the water up to the neck and meditates. These things are prescribed in tapasya.

But Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu does not give you such prescription. He gives you very nice program: chant, dance and take prasadam. Still we are unwilling. We cannot accept this tapasya. You see. We are so fallen. Su-sukham kartum avyayam. This is a kind of tapasya which is very easy to do and it is very pleasant. Still, we are not agreeable. We shall rot in the street, lie down anywhere and everywhere and still, I shall drink and have sex and lie down. So what can be done? We are giving good facilities. Come here, chant, dance and live very peacefully and take krsna-prasadam. Be happy. But people will not accept. That is called misfortune.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore said: etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says: namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktih. In the transcendental holy name of God, Krishna, there is all potencies. As Krishna has got unlimited potencies, similarly in the name, holy name of Krishna, there is unlimited potency. So namnam akari bahudha. And there are many names of Krishna. Krishna has got thousands and thousands of names. Krishna name is the chief name. Namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah. And there is no hard and fast rule, that you have to chant in this time or that time. No. Any time. Any time you can take. And the name is identical with Krishna. On this logic, the name, the holy name of Krishna, is Krishna. He's no other than Krishna. Don't think that Krishna is living in Goloka Vrndavana and the name is different. Just like in material world we have got this conception. The name is different from the fact. But in the Absolute world there is no such difference. That is called absolute. Name is as potential as Krishna is potential.

So you have got this tongue. You can chant Krishna, Hare Krishna. Immediately you become directly in touch with Krishna. Immediately. Because the name Krishna and Krishna -- person is not different. Identical. So even if you think that Krishna is far, far away... Krishna is not far, far away. Krishna is not far, far away. Krishna is within you. He's not far away. He's far away, at the same time nearest. So even if you think that Krishna is far, far, His name is there. You chant Hare Krishna, Krishna becomes immediately available. Aniyamitah. And for making Krishna available in this shortcut way, there is no hard and fast rule. You can chant any time. Immediately you get Krishna. Just see the mercy of Krishna.

Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that: etadrsi tava krpa. "My dear Lord, You have given Me so nice facilities to contact You, but durdaiva, but My, I am so unfortunate, I have no attachment for these things. I have no attachment. I have got so many attachments for other things. But I have got no attachment for chanting Hare Krishna. This is My misfortune." Krishna has given so much facilities, that He is present before you by transcendental vibration in His name, and the name has got all the potencies of Krishna. So if you remain in contact with the name, you get all the benefit of Krishna's benediction, but still, I am not inclined to chant Hare Krishna mantra. This is misfortune.

So a devotee never takes dangerous position as very reverse position or very calamitous position. He welcomes. Because a surrendered soul, he knows either danger or festival, they are all different demonstration of Krishna. Krishna is absolute. In the sastra it is said that just like there are two kinds, two sides, religiosity and irreligiosity, just the opposite. But in the sastra it is said the religiosity is just the front portion of God, and irreligiosity is the back portion of God. So God's front portion or back portion, is there any difference? God is absolute. Therefore a devotee, either in opulence or in danger, he is not disturbed. He knows both these things are Krishna. Either in dangerous position... "Now Krishna has appeared before me as danger."

Just like Hiranyakasipu and Prahlada Maharaja and Nrsimhadeva. Nrsimhadeva is dangerous to Hiranyakasipu, and He is the Supreme Friend to Prahlada Maharaja, the same Personality. Similarly God is never dangerous to the devotee. Devotee is never afraid of dangers. He's confident that the danger, that is another feature of God. "So why shall I be afraid? I am surrendered to Him." So Kuntidevi says that: vipadah santu. Vipadah santu tah sasvat. Because he, she knows how to remember Krishna at times of danger. So he is, she is welcoming danger. "My dear Lord, I welcome such dangers when I can remember You." Just like Prahlada Maharaja, he was always thinking of Krishna when his father was putting him in dangerous position. So if you are put into the dangerous position and if that dangerous position gives an impetus to remember Krishna, that is welcome. That is welcome. "Oh, I am getting this opportunity of remembering Krishna." So how it is welcome? It is welcome because seeing Krishna means I am advancing in my spiritual life so that I'll not have to suffer any more of these dangerous positions.

Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti kaunteya [Bg. 4.9]. If you become advanced in Krishna consciousness, then the result will be, after giving up this body, Krishna says, tyaktva deham, after giving up this body, punar janma naiti, you don't take birth again in this material world. That is wanted. Suppose I am very comfortable at the present moment. My body is kept in a very comfortable position, but there is death, and there is another birth. So after giving up this body, if I get the body of a cat and dog, then what is the meaning of this comfortable position? Because death is sure, and janmantam tatah dehantaram. Dehantaram means you have to accept another body. If you do not know what kind of body you are going to get... You can know it. That is stated in the sastra, that if you have got such and such mentality, you get such and such body. So in a comfortable position, if I keep myself in the dog's mentality, then I am going to get my next life as dog. Then what is the value of this comfortable position? I may be in comfortable position for twenty years, thirty years, fifty years, or utmost, one hundred years. And after that comfortable position, when I give up this body, if, due to my mentality, I become a cat and dog and mouse, then what is the benefit of this comfortable position?

These, they, people do not know that. They think, especially in this age that: "I am now in comfortable position. I have got enough money. I have got enough estate. I have got enough comforts, enough food. So as soon as the body's finished so I am not going to take birth again. So I am living, let me enjoy life." This is the modern philosophy, hedonism. But that is not the fact. Kunti is therefore anxious: apunar bhava-darsanam. Apunar bhava, not to repeat. If you see always Krishna, that is Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness means always thinking of Krishna. Your consciousness should be absorbed in Krishna thought.

Therefore we give different varieties of engagement, Krishna consciousness. We should not divert our energy. Now when we are selling book, that is Krishna consciousness. We are selling book. But if we think that the selling book may be diverted into selling jewelry, that is not very good idea. That is not very good idea. Then we become again jeweler. Punar musika bhava. Again become mouse. We should be very much careful. Our Krishna consciousness cannot be diverted. Then you are gone to hell. Even there is danger, even there is suffering in Krishna consciousness, we should tolerate. That is the instruction of... We should welcome such danger. And pray to Krishna. What is that prayer? Tat te 'nukampam su-samiksamanah. "My dear Lord, it is Your great mercy that I am put into this dangerous position." That is the viewpoint of devotee. He doesn't take danger as danger. He takes: "It is Krishnas mercy." What kind of mercy? Now bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam. "Due to my past activities, I was to suffer so much. But You are mitigating that suffering, giving me little suffering."

Just like a token punishment. Sometimes in the courts a big man is culprit. So say, if the judge wants 100,000 dollars, he can pay immediately. But he asks from Him: "You just give one cent." Because that is also punishment. But minimizing. Similarly we have to suffer on account of our past deeds. That's a fact. You cannot avoid. Karmani nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhajam [Bs. 5.54]. But those who are in devotional service, those who are in Krishna consciousness, their sufferings are minimized, a token. Just like one was to be killed. So instead of being killed with his knife, he gets some little cut on the finger. In this way, karmani nirdahati kintu ca...

Those who are in devotional service, they are: aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami. Krishna assures that: "I give you protection from the reaction of sinful life." So when there is very, very grievous criminal activities behind his, sometimes it is like that. Instead of hanging him, there may be little cut by the knife on the finger. This is the position. So why should we be afraid of danger? We should simply depend on Krishna consciousness, because if we live Krishna conscious, in any circumstances, then my benefit is that I am not coming again in this material world. Apunar bhava-darsanam. The repeatedly, as you think of Krishna, as you see Krishna, as you read of Krishna, as you work for Krishna, some way or other, if you remain in Krishna consciousness, that is your benefit. And that benefit will save you from taking birth again in the material world. That is real benefit. And if I am become little comfortable by so-called other engagement, and if I forget Krishna, and I have to take birth again, then what is my benefit? We should be very much careful about this.

Krishna consciousness cannot be disturbed at any circumstances. Even there is heavy suffering, that is the instruction of Kuntidevi. Kuntidevi's welcome, welcoming: vipadah santu tah sasvat tatra tatra. Let there... Because, before winning the battle of Kuruksetra, all these Pandavas were put into so many dangerous positions. That is already described in the previous verses. Sometimes they were offered poison, sometimes they were put into the house, lac, and it was set fire. Sometimes big, big demons, man-eaters, and big, big fighters. Every time... They lost their kingdom, lost their wife, lost their prestige. They were put into the forest. Full of dangers. But within all those dangers, Krishna was there, with all those dangers. When the Draupadi was being naked, Krishna was there supplying cloth. Krishna is always there.

Therefore Bhismadeva, while he was dying... He was grandfather of the Pandavas. So when the Pandavas came to see him on his deathbed, so he cried that: "These boys, my grandsons, they're all very pious. Maharaja Yudhisthira, the topmost pious person. His name is Dharmaraja, the king of religiosity. He is the eldest brother. And Bhima and Arjuna, they are devotees and so great hero. They can kill thousands of men. They're so powerful. So Yudhisthira, Yudhisthira is there, and Bhima is there. Arjuna is there, and Draupadi is directly the Goddess of Fortune. There was this injunction that wherever Draupadi will be there, there will be no scarcity of food. In this way, the combination was so nice and over and above them, Krishna is always with them, and still they are suffering." So he began to cry that: "I do not know what is the arrangement of Krishna that such pious men, such devotees, they are also suffering."

So don't think that: "Because I have become a devotee, there will be no danger, no suffering." Prahlada Maharaja suffered so much. The Pandavas suffered so much. Haridasa Thakura suffered so much. But we should not be disturbed by those sufferings. We must have firm faith, firm conviction that: "Krishna is there. He'll give me protection." Kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati. Don't try to take benefit of other shelter than Krishna. Always take to Krishna.

Krishna says: kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati. "My dear Arjuna, you can declare it to the public that My devotees are never vanquished." Why declaration was advised to be made by Arjuna? Why He did not declare Himself? There is some point. Because this declaration, if Krishna makes, there may be violation because sometimes He violates His promise. But if His devotee promises, it will be never violated. That is Krishna's business. "Oh, My devotee has declared this. I must see that it must be executed." That is Krishna's position. He's so much attached to His devotee. Therefore He said that: "You declare. If I declare, people may not believe it. But if you declare, they'll believe it. Because you are devotee. Your declaration will never be..."

Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah... Krishna wants to see that: "My devotee's promise is fulfilled. My promise may not be fulfilled, may be broken." So this is Krishna consciousness. We must take to Krishna consciousness in, at all circumstances, even it's the most dangerous position. We must keep our faith in Krishna's lotus feet, and there will be no danger.

Thank you very much.

(Srila Prabhupada lecture, Los Angeles, April 17, 1973)
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