In spiritual life, every calamity is a stepping stone towards the highest perfection.
Letter to a Dying Devotee, February 6, 1975, Evanston, Illinois,
My dear Audolomi das: Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated Feb. 2, 1975 and have noted the contents carefully. It is the mercy of Krishna that you are getting fair warning of your nearing death. Now, you must become very serious to prepare to meet death without fear of being fully absorbed in the lotus feet of Krishna. You must be very careful and always praying to Krishna that you will not forget Him at the time of dying.
If your heart is weak, do not take part in so much active service. It will be better for you to chant more, read books, eat less—like that you can engage yourself. Everyone has to die sometime, but the problem is that most men your age are thinking, “I will live another fifty years’’, but now you have been informed that in your case, you will not live so long. Take advantage of this advance notice, consider it a blessing and prepare yourself to go back to home, back to Godhead. – I hope this meets you in strong Krishna consciousness.Your ever well-wisher,A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Don’t be Agitated,August 24, 1971, London, UK,
My dear Danavir: Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 17 August, 1971 and have noted the contents carefully. I was very much shocked on hearing of the accidental death of Professor Dosa. I am sending herewith one letter for his wife which please hand over to her and give her all solace. Everything is under Krishna’s control. Krishna is the supreme controller. Maya is only an instrumental agent. The example is given generally that in the rainy season the rain falls down equally everywhere but on the ground different seasonal plants and vegetables grow. Similarly when the material world is created it is set in motion by the Supreme Lord through the instrumental agency of maya. But according to different fruitive actions of different living entities different phases of happiness and distress appear exactly as after the rainfall there are varieties of vegetables. So everything takes place according to one’s past individual karma but those who are in Krishna consciousness their resultant action of karma becomes summarized. Professor Dosa took initiation, or shelter of Krishna. He will always be protected. In the next life he will get birth in a very good devotee’s house so that from the very beginning of life he will get the chance to devote himself to Krishna consciousness. This is the observation from the Shastra angle of vision. So no one should be agitated for sudden death of Professor Dosa. He is always blessed. Now he will get a very good chance for advancing in Krishna Consciousness. Be sure.
Not a Mere Accident
Richard: Okay, okay. You said in the purport that tragedies of life such as death of even a close relative are mere incidental occurrences. But you said earlier that death to you was anything but a mere incidental occurrence.
Prabhupada: No, we are not irresponsible to the death. Death, although we have to meet death, we are making provision that after death we become happy. Happy, of course, for us, even in living condition or dead condition, there is happiness, but it will take time to understand. But taking superficially, death is not very pleasing, so after death, that is mentioned: tyaktva deham punar janma [Gita 4.9], we do not get again a material body. This is final. The material body is the cause of pains and pleasure. So if you don’t get the material body, if you remain in your spiritual body, that is real enjoyment. – Room Conversation, June 10, 1976, Los Angeles
The example is given that nobody wants unhappiness, or some disaster. But the disaster comes, unhappiness comes. We have experience in our life. Nobody tries for that: “Let disaster come upon me. Let there be fire in my house.” No. But the fire takes place. So similarly, because you are destined to some unhappiness and happiness, that will come, either happiness or unhappiness. You don’t bother for that. There is already program, according to the material nature. Prakrteh kriyamanani [Gita 3.27]. You save your time. You simply try how to get out of this dangerous position of repetition of birth and death and go back to home, back to Godhead. That should be your endeavor. – Room Conversation with Lord Brockway, July 23, 1973, London
The Influence of Inevitable Time
As far as the material or spiritual resources were required, there was no scarcity in the case of the Pandavas. Materially they were well equipped because two great warriors, namely Bhima and Arjuna, were there. Spiritually the King himself was the symbol of religion, and above all of them the Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, was personally concerned with their affairs as the well-wisher. And yet there were so many reverses on the side of the Pandavas. Despite the power of pious acts, the power of personalities, the power of expert management and the power of weapons under the direct supervision of Lord Krishna, the Pandavas suffered so many practical reverses, which can only be explained as due to the influence of kala, inevitable time. Kala is identical with the Lord Himself, and therefore the influence of kala indicates the inexplicable wish of the Lord Himself. There is nothing to be lamented when a matter is beyond the control of any human being. – Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.15, purport
Calamities are Dreams
The duty of the sane person, therefore, is to be undisturbed by worldly calamities, which are sure to happen in all circumstances. Suffering all sorts of unavoidable misfortunes, one should make progress in spiritual realization because that is the mission of human life. The spirit soul is transcendental to all material calamities; therefore, the so-called calamities are called false. A man may see a tiger swallowing him in a dream, and he may cry for this calamity. Actually there is no tiger and there is no suffering; it is simply a case of dreams. In the same way, all calamities of life are said to be dreams. If someone is lucky enough to get in contact with the Lord by devotional service, it is all gain. Contact with the Lord by any one of the nine devotional services is always a forward step on the path going back to Godhead.
See the Opportunity
If there is some calamity there is no other alternative than to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. Constantly remembering the lotus feet of the Lord means preparing for liberation from birth and death. Therefore, even though there are so-called calamities, they are welcome because they give us an opportunity to remember the Lord, which means liberation. – Teachings of Queen Kunti, Chapter 8: Let There Be Calamities
The popular saying is that a housewife teaches the daughter-in-law by teaching the daughter. Similarly, the Lord teaches the world by teaching the devotee. The devotee does not have to learn anything new from the Lord because the Lord teaches the sincere devotee always from within. Whenever, therefore, a show is made to teach the devotee, as in the case of the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, it is for teaching the less intelligent men. A devotee's duty, therefore, is to ungrudgingly accept tribulations from the Lord as a benediction. . . . A pure devotee of the Lord accepts tribulations as favors from the Lord. Since the Lord is absolute, there is no mundane difference between the two. – Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.17, purport
Tribulations imposed upon the devotees by the Lord constitute another exchange of transcendental bhava between the Lord and the devotees. The Lord says, “I put My devotee into difficulty, and thus the devotee becomes more purified in exchanging transcendental bhava with Me.” Placing the devotee into material troubles means delivering him from the illusory material relations. – Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.19, purport
Tribulations offered by the Lord to His devotee are different from the tribulations resulting from vicious action. All these glories of the Lord are especially known to the great mahajanas like Brahma, Shiva, Narada, Kapila, Kumara and Bhishma, and one is able to grasp it by their grace. – Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.19, purport
How to Remain Fearless
One who takes shelter of the Supreme Lord has nothing to fear, even in the midst of the greatest calamity. – Bhagavad-gita 1.9, purport
With the club and the disc He chastises the miscreants so that they may come to their senses and know that they are not all in all, for above them there is the Supreme Lord. And by bugling with the conchshell and offering blessings with the lotus flower, He always assures the devotees that no one can vanquish them, even in the greatest calamity.- Krishna Book, Chapter 72
As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.8):
tat te ‘nukampam susamiksamano
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak
Even while suffering in the midst of difficulties, devotees simply offer their prayers and service more enthusiastically. In this way they become firmly fixed in devotional service and eligible to return home, back to Godhead, without a doubt. – Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.9.40, purport
In the beginning of this narration, simply by remembering the spiritual master, the devotees of the Lord, and the Personality of Godhead, I have invoked their benedictions. Such remembrance destroys all difficulties and very easily enables one to fulfill his own desires.- Caitanya-caritamrta, adi 1.20-21
Surrender the Best Policy
“O best among the descendants of Bharata [Yudhisthira], I maintain, therefore, that all this is within the plan of the Lord. Accepting the inconceivable plan of the Lord, you must follow it.” – Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.17
Bhishma wanted to impress upon Maharaja Yudhisthira that since time immemorial no one, including such demigods as Shiva and Brahma, could ascertain the real plan of the Lord. So what can we understand about it? It is useless also to inquire about it. Even the exhaustive philosophical inquiries of sages cannot ascertain the plan of the Lord. The best policy is simply to abide by the orders of the Lord without argument. – Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.16, purport