Janmashtami Krishna-katha 1 – How Krishna freed the kings from Jarasandha and how Krishna frees us
[Talk at ISKCON, Farmington Hills, USA]
Transcribed by: Sadananda Prabhu
Janmashtami Krishna-katha 1 – How Krishna rescues us from the prison of material existence
Today and tomorrow I will speak about some pastimes of Krishna and some practical lessons that we can learn from it. Why Krishna appears in this world is described in the Bhagavad-gita, and is demonstrated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Krishna talks about his appearance in the Gita (4.7,4.8 & 4.9). There Krishna says, whenever there is a decline of dharma and a predominance of adharma, I descend. When Krishna descends his purpose is to empower those who are practicing dharma, and to sideline those who are opposing dharma, and thus he establishes dharma again and again. How does he do this? In the Krishna astotara satanam or the 108 names of Krishna, which comes in the Brahmanda Purana, it is said that Krishna established Yudhishthir as the king. Although Krishna is the supreme Lord, he did not become the supreme king in this world, but he made Yudhisthir the king, and for himself he was happy with a crown of peacock feather. So, Krishna is not even the king of Vrindavan. He is actually the son of the king of Vrindvana, but he is satisfied by glorifying his devotees. And if those devotees who have established dharma become powerful, then dharma is automatically established. So, the pastimes of Krishna are described in in ninety chapters of the tenth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. The first forty chapters talk about Krishna’s Vrindavan lila. The next ten chapters talk about his Mathura lila, and the next forty chapters talk about the various pastimes which he performed while he was based in Dwaraka. I will talk today about one pastime when Krishna was based in Dwaraka. From there he travelled to various places. In this world there are two broad ways in which Krishna establishes the rule of law or dharma. One is through sastra, and the other is through sastra. Sastra refers to scriptural knowledge. So, by providing scriptural knowledge he helps people to understand what is right and what is wrong. On accepting that people start acting rightly. Then, that is the best. But there will always be some people who will never learn. For them sastra or weapons are needed. In hindi we say, “Lato ke bhuta bato se nahin mante.” Now, there are some things which are not translatable into English (laughter) If you translate this, you will have something like, “Ghosts of kicks don’t learn by words.” which doesn’t make any sense. The idea is, it is understood that some people need sastra, and they need to be disciplined aggressively. This is an eternal truth of material existence, and this truth appears even when Krishna is there. When Krishna was there in Dwaraka, at that time some messengers who were themselves very distressed, and they brought very distressing news as well. These messengers had come from kings. Several kings who had their own kingdoms had been imprisoned by a demoniac king named “Jarasandha”, and this Jarasanda had overpowered and imprisoned them, and was making their life hell. Normally whenever we are in trouble, we look for someone more powerful than us who can help us. Generally, ksatriyas who are martial guardians of the society have the have a lot of confidence in their own powers. They cannot flinch from a fight that is required. They are heroic, but for them to be overpowered and imprisoned, and to be in a state of utter helplessness is a great misery. Frustration is a function of expectation. It will be very painful if you or I fall and our hand gets fractured. But suppose there is a champion athlete, and that person is about to go in for a say a Olympic hundred meter sprint, and say before that he slips and gets fractured – the pain of the fracture is not just the physical pain. The pain has also got a mental aspect to it, and that mental aspect is the frustration of the expectation. So, the greater the expectation that we have, the greater is the frustration when things go wrong. And that is why the same event can affect different people differently. Anybody who gets a fracture will be frustrated and will be in pain, but if an athlete gets a fracture, he will be much more in distress than any other person. It is a problem if we get a sour throat, but if a speaker gets a sour throat, then it is even more frustrating for him. That way our frustration is a function of expectation, and in general, when we go into any situation in our life, we have a certain set of expectations. Some of those expectations are expressed, and some of them are unexpressed, and some of them are not only not expressed, but they are also so implicit that we don’t even think about it. That means that if we go to meet a friend, then they will at least welcome us and give us some water and ask a few nice words to us. That is something which is understood. So, for a king to be imprisoned is extremely frustrating. Whenever we face problems in our life, the physical aspect of the problem can be bad, but the mental aspect of the problem is often much bigger. The mental aspect of the problem is the frustration of the expectation that we are having. Suppose somebody had decided to learn rowing, and as he is rowing along on a boat, he decides to invite his friends to come and see how he has learned rowing. He made a whole plan of how elegantly he was going to move his arms and row, so that everybody will click photos and will celebrate. And as he gets into the boat for rowing and is about to start rowing, suddenly a giant wave comes and knocks him out of the boat, so that there is no boat and no oars. But if he still keeps moving his hands, he will drown. If reality has changed so drastically that there is no boat and oars, then we have to get out of the boat and swim. If still they are attached thinking, “I wanted to row. Why this happened?” it will not help them, because there is nothing that we can do about it. So, we are here, the reality is here, and our expectations are in between. Sometimes our expectations help us to shape the reality. Say if a guest is coming to our house and we want to cook food, then it is expected that we will cook nicely, and that expectation help us to shape the reality in a proper way. But sometimes the reality goes off in an entirely opposite direction. At that time our expectations are absolutely of no help to us. The expectations were meant to help us shape the reality, but by some forces beyond ours, the reality has become shaped in an entirely different way. Then we have to have detachment from our expectations. The reality may be bad, but to the extent we are attached to the expectation, to that extent we face two battles instead of one. One battle is, “the reality is unfavorable”, and the other battle is, “why were my expectations shattered?” Like a person who is now in the water; one battle is that they have to swim and get to the coast safety. The other battle is, “why did my plan of exhibiting my rowing skills get foiled?” It is bad that our plan was foiled, but we have to put it aside. So, to the extent our expectations consume our consciousness, to that extent they disable us in facing reality. So, we are here, our expectations are here, and the reality is here. The greater the distance is between the expectation and the reality, the greater is our frustration. But not only is the frustration greater, our consciousness stays caught in the expectation “why did this not happen?” And the greater is the gap, the greater becomes our inability to deal with reality. This is where humility is needed. Humility can have many different meanings. At one level humility means detachment from expectations. Bhaktivinod Thakur is attributed to have said, if you are humble, one way to develop humility is to stop having expectations from others. To not have any expectation from anyone is the way to develop humility, which is definitely very difficult to apply. Normally, we all have expectations in our relationships, in our social roles, in our familial roles etc, but it is not wrong to have expectations because natural human relationships are based on expectations. In every relationship there is some contribution and some expectation. When we do something for the other person, then we expect from the other person. But the important thing is, “when there is detachment from the expectation when our expectation is frustrated, at that time we can face the reality. Similarly, these kings were rulers, and for them to be put into jail like criminals, and to be stripped of all wealth, honor and even basic necessities of life was very humiliating, mortifying and unbearable. But at that time instead of resenting what had happened, they turned towards Krishna. They send a messenger to Krishna, “Krishna, please help us.” The more powerful we think we are, the more difficult it is for us to ask anyone for help. Kunti Maharani says that if we have strength, birth in a high family, wealth, learning and beauty, then all these things create a sense of pride within us by which we feel that we don’t need anyone else; and thus, calling out to Krishna for help become very difficult. But it was to the credit of this kings that when they were in need, they turned and approached Krishna, and they not only approached Krishna, but they also send their devotional prayers to Krishna. And then, at that time, while Krishna was contemplating after having heard their prayers – actually they had come to the Yadu assembly, and in the assembly, they had heard that this king named Jarasandha was committing so much atrocities. Then they were contemplating on what to do. But Jarasanda had also become very powerful. He had got a huge army, and Krishna felt that having a full confrontation of armies would cause a huge amount of bloodshed. So, he decided to check if this could be avoided. Krishna had fought with Jarasandha many times. At that time Krishna’s knew that Jarasandha had many demoniac aids with him. Jarasandha would get all these demoniac aids, and they would all fight with Krishna, and Krishna would defeat and free the world from the burden of all these demons. Each time Jarasandha would bring various demoniac forces to attack, and Krishna would destroy all those demoniac forces, but would let Jarasandha go.
It is said that there are four kinds of people. There are people who are “busy and foolish.” They are running around and making a mess of everything. Then there are people who are “lazy and foolish.” They make a mess of things. But they are so lazy that they do anything much. In that sense busy and foolish are actually more dangerous than lazy and foolish. Then there are “busy and intelligent” who are running around and doing this and that. It is good to be busy and intelligent, but sometimes we may get so caught in doing things that we forget the big picture. The best is said to be those who are “lazy and intelligent”. That means that these are the people who think, plan and then act. There are three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. We can say that this three modes correlate with those people who are lazy; broadly speaking they are in the mode of ignorance. So, there are some people who make things happen, some people watch things happen, and some people wonder what happened. (laughter) Some people are so lost in their own heads that they don’t know what is happening in their lives. So, Krishna in this particular situation acted as a “lazy intelligent.” So, he waited. It is as if Krishna said to Jarasandha “Instead of me going all over the world finding demoniac people, and fighting and freeing the world from them, you form all the allies, and you get all the demoniac forces to attack me. I will stay in Mathura and I will free the world from demoniac forces.” Every time Jarasanda would be defeated, but Krishna would not kill him. He would only imprison him. Thus, Jarasandha would be humiliated and would go back. And several times, one after another, Krishna did like this, and through this he efficiently freed the world from demons. But eventually Krishna decided that Jarasandha needs to be dealt with a different way. So, Krishna moved from Mathura to Dwaraka, but Jarasandha could not attack at all. And then Jarasandha build a very powerful kingdom in Mangala where he was ruling. From there he arrested the nearby kings, and then Krishna decided that he has to deal with Jarasandha. But he had a plan. His plan was that he wanted to give credit to his devotees. As Krishna was deliberating what to do in this situation, at that time Narada Muni came over there, and he said, Yudhisthir Maharaja is considering doing a Rajasurya yajna and he wants to consult you. Immediately, Jarasandha decided that he could accomplish both these things, and he went to Hastinapur. Actually, he went to Indraprasta at this point because Yudhisthir Maharaj was at Indrapasta; not Hastinapur. In Indraprasta he met him, and when Yudhisthir Maharja saw Krishna, he was delighted. Yudhisthir Maharja was very sober and grave, and at this point when he beheld the beautiful form of Krishna, tears started coming from his eyes, and he said, O Krishna, you are my Lord, and I wish to offer you the very best of everything. As a king the best that I can offer you is the royal opulence that I have. I want to glorify you, and for that purpose I want to have the best royal opulence. And for this I wish to perform the Rajasurya yajna, where all the kings will come and give their attributes to me. Then, in that ceremony, I will glorify you as the foremost of all great personalities. Krishna looked at Yudhisthir Maharaja and said, O Yudhisthir, you are dharmaraj, you are such a virtuous king that whatever you desire will be fulfilled, and whatever you desire will be for the establishment of dharma. Then Krishna said, you send your brothers, and they will face no opposition. In the Gopala Campu of Jiva Goswami it is described that Krishna arranged for the power of the great God’s to manifest through the Pandavas. When Bhima went in a particular direction, all the power of Vayu manifested in Bhima. When Arjuna went in another direction, Indra’s power came through him. When Nakula and Sahadeva went to a different direction, the power of the Aswini kumaras came through them. In this way they conquered all the directions, but there was one king who was undefeated. That was Jarasandha. At that time, Krishna decided that they will go directly and meet him. Yudhisthir became extremely worried. He said, Jarasandha is a cruel king. How will you go and fight with him? I will provide my whole army. But Krishna said, No, we will go alone. I will take Arjuna and Bhima with me. The three of us will go. Yudhisthir Maharaja was anxious, but Krishna told him to not worry because he will take care. Normally, Krishna travels with Arjuna. Krishna and Arjuna are the best of friends. Arjuna is the greatest example of sakhya rasa. In fact, Jiva Goswami said why is that among the five Pandavas Krishna loved Arjuna the most. He says, when Krishna leaves Vrindavana, he goes to various parts of the world in order to establish dharma, but his heart is always in Vrindavan, and whatever reminds him of Vrindavan makes him feel very happy about that. Say, if we are in a distant land and if we meet Indians there, then we feel happy, if a South Indian meets a South Indian, he feels even more happy etc. This is because when we meet people from our own land or the same language, it reminds us of our home and our loved ones, and anything that reminds us of our loved ones, gives us great joy. Similarly, although Krishna has many devotees, but his most intimate devotees are the Vrajavasis. Therefore, anything that reminds him of Vrindavana, makes him feel so joyful with that reminder, and also, he feels so joyful with those who are offering him that reminder. Jiva Goswami says that in Vrindavana there is a gopa named Arjuna. There is no gopa in Vrindavana with the name Yudhisthir or Bhima or Sahadeva. So, among the Pandavas, because Arjuna reminds him of Vrindavana, he is the dearest to Krishna. Of course, Arjuna has great devotion, and Jiva Goswami is describing the whole Krishna lila from the perspective of the Vrajavasis. Normally Krishna travels with Arjuna because Krishna and Arjuna are the best of friends. On this particular occasion he said that he wanted Bhima also to come. Bhima is also a great hero. In fact, among the five Pandavas, Bhima is extremely powerful. Arjuna has great skill, but Bhima has great strength. So, when all three of them go, at that time, Arjuna and Bhima take on the garb of the Brahmanas. In general, we see that the ksatriyas have a particular dress or a regal appearance to them, and a part of their regal appearance is also their dress. Brahmanas are more austere. When Bhima and Arjuna along with Krishna came to the kingdom of Magada to meet Jarasandha, they come in brahminical dress, but they are wearing colorful garlands and very colorful garments. Brahmanas are normally dressed very simply. So, when they reach Jarasandha’s kingdom, they go directly to his palace. Jarasandha sees them, and he is puzzled and intrigued. In the Ramayana also when Ram and Laxman are going through the forest and they come to Kiskinda, at that time, on top of a hill Sugriva is there, and Sugriva looks down from above and he sees Ram and Laxman. He says, “These are strange people. They are dressed like monastics or munis or brahmanas, but they are carrying bows and arrows. What is going on? Who are these people?” Whenever we look at the world, the basic function for us is that we try to categorize reality into certain categories. This is functionally required also. If we meet a person we say, “Ok, this person is from India, so I have to speak in Hindi; he is from Gujrat, I have to speak in Gujrati’. Whenever we look at the world, the world outside is so complicated that we try to fit the world into certain categories. Whatever we observe, we put into a category, and then we know how to interact with that person. But sometimes things don’t fit into the categories, and when things don’t fit into the categories, there is confusion. Say if we meet somebody who looks like an American, but then, if that person is speaking Sanskrit slokas, then we will be amazed. When Prabhupada brought his Western disciples to India, people were amazed because they thought that the Western people are accepting our culture like that. So, we try to put people into categories. There is a little confusion where they don’t fit. It raises a question, “What is going on?” Similarly, when Jarasandha saw this illustrious looking people come to his kingdom, he thought that the whole build of their body was that of a ksatriya, as they had huge muscles and strong shoulders. And on their shoulders people also saw the marks of bows and arrows which they are carried. Though they were not having anything, they are dressed very opulently. Jarasandha observed them and said, O illustrious ones, who are you, what can I do for you, and how is it that as brahmanas you are dressed like this, wearing colorful garlands and garments? Krishna smiled and said, we are brahamanas, but those who don’t have necklaces, their garlands are their necklaces. When Jarasandha heard this, he felt that it didn’t make any sense. But still he said, “What can I do for you?” Then he ordered for abundant food for them. Krishna said, we have not come here for food. We could have got that in any part of the world. We have come here for something special. We have heard that you are a great warrior, and that your skill in fighting is unparalleled. So, we want to see your fighting prowess. When Jarasandha heard this, his ego was very gratified. He thought that he was all glorious, because, even the Brahmanas were acknowledging that he was such a great fighter. Normally everybody likes to hear himself praised. That is a natural human instinct, but when somebody who is very ego conscious is praised, then that praise makes them lose their intelligence. Actually, among some wealthy people who are V.I.P’s, they employ some people who will tell about the glory of this person who is a V.I.P, to the people who are going to meet him. This they do because that person should know how great this V.I.P is. This person is not exactly a secretary, but anyone who wants to meet the V.I.P has to go through that person. So, Jarasandha thought, O they are so learned. What is their learning? They know how great I am.” And he said, “If you ask the charity of my life, I will give my life also in charity to you. Tell me what you want? Even if you want my head, I will give it to you?” Then Krishna said, “We already told you that we want to see you fighting.” Jarasandha did not understand that. He said, whatever you want we can give you. Krishna said, we want to see your skills in fighting. Therefore, we want to fight with you. Jarasandha was astounded to hear the bramahanas come and ask for a fight. Krishna said, haven’t you recognized us? This person who has a body like the thunderbolt is the illustrious Bhima. This person next to him is his elder brother Arjuna who is unparallel in the skills of Archery, and I am your old enemy, Krishna. When Jarasandha heard this, he started laughing. He said, “Ok. You are so afraid of me that you have come here as brahmanas to ask for charity? I have defeated you so many times that last time you ran away.” Generally, when the ego is very strong, we interpret all of reality in a way that supports our ego. That means that whatever happens we think, “I am right and you are wrong.” I was at a temple, and there was one devotee who was very authoritarian, and he was dominating by shouting and criticizing everyone, condemning everyone, and everybody was having a lot of complaints about him. When I talked with this devotee, I told him, “There are a lot of devotees who are upset because they feel that you yell at them.” He said, “That’s right. If they did what I told them to do, I wouldn’t have to yell at them. It is because they are not doing, I have to yell.” So, here there is no acknowledgement from the person that he is doing something wrong. Actually, our character is tested not just when things go according to our plan, but it is tested most when things don’t go according to our plan. The strengths of our relationship are not seen in how tightly we hug each other, or how much we smile in each other’s presence, or when we are together in somebody else’s presence in order to put a good picture., But the strength of our character is shown if we can find some commonality and go on when two people go in two opposite directions. So, Jarasandha said, “O you are so cowardly. That’s why you have come as brahmanas.Krishna, you have run away in fear of me. You went and hid in the city of Dwaraka. Therefore, I consider you unworthy of fighting of me. And Arjuna is inferior to me. Actually, he has no strength. Because he has no physical strength, so, he uses a bow and arrow to fight. He is not worthy of fighting with me. It is only with Bhima that I can find some fun in fighting with him.” Krishna laughed and he said, O Jarasandh, you have exactly chosen what I wanted you to choose.” Then the fight between Bhima and Jarasandha was arranged. Jarasandha brought a club for Bhima and for himself, and then they started fighting. For the ksatriyas, fighting at one level it is a test of skill, and it is not win at all costs. We naturally want to win, but the way to win is by fighting and showing one’s prowess. But if rules are not followed, then there will be no order and just chaos. Even for something like sports, if rules are followed, then there is some enjoyment. Similarly, here Jarasandha and Bhima started fighting. Although Bhima was in the kingdom of Jarasandha, and Jarasandha has his whole army which he could have set upon Krishna, Arjuna and Bhima, he did not do that. This is because he wanted to have that joy of fighting, and prove his strength in winning. Then Bhima and Jarasandha started fighting. The fighting went on and on. Jarasandha was extremely powerful. Bhima was furious, and he was fighting to the best of his ability, but neither of them was gaining an upper hand. One whole day they were fighting. At the evening they decided to rest, and the next day they decided to start. It went on day after day. And as they were fighting day after day, Bhima looked at Krishna and said, “I can’t do it. What should I do now?” He looked at Krishna in helplessness. At that time Krishna gave an indication to Bhima. Actually, in everything that we do, there is our endeavor, and there is a higher sanction. Whatever we do, it is not just by our prowess. Most of the times we presume the presence of the higher sanction we, and that’s why we don’t even acknowledge it. That means that if we are good at some skills – say if we a good at writing software programs, then we go to office and we start writing software programs, and if we are able to do it, we apply ourselves to it. If we are good at cooking we go to our home and cook the food, and if it comes out tasty, we eat it. So, normally there is action and there is result. When we do the action, the result comes. Because our action leads to the result, we tend to think that there is nothing more, because we think that our action produces the result. But sometimes we do the action, but the result doesn’t come. Say in sports, some batsman might be a very good batsman, and that batsman goes on and bats, and he just starts batting fluently, hitting stoke here and there, and across the field, and then lead the team to victory. And then suddenly, after a purple patch, the batsman goes out of form. The word, “Out of form” is curious because the batman and the bat is still there. Just like that Arjuna towards the end of his pastimes tells Krisna, “I am the same Arjuna, this is the same chariot, this is the same bow and this is the same arrow, but I can’t fight and win.” Similarly, even in the case of champion batmen, sometimes when they go out to bat, sometimes they get out in the simplest of balls. When they hit a shot, instead of it going into the gaps, it just goes to the fielder. So, normally we presume that our action leads to the results. And when the action doesn’t lead to the result, at that time we get frustrated thinking why the result is not coming. But this is the time not for frustration but for introspection. Actually, it is not just my action that produces the result. There is higher sanction that is required. Right now, I am speaking, and when I speak, I think of a thought and I speak it. It is my thinking and my speaking. But suppose I get a sore throat, then, even if I want to speak, I will not be able to speak. Normally we think that the action produces the result, but actually it is not just the action, it is our action plus some higher sanction that leads to the result. There are times when the action doesn’t produce the result, and if at that time we are spiritually conscious, then we will turn towards Krishna, and we will seek Krishna’s help and remember him. Similarly, for Bhima here, though he was extremely powerful and could fight and defeat every opponent, but in this situation, he was so overwhelmed that he just couldn’t do anything. Though he was fighting to the best of his capacity, the result was not coming. At that time, he turned towards Krishna, and Krishna guided him. Krishna picked up a small leaf that was there, and from the middle of the leaf he ripped it apart, and Bhima understood immediately what is to be done. In spear of knowledge there is its own jargon. Jargon means that if a software engineer is going to talk to another software engineer, they will use their own software terms which other people will not understand at all. If one brain surgeon is talking to another brain surgeon, they will use their own terms and we will not understand what is going on. But they themselves will be able to understand. So, though ripping a leaf apart doesn’t mean anything, but through that a signal was conveyed, and Bhima understood. So, as Bhima and Jarasandha were fighting with each other, both of them would knock each other down and hold the other person down, and the other person would get up and again resume the fight. Then Bhima used his full prowess and knocked him down, and after knocking him down, he pounced on one leg of Jarasandha and catching the other leg, he ripped the body apart. Thus, Jarasandha’s whole body ripped into two. He shrieked in pain and died. What had happened to Jarasandha was that, when he has been born, he had been born in two parts, and he had been abandoned as if dead. A witch named Jara had found these two parts in the forest, and she had brought the two parts together. Jarasandha had got some mystic powers by which his body was invulnerable to any weapon or any blow accept the joint that was formed in his birth. When Jarasandha was separated this way, he shrieked in pain and met his end. At that time, many of the people who had assembled over there to watch this fight were the citizens of Jarasandha’s kingdom. They were alarmed. They said, “Who are this people? They killed our king. What is going to happen to us?” Normally, where citizens are there, they need a protector. And even if their protector maybe a bad person, but still there is some sense of security. It is a saying “Devil we know is better than the devil that we don’t know.” That means, “Even if this person is troublesome, we know what kind of trouble this person gives me. In the case of a new person, I don’t even know what kind of trouble they would give me.” So, they thought that their king is dead, and so they were worried thinking what was going to happen now. But Krishna immediately assured them. He said, “We have got nothing against you. In fact, we fought this “one to one fight” so that there will be no bloodshed.” Krishna then called Sahadev who as the son of Jarasandh. He had him enthroned as the king. He said, “I have not come here to annex or plunder Magadha. I am come here only to free Magadha from its demoniac rule.” We see the same thing in Ramayana also. Ram kills Ravana, but he doesn’t annex Lanka making it a part of Ayodhya. He makes Bibhisan the king of Lanka, who was a demon. Similarly, when Krishna comes, his purpose is primarily to rid the world of demoniac rulers. Sahadev was a virtuous prince, relatively speaking, and then he was enthroned as the king. And then, when Krishna went straight to the cellars where the kings had been imprisoned, the kings saw the presence of Krishna. The kings had been kept in a dark cellar, and Jarasandha had a peculiar idea of what he was going to do with them. His plan was that he was going to do a sacrifice of Vairabh later on, and for that sacrifice he was going to offer the heads of the kings. So, he was keeping them alive till that time for that purpose. Suddenly, the prison doors opened, and not just the light of the day came in, but some light which was far brighter and uplifting than the light of day came in. That was the effulgence of Krishna’s body, and as Krishna came in, they beheld the same person whose help they had prayed for, and whose assistance they had sought. As they beheld Krishna, tears started coming out from their eyes. The fragrance of Krishna’s body came into their noses, and it enlivened them. The sight of Krishna for them was like that of water for a person who was dying of thirst in a desert. And spontaneously these kings started glorifying Krishna. Rupa Goswami describes this incident in his book Lalita Madhava. He has written two beautiful books called Lalia Madhava and Vidagdha Madhava. In Lalita Madhava he describes that these kings fell at the feet of Krishna, and holding Krishna’s feet on their head they said, “Krishna, you have blessed us.” The prayers that they offered are very enlightening. They said, “Actually, we lost our kingdom and our honor, but in that loss, we gained you O Krishna. We gained devotion and connection to you, and now we have gained your darshan, and this is our greatest gain. When we were in imprisonment longing for your darshan, we composed prayers praising you. But now that we have seen your beautiful form, we realize that the praises that we sang of you were actually insults to you. The praises that we offered to you are like a poor villager that sees a very wealthy person, and he says, “You are as wealthy as a landlord of our village.” But that person is not the landlord, but is the king of the whole kingdom. So, from the point of the view of a poor person, to call somebody a land lord is a praise, but from the king’s perspective, to be called a landlord is an insult. Similarly, the kings told Krishna “Our glorification to you is like calling a king a landlord. You glory is so great that we can never describe it in words. We simply offer ourselves to you. We now understand that this whole situation came upon us so that we could have your darshan; so that we could come closer to you. They were beholding Krishna with devotion, but Krishna was beholding them with compassion. Like a father looking at his children who are in great distress, Krishna felt that they were his own children. Krishna told them, remember your eternal spiritual position. You are souls who are presently the kings of your kingdoms. So, go back and rule your kingdom, but while ruling the kingdom do not be ruled by illusion. Remember your eternal position. Act in a mood of service to me, and ultimately you will attain me. Krishna arranged for them to be bathed and dressed in regal attire, and then the chariots, horses and the elephants were all sent back to the kingdoms. Thus, Krishna delivered all of them. Krishna was all this time still in the dress of a brahmana with some colorful robes. Sahadeva gave Krishna royal dresses and gifts, and the same to Bhima and Arjuna, and then they all went back to Yudhisthir, and they told Yudhisthir, “The last obstacle for the performance of your Rajasurya yajna has been removed. Now you can go ahead and perform the yajna.” So, just as Krishna delivered the kings from the prison that they had been put in, all of us in this world are also in a prison of material existence – the prison where our own bodies limit our search for happiness. We seek pleasure, but even the best pleasures in this world are temporary, and Krishna comes in this world to deliver us. We may sometimes be in a comfortable position like the kings in their kingdoms, and sometimes we may be in a miserable position like the kings in the prisons. Whatever position that we are in, we are always in need Krishna. Sometimes when we have a lot of material facilities and comforts in our life, at that time we don’t feel the need for Krishna, but when the material comforts that we are usually habituated to are taken away from us, there would not seem that there would be any hope of them coming back soon. That is the time that we feel the need for Krishna. Of course, it is not that we have to be in material distress to connect with Krishna. Even in material comfort, if we recognize that this comfort is temporary, then it is a facility for me to connect with Krishna. Then through distress or through happiness, we can connect with Krishna. Krishna is our eternal lord, and he is always waiting for us to connect with him once again, so that we can experience the eternal joy of a loving connection with him. In life, by our past karma, we may get different situations; sometimes happiness and sometimes distress. But if we stay devoted to Krishna, then Krishna will guide us through all. Then happiness won’t intoxicate us, and distress won’t dishearten us. Through it all we will keep moving towards Krishna. In all situations, when we connect with Krishna, we can attain him. This is a concluding meditation and thought which we can carry, “Whatever Karma may get us to, Krishna will get us through.”
Thank you very much.
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