Lecture 1 (Canto 2 Chapter 1 Verse 1 – 6)
Inquirer: I have two questions. The first question is the example of Pariksit Maharaja being saved in the womb by Krishna from the Brahmastra weapon is often used to illustrate how Krishna serves His devotee. I can imagine somebody new to Krishna consciousness hearing this narration wondering “How is it that one of the dear devotees of Krishna, Pariksit Maharaja, was crucified although he had been serving the Lord?”
Romapada Swami Answers: You know the answer! You just gave me an opportunity to speak something. The spirit of Maharaja Pariksit as a king was that his life was meant for the welfare of others. With that very high grade consciousness, Krishna permitted him to perform a very special service, specifically hearing the Srimad Bhagavatam, so that we can sit thousands of years later and hear the Srimad Bhagavatam. Krishna gave Maharaja Pariksit the opportunity to be that super qualified person to ask all the right questions and receive Sukadeva Goswami’s perfect answers in perfect way and achieve spiritual perfection. Of course, Krishna could have made another arrangement for that to happen. Thus, Krishna was not abandoning or neglecting Maharaja Pariksit by doing like that. Rather, he was giving Maharaja Pariksit an opportunity to serve and achieve spiritual perfection. The path back home back to Godhead was open wide for Maharaja Pariksit as a result of his apparent misfortune. Even to this day we are singing Maharaja Pariksit’s praises and glories. Krishna likes us to do that, to glorify His pure devotees. As your question presents, some person who hears this history might think, “Why did Krishna let this happen?” But Maharaja Pariksit was not thinking like that. Maharaja Pariksit was thinking “Krishna is very kind. He is giving me the association of Sukadeva Gosvami.” And the circumstance of this temporary body, is temporary and so when he is at this pinnacle of being fixed upon the Personality of Godhead in full consciousness of Krishna, in that condition he gave up his life, gave up his body. He said to Sukadeva Gosvami when the Bhagavatam was completed “Let this mystical thing, the snake bird or whatever it is, come now. I am ready. My consciousness is now fixed upon Krishna! This is my golden opportunity to go back home back to Godhead, perfect arrangement by Krishna!” Much like when King Citraketu was cursed by Parvati, he could have thought “What? Why did Krishna let this happen?” But a person who is fixed in pure devotion is not thinking like that.
A person who is not fixed in pure devotion may be thinking like that. They will think like that over anything that does not go their way. “Why did Krishna let this happen? Why did I not get that job? Why did I not get that raise? Why did my cousin get into car accident” or whatever it is, something other than what you are wanting or not wanting. When those things happen in the life of a pure devotee, they see that this is an opportunity to depend on Krishna further, to serve him in some particular way. They see it for what it is – some arrangement of Krishna to strengthen devotion and dependency upon Him. When that dependency upon Him strengthens, one’s Krishna Consciousness increases. Krishna did not leave Maharaja Pariksit abandoned. He gave him Sukadeva Gosvami’s association.
Inquirer: My second question is, could you comment on how devotees should protect themselves in the present society?
Romapada Swami Answers: One of things that we are taking up at our meeting in Dallas in the 2nd weekend of January, is reminding the Temple Presidents that we have passed a legislation that every temple must have property insurance, at least basic liability, fire and theft because in this litigious atmosphere that we are in today. If someone slips on a banana peel or whatever it is — that’s it, there goes Kishore Kishori’s mandir, so we must have some protection. So when one takes up such protection, it could be done in any number of different ways, mainly in two categories. “This is going to protect me or Krishna’s devotees from danger, or this is a responsible course of action – taking care of that which belongs to Krishna with due consideration of the atmosphere in which we live.” In other words, in India the same measure may not be required, because the atmosphere is not the same, at least not yet. But you know, following closely behind, lawsuits will also become standard, although it is not of the same magnitude now. But in this nation protecting Krishna’s assets and other forms of protection is required. So should we count on those things? Or should we do those things in a thoughtful spirit of devotion, relying ultimately upon Krishna? I have any health insurance, for example. In NY State they offer a health insurance package, so I have that.
The principle is that one should be practical given the atmosphere in which we live. Temple devotees here in Chicago will be able to have their medical needs taken care of by Cook County Hospital. But not everybody else in the room will be, whoever earns a certain minimum annual salary. So in short two things – (1) one needs to make practical measures but not excessive and (2) one should take those practical measures in the right spirit. That is – ultimately some worldly arrangement is not going to protect me, Krishna is. I can take some measure of caution, but it is certainly not foolproof.
One of the other things that we will be speaking about in Dallas is every temple in North America should have a health care plan, something that will take care of the basic health needs of those who are giving their full time and energy to Krishna’s service. These devotees should be taken care of. A menu of different possibilities will be provided. Such provisions should be attended to properly and wisely, but once again not with the consciousness that is all this is going to protect me. Just like you wear a jacket when it is winter in Chicago. Not that you carelessly go out in the cold thinking, “I am Krishna’s devotee. He will protect me from the cold.” You take sensible steps, knowing that your efforts are not ultimately going to protect you from all of life’s dangers.
Within the Vedas, there is Ayurveda. Prabhupada explicitly says it is material, but it part of the kalpa taru, part of the Vedic desire tree, which has every field of knowledge. If used properly in Krishna’s service, it has its value. My health insurance will not take me back to Godhead, but may help me remain fit to do my service.