Q. Srimad Bhagavatam is filled with the pastimes of the devotees who were put in great tribulations and they maintained their faith in trials and tribulations. When neophytes are told to tolerate their problems like these great souls have tolerated. Often times mind immediately say it’s OK for them (Prahlad, Pandavas) to tolerate because they were so great because they are mahabhagavats but as far as I am concerned I am very weak. Because of weak mind it tells us you are so weak and make you hopeless and say you can’t do like Prahlad and we feel despondent and real shelter which is there in the story is not really obtained when we need that most.
A. It is your sincerity that will give you the correct understanding. If you are insincere you will think that this great person can do it but I am not so great so why should I try? But if you are sincere you will understand that these great persons they didn’t have to do it, they are doing it only to teach us how to do it? There is no reason for Prahlad to suffer. But the Lord put him in that situation to teach us how to remember Krishna even in the greatest sufferings. We can not imitate these great souls. That is correct. If you think you can do it like they have done, that is called imitation. But if you sincerely according to your capacity try to follow in their footsteps… that is the way to salvation. Mahajano yena gatah se pantha……We have to follow the footsteps of great mahajans. It may be very difficult. But if it’s any less difficult then you would not have proper opportunity for purification. You are going through what you need to going through. Everyone is going through what they have to go through to go back to Godhead due to what they have done in the past and how they have contaminated themselves in the past. Even if you become a devotee you have to pay the price to some extent of some austerity and some difficulty to cleanse yourself of all the dirt you have accumulated in the past.
Because if that is not there you will not take it seriously. If you are burnt by fire you will not touch fire again. But if it doesn’t hurt when you touch fire then even if you read in scriptures, even if your guru, mother and father say don’t touch fire, you may still say I did it but it didn’t hurt so much. So let me do it again. That is our conditioned state. But if you really get burnt very bad and you are still suffering, then when you will read in the scriptures or hear from your guru and hear from everyone else, do not touch fire, you will think somehow or other I will not touch fire.
So we have to suffer a lot to understand that we shouldn’t do sinful activities, we shouldn’t engage in materialistic activities. If we indulge in unnecessary sense gratification we have to pay a high price, just to become very serious for giving those things up. So it is Krishna’s mercy.
When parents punish the child, child always thinks why so much what have I done? But good parents knows this is required to make you serious. Sometime they fail in exams and then they have to go back through whole another year to do their studies. It’s very difficult. A whole year I have to go for study again I have failed. So the student may say why this school is so strict on me? Why are they punishing me so much? Because if they don’t do that you will not take your studies seriously. You have to understand what is the price?
We should know what we have done, we are going through when we come to Krishna consciousness…. Krishna knows what it takes to give us the determination, the frustration required to not do it again. And you may say sarva dharaman parityajya mam ekam sharnam vraja aham tvam sarva papebhyo mokshyeshyami ma shuchah. Krishna has relieved from all sinful reactions … do not fear…So Why am I still suffering sinful reactions? In one sense you are not suffering sinful reactions if you are trying to surrender to Krishna. If you are actually cent percent surrendered to Krishna there is no problem but until you come to that point of complete surrender to Krishna, Krishna is giving us the medicine we require so that we don’t resort to those sinful activities or those materialistic activities. We have to be thoroughly exhausted with any hope of material happiness in this world.
If somebody is very active person, and when he has back problem doctor advices him to lay down on bed and do not getup for five days. To lay down on bed for five days is very difficult. He wants to dance, wants to sing. But that’s what is required for his ailment. He did something wrong to make his body like this so now he has to pay for it. Doctor has to give medicine to patient so many times that they don’t like but it is for their good. So Krishna is supreme physician. He knows what medicine and he knows what type of resume we all need for our purification. And so that we do not engage in these activities and have created so much sufferings. So although when you surrender to Krishna there is really no need for you to suffer the sinful reactions but the problem is when you go back and do it again then you are not surrendering to Krishna. So Krishna arranges a certain quantity of sinful reactions to come upon you just so that you will never do it again, just so that you will really come to the point of really surrendering to Him. And the great souls teach us how to do it? And we must follow in their footsteps.