The elephant Gajendra

posted in: DB, English

 

 

Mayapur is the holy land of Lord Caitanya’s birth place. It is the World headquarters of ISKCON and home of over 5000 devotees from all over the world[1].

It is situated along the banks of the sacred Ganges river and is the center of the nine Islands called Navadwipa  (Nava – nine and dvipa – island).

ISKCON Mayapur temple is home of the beautiful deity forms of the Lord: Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Madhava and the Asta Sakhis (the eight principal gopis), Pancatattva and Nrsimhadeva. Presently the new Temple of the Vedic Planetarium is under construction, which was prophesied by previous acharyas (spiritual masters) and is expected to be completed in approximately 5 years.

 Visiting Mayapur is a wonderful experience for anybody. The atmosphere is so spiritual that one feels really at home, it is always hard to leave. Spiritual benefit here is multifold, it is the place where kirtan is going on 24/7 from all directions. The whole area is steeped in a rich historical culture of Gaudiya Vaisnavism with many ancient temples and pastime places of Lord Caitanya and His associates.

Mayapur is non-different from Vrndavana, the abode of Lord Krsna and is therefore an eternal spiritual realm not of this world.

Hope to see you here!

 

The following article is based on notes I made while preparing for Srimad Bhagavatam class here in Sridhama Mayapur India[2].

 

“Now, fully desiring release from material life, I offer my respectful obeisances unto that Supreme Person who is the creator of the universe, who is Himself the form of the universe and who is nonetheless transcendental to this cosmic manifestation. He is the supreme knower of everything in this world, the Supersoul of the universe. He is the unborn, supremely situated Lord. I offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.”

 

This is just one verse out of the 33 verses Gajendra the elephant spoke in supplication to The Lord. Gajendra was attacked by a crocodile while sporting in the waters of a beautiful lake in the heavenly realm. It is interesting to note that authoritative scriptures give detailed descriptions of life in realms of the higher and lower planets. In the higher planetary systems there is a standard of enjoyment greater than we experience on earth but the earthly region is said to have just the right balance of happiness and distress that makes it conducive for practicing spiritual life, ie. We can’t get too comfortable here. Neither is it so distressful that we are not able to practice Krsna consciousness.

Gajendra was enjoying so much in that idyllic setting he was actually intoxicated.  There he was surrounded by his she elephants and children plus the rest of the herd, when danger struck.  Being an animal of the land he was not able to fight the crocodile, an animal of the water, with full strength.  The other elephants tried as they might to pull him free from the clutches of the crocodile but to no avail. Gajendra struggled in that distressful condition fighting for a long, long time.  But in his helpless state he suddenly remembered a prayer he had recited in a previous life.

 Previously he had been a great king, Indradyumna Maharaja, who had retired  from ruling and gone to meditate in the forest.  Agastya Rishi, a great sage, came by with his followers but the king did not notice him and greet him as is the custom. Therefore the sage cursed the king to take the dull body of an elephant.  This was actually a blessing in disguise for Indradyumna Maharaja as he would come to pray to the Lord who would finally appear to deliver him.

 

The wonderful thing about any devotional service that we offer to the Lord is to our eternal benefit.  We never lose out as Krsna says in Bhagavad Gita[3]:

“In this endeavor there is no loss or diminution and a little advancement can protect you from the most dangerous type of fear.”

All of the pastimes in the Srimad Bhagavatam are full of pertinent instructions for all time and all places and all people. This material world is a place of danger. Even if we seem to have a nice situation for now, at any moment that can change. Calamities are an inbuilt factor in this world but they do serve a real purpose. They teach us to turn our attention to the lord. Human life is one of responsibility, as distinct from animal life, in which we have higher consciousness to question our purpose here, why we suffer and who we really are. This is the beginning of spiritual life.

In Bhagavad–gita 8.16 it is said from the highest planet down to the lowest, all are places of misery where repeated birth and death take place.  But Krsna is so merciful that He wants to bring us to our natural constitutional position of serving Him in eternal life, full of bliss and knowledge.

 

Also it is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam[4]:

“For those who have accepted the boat of the lotus feet of the Lord, who is the shelter of the cosmic manifestation and is famous as Murāri, the enemy of the Mura demon, the ocean of the material world is like the water contained in a calf’s hoof-print. Their goal is param padam, Vaikuntha, the place where there are no material miseries, not the place where there is danger at every step.”

No matter what situation we find ourselves in we can take shelter of Krsna primarily through the chanting of His names,

 

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna

Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

 

as this is the recommended process in this difficult age of Kali Yuga, the age of distress.  We only have to look around us to see so much strife in the world, wars disease natural disturbances etc etc…..

 

I was visiting Puerto Rico just three weeks before the recent hurricane struck. While being there my husband brought me to the lush rainforest of El Yunque and to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. People seemed very friendly and happy and the weather was a tropical paradise.  But suddenly Hurricane Maria left the island of enchantment almost devastated.

This must be a wake up call.  The world needs to look for a positive alternative. There is a solution to the madness of material life. That is to follow God’s laws, otherwise we incur more and more karmic reactions. ‘As we sow, so shall we reap.’ I say this out of compassion for those suffering in this world.  As a devotee feels pain to see others in pain.

If one takes life unnecessarily such as killing animals to satisfy one’s tongue especially killing mother cow, nature’s laws will act. Therefore as Hare Krsna Devotees we follow the principles of no meat eating, no intoxication, no illicit sex and no gambling, along with chanting

 

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna

Krsna Krsna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare”.

 

We offer all our food first to the Lord which spiritualizes our existence.  Such a simple process!

We get intoxicated by chanting Hare Krsna and eating Krsna Prasadam (the Lord’s mercy). And we gamble by giving our life to Him and taking all risks for Krsna.  We give up Lust by falling in love with the Lord.

Devotees see any difficulties they may undergo as just a token of their karma, to remind them and impel them on.

There is a beautiful verse in the Srimad Bhagavatam[5]:

 

“My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.”

 

What we are talking about is a revolution in consciousness that brings about a change in the way we view the world. No longer just about I, me and mine but Krsna centered. Which includes everyone else, as we are all His parts and parcels.  For this we need to seek out the company of spiritual personalities who are wise in this science and study the sacred literature such as Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam regularly.

 

Finally Gajendra, in his hour of need, got the Lord’s attention through his prayer while offering a lotus from the water. The Supreme Lord riding on His bird carrier, Garuda, severed the crocodile’s head with His Sudarshan disc and lifted Gajendra free.  Gajendra attained a spiritual form like that of the Lord’s and returned to the spiritual world.

 

NB:

The crocodile had been the Gandharva King, Huhu, in his previous life and while sporting in the water with women had pulled the leg of Devala Rsi who was bathing there. The Rsi became angry and cursed the King to become a crocodile. The king was sorry and begged pardon from the sage who, out of compassion, gave him the benediction to be delivered by the Lord when He came to save Gajendra the elephant.

Such is the Lord’s mercy and that of His devotees.

 

[1] This article was written by Syamamayi Devi Dasi

[2] Srimad Bhagavatam canto 8 chapter 3 “Gajendra’s Prayers of Surrender”, verse 26.

 

[3]  2.40

[4] 10.14.58

[5] 10.14.8

 

 

This is a section of the book “Brilliant as the Sun”.

To buy the complete book, click above

 

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