What can be referred to as the most desired thing in our life? At least, our scriptures concisely say that it is the four Purusharthas- Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Here, Vaishnavas adds another one i.e. love. Moreover, the devoted people like to hear scriptural discussions, practice Dharma, meditation, yagna without any barriers coming in the way throughout the life. Generally, every person is searching for wealth, health or knowledge. No one needs miseries, worries, hardships, sufferings, griefs, hatred, pain, heartbreaks, humiliation, oppression on their way or wishes to run around in circles and be left out in the cold.
What if anyone takes a weird decision of having these pains, agony, insults, depression, sorrow willingly from God? Needless to say, we cannot call him wise or normal. Surely, we would be surprised or otherwise consider him or her to be totally senseless or stupid.
Yes, such a strange, strong and tough voice came out from the mouth of mother Kunti in Mahabharata.
विपद: सन्तु ता: शश्वत्तत्र तत्र जगद्गुरो ।
भवतो दर्शनं यत्स्यादपुनर्भवदर्शनम् ॥ २५ ॥
vipadaḥ santu tāḥ śaśvat
tatra tatra jagad-guro
bhavato darśanaṁ yat syād
Meaning: I wish that all those tragedies might happen repeatedly so that we could see your presence again and again, for the simple act of seeing you means no longer staying in the cycle of births and deaths.
Unfortunately, Kunti was unable to have attain peace neither in her father’s home nor in the in-law’s abode. She turned into a mother when it was not expected and had to leave her firstborn child away. She failed to nurture and bring up her own son. She had to share her husband with other woman though she was smart from every angle, saw the impotency of her husband and eventually lost him. Her elders never understood the way she has been facing extreme humiliation in her childhood, whereas her in-laws increased her pain through injustice, misery, helplessness and bitter words in her latter life leaving her to wander in forests- starving and begging! Every time fears filled her mind that the enemies would kill her sons and despite being proud of having good and smart children, she was always filled with distress for them. It seems that she has been living a life of a lonely ill-fated person throughout her lifetime from inside. Nonetheless, every time during any tragedy or mishap, it was Krishna who remained beside her, whenever he was called and relieved her from misery in his saviour form- Madhusudana.
The great war of Kurukshetra was over that time. The fate favoured the Pandavas. Killing all the enemies of Dharma, the great rajalakshmi was in their hands. Also, recently, the Lord has also saved the unborn only descendant of the Pandavas. Despite being reluctant, the son of Dharma, Yudhishthira now ascended the throne and the crown was now shining on his head. Every aspiration of Krishna was fulfilled. He now wants Pandavas to rule and let the united India to prosper. The grand crowning ceremony has just ended. It was time for Keshava, to return home to Dwarka and board the chariot. However, at the last minute, Pundareekaksha’s lotus eyes were looking for someone from the crowd. There stood the mother of today’s champions and rulers, Kunti, among her kith and kins.
-“Taking leave, now. O my dear Aunt”, Vasudeva graciously greeted Kunti as well.
-“Certainly Madhava”, replied the old lady, “But before you leave, you have to give me a blessing”
With all his generosity Krishna replied, “O Sure, tell me what do you need? I will be happy to grant what you ask for”.
Now, what is that this queen, the most successful woman in the world of the time is lacking in her life and what should she ask for? Knowledge of Dharma, more wealth, better health, more fame, more power, never-ending peace and more success in her son’s life and relatives, salvation for her dead son or anything else?
-The lady recalls all the occasions when the Lord has saved her family when they were back against the wall and urged, “O Jagadguru, I want sufferings, give me more sufferings. Yes I wish more pain!”. Reminding and thanking for all the help that Krishna did to Pandavas and Kunti, this time Kunti appealed from the core of her heart.
-“Vipadaḥ santu tāḥ śaśvat, tatra tatra jagad-guro, bhavato darśanaṁ yat syād, apunar bhava-darśanam”
These heartfelt words left everybody present stunned and shaken.
-Recapping all the challenges she faced in her lifetime in front of her, Krishna anxiously asked, “Still more suffering? Why? Isn’t everything you experienced in your lifespan, not enough? Human beings only want plain sailing trouble-free existence. Why do you request for more sorrow? Why mother Pritha?”.
Did queen Kunti know something else that we normally don’t?
-“Tell me, how could all this be possible, without your grace? Just say one thing, whenever suffering came on my way, who was there in my mind only to think and pray? On whom did I rely upon? It was you. To whom did I surrender? It was you and ultimately who has shown me the light? In you, I have found the ultimate truth, understood the absolute reality, appreciated your Lila, reached my inner peace, and realized my own self. Yes, it was you Keshava”, continued Kunti, “Now, if all my turmoil were not there, should have I thought about you? Would you have come to my doorsteps? Would my penance be successful?”
It must be kept in mind that it is the power generated from within that helps us to fight. It is not that she was just after suffering. She actually wanted the capacity to resolve problems and bear the pain.
-Kunti further added up with a smile, “Kanha, suffering is the path to know you. Yes, suffering is the route to attain you, my Jagadguru and let this be my tapasya”.
Probably, no one in the history of mankind dared to pray for such a unique boon. Clearly, this prayer placed her on a different level of platform of more Dharmik than others, far above any average devotee.
-“If you would have kept us in all our grandeur, we might have possibly missed the chance to think of you and take shelter below your feet. Totally disremembering you, we would have turned arrogant and given importance to our ego only like what Duryodhana has done. When there is happiness, we forget you and when there is sorrow, we don’t fail to remember you in every moment. What is the use of such happiness?”, she continued saying, “Please don’t go away, Govinda”.
The biggest problem lies in the fact that people fear problems. Human beings are attached to good times and the more they get attached, the more they fear bad times. Very few expect full comfort with no struggle in their lifetime. Nevertheless, distress and sorrow are a part, an inevitable happening. Hence, life is not a piece of cake and it also means accepting and facing the suffering that makes a person enriching and interesting. Through thick and thin, if we can assess the causes behind the presence of blue devils in mind, we can get rid of disappointment and gain clarity. The greatest secret of the world then gets revealed.
Tiwariji is an atheist who works at a corporate private office and for this, he needs to catch the 8 o’clock bus daily morning. One day he had a very important client meeting but he missed the bus. “Just now your bus left,” a person nearby laughed at him softly as Tiwariji rushed into the stoppage being just 2 minutes late to catch the bus. He exclaimed in anguish, “Hey Bhagwan, how can I reach my office today, then, God please help me”. See how he evoked God now.
Problems in life are same as speed-breakers. It is this melancholious language through which the Lord connects with us. Imagine a stone coming rolling from a hill top and dashing against rocks. As it reaches and is carried by a flowing river below, it clashes against more rocks. Till it finally reaches a place where the inclement flow of the river eases off; the sharp edges of the stone are gone. It has softened, become smooth and turned into a round pebble now. Thus, difficulties is a form of support for spiritual empowerment– a helper in gaining perfection!
Ships are perfectly safe when they are on shores. Still, this is not what for which they are constructed. Any “safe ship” left on the coast is a useless one. We would call it a “good ship” if it has the ability to move across rough water of the seas in all the risks. Ships are ultimately meant to flow away in the deep sea.
We all have often come across many people who are innocent and pure-hearted. Still, it looks as if all the complications in the world are dumped on their afflicted shoulders. Obviously, this makes us angry with God and surprised. In such situations, all of us have asked the same question- “Why do good ones suffer?”. Here, mother Kunti’s instance would definitely help us to evaluate the problem and we can understand that the Lord let his devotees get hurt. She knew that no such thing as real happiness is there. With a big “No!”, we can say that we have not seen anyone who has never faced bad times and failures. This condition is obviously not applicable for those who never do any task and is devoid of any ability or does not want to acknowledge their own self condition or detached from the world of reality. Also, not doing anything or not realizing anything is itself a big problem in such case. Misery comes from our non-acceptance. Staying on cloud nine, as we pray to the Almighty to look after us and keep us away from bad times, shower peace, happiness and bliss on us, we are just crying for the moon. Can anyone guarantee us a trouble-free life? Change is inevitable. Like a body-builder undergoes the self-imposed distress today so that his body grow stronger tomorrow, the pains in life are also same as spiritual self-working out. A winning horse never understands that it is winning. It can just sense and react to the pain received from the jockey behind. As the Lord provides his devotee with pain, it is the wisdom to realize that He wants him to be the winning horse.
The lesson to be learned is that people must not back away in panic during any misery and develop the capacity to tolerate it. Furthermore, through a pure heart like Kunti, and surrendering to the God, people can overcome difficulties. Human beings have the habit to forget everything as they have power and happiness. But as they run out of power and face downheartedness, chances are there for the inner eyes to get opened. Taking the opportunity for getting in shape again, they must surrender, try to overcome and search for answers and become aware of reality. No pain no gain! We can end up by saying those two lines translated from Rabindranath Tagore‘s song, aptly suitable for this context-
“On that night when the storm broke open my door. I did not know that you entered my room through the ruins”
Karna, Mahabharater Pratinayak, Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri
Prasanga: Dharma, Prasanga: Samaj, Deb Prasad Majumdar
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