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When Suffering and Problems are Seen as Helpful and Good

May we all learn to see the hand of Krishna in whatever we encounter in our life---whether appearing as good, bad, or indifferent. The modern expression, "It's all good" is ultimately meant for sincere devotees. While we walk on the path of Bhakti, Krishna is helping us to see him as our only shelter, devotional service as the ultimate solution to all problems, our gurus and devotees our real friends and associates, the holy name as our constant companion.

My wife Archana-siddhi and I are reincarnating a book project. It is an inspirational book mainly for devotees about how a great reverse, trial, or difficulty turns out to be very good for one' s spiritual life. In addition Krishna often serves many purposes through an event or activity.

We began in New Vrindavan with an interview with HH Sacinandana Swami and a promise of some stories by HH Radhanatha Swami. That was a great, auspicious start and we hope to get other stories from leaders and well known devotees, but also the ordinary (if there is one) or perhaps we should say regular devotees as well.

We have a few other stories Archana just worked on, and she was wondering about an introduction. As the saying goes, "the Lord works in mysterious ways" though in this case we could say "unexpected ways".

Archana woke up at 2:30 this morning with some of the most pain she has every experienced in her abdomen. She thought it was perhaps food poisoning, and that it would subside after she answered the call of nature a few times. It didn't, and only got worse. After trying everything she could think of she came to get me. I worked on her with my bag of hands on healing knowledge, like Reiki etc, to no avail. I looked up abdominal pain in our home medical books and concluded that perhaps she was having kidney stones, an appendicitis, or some kind of intestinal blockage.

There was no alternative than to go the country hospital. We packed up and hit the road for the 10 minute journey, as she curled up in the back seat in excruciating pain. As this is a sleepy small town hospital they saw her immediately and ran their barrage of tests from the various fluids they extracted from her, and finally the revealing x-ray. The x-ray showed a blockage in her intestine and we procured the necessary medicine to clean her system out. We were certainly relieved that it wasn't anything more serious, though we still imagine in will be at least $1,000 for our 4 hours stay and all tests. Of course spending money is worth knowing what is wrong with you and getting the appropriate treatment. For me this experience is another reminder that we need devotee run healing centers in every country with both modern and complementary medicine.

At present Archana is resting and pondering how this very painful experience will be part of her introduction in our book for seeing how our difficulties have served us. In fact, her whole life is full of reverses that have turned out to be beneficial for her spiritual life. This is often a theme in counseling.

Devotees obviously don't come to her when everything is going great. Often in great distress they come to her for personal growth and spiritual tools, and for hope, relief and sometimes to seek meaning in a great difficulty or loss. Actually this great need expressed by clients is one of our main motivations for writing this book. We want to provide stories of inspiration and hope for devotees going through trials, tribulations and the pain of material life.

Prabhupada encouraged us to be pessimistic about material life (meaning with no spiritual practice), yet with Krishna consciousness we are meant to have a attitude of great hope and positive expectancy. There are many quotes in Prabhupada’s translations and purports to this effect. I have included a few quotes to end this blog.

The Six Principles of Surrender:

“When a person becomes firmly convinced about the importance of devotional service, he surrenders unto the Supreme Lord. There are six symptoms of surrender:
(1) One should perform only those actions favorable for devotional service to Krishna.
(2) One should give up everything unfavorable for discharging devotional service.
(3) One should firmly believe that Krishna will protect one in all circumstances and that no one is a better protector than Krishna. This conviction should be distinct from the monistic philosophy that one is as good as Krishna. Rather, one should always think that Krishna, or God, is great and that one is always protected by Him.
(4) One should have the conviction that Krishna is one's maintainer, and one should not take shelter of any demigod for maintenance.
(5) One should always remember that one's activities and desires are not independent. In other words, the devotee should feel completely dependent on Krishna, and thus he should act and think as Krishna desires.
(6) One should always think himself the poorest of the poor and feel totally dependent on the mercy of Krishna.”
(From Sutra 12 of the Narada-bhakti-Sutra)
“The strong conviction that one will certainly receive the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called in Sanskrit asa-bandha. Äsa-bandha means to continue to think, "Because I'm trying my best to follow the routine principles of devotional service, I am sure that I will go back to Godhead, back to home."
In this connection, one prayer by Rüpa Gosvami is sufficient to exemplify this hopefulness.

He says, "I have no love for Krishna, nor for the causes of developing love of Krishna—namely, hearing and chanting. And the process of bhakti-yoga, by which one is always thinking of Krishna and fixing His lotus feet in the heart, is also lacking in me. As far as philosophical knowledge or pious works are concerned, I don't see any opportunity for me to execute such activities. But above all, I am not even born of a nice family. Therefore I must simply pray to You, Gopijana-vallabha [Krishna, maintainer and beloved of the gopis]. I simply wish and hope that some way or other I may be able to approach Your lotus feet, and this hope is giving me pain, because I think myself quite incompetent to approach that transcendental goal of life."

The purport is that under this heading of asa-bandha, one should continue to hope against hope that some way or other he will be able to approach the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord”
(From NOD chapter 17 on Character of One in Ecstatic Love pg 137)
And lastly one of our favorite versus is found in Brahma’s prayers in the 10th Canto of the Bhagavat. The expressed attitude is meant to be one our guiding principles:

"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."


Srila Sridhara Svami explains in his commentary that just as a legitimate son has to simply remain alive to gain an inheritance from his father, one who simply remains alive in Krsna consciousness, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, automatically becomes eligible to receive the mercy of the Personality of Godhead. In other words, he will be promoted to the kingdom of God.

The word su-samiksamana indicates that a devotee earnestly awaits the mercy of the Supreme Lord even while suffering the painful effects of previous sinful activities. Lord Krsna explains in the Bhagavad-gita that a devotee who fully surrenders unto Him is no longer liable to suffer the reactions of his previous karma. However, because in his mind a devotee may still maintain the remnants of his previous sinful mentality, the Lord removes the last vestiges of the enjoying spirit by giving His devotee punishments that may sometimes resemble sinful reactions. The purpose of the entire creation of God is to rectify the living entity's tendency to enjoy without the Lord, and therefore the particular punishment given for a sinful activity is specifically designed to curtail the mentality that produced the activity.

Although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord's devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Krishna consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord's special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.

A sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord's abode. Therefore he willingly accepts the Lord's merciful punishment and continues offering respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words and body. Such a bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a legitimate son of God, as indicated here by the words daya-bhak. Just as one cannot approach the sun without becoming fire, one cannot approach the supreme pure, Lord Krsna, without undergoing a rigid purificatory process, which may appear like suffering but which is in fact a curative treatment administered by the personal hand of the Lord."

>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 10.14.8

May we all learn to see the hand of Krishna in whatever we encounter in our life---whether appearing as good, bad, or indifferent. The modern expression, "It's all good" is ultimately meant for sincere devotees. While we walk on the path of Bhakti, Krishna is helping us to see him as our only shelter, devotional service as the ultimate solution to all problems, our gurus and devotees our real friends and associates, the holy name as our constant companion.

Krishna and his pure devotees are very merciful. They are our true friends and well-wishers without which the world is void and meaningless. By practicing sadhana-bhakti (regulated devotional service under the guidance of pure devotees) we are in the process of realizing this by experience. If we haven't understood this, then we have to pray to obtain it. We begin wherever we are, so we can pray for the desire to have the desire to obtain the shelter of Krishna and his pure devotees. Everything will come in time with our sincere effort and ultimately the mercy of our Gurus and Krishna.

"According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service."

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 19.151

Combined comments from old site

Wed, 06/11/2008 - 23:55 — Jaaaay
Wow, this is great

Wow, this is great information you've given here Karnamrta prabhu. Your response to Snehal mataji was excellent too. Thanks very much for this, it's very helpful to drive these messages home when sometimes we forget them. Haribol!

Wed, 06/11/2008 - 01:40 — Snehal
Inspiring words

Thank you prabhuji for these wonderful and inspiring words.

This post has answered my questions which were bothering me for a while.

I am very much motivated and inspired.

Thank you once agan.

Hare krishna!


Wed, 06/11/2008 - 11:24 — Karnamrita.das
Krishna's mercy is everything!

Hi Snehal. I am so happy to have been of service to you on your exciting journey to Krishna.

When I read you post I thought of some verses and purports from the Gita.

"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare."

My above subject line came from this verses (Gita Chapter 7 vs 19) purport.

"The living entity, while executing devotional service or transcendental rituals after many, many births, may actually become situated in transcendental pure knowledge that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal of spiritual realization.

"In the beginning of spiritual realization, while one is trying to give up one's attachment to materialism, there is some leaning towards impersonalism, but when one is further advanced he can understand that there are activities in the spiritual life and that these activities constitute devotional service. Realizing this, he becomes attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrenders to Him.

"At such a time one can understand that Lord Shri Krishna's mercy is everything, that He is the cause of all causes and that this material manifestation is not independent from Him. He realizes the material world to be a perverted reflection of spiritual variegatedness and realizes that in everything there is a relationship with the Supreme Lord Krishna.

"Thus he thinks of everything in relation to Vasudeva, or Sri Krsna. Such a universal vision of Vasudeva precipitates one's full surrender to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna as the highest goal. Such surrendered great souls are very rare."

Here is an additional verse (chapter 2 vs 56) and purport from Prabhupada's Gita you might find helpful on the same theme as my blog.

"One who is not disturbed in mind even amidst the threefold miseries or elated when there is happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady mind."

and part of the pp:

." who has surpassed the stage of mental speculations... has come to the conclusion that Lord Sri Krsna, or Vasudeva, is everything (vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah). He is called a muni fixed in mind.

"Such a fully Krishna conscious person is not at all disturbed by the onslaughts of the threefold miseries, for he accepts all miseries as the mercy of the Lord, thinking himself only worthy of more trouble due to his past misdeeds; and he sees that his miseries, by the grace of the Lord, are minimized to the lowest.

"Similarly, when he is happy he gives credit to the Lord, thinking himself unworthy of the happiness; he realizes that it is due only to the Lord's grace that he is in such a comfortable condition and able to render better service to the Lord. And, for the service of the Lord, he is always daring and active and is not influenced by attachment or aversion.

"Attachment means accepting things for one's own sense gratification, and detachment is the absence of such sensual attachment. But one fixed in Krishna consciousness has neither attachment nor detachment because his life is dedicated in the service of the Lord. Consequently he is not at all angry even when his attempts are unsuccessful. Success or no success, a Krishna conscious person is always steady in his determination. "

Your friend in Krishna,



Thu, 06/12/2008 - 09:06 — Snehal
Thank you

Thank you once again for this comment. I am benefiting by reading all this.

Hare Krisna!


Thu, 06/12/2008 - 03:56 — KRSNACENTERED
Thank you

Hare Krsna,
Please accept my obeisances.

I was very inspired by your entry. It was very much needed now. This seems to be a recurrent theme coming you as reply. It reminds me that we cannot escape fully the 3-fold miseries of the material nature. But that we have some mercy in that we have been graced by the presence of Guru in our lives, and that I have been so blessed to have the association of so many sincere devotees in my life, that show me that even through adversities, there is mercy.

Thank you again,
Hare Krsna
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Bhakta Wil

Tue, 06/10/2008 - 09:36 — Navasi
Thank You

Thank you Karnamrita for this wonderful post.

It's exactly everything I needed to read right now.

It's so amazing how Krishna works in so many ways, accomplishing so many things at one time.

It must be such a bizarre concept to people that don't understand Krishna how devotees can think of suffering as a good thing. So many people are busy praying for their suffering to be relieved and thanking God that they can enjoy a little more, and be happy a little longer.

Hare Krishna,


Wed, 06/11/2008 - 11:02 — Karnamrita.das
Many instuments

Hi Navasi Prabhu!! Pranams. I so happy to be used by Krishna to be able to his instrument to serve your necessity. That is of course my intention by writing---to be able to serve and inspire the devotees. One of the perfections of my life. Thank you!

Your friend in Krishna,