Fascinating - Part I

I have not blogged at all and haven’t had the chance to visit much this section since they moved to the new site. But recent events in my life gave me something to blog about. But then I was wondering what am I going to convey, how useful it will be for people who read and what lessons can they take away by reading it. Thus I struggled for quite a while to come up with a suitable title and after much thought and hesitation decided - I will not blog. But then Part II happened which inspired me to first write Part I.

I had severe stomach pain one day in the month of October, and when I went to the clinic, they treated me for urinary infection. Two days later the pain worsened and I went to the Emergency Room where after CT scans I was diagnosed having kidney stone. I was told I will be able to pass the stone out on my own. After drinking gallons and oceans of water, there was no stone passed, but the pain continued. The pain was unbearable. Many people said the pain of kidney stone is similar to what a woman undergoes during labor of child birth.

I chanted the mahä-mantra as I paced back and forth controlling the pain but to no relief. I had read that HG Caitanya Carana Prabhu chanted the verses he knew to keep his mind off the pain he had to undergo. I tried the same thing but that did not last long since I had not memorized that many verses. I chanted the Brahma-samhita, BG chapters 12 and 15 which I anyway do daily since I knew them by heart. Still the mind kept coming back to the pain. Then as if I am a great devotee I wondered what Krishna was trying to teach me by this suffering. I could not fathom much except that the body is meant for suffering and this world is full of suffering.

Finally after more scans they found the stone has not moved from its original position and I had to undergo a procedure where shock waves will be given to break the stone for me to pass out easily. The date was fixed as Oct 31.

In that month I happened to read Krishna Kathamrta Bindu, the mini-magazine. In that issue dated Oct 11, 2012, Prabhupada speaks about Krishna’s kindness and says Krishna puts us in difficulty to purify us and forces us to advance. Krishna gives us an insignificant and temporary condition of suffering relieving us from billions of lifetimes of suffering. That gave me some solace. And Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura talks about coping with calamities by taking shelter of the Lord by hearing, chanting and remembering Him always. I felt these articles speaking directly to me.

I had just got the Nov-Dec issue of BTG and in that I was reading the section on Bhagavatam. It was about Dhruva who ruled his kingdom for 36000 years. It is said he diminished the reactions of his pious acts by enjoying, and by practicing austerity he diminished his inauspicious reactions. I began to ponder that in order to get rid of our bad karma we have to take on austerity voluntarily, otherwise it will anyway be forced upon us. For me the relevant austerity in this context was to have practiced more healthy eating and drinking lots of water, which I had not done. Krishna says in Bhagavad gita that food in the mode of goodness is Arogya (healthy) and Ayuh (increases duration of life). Since I did not have the habit of drinking enough water, which was a kind of austerity for me, I had to undergo the austerity of tolerating the pain of kidney stone.

Few days before the procedure as I was driving home, I was listening to a lecture by HH Radhanatha Swami. He was talking about my Guru Maharaja, HH Jayapataka Swami. My Gurudeva had just suffered a stroke that time, and within a few months, he was asking HH Radhanatha Swami if he could give class at one of his temples. Maharaja jokingly told him that next week they were having a yatra at Pune and Gurudeva can come and speak there too. Maharaja knew that Gurudeva’s condition was not good, and the doctors had not expected him to survive. But here he was asking Maharaja if he could preach. Gurudeva took Maharaja’s invitation to the Pune yatra seriously and was asking doctors to allow him to go. They all flatly refused. So Guru Maharaja approached Radhanatha Maharaja and said if he gave permission then the doctors, his disciples mainly, would not object. Maharaja did not expect this. But he consulted the chief doctor, who told him that the only way that Gurudeva could get healthy was to allow him to do what pleased him the most, and in this case it was his desire to preach. So GM did attend the yatra and preached there. Maharaja said that some people are never thankful for anything in life – good or bad. Some are thankful for the good things that happen and are remorse when bad things happen. But it takes a great devotee to be thankful to Krishna for even the bad things that happen to oneself. This lecture was a fantastic inspiration for me. I must admit I was not happy with the pain I had to undergo, but at least I was contented to note there are great souls who live the scriptures by their actions.

The day of procedure arrived – Oct 31st. I read the Bhagavatam daily in the morning. Luckily I had time to read that morning too even though I had to leave early for the hospital. I am now in the 3rd canto, and that day the verse I was reading in my on-going daily reading was verse 11 of chapter 31 of canto 3. The living entity within the womb is praying to the Lord in a frightful condition. Prabhupada’s purport was, well, fascinating, the title I chose for the blog. He says: “It is said that when a woman is having labor pains she promises that she will never again become pregnant and suffer from such a severely painful condition. Similarly, when one is undergoing some surgical operation he promises that he will never again act in such a way as to become diseased and have to undergo medical surgery, or when one falls into danger, he promises that he will never again make the same mistake.”

It was really fascinating how Krishna was revealing different things to me. I had initially thought what Krishna was trying to teach me. But here thru the articles in Bindu, thru the Bhagavatam in BTG, thru Radhanatha Swami’s lecture and on the day of surgery, Srila Prabhupada’s purport – I could see Krishna’s guiding hand. To one who serves Him with love, He enlightens from within. That’s ok, but how come me? I certainly do not serve Krishna with anything, let alone, love. Kardama muni in the 3dr canto 24th chapter says that “The Supreme Lord, who favors His devotees, not considering the neglect of ordinary householders, had appeared in the house of a materialist. This is the Lord’s mercy. He elevates even a shadow devotee to a high position.”

The procedure to remove the stone went well and I did not have any pain at all after that, though the nurse kept asking if I was in pain and did I need pain killers. I didn’t need one. When I was ready to leave the hospital, I told I can walk to my car and did not need a wheel chair since I did not want to be seen by others as a sickly patient. And I was feeling great. But the nurse asked me to take it light that day and wheeled me.

Krishna said “oh, you are feeling great. Wait for Part II to unfold”