(Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.7. on June 4 2012, in Leicester, England.)
When something happens to a devotee, is it karma or is it Krishna acting? This is a big question. Sometimes, we hear, “It’s your karma, Prabhu?” Then at other times, you are told, “Isn’t it Krishna who is behind this?”
Srila Prabhupada explained about how karma works for a devotee in the Nectar of Devotion – the fan (analogous to karma) is spinning and at the time you take up devotional service, the electricity is turned off but the fan continues turning, therefore we are getting diminished reactions.
So are we under the influence of karma or are we directly under Krishna’s influence? Is the pure devotee under the influence of Krishna and is everyone else under the influence of diminished karma? Giriraj Swami has shed some light on this matter:
As Prabhupada said, there is that diminished reaction but Krishna is behind it and Krishna is sort of watching that karma – that diminished karma. Sometimes he interferes and at other times he just lets it act and he watches, anumantā upadrasta (the permitter and the overseer, Bhagavad-gita 13.23). He just witnesses it and oversees everything. As anumantā, he gives ājñā diba – permission. So, in this way Krishna permits it or sometimes Krishna says, “No, scrape off the bill. That is okay, there is no need for that.”
At other times, Krishna puts in an extra test. According to our karma, something was not supposed to happen but Krishna put it in there! So it’s interesting how we, as devotees, are simultaneously under the influence of Krishna’s direction and karma. Krishna is the ultimate cause and therefore we always see Krishna behind it. Whenever something happens to us, we see Krishna as pūruṣa, our maintainer, who is with us at every step of the way. He is caring for us; there is no doubt! He does not leave us alone. Although he puts us through things that we really do not want to go through it, still it is good for us. He is prodding us, activating us like a buffalo because after all, we have become like buffalos!
In India you see the buffalos walking in the street and when cars come from behind, ‘Honk! Honk!’ as Indian cars do, the buffalo does not move an inch and just keeps on walking. Even when a car touches the buffalo a bit, it does not move but with anyone else, they would have moved, So we have a bit of that buffalo consciousness. By being under the influence of the three modes of material nature, we have become dull; we have lost our sensitivity.
When things are happening in our life, it is Krishna prodding us. Gradually, we awaken and we rise above. Sometimes you see a little boy or a little girl walking next to the buffalo with a stick – they are not shy and ‘whack’ with a stick and that’s what gets the buffalo going. Sometimes Krishna also does it to us!
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