Srila Giri Maharaja – Bhaya & COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus)— “Be not afraid… “

3/23/20

Dear Sriman Jagadananda dasa,

Please accept my blessings and well-wishes in remembrance of my Divine Masters.

I received your Vyasa Puja offering in the form of your email attached below marking the appearance day of your spiritual master. I was encouraged to read the content as what you expressed are the appropriate words of appreciation that should be expressed and felt by disciples for their guru. For these reasons I asked for your email to be posted on our website, along with some of the photos you sent, for the satisfaction of my Divine Masters.

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words and it is sometimes true. I was very happy to see the photo of your altar along with your offerings of bhoga [Sri Vyasa Puja Offerings from Sriman Jagadananda dasa & Family.] for it represents qualities we deeply appreciate and desire to cultivate. In your photos, as well as your letter, are the display of simplicity, affection and straight forward dealings that are the foundation stones upon which a genuine relationship between a guru and disciple are built. As such, they are similarly useful for the cultivation of Krishna consciousness in the line of our Sri Guru Varga who have taught us to reject duplicity and even the grandeur of Vaikuntha in favor of the delicate beauty found in the simple dealings of love and affection exhibited between Krishna and the braja-basis which infuse devotees with joy and melt the hearts of the worst type of materialists who have the great fortune of hearing about such pastimes.

Here spring has come and with it reminders of Krishna’s supremacy, His pastimes, the relationship between the Lord and His devotees and the foolish behavior of materialists, atheists and demons (na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ prapadyante narādhamāḥ māyayāpahṛta-jñānā āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ — Bg. 7.15) who do not have faith in the Lord’s protection. Of particular note is the fear and panic being spread by the illusory environment over the appearance of the Wuhan virus (aka COVID-19). I like to call this virus the Krishna virus for reasons that may be gleaned from the following passages.

According to Vaiṣṇava philosophy, when a living entity desires to gratify his senses and forgets the service of the Lord, he is given a place in the material world to act freely according to his desire, and therefore he creates a condition of life in which he either enjoys or suffers. We should definitely know that both the Lord and the living entities are eternally cognizant. There is no birth and death for either the Lord or the living entities. When creation takes place, this does not mean that the living entities are created. The Lord creates the material world to give the conditioned souls a chance to elevate themselves to the higher platform of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If a conditioned soul does not take advantage of this opportunity, after the dissolution of this material world he enters into the body of Nārāyaṇa and remains there in deep sleep until the time of another creation.

In this connection the example of the rainy season is very appropriate. Seasonal rainfall may be taken as the agent for creation because after the rainfall the wet fields are favorable for growing different types of vegetation. Similarly, as soon as there is creation by the Lord’s glancing over the material nature, immediately the living entities spring up in their different living conditions, just as different types of vegetation grow after a rainfall. The rainfall is one, but the creation of the different plants is varied. The rain falls equally on the whole field, but the different plants sprout up in different shapes and forms according to the seeds planted. Similarly, the seeds of our desires are varied. Every living entity has a different type of desire, and that desire is the seed which causes his growth in a certain type of body. This is explained by Rūpa Gosvāmī by the word pāpa-bīja. Pāpa means “sinful.” All our material desires are to be taken as pāpa-bīja, or the seeds of sinful desires. The Bhagavad-gītā explains that our sinful desire is that we do not surrender unto the Supreme Lord. The Lord therefore says in the Bhagavad-gītā, “I shall give you protection from the reactions of sinful desires.” These sinful desires are manifested in different types of bodies; therefore, no one can accuse the Supreme Lord of partiality in giving one type of body to a certain type of living entity and another type of body to another living entity. All the bodies of the 8,400,000 species are created according to the mental condition of the individual living entities. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Puruṣottama, only gives them a chance to act according to their desires. Therefore, the living entities act by taking advantage of the facility given by the Lord.

At the same time, the living entities are born from the transcendental body of the Lord. This relationship between the Lord and the living entities is explained in the Vedic literatures, wherein it is said that the Supreme Lord maintains all His children, giving them whatever they want. Similarly, in the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, “I am the seed-giving father of all living entities.” It is very simple to understand that the father gives birth to the children but the children act according to their own desires. Therefore the father is never responsible for the different futures of his children. Each child can take advantage of the father’s property and instruction, but even though the inheritance and instruction may be the same for all the children, out of their different desires each child creates a different life and thereby suffers or enjoys.

— Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chap. 87

While some call COVID-19 the Wuhan virus due to its alleged origination in Wuhan, China, we know Krishna is actually the origin of all living entities:

“[I]n the Bhagavad-gītā the Lord says, ‘I am the seed-giving father of all living entities.’ It is very simple to understand that the father gives birth to the children but the children act according to their own desires. Therefore the father is never responsible for the different futures of his children.” — ibid

Everywhere I am hearing the chanting of Coronavirus, Wuhan virus and COVID-19, but what is the good of such chanting? Better to chant the names of Krishna and be reminded that He is the origin of all things, including those living entities who, due to their karma and desires, are given the bodies of a wide variety of living entities including viruses.

Remembering Krishna at all times and in all places, especially in a favorable way, elevates the consciousness of the living entities, even though it may be on a subliminal level. Such remembrance gives joy to the hearts of devotees and makes them abhaya, fearless. The cowherd boys exhibited this fearlessness when they unhesitatingly followed Krishna into the mouth of the Aghasura demon. In fact the residents of Sri Vrndavana Dhama were always free from all types of fear knowing Krishna would protect them in all circumstances.

We shall face all dangers following in the footsteps of the great devotees and, through our example, teach others to do the same. That does not mean we shall provoke danger by acting foolishly, but in the face of unsought dangers and calamities we shall remember that it is Krishna, in the form of time (“Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds, and I have come here to destroy all people. With the exception of you [the Pāṇḍavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.”) who has appeared before us and time is only a partial manifestation of our Lord who was described by Lord Brahma in this way:

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam

Kṛṣṇa who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.

In his forward to the above, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura explains why the non-devotees live always in fear of their material surroundings which threaten them at every moment in unlimited forms such as that of the Krishna virus:

The materialistic demeanor cannot possibly stretch to the transcendental autocrat who is ever inviting the fallen conditioned souls to associate with Him through devotion or eternal serving mood. The phenomenal attractions are often found to tempt sentient beings to enjoy the variegated position which is opposed to undifferenced monism. People are so much apt to indulge in transitory speculations even when they are to educate themselves on a situation beyond their empiric area or experiencing jurisdiction. The esoteric aspect often knocks them to trace out immanence in their outward inspection of transitory and transformable things. This impulse moves them to fix the position of the immanent to an indeterminate impersonal entity, no clue of which could be discerned by moving earth and heaven through their organic senses.

The only cause of one’s supposed demise is accepting the illusion of the material world to be real and the real world of Krishna consciousness to be false.

I pray this finds you, Srimati Malini devi dasi, Siddhartha, and Lily Ann in good health and spirits.

Your ever well-wisher,

Swami B.K. Giri