Srila Giri Maharaja “From The Eye of the Storm”

 BKG folded hands

My dear friends,

 

Please accept my humble obeisances, blessings and well-wishes, as appropriate, in remembrance of my Divine Master.

 

A number of you have asked how we weathered the storm called Sandy.

 

It is difficult to answer everyone individually. I pray you will be satisfied with the report and comments attached below.

 

Krishna says there is no one more dear to Him than his devotees and there are none more dear to me. I cannot express how much I feel grateful for the concern expressed by each of you for this insignificant soul. I am doubly grateful for your kind remembrance of our Math, the devotees and the Deities who might also have been affected by the storm.

By the grace of the Vaishnavas we are continuing with our seva according to our capacity.

 

I pray this finds you all well in health and spirits.

 

With affection,

Swami B.K. Giri

 

Memo: from the desk of B. K. Giri

To: My friends.

 

We have received numerous enquiries from devotees around the world about the effects of “Superstorm” Sandy on our New Jersey Math. We feel blessed to know we are receiving the blessings and well – wishes of so many devotees.

 

We are happy to report only negligible damage to the Math property and the devotees were unscathed. Reports from other devotees around the northeast were similarly encouraging.

The Math is situated about 45 miles directly west of the New Jersey shore of the Atlantic ocean. The most severe damage to property in the area was caused by storm surges which occurred

in those areas that were closest to the Atlantic Ocean. In those areas there was severe damage to houses that were flooded and in some cases swept from their foundations due to very high tides caused by a nearly simultaneous convergence of a high tide meeting the eye of the hurricane at the New Jersey shore line.

 

The greatest concern for us was the prediction of high winds and heavy rain. Because our roof is very old and in very bad condition, we were concerned that wind driven rain would infiltrate the Math and we may lose many of the shingles from the roof. We did lose some shingles but not a great number and water infiltration through the roof was fairly minor with a few strategically placed containers catching the rainwater that found its way through the roof.

 

We have been diligent to keep our trees pruned which may have been helpful as they stood up very well even though there were very high winds for our area. We were more concerned with the trees of neighbors, but even they only suffered minimal loss of branches blown off by the wind.

 

Even though the eye of the hurricane passed directly over us, it was a minor hurricane at best and, because we were 45 miles inland, the force of the wind was somewhat mitigated. We did receive steady winds of 40 to 45 mph and some gusts in the range of 60 to 70 mph which seem to be just within the limits for our building and the vegetation to tolerate.

 

Although 2.4 million electric customers in New Jersey lost their power, which may not be fully restored for another week or so, we suffered only a few momentary power outages. The major causes of power outages were flooding of electrical substations and downed power lines resulting primarily from uprooted trees falling on the power lines or lines damaged by falling tree limbs.

 

Were we lucky?

 

In several news reports we heard people whose homes and property were undamaged proclaim “Someone must be looking after us.”

 

God, a word rarely spoken by politicians or found in news of current events, uncannily finds its way, with great frequency, into news of disasters.

 

The mayor of Atlantic City said he was “eternally thankful to Almighty God” for the minimal damage to his city:

“The mayor of Atlantic City today said that his community was “spared” and had been “blessed,” even as he labeled Hurricane Sandy “catastrophic.”

“I am eternally thankful to Almighty God for the minimal amount of damage that has been sustained,” said the mayor, Lorenzo Langford, during an afternoon press conference…”—The Star-Ledger

 

President Obama seemed uncharacteristically sympathetic to the victims of Sandy in New Jersey where the greatest devastation occurred largely near the shore to expensive summer homes and boats of some of the wealthiest 1% of Americans. He promised these wealthy Americans he would see to it that they would quickly receive all the resources the federal government could provide.

 

Was the president belligerently rebelling against the doctrine espoused by his long time religious mentor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who seemed to take pleasure and comfort in the Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center on 9-11-2001 noting that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”?

 

Shouldn’t God’s vengeance against the wealthy sinners in the World Trade Center be equally appreciated when turned on the wealthy summer home owners of the Jersey beaches who would be getting their “just rewards”?

Storm1
President Obama comforts North Point Marina owner Donna Vanzant as he tours damage done by Hurricane Sandy in the upscale community of Brigantine, New Jersey (Larry Downing/Reuters)

 

It would seem quite crass to suggest that one’s theistic view might be altered by his political intentions and yet that was suggested by a writer for the “Los Angeles Times”-

In every election, political junkies watch for an October surprise that might alter the dynamics of the election. This year, the surprise may have come in the form of a massively destructive storm. Pat Robertson and the religious right seem to find messages from God in every hurricane. If this one boosts Obama, they will have to do a serious reassessment of that idea. They may deduce that, like hurricanes, God has a liberal bias.—David Horsey, LA Times

 

The writer disparages the “messages from God” intuited by the Christian preacher Pat Robertson, while exuding his own confidence that “God has a liberal bias.”

Maybe God does favor the liberals. Portrayed in this cartoon is the Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, favoring the incumbent Democrat president Obama while giving the “heave ho” to the Republican candidate Mitt Romney:

Storm2

 

Is God busy micro managing all these events with such diligence that He leaves our Math almost undisturbed while sweeping other’s houses into the ocean and, with His Almighty powers of omniscience and omnipresence simultaneously lending his support for a particular political candidate?

From yet another viewpoint, some are “blessed” while others apparently are not. Will God bless us if we continue selling sandwiches and pizzas during a hurricane as this establishment promised to do?

storm3Dinos

God Bless Dino’s. Just like before Hurricane Irene, they were manning the Formica rolls and churning out subs pre-Sandy and vowing to stay open. It was kind of sad, and the talk was a lot about the late owner Leo Heintzelman, who vowed never to close, ever, and joyfully made subs during Irene, but who died just a month later.

 

If the owner, Leo Heintzelman received God’s blessings for staying open during hurricane Irene, why did he die a month afterwards?

 

I’ll leave it to the philosophers and theologians to wrestle with the multifarious questions posed above.

 

That’s not a Superstorm…

 

The storm “Sandy” labeled variously as “Frankenstorm”, “Superstorm” and “Perfect Storm” will likely be about the 17th. largest in the last 100 years.

If Sandy causes $20 billion in damage (in 2012 dollars), it would rank as the 17th most damaging hurricane or tropical storm (out of 242) to hit the U.S. since 1900—a significant event,

but not close to the top 10. The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 tops the list (according to estimates by the catastrophe-insurance provider ICAT), as it would cause $180 billion in damage if it were to strike today.— Roger Pielke: “Hurricanes and Human Choice”

 

This is a Superstorm-

 

sri-suka uvaca

ittham maghavatajnapta

megha nirmukta-bandhanah

nanda-gokulam asaraih

pidayam asur ojasa

 

sri-sukah uvaca — Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said; ittham — in this manner; maghavata — by Indra; ajnaptah — ordered; meghah — the clouds; nirmukta-bandhanah — released from their bonds (although they were supposed to be kept in check until the time for the destruction of the world); nanda-gokulam — the cowherd pastures of Nanda Maharaja; asaraih — by great downpours of rain; pidayam asuh — they tormented; ojasa — with all their power.

 

TRANSLATION

Sukadeva Gosvami said: On Indra’s order the clouds of universal destruction, released untimely from their bonds, went to the cowherd pastures of Nanda Maharaja. There they began to torment the inhabitants by powerfully pouring down torrents of rain upon them.

 

PURPORT

The Samvartaka clouds could cover the entire earth with a single vast ocean. With great strength, these clouds began flooding the simple land of Vraja.—SB 10.25.8

How did the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna react to this storm?

Ordered by King Indra, all the dangerous clouds appeared above Vrndavana and began to pour water incessantly, with all their strength and power. There was constant lightning and

thunder, blowing of severe wind, and incessant falling of rain. The rainfall seemed to fall like piercing sharp arrows. By pouring water as thick as pillars, without cessation, the clouds

gradually filled all the lands in Vrndavana with water, and there was no visible distinction between higher and lower land.

The situation was very dangerous, especially for the animals. The rainfall was accompanied by great winds, and every living creature in Vrndavana began to tremble from the severe

cold. Unable to find any other source of deliverance, they all approached Krsna to take shelter at His lotus feet. The cows especially, being much aggrieved from the heavy rain,

bowed down their heads, and taking their calves underneath their bodies, they approached the Supreme Personality of Godhead to take shelter of His lotus feet.

At that time all the inhabitants of Vrndavana began to pray to Lord Krsna. “Dear Krsna,” they prayed, “You are all-powerful, and You are very affectionate to Your devotees. Now please protect us, who have been much harassed by angry Indra.”

 

Upon hearing their prayer, Krsna could also understand that Indra, being bereft of his sacrificial honor, was pouring down rain that was accompanied by heavy pieces of ice and strong winds, although all this was out of season….

 

He personally gave shelter and protection to His devotees:

…Lord Krsna then began to address His devotees, “My dear brothers, My dear father, My dear inhabitants of Vrndavana, you can now safely enter under the umbrella of Govardhana

Hill, which I have just lifted. Do not be afraid of the hill and think that it will fall from My hand. You have been too much afflicted from the heavy rain and strong wind; therefore I have lifted this hill, which will protect you exactly like a huge umbrella. I think this is a proper arrangement to relieve you of your immediate distress. Be happy along with your animals underneath this great umbrella.”

 

Being assured by Lord Krsna, all the inhabitants of Vrndavana entered beneath the great hill and appeared to be safe along with their property and animals.

The inhabitants of Vrndavana and their animals remained there for one week without being disturbed by hunger, thirst, or any other discomforts. They were simply astonished to see how Krsna was holding up the mountain with the little finger of His left hand. Seeing the extraordinary mystic power of Krsna, Indra, the king of heaven, was thunderstruck and baffled in his determination. He immediately called for all the clouds and asked them to desist.

 

When the sky became completely cleared of all clouds and there was sunrise again, the strong wind stopped. At that time Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, known now as the lifter of Govardhana Hill, said, “My dear cowherd men, now you can leave and take your wives, children, cows and valuables, because everything is ended. The inundation has gone down, along with the swelling waters of the river.”— BVS, “KRSNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead”

 

So, were we lucky?

 

I’d rather think we were blessed, not because God chose to “spare us” but because the devotees of God, who “are more merciful than the Lord Himself”, chose to kindly remember us.

eta suni’ krsnadasa kandite lagila

madhyahna karite mahaprabhu cali’ gela

 

TRANSLATION

Hearing the Lord reject him, Kala Krsnadasa began to cry. However, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, not caring for him, immediately left to take His noon lunch.

nityananda, jagadananda, mukunda, damodara

cari-jane yukti tabe karila antara

 

TRANSLATION

After this, the other devotees — headed by Nityananda Prabhu, Jagadananda, Mukunda and Damodara — began to consider a certain plan.

 

PURPORT

Even though a person is rejected by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the devotees of the Lord do not reject him; therefore the Lord’s devotees are more merciful than the Lord

Himself. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura thus sings, chadiya vaisnava-seva nistara peyeche keba: one cannot be relieved from the material clutches without engaging in the service of pure devotees. The Lord Himself may sometimes be very hard, but the devotees are always kind. Thus Kala Krsnadasa received the mercy of the four devotees mentioned above.

CC, Madhya 10.67-67