This is a long post, but one that feels extremely close to my heart. I hope that you stick with it and if you gain a little something from it, I'm super thankful. I speak about a lecture given by HH Radhanatha Swami that I was listening to. A link to the lecture is at the bottom of the post.
Jambavan faltered. His fist struck out but connected with nothing but air. His knees buckled and he fell to the floor. He blinked, but once his eyes closed, he felt as though it was almost impossible to open them again. He had been fighting for twenty-eight days. That was nothing for him. He was the strongest living thing on the planet. He knew that for certain. Twenty-eight days was a blink of an eye. He had seen generations of powerful warriors come and go. He had been created by Brahma, the creator, himself. Who was this opponent? At first glance, Jambavan thought that he was nothing more than a common thief.
Surveying the vast forest he called his home, Jambavan came upon a brilliant jewel in the mouth of a lion roaming his jungle. He had never seen anything like the jewel before and he knew instantly that his son would love to play with it as a toy. His son was always running after shiny objects. Jambavan killed the lion without difficulty and brought the jewel home to his son who was, as expected, overjoyed.
Suddenly, he was alerted by the nurse screaming. The woman who helped with his son's care was diligent, careful, and competent. She cared for the boy as though he were her own son. Jambavan raced to where he could hear her calling for him in distress. There was someone standing over his son and the jewel, hand outstretched as though he wanted to take the jewel from him. Jambavan couldn't see anything else. His rage took over. He began to fight with the stranger.
That was twenty-eight days ago. Now, for the first time, he began to wonder who this person was who was getting the better of him. He had seen the times of great kings, he had even seen the time of the great king Lord Ramachandra. He knew that his worshipful Lord was the only person who could have ever weakened him. His heart began to stir. Jambavan's huge muscles were pummeled and his entire body was in pain, but what he felt in his heart was unmistakable. He hadn't felt that kind of feeling since his Lord Rama was on the planet. Jambavan looked up into the face of his opponent.
He was standing over Jambavan, His face surrounded by an effulgence which put the jewel that lit the entire cave palace to shame. Beads of perspiration decorated not only His face but His entire body. Streaks of dirt covered His arms and hands from the fighting they had been engaged in. His eyes were wide like the open petals of a lotus. His forehead was broad like a half moon, and adorned with decorations in sandalwood. The sandalwood decorations were scattered and smeared from their weeks of exertion. His cheeks were flushed and mud streaked from fighting with Jambavan. But His beautiful reddish lips were turned up at the corners in a small enigmatic smile. It looked almost as though He were ready to engage in battle once more. He hardly looked fatigued, where Jambavan was completely beaten. He had no energy left to give. He looked closely again at the stranger's smile. It was familiar. More than familiar. Jamavan's eyes narrowed. His coloring was different, He was dark. Bluish, nearly black. Like a dark and heavy monsoon cloud at the start of the monsoon. His Lord Rama was greenish like fresh durva grass, but equally as dusky. But in his heart, Jambavan knew. This had to be his Lord. Come again, in a different form. Jambavan didn't realize that tears of love, relief and gratitude had slipped from his eyes until they landed on his hands. All along he had been fighting with the Lord of his heart. He was so worried about protecting his family, And he was so sure that there was no one in this realm that could beat him that he failed to recognize the Lord his heart had been yearning to see for centuries. Jambavan pressed his palms together offering his respects to the Lord and bent his head in prayer.
This small scene is part of a larger story in the Bhagavat Purana or Srimad Bhagavatam called the Syamantaka Jewel. That was the name of the jewel that Sri Krishna and Jambavan had been fighting over. The jewel had been given to a king named Satrajit by the sun god. Satrajit had been worshipping the sun god with such love and devotion and was rewarded with this glorious jewel which was so powerful that just by worshipping the jewel it would produce 170 pounds of gold each day (whoa!). Satrajit became arrogant because he had the jewel, and I can't really blame him. I get arrogant when I find twenty bucks while walking down the street. Krishna who was advisor to the emperor who was Krishna's own grandfather at the time, advised Satrajit that the best of everything should be given to the king so that it could be used for the welfare of the entire kingdom. He requested Satrajit to give the jewel to King Ugrasena. Satrajit refused, convinced that Krishna just wanted the jewel for himself.
Satrajit loaned the jewel to his younger brother Prasena who wanted to ride through the kingdom and show off the new family wealth, which, if you ask me, is a little extravagant. Prasena went riding through the kingdom with a jewel that made just the wearer look that much more beautiful and effulgent, and he was enjoying the fact that he looked uh-am-zing. Prasena was attacked by a lion who killed him, and the lion took the jewel. Jambavan saw the lion with the jewel, killed the lion and brought the jewel back for his son to play with.
Meanwhile, in Krishna's home kingdom of Dwaraka, Satrajit began to spread nasty rumors about Krishna once his little brother, Prasena, failed to return. He told whoever would listen that Krishna wanted the jewel for Himself and simply because Satrajit refused to give it to Him, Krishna must have killed Prasena and taken away the jewel by force. So he spread the rumor that not only was Krishna a thief but a murderer as well. Krishna, the Supreme Person didn't like His name being tarnished like this (who would??). Krishna told the citizens that He would go and find the jewel and bring it back to Dwaraka. The citizens decided to follow Krishna and they all set out looking for the jewel.
Krishna entered the dense forest after finding Prasena's dead body, and the killed lion. They found a dark pathway which led deeper into the forest and to the cave dwelling of Jambavan. The citizens of Dwarka were too afraid to enter that pathway. Krishna told them to remain outside to wait for Him to return.
Those who have some experience with the Ramayana will remember Jambavan, the great mystical person who is often portrayed as a bear, but his race of man-beast does not have an exact equivalent from Sanskrit to English and modern day terms. He is a Rksha, and needless to say extremely powerful. He was created by Bramha himself when the great creator and grandfather of the universe yawned. His life span is incredibly long and he has seen many incarnations of Krishna.
He is an extremely great devotee, however when Krishna arrived to retrieve the jewel and saw Jambavan's son playing with it, Jambavan was called and began to fight with the Lord. And not just for a minute before he recognized Him. But for twenty-eight days! Why did it take Jambavan so long to recognize the Lord that he had worshipped millennium after millennium? The great teachers say that Jambavan had such a great attachment to his son and to his strength. He was his children's protector. He was their father. So when he heard that someone was threatening his child, because of his strong attachment, before he could even see who the intruder was, he immediately became angry and went charging out to fight with them.
Because Jambavan knew he was the strongest person on the planet, he wasn't going to give up the fight until the other opponent was completely defeated, but when Jambavan saw that he, himself, was defeated, he knew that the only person who could have brought him down to that level, crushing not only his pride, but his strength as well, had to be none other than his Lord. Jambavan offered so many beautiful prayers and apologized to Krishna. It is said in the Srimad Bhagavatam that once Jambavan offered prayers, with the same hand that had been pummeling Jambavan, feeling like thunder striking him over and over, that same hand was smoothed over the body of Jambavan feeling cooling and soothing like the softest lotus petals, freeing him from all of his pain, misery and fatigue.
For me, there are so many lessons in this story which I have heard many times, but Most recently in a lecture by His Holiness Radhanatha Swami. Firstly, how many times are we attached to so many things? It could be our strength. It could be our looks. It could be even the people close to us. It could be our reputation. Our status in life. Our plans that we make so carefully. Especially when it comes to family, to my understanding, there is nothing wrong with being attached to your loved ones, but not to the point where it completely blocks out all of our intelligence and all of our capacities to serve. In this case, Jambavan's attachment clouded his ability to even recognize the Lord, which didn't want work out very well for him. And our strong attachments, when or if they don't work out for us, often cause depression, anger, despondency and even worse situations for us. We can often find ourselves in situations were we lose faith and trust in Krishna all together. That's when we can say that our attachments are not serving us well.
So Jambavan fought with Krishna. How many times does it feel as though we are fighting with God? Or even if we simply want to call it divine arrangement. How often do we have our ideas of the way things should go and when that doesn't happen we fight. And fight. And fight. If it was up to us we would never give up. Just as Jambavan would never give up. It took twenty-eight days before he was completely crushed. And when we find that we are completely crushed by circumstances beyond our control (often divine arrangement) then we accept defeat. Often that defeat can make us turn away from our divine best friend. But in this I see the lesson from Jambavan.
When he was defeated he knew that it was only the Lord who could do this. And he knew without doubt that he loved the Lord. So he bent his head, with a heart full of humility and offered prayers. He apologized for all that he had done. He asked the Lord for his help in soothing his suffering, and the Lord obliged! Immediately! With the same hand that had been punching Jambavan, He rubbed that lotus hand over Jambavan and all of his pains vanished. So, difficult as it may be, even when we feel defeated by divine arrangement, if we can push past our initial reaction to say "Krishna how could you!" (Or at least that's often my initial reaction) And come to a place where we can say "I know that nothing in this universe happens without You. Forgive me. Please help me. I am in pain. I am suffering, and I am Yours." Following the example of Jambavan in this story, we can see Krishna's reaction. The very same hand that seems to be snatching away our attachments and our ideas of how we think things should go, will ultimately soothe every single one of our miseries and pains.
And it doesn't end there. Once Jambavan realized his mistake, and Krishna recounted the story of the jewel, Jambavan offered Krishna the jewel, along with his beautiful daughter Jambavati. Knowing that his daughter Jambavati was the most precious thing he had in his life, Jambavan offered her to Krishna as His wife. Krishna accepted the hand of Jambavati, thus elevating Jambavan to a higher, respectable position of father-in-law. Radhanatha Swami says that this shows that in those moments of challenges, reversals, and difficulties, in moments of the greatest trauma, if we develop even more faith in Krishna, offering all we have to Him, those are the moment when He bestows his most intimate blessings.
It has been promised by Krishna again and again that if a devotee surrenders to Him with love and devotion, becoming completely dependent on him, then He takes full control of that person's life. The thing is, whether we know it or not, we are all completely dependent on Krishna. That we are in control is a falsehood that we tell ourselves to make our egos feel more comfortable. But if we are able to surrender, even after life pummels us, and offer up the most precious things in our life, our egos and ourselves, then amazing miracles are waiting for us. Sometimes we think, how can I surrender now that I'm in trouble? Won't Krishna think, oh this person only comes to Me once they're in anxiety. But this story of Jambavan shows that these anxieties can only come from Krishna. There is nothing which is not controlled by Krishna. We don't always know the backstory or the cause. Jambavan didn't either. But surrender doesn't make any restrictions on time, place or circumstance. It can happen in an instant. And the instant it does happen, the magic begins.
Fighting against divine arrangement only makes us weak, tired and frustrated. But surrender, makes us free.
I pray to develop the faith not to fight divine arrangement and the ultimate controller in my life. I pray for the courage to surrender, understanding that this divine arrangement is always working my favor, and that Krishna will take direct control of my life, taking the opportunity to bestow His most intimate blessings.
If you would like to take a look at the lecture, talk begins at about 5:20 after initial prayers