(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 01 December 2014, Mayapur, India, Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1.50)
Question: My wife and I have been struggling with ill health since we came to the Holy Dham, so we were trying to understand it as an obstacle and purification. Could you speak a little about that?
Ill health is a great test! In astrology, sometimes it is said that you can look at someone’s chart and you can see all the good qualities that they have, but if the health is bad, then it is all cancelled. Therefore, bad health has the tendency to cancel all kinds of abilities and situations. Even when one normally has taste to hear and taste to chant – in ill health, it all can become a burden. So, ill health is a very difficult test.
In the past, I have been in the intensive care. There I was, lying in a bed, in a ward and I had just returned to consciousness realizing that I was not alone there. There were many others in the same position as I was. So the thought cross my mind that it does not matter how we got there – someone was there because of old age, someone was there because of an accident, someone was there because of disease or for whatever reason, but we were all in the same position – reduced, with no strength, nothing. All that we had left was the Krsna consciousness on the inside.
At that time, the devotees brought me my japa-mala and I lost it in the ocean of my bed. I never found it again, it just disappeared! The whole maha-mantra at times was just too big. Sometimes, all I could manage was just, ‘Krsna!’ My head was spinning and I could not get the maha-mantra finished from beginning to an end.
There are different levels at which bad health can manifest but it tends to take away the external support and throw us back to what is inside. At that time, we must take shelter. It may not be possible to take shelter in a passionate way, like to do a lot of sadhana, etc. but still, as much as possible, we can try and add a Krsna conscious dimension to it. We can hear by tape, we can still try to chant, and pray to Krsna. Ultimately, we are in the same boat, as we all have to turn to Krsna. That little step is always there, whether it is difficult or not, we have to turn to Krsna – even in a state of ill health. It can be very challenging and austere.
Therefore, we must fill our heart with inspiration while we are in good health because that will give us the strength to deal with these heavy times when they come. So if we read a lot of Bhagavatam now, while we can, then at the time when we cannot, it will still be there, as we will carry it with us. It is not good enough that the Bhagavatam is on our hard disc – it really has to be in our heart! We have to be absorbed. In that way, Mayapur is nice, as it is place where it is easy to absorb oneself in hearing and chanting. With disease, we burn up a lot of karma and get blessings in that way.