(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 23 September 2014, Durban, South Africa, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.4)
We are all in a material situation and I sum it up as, “Sometimes you are on top of the elephant and at other times, the elephant is on top of you!” That is material life, it is not going to always be easy but we must protect our spiritual life and try to do something to stand up for Krsna consciousness.
Nothing is easy; therefore first we have to work on our own conviction. We have to understand why we are doing this. The better you understand this, the more convinced you are.
I like the story of Karna. He was accepted as a disciple by Parasurama who had asked him before if he was a ksatriya. Everyone had told Karna that he was not a ksatriya so he said, “No, I am not a ksatriya.” So he was accepted by Parasurama and served him very nicely and he learnt all the astras and celestial weapons. Then, one day, Parmasurama was so pleased and was resting with his head on the lap of his disciple when an insect stung Karna in the leg. He did not want to disturb his spiritual master so with great determination, he managed to stay calm. Even though the pain was excruciating, he tolerated it and did not move. The spiritual master slept nicely but when he woke up, he saw the blood and asked what had happened. Then Karna explained that the insect had stung him in the leg. Then Parasurama smelt a ksatriya, he said, “How could you tolerate… How could you tolerate such pain? No one can tolerate such pain, except for a ksatriya!”
So, I like that point because it shows that in a moment, the tolerance of a ksatriya is stronger than a brahmana but in the long-term, the tolerance of a brahmana is stronger! But why? Because the tolerance of a ksatriya is based on determination, “I shall do it…” but how long can you say that… one day, one week, one month, one year, ten years, twenty years? It is difficult. But the brahmana, his tolerance is based on knowledge and because it is based on knowledge, therefore his conviction is stronger because he sees that he has no other alternative, “What else can I do? I know it is hard to be a devotee; I know it is a struggle but what else is there to do? There is nothing else; there is no alternative!”