”I can see that this boy's strength is unlimited, for he has not feared any of my punishments. He appears immortal. Therefore, because of my enmity toward him, I shall die. Or maybe this will not take place.” (Hiranyakashipu, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.47)
If you won the lottery today, would all your problems go away? No more living paycheck to paycheck. No more worrying about fluctuations in the economy, which affect the job market. No more concern over how to eat, where to live, keeping up with popular skills of the day.
From studies it is seen that often times the miseries increase. People go bankrupt soon after winning the lottery. There are new responsibilities, and each responsibility is like a burden. There are many more problems introduced. Even those who don’t win the lottery but earn their massive wealth through business ventures have difficulty figuring out what to do with their time.
But what exactly is a peaceful state? Don’t some people thrive in difficult situations? Aren’t they more at peace when working, when handling responsibilities? From the Vedas we learn that the real way to measure peace is through consciousness. A peaceful person has full trust in the guiding and protecting hand of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are examples of people who remained peaceful even when faced with tremendous difficulties, while in the midst of chaos.
1. Prahlada Maharaja
A child is often at peace because they don’t know any better. They have yet to grasp the repetition of days, months and years. They are not jaded by life’s experience because they have little experience to go off. They enjoy playing. They are not shy in admitting their preferences with respect to association. They are the essence of innocence.
But how does a child remain at peace in the midst of deadly attacks? And what if those attacks came from the father? This was the situation for Prahlada Maharaja, the son of the king. That king was feared throughout the world for his strength and his ruthless streak. He indeed sought world domination, and he was pretty much there. He had immunity from death in so many situations, as well.
Despite having a respectful and well-behaved son, the king could not tolerate the devotion in the boy. Prahlada simply meditated on Vishnu in the heart at all times. He understood that though in the heart of every living being, God still has a transcendental form. The father Hiranyakashipu understood that as well; except his mood was antagonistic. He viewed Vishnu as the number one rival.
Prahlada faced deadly attacks from the father. This was because bhakti could not be tolerated in the kingdom. In the midst of seeing weapons coming his way, flying off a cliff, being stomped on by elephants, and even entering fire Prahlada remained completely at peace. This was due to his connection in consciousness to the Supreme Lord. That is the real meaning of yoga.
2. Shri Hanuman
Away from home, separated from his friends, and no way to communicate with anyone Hanuman had to succeed in a difficult mission. He was in a foreign territory, one that was hostile to good people. Hanuman is the symbol of goodness, and he was searching for the lotus-like wife of the Supreme Lord. Since she prefers to stay around lotus flowers, like a swan, one of her names is Padmini.
“How can that female swan who is accustomed to sporting with the king of swans amidst lotus flowers ever cast her eyes on a water-crow that stays amidst bunches of grass?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.20)
The king of that territory was like a crow; always around rubbish. Hanuman had to find Sita, though he had not met her previously. People counted on Hanuman to succeed; that was the mission coming from Rama. Hanuman remained at peace through the difficult situations since he was also connected in consciousness. Rama is the same Vishnu worshiped by Prahlada; just with a different physical manifestation.
Hanuman had to search clandestinely through the city, see things he didn’t want to, fight people who were very powerful, and even have his tail set on fire. Raging in anger afterwards, Hanuman burned Ravana’s city to the ground. Throughout the chaos he was peaceful in mind due to bhakti.
Arjuna’s task was a little more straightforward. He had to lead a massive army in a massive war, featuring the best bow-warriors in the world riding on chariots. Arjuna had the best person driving his chariot. This was Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Prahlada and Hanuman were just as close with God, but Arjuna’s situation draws a much clearer picture of bhakti.
There is question and answer. There is doubt and resolution. There is reflection and reaction. Arjuna had issues at the beginning. He was hesitant to proceed. In yoga he connected with God, who was literally right next to him in the form of Krishna. At the conclusion, Arjuna decisively proceeded with the war, which he was guaranteed to win.
“One who restrains the senses and organs of action, but whose mind dwells on sense objects, certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.6)
Peace is a difficult thing to measure. In that conversation with Arjuna, Krishna related the eye-opening fact that even someone who looks renounced can remain attached. They are called a pretender, since on the inside they are not at peace. They are thinking of this thing and that, how to enjoy separate from God.
In this way we know that things aren’t always how they appear to be. There can be chaos even in an isolated place, which is supposed to be more conducive to peace. And there can be peace amidst the most chaotic situations. Consciousness is the key. It can be linked to the Supreme Lord through something as simple as sound: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Peace amidst chaos to be found,
Coming simply from a sound.
Holy names always to chant,
Then to break meditation can’t.
Others like Prahlada also show,
And Hanuman towards Sita to go.
Arjuna even amidst war impending,
Successful since on God depending.