The Pāṇḍavas are most fortunate because with all good luck they were entirely dependent on the mercy of the Lord. In the material world, to be dependent on the mercy of someone else is the utmost sign of misfortune, but in the case of our transcendental relation with the Lord, it is the most fortunate case when we can live completely dependent on Him. The material disease is due to thinking of becoming independent of everything. But the cruel material nature does not allow us to become independent. The false attempt to become independent of the stringent laws of nature is known as material advancement of experimental knowledge. The whole material world is moving on this false attempt at becoming independent of the laws of nature. Beginning from Rāvaṇa, who wanted to prepare a direct staircase to the planets of heaven, down to the present age, they are trying to overcome the laws of nature. They are trying now to approach distant planetary systems by electronic mechanical power. But the highest goal of human civilization is to work hard under the guidance of the Lord and become completely dependent on Him. The highest achievement of perfect civilization is to work with valor but at the same time depend completely on the Lord. The Pāṇḍavas were the ideal executors of this standard of civilization. Undoubtedly they were completely dependent on the good will of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, but they were not idle parasites of the Lord. They were all highly qualified both by personal character and by physical activities. Still they always looked for the mercy of the Lord because they knew that every living being is dependent by constitutional position. The perfection of life is, therefore, to become dependent on the will of the Lord, instead of becoming falsely independent in the material world. Those who try to become falsely independent of the Lord are called anātha, or without any guardian, whereas those who are completely dependent on the will of the Lord are called sanātha, or those having someone to protect them. Therefore we must try to be sanātha, so that we can always be protected from the unfavorable condition of material existence. By the deluding power of the external, material nature we forget that the material condition of life is the most undesirable perplexity. The Bhagavad-gītā (7.19) therefore directs us that after many, many births one fortunate person becomes aware of the fact that Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is all in all and that the best way of leading one's life is to surrender unto Him completely. That is the sign of a mahātmā. All the members of the Pāṇḍava family were mahātmās in household life. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was the head of these mahātmās, and Queen Kuntīdevī was the mother. The lessons of the Bhagavad-gītā and all the Purāṇas, specifically the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, are therefore inevitably connected with the history of the Pāṇḍava mahātmās. For them, separation from the Lord was just like the separation of a fish from water. Śrīmatī Kuntīdevī, therefore, felt such separation like a thunderbolt, and the whole prayer of the Queen is to try to persuade the Lord to stay with them. After the Battle of Kurukṣetra, although the inimical kings were killed, their sons and grandsons were still there to deal with the Pāṇḍavas. It is not only the Pāṇḍavas who were put into the condition of enmity; all of us are always in such a condition, and the best way of living is to become completely dependent on the will of the Lord and thereby overcome all difficulties of material existence.
After the Battle of Kurukṣetra ended and the Pāṇḍavas were established in their kingdom, Kṛṣṇa, before going back home to Dvārakā, was taking leave of His aunt and bidding her farewell. It was at that time that Kuntī offered this prayer. Now she directly asks, "Is it a fact that after finishing Your duty You are going away and leaving us alone?" This is the devotee' s position. Kuntīdevī says, yeṣāṁ na cānyad bha vataḥ padāmbujāt: "We have no means of protection other than Your lotus feet." This is full surrender.
In the process of surrender (śaraṇāgati) there are six items. The first is that one should completely depend on Kṛṣṇa, and the next is that one should accept everything favorable for Kṛṣṇa's service (ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ). Ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā: (CC Madhya 19.167) a symptom of first-class bhakti, devotional service, is that one accepts everything favorable for that service. Another item of surrender is prātikūlyasya-vivarjanam, rejecting everything unfavorable to the procedures of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sometimes the spiritual master says, "Don't do this," forbidding something unfavorable, and he also recommends that which is favorable: "Do this. Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa." Full surrender, therefore, entails giving up unfavorable things and accepting that which is favorable (ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ prātikūlyayasya-vivarjanam). Furthermore, one should believe with full faith, "Kṛṣṇa will give me protection," and one should count oneself as one of the servants of Kṛṣṇa. These are some of the items of śaraṇāgati, full surrender.
Now Kuntīdevī says, "My dear Kṛṣṇa, if You think that we are well established now that we have our kingdom back, and if You therefore want to leave us, that is not a very good proposal. We are not free yet. Because we have killed so many kings, all their friends and relatives are planning to come fight with us again. So don't think that we are free from all dangers. We are not. And we have no protection other than Your lotus feet. That is our position." Thus she indirectly says to Kṛṣṇa, "Do not leave us. Don't think that we are now safe. Without Your protection, we are always unsafe."
This should be the position of a devotee. We should know that we are actually in danger in this material world. Māyā, illusion, may catch us at any time, as soon as we are a little inattentive, thinking, "Now I have done my duty. Let me take a little rest." No, there is no rest. We must be always alert.
There is a verse in which Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says, avyartha-kālatvam: (CC Madhya 23.18-19) a devotee should be very much careful to see whether his time is being spent unnecessarily. He should ask himself, "Am I now engaged in māyā's service or Kṛṣṇa's service?" This is a symptom of an advanced devotee. Nāma-gāne sadā ruciḥ: such a devotee is never tired of chanting, singing, or dancing. The word sadā means "always," and ruci means "taste." A devotee always has a taste for chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa: "Oh, very nice. Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare." This is taste. Of course, this taste takes time to awaken, but when Rūpa Gosvāmī was chanting he was thinking, "I have only one tongue and two ears. What can I appreciate of chanting? If I could have millions of tongues and trillions of ears, then I could relish something by chanting and hearing." Of course, we should not imitate him, but the devotees of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement must at least be very careful to complete their sixteen rounds, their minimum amount of prescribed chanting. Nāma-gāne sadā ruciḥ: we have to increase our taste for singing and chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Furthermore, we should also increase our inclination to live in a place where Kṛṣṇa lives (prītis tad-vasati-sthale). In the vision of higher devotees, Kṛṣṇa actually lives everywhere, but because we are in a lower condition, we should know that for us Kṛṣṇa lives in the temple. Because we do not see Kṛṣṇa everywhere, we should come to the temple to see Kṛṣṇa, who kindly appears there, by His mercy, in a manner in which we can see Him.
Kṛṣṇa has a completely spiritual body (sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1)), but we do not have the eyes to see what that spiritual body is. We are accustomed to seeing material, gross things (jaḍa). We can see stone, metal, wood, and other elements, and because Kṛṣṇa is everything, to be visible to our imperfect eyes He appears in a form of these elements. It is not that Kṛṣṇa is stone or that we are worshiping stone. We are worshiping Kṛṣṇa, but because we cannot see anything except material elements like stone, Kṛṣṇa kindly appears in a form carved from stone. Therefore one should be very much inclined to live within the circle of a temple environment in which the form of Kṛṣṇa is worshiped.
Moreover, one should always think oneself dependent on Kṛṣṇa. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One should always think, "Without Kṛṣṇa my life is useless, and I am in danger." Therefore, while offering her prayers to Kṛṣṇa, Kuntī says, "Kṛṣṇa, You are thinking that now we are safe, but I don't think we are safe. We are always in danger. If You think we are safe, who will give us protection? We have no protection other than Your lotus feet. We are encircled by so many enemies because the sons of those who have died in the fight are now preparing to fight with us."
Now, although Kṛṣṇa had come to Kuntīdevī to take the dust of the feet of His superior, His aunt, Kuntīdevī addresses Him as Prabhu, the Lord, not as her beloved nephew. She knows, "Although Kṛṣṇa is playing the part of my nephew, my brother's son, He is still the supreme master."
The symptoms of a really Kṛṣṇa conscious person are that he knows that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme master, he always thinks himself in danger without Kṛṣṇa, and by taking shelter of Kṛṣṇa's lotus feet he always feels safe. Kṛṣṇa says, kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: "You may declare to the world that My devotee is never vanquished." (BG 9.31) If one becomes a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa, there is no question of danger. Of course, Kṛṣṇa gives protection to everyone, for without His protection no one can live even for a single moment. But one should not think, "If Kṛṣṇa is giving protection to everyone, what is the use of becoming a devotee?" A king gives protection to every one of his citizens, for that is his duty, but he especially protects his own circle of men. This is not unnatural. If one directly engages in the service of the President, when one is in some difficulty he is especially protected. Although the President gives protection to all the citizens, those who personally associate with him, giving him service, receive special consideration. That is not actually partiality. That is natural. When a gentleman loves all children but has special love for his own children, no one will say, "Oh, why are you loving your own children more than others?" No, that is natural. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā, samo 'haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu: (BG 9.29) "I am equal to everyone." Kṛṣṇa, being God, loves everyone because everyone is part of Him. Nonetheless, He takes special care of His devotees. Therefore He says, kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: (BG 9.31) "My devotee will never be vanquished."
Kṛṣṇa always sees to the comforts of His devotees, and the devotees are always busy seeing that Kṛṣṇa is satisfied. The devotees dress Kṛṣṇa, supply Him food, and always engage in serving Him, and similarly Kṛṣṇa always sees to the happiness of His devotees. This is the intimate relationship between the devotee and Kṛṣṇa. Every living entity has a relationship with Kṛṣṇa, but when one becomes a devotee the relationship becomes intimate. Therefore Kuntīdevī says to Kṛṣṇa, "How can You leave us? We are Your intimate friends. We are simply living by Your care, by Your mercy. Don't think that we are safe and that You can therefore leave us. Our life is always under Your mercy, for we have no shelter other than Your lotus feet. Kindly don't leave us." This is Kuntī's prayer. Similarly, Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura sings:
- hā hā prabhu nanda-suta, vṛṣabhānu-sutā-yuta
- karuṇā karaha ei-bāra
"Kṛṣṇa, Nanda-suta, You are present with Rādhārāṇī, the daughter of King Vṛṣabhānu. Now I fully surrender unto You. Please show me Your mercy."
Without Kṛṣṇa consciousness one thinks, "I shall protect myself, or my society, community, or state will give me protection. I have so many protectors. Why should I care for God? Why shall I go to Kṛṣṇa? Those rascals who have no protection can go to Kṛṣṇa." But the fact is that unless Kṛṣṇa gives one protection one cannot be protected. This is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.9.19): bālasya neha śaraṇaṁ pitarau nṛsiṁha. When Prahlāda Mahārāja offered prayers to Kṛṣṇa as Nṛsiṁha-deva, he said, "My dear Lord, one should not think that because a child has a father and mother he has full protection." If Kṛṣṇa did not protect a child, the child could not be protected, even if he were to have thousands of fathers and mothers. Prahlāda also says, nārtasya cāgadam udanvati majjato nauḥ: "It is not that a good physician or good medicine can protect one from disease." Suppose a rich man is suffering from some disease and he hires a first-class physician and takes first-class medicine. Does it mean that his life is guaranteed? No. If Kṛṣṇa does not give him protection, despite good medical treatment and a good supply of medicine he will die. "Similarly," Prahlāda continues, "one may have a good boat, but this does not guarantee that he will not drown in the ocean. If You do not protect him he may drown at any moment." Nature offers so many difficulties, and although scientists may try to invent something to check these difficulties in the struggle for existence, unless Kṛṣṇa gives one protection one's inventions will be of no use.
Kuntīdevī knows this, and therefore although she is the mother of the great warriors Arjuna and Bhīma, she still thinks, "Although my sons are great warriors, they are not sufficient to give us protection. Nothing can give us protection but Your lotus feet." This verse illustrates the position of a surrendered soul seeking the protection of Kṛṣṇa. If we remain in this position, knowing that our only protector is Kṛṣṇa and that our only duty is to serve Kṛṣṇa, then our life is successful.