1.3 billion Indians are observing Janata Curfew on 22nd March, to fight Covid-19. Billions of people in different parts of the world are already under lockdown. Schools are closed, colleges are closed, offices are closed, malls and theatres are closed, flights have been canceled, trains and buses have stopped running. There is an undeclared curfew in almost all the parts of the world.
Coronavirus, the tiny little virus, which cannot be seen with our eyes have brought the whole world to a standstill.
Scientists are working to find a cure for the deadly disease and hopefully, they will succeed.
The virus is spreading because of human to human transmission and as of now there is no cure, so billions of people find themselves vulnerable. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, said in his nationwide address that this is more dangerous than World War 1 and World War 2.
As we are now locked down inside our houses it is the best time to ask ourselves as why such a calamity has dawned upon entire humanity. This disaster can also be a wakeup call for all of us.
The virus spread from seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China. A report in CNN explains, “In the likely epicenter of the virus — the so-called wet-markets of Wuhan, China — where wild animals are held captive together and sold as delicacies or pets, a terrifying mix of viruses and species can occur.”
It is now widely believed that bats are the carrier of the virus. They might have either directly passed it to humans or through some intermediate host. Although as of now there is no conclusion about its origin but researchers agree that its origin is from non-human species.
It was transmitted to humans because some ate the animal which was carrying that virus.
Humans are not supposed to eat animals or drink their blood. But especially in China, the concept is – you can eat anything on the land except motorcars, anything in the sky except airplanes, anything in the sea except ships. Why blame China, people in many parts of the world are today practicing the same eating habits. Unfortunately, even in India too. They are not just eating animals but are also drinking their blood. And surprisingly we call ourselves humans and them as animals.
Bird flu, swine flu, mad cow disease, and now coronavirus which have resulted in deaths of thousands of people all over the world have spread because human beings eat animals.
Have we ever read about potato flu, brinjal flu, tomato flu, milk flu, curd flu, paneer flu or mad cauliflower disease, mad spinach disease?
We are not supposed to kill animals and eat and drink their blood. We are supposed to live on food grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk. As per my wife, Dr Ketaki, who is a dentist, “The human dentition and digestive system have been designed for the intake of vegetarian food and not non-vegetarian food.”
In fact, the scriptures go one step ahead and say that vegetarian food should first be offered to the Lord and then consumed. Bhagavad Gita 9.27.
The Lord purifies the food and when we take that pure food then we remain healthy. And a healthy body is generally free from diseases.
But if we go against the laws of the nature created by God, then nature will react. If we exploit the nature, then we will be exploited.
If we eat animals, we will have to live like animals in cages. Like animals we are now forced to lock ourselves inside our houses, we cannot go out. And eventually we will die like animals.
God has made us humans so why not live like humans?
Srila Prabhupada always cautioned that if we play with the nature then we will have to suffer. In one of the conversations, he explains, “We act according to our whims and the resultant action is there immediately. Nature’s law, God’s law, is there. It is not God’s creation that somebody is suffering from some painful condition and somebody is enjoying. No. We infect ourselves with some contamination because this material world is full of contamination. You must remain very cautious. Otherwise you will have to suffer.” — Conversation in Mayapur, 19th Mar 1976.
As we have isolated ourselves from the world to save ourselves from the virus it is also a time for us to go deep within and introspect why we are suffering and what steps we should take so that we do not suffer in future.
God does not want us to suffer. Therefore, he gave us sacred Vedas which explains how we can live happily in this world and how we can minimize our suffering. The Vedas elaborately explains how to live and how not to live, what to eat and what not to eat.
Srila Prabhupada writes in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.24 Purport, "By practice, one should avoid eating in such a way that other living entities will be disturbed and suffer. Since I suffer when pinched or killed by others, I should not attempt to pinch or kill any other living entity. People do not know that because of killing innocent animals they themselves will have to suffer severe reactions from material nature. Any country where people indulge in unnecessary killing of animals will have to suffer from wars and pestilence imposed by material nature. Comparing one’s own suffering to the suffering of others, therefore, one should be kind to all living entities. One cannot avoid the sufferings inflicted by providence, and therefore when suffering comes one should fully absorb oneself in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra."
So if we want to free ourselves from the sufferings then we should try to reconnect ourselves to our roots, to the teachings of the Vedas and to the Supreme Lord who is our best well-wisher.
As we are locked inside our houses, we have an option to spend time watching news channels, movies, serials or programs like big boss. We can also spend time tweeting, updating status on Facebook, forwarding unlimited WhatsApp messages, watching funny TikTok videos, posting pictures on Instagram or Pinterest.
Or else we can spend time reading books like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam which will nourish our intelligence and bring us closer to God.
When King Parikshit faced the biggest challenge in his life then he without wasting even a single moment took shelter of the Supreme Lord. He spent his days hearing the transcendental teachings of Srimad Bhagavatam from Sukhadeva Goswami, son of Ved Vyas.
If we take shelter of the Lord, shelter of the sacred Vedas and pray to the Lord then our miseries will surely vanish. In Bhagavad Gita 3.10 Krishna explains the process by which we all can be happy in this world,
“In the beginning of creation, the Lord of all creatures sent forth generations of men and demigods, along with sacrifices for Viṣṇu, and blessed them by saying, “Be thou happy by this yajna [sacrifice] because its performance will bestow upon you everything desirable for living happily and achieving liberation.”
The best yagya in this Kali Yuga, the age of downfall and suffering, is the sankirtan yagya. In Srimad Bhagavatam 11.5.32 it is mentioned that in this age of Kali Yuga intelligent men and women chant the holy names of the Supreme Lord.
During World War 2, there was a danger that Kolkata may be bombed. Thousands of residents were fleeing Kolkata during that time but Srila Prabhupada was not afraid. He said let us do sankirtan and with few devotees he did sankirtan on the streets of Kolkata. No bombs were dropped on Kolkata.
As the coronavirus disease spreads from people to people contact so we cannot come together to perform sankirtan physically but each one of us can individually chant the holy names of the Lord.
As to protect ourselves from the coronavirus infection we are asked to wash our hands with soap constantly and also use sanitizer, similarly, we should clean our hearts and sanitize our consciousness from the contamination of the world by sincerely and regularly chanting the holy names of the Lord like the Hare Krishna Mahamantra – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
This will protect us, protect our family members, friends and relatives, and the entire world. If we take shelter of Krishna, the Supreme Lord, he will protect us and the whole world from this pandemic.
Let us contemplate:
- Is God responsible for our suffering or we are responsible for our suffering?
- Why eat animals when sacred Vedas asks us not to do?
- Why not follow the teachings of sacred books like Bhagavad Gita which is a manual for humankind and live happily in this world?