How many times have we asked this question: “Why me?” Why did I have this accident? Why did I get cancer? Why did I lose my child? Why should I be the one who has contracted that one in a million disorder? Why should I be the one whose home was destroyed in a massive hurricane? Why do troubles always come searching only for me? Why me, God? Why me? What have I done to you that you make me go through all this?
Why me? Suffering and loss is truly terrible. It’s personal; it’s a struggle. It’s never easy. But it’s a fact of life. Whether we believe it or not, it’s true that everything in this world runs according to the system of karma. We face the consequences of our past actions and the consequences of our adherence to and deviation from our dharma (over many many births). It’s a complicated system; but it is flawless. It has been set up by the greatest genius Engineer and Mathematician in all the worlds. There are no miscalculations, no mistakes. Every circumstance – both positive and negative – has been carefully engineered and tailored perfectly just for us. That’s the answer to the “Why me” question. It may not be what we would like to hear, but it’s the truth. None can escape the cycle of karma, including us. Yes, we too are subject to the Great System.
So what is the use of praying to God then, you may ask. That is the genius of it. Prayer is our secret helper. When we pray, the Lord’s grace can do many things to our karma. We may have to face the karma somehow but grace can make the situation opportune for us; it can make us experience the karma at a more favorable time; it can make us stronger and more resilient; it can make us immune internally to the effect; it can change our lives for the better through the experience and struggle; if we are really ready, it can further us in our spiritual path and open our eyes to accepting everything in life as His grace and gift. Prayer can help us realize that the Lord’s actions will always be benign and that this happened only for ‘my own good’. That it happened for me vs. happened to me.
Arjuna was cursed by an apsara to become a eunuch for a year. For a proud warrior, the loss of manhood is an unbearable blow and extremely hard to accept. But Arjuna did not flinch. He didn’t ask, “Why me?” He knew he would get through with it. He had Krishna by his side; what else could one ask for? And by Krishna’s grace, Arjuna was able to use that curse as his disguise during the one year that the Pandavas had to remain incognito at the end of their exile. So, with God’s grace, what came as a raging fire actually became a gentle flame that in fact made his journey (through the exile) simple.
Sant Meera Bai dedicated her life to Krishna. He was her Lord, her love, and she doted on Him from childhood. Yet, even though she was a queen, she constantly faced obstacles in life: she was insulted and spoken ill of by family members; she was misunderstood and mistreated by her husband; she was even fed poison in attempted murder. Yet she remained ever in love with Krishna and not once blamed Him for her troubles. She knew that it was He who was giving her the strength to remain oblivious to the world, and instead stay filled with prema (divine love).
How many times have we heard inspiring stories of people – those who survived and overcame physical disabilities and personal disasters to lead, not only a successful life, but to even inspire others with their spirit. There are several devotees even in our own G.O.D. satsangs across the world who, despite facing untold troubles in life and even death, have never once asked, “Why me?” and stayed deeply devoted to the Lord. They understood that what they were going through too was His grace only, just in a different form, and was meant to take them further in their journey towards Him.
God’s grace – that is invoked through prayer and chanting His Divine Names – can make us turn the tables on karma while facing it right on.
Sri Oothukkadu Venkatakavi sings in a kirtan,
“kaNNAl avanai nI nADu; nalla paNNAl avan pugazh pADu; iru kaiyAle thALangaL pOdu; iru kAlAl aDavunDri ADu; antha kAlan vandhAl enna nEril avan kaiyil thALatthai konDu pOi pOdu!”
Look for Krishna with your eyes; sing His praises with your words; [sing His names] with cymbals in your hands; dance for Him with your two feet; so what if Death knocks on your door: go right up to him and drop the cymbals in his hands!
We all – without exception – have to face hurdles, obstacles, disappointments and losses in life. There is no doubt about that. But if we stay sincere and steadfast in our prayer, and have His Name constantly in our lips, His grace can make us strong to face anything cheerfully, and realize that even the most difficult situation is one that actually does us good.
Nisha Giri, Houston, TX