In 1927 perhaps, there was a big solar eclipse. At that time, the Kuruksetra matha was newly started and I was the matha commander there. Prabhupada Srila Saraswati Thakura came there and arranged a spiritual exhibition that depicted how Dvaraka Krishna and the gopis met. At that time, I first heard from our Guru Maharaj why on solar and lunar eclipses, especially the solar eclipse, people come in lakhs and crores to a holy place and take bath.
I remember his explanation: The planets come in a particular line at that time, and there is some fear that by increased attraction they may clash and everything may be finished—pulverized by that clash. With this apprehension of a natural disaster, the people try to utilize their time in the best way possible by coming to a holy place, bathing there, chanting Harinama, and concentrating their spiritual activity in what may be their last moments. According to their religious beliefs, they may chant certain prayers or engage in nama-sankirtana.
So when the general apprehension of destruction comes, whether individual or collective, we shall try our best to utilize our time with the high conception, within divinity. That is very good. It is also admirable when the apprehension of danger is acute and yet one runs there to perform relief work—that is laudable. Circumstances may vary, and how far the intention is correct in a particular case is to be judged.
When I was in Madras, one man came to me and preached about the Ram Krishna Mission’s activities. He challenged, “You want to deliver the people, but they are dying of famine and disease. You do not go to help them, but if they die, to whom will you preach? So relief work is necessary. First give them food, medicine, and good health. After that you can give them inspiration about God. This process is good. But if they die then who will you help in a spiritual way?”
My reply to him was: “If there is a famine in the country, and I have some food that I am distributing to thousands who are flocking around me, but someone runs away, what should I do? Should I continue distributing food to those who are nearby or, stopping that, should I run after the man who ran away to catch him and give some food to him?” I asked him in this way.
Similarly, people are indeed dying, but there are also those who surround me and are ready to take what I have to give them. Why should I interrupt the important function of distribution to chase the fleeing person? I will lose my time by running and leaving the distribution. So many living persons are coming, so why should I be partial only to the dying? There are already hundreds and thousands around me. So it must be judged as to which policy will be more fruitful.
Of course if there are so many attendants to look after those who are crowded here, then it may be considered that I can go the chase the others and give them nourishment, otherwise there is no need to lose time running or traveling.
Our aim will be to engage ourselves always in this distribution. Again, distribution may not be the only work. Some are seen to distribute, some are supplying, and others are cooking. Different functions are necessary to save the people.
Some disasters are acute and some minor, but disasters are always occurring. It is not only limited to the human beings, but so many plants and animals and others are also in need of receiving such vibration that comes from the divine realm.
When Mahaprabhu went through the Jharikhanda forest, even lions, elephants, and deer received benefit from his nama-sankirtana. We shall always emanate that divine energy. We shall try to invite and distribute, as a mediator to draw and distribute. Therefore we shall engage ourselves in the most intensified duty of serving as a mediator. This is the primary thing. “May I be deeply engaged in drawing from the upper layer, and emanate that towards the environment.” That sort of high ideal is necessary.