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Chapter 107: Our Fear of the Cobra Who Got Away

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 107
Our Fear of the Cobra Who Got Away

October 1974, ISKCON Candrodaya Mandir,
Māyāpur, India

As the evening's veil of darkness fell upon us, my godbrothers were still buzzing about the snake incident that occurred earlier that day. Everyone worried about the whereabouts and intentions of the escaped cobra whose mate had been executed. We had all heard about a snake's ability to exact revenge, especially when someone had murdered its spouse.

Finally I left Śrīla Prabhupāda's room and went to the servant's quarters to take rest. Nitai prabhu and I laid our mats down on the floor. We worried about the runaway snake, but not enough to lose any sleep. Exhausted by the day's excitement, we turned out the light and were ready for nescience. The room was not very big and with the two of us on the floor there was not much room between us. This didn't prevent Pradyumna prabhu from squeezing his sleeping paraphernalia between us. His opinion was that if there was a snake around and it was out to get someone than at least he would be safe sandwiched between us. Too tired to worry about it, Nitai and I slept comfortably that night in spite of the crowd. The next morning we were all alive, as no one suffered a snake bite.

Our daily activities went on as usual. That evening I went into Śrīla Prabhupāda's bedroom to massage him. I offered my obeisances and began to gently massage his lotus feet. Māyāpur was always so quiet and peaceful in the evening. It was an excellent place for Śrīla Prabhupāda to recover from his recent illness in Vrindavan. I sat there intoxicated by my surroundings and viewed Śrīla Prabhupāda as the center of the universe. I felt completely relaxed as if I was getting a massage rather than giving one. I could not help telling my glorious spiritual master about the amusing night I had.

"Śrīla Prabhupāda," I said. "Last night when we went to take rest Pradyumna squeezed in between Nitai and me so that he wouldn't be bitten by the snake."

Śrīla Prabhupāda started laughing.

"Yes, that is very nice," he said. "Actually there is one story my godbrother Damodara Mahārāja has told. It took place in a village just near here. He said there was an infant and that child was cursed by someone to be bitten by a snake. There were five family members and when they took rest, they surrounded the infant to protect him from any potential snakes. The infant would lie in the middle of the bed surrounded by family. One night the snake came into the room and quietly slithered around each of the sleeping family members and bit the infant, killing him.

So, that is the way it is with the snake. If you are destined to be killed by a snake, it doesn't matter what kind of protection you try to arrange. The snake will kill you. But, we do not worry about such things. If Kṛṣṇa wants to protect you, no one can harm you and if He wants to kill you, then no one can save you."

I continued to massage Śrīla Prabhupāda.

"All right, you go take rest," he soon instructed.

I offered my obeisances and left his bedroom feeling completely safe. Hanging onto those two golden lotus feet, fragrant as the sandalwood tree, situated at the center of the universe, I found shelter from all danger.

Śrīla Prabhupāda, I pray that you will always allow me to remain connected to your fearless lotus feet. This world is such a dangerous place as the cobras of doubt and temptation pass daily in front of my consciousness. You easily slay them. Please be merciful to me and shield me from the serpents constantly invading my heart. I take shelter of your heroic lotus feet.