This material world has been referred to as Dukhalaya, or that place which is always distressful, being the prison cell of the external energy of the Lord. It is where the rebellious jivas, averse to their constitutional position as servants of the Supreme Lord, are subjected to the threefold miseries of this material creation. These miseries, or kleshas, which constantly torment the living entities, are threefold: adhyatmika, adhibhautika and adhidaivika. Adhyatmika klesh refers to the sufferings caused by one’s own mind and body, adhibhautika refers to the miseries inflicted upon us by other living entities, and adhidaivika refers to the calamities that befall us due to the punishment of the demigods or the material nature.
The current situation of being subjected to the miseries of a widespread disease and the inability to carry on with our lives as normal is a form of adhidaivik klesh, one which the entire world is having to suffer. The general populace is forced to remain confined within their homes, unable to gratify their senses as they are otherwise accustomed to doing. They are separated from their near and dear ones and even faced with the possibility of death, the natural consequence of taking birth. The mental agony of realizing the ugly truth of this temporary material existence is disturbing people’s false sense of happiness and security. All this is scaring everyone so much.
In such a situation, it is only the devotees of the Lord who are able to maintain their mental equilibrium, because they understand the true nature of the material world and are completely dependent upon the protection of the Lord. The activities of the material nature are not able to bewilder the true devotee of the Lord, who sees things for what they really are and who is beyond the illusion of this temporary existence. As stated in the Bhagavat Gita, (2.14)
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
tams titiksasva bharata
O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed.
The devotees of the Lord are not bewildered by the temporary appearance of happiness and distress, as they are well aware that the Supreme Lord is the true controller of all that transpires in the entire creation. Not a single blade of grass can move without the sanction of the Lord, and therefore all that is happening is being conducted under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Being seated within the heart of all the jivas (isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ‘rjuna tisthati, Gita18.61), He is our true friend and eternal well-wisher (so ’yaṁ samasta-jagatāṁ suhṛd eka ātmā, Bhagavatam 3.9.22). Knowing Him to be our protector, maintainer and best benefactor, we should develop complete faith in the Lord. This is one of the symptoms of sharanagati, or full surrender, the most important, preliminary aspect of spiritual life. Without sharanagati, one cannot advance on the path of Bhakti. Once we understand that the controller of all that is transpiring is our true well-wisher, there remains nothing to be fearful of, for we know that all that happens is for our ultimate good.
Thus investing all our faith in the Lord and not being disturbed by this temporary distressful situation, we should continue serving Him with love and devotion. Taking advantage of this situation, where we are unable to move about freely and are forced to face the truth of life, we should intensify our spiritual practices by reading and chanting more. These two limbs of bhakti are the very foundation of our spiritual path and therefore, one should chant, hear and read about the transcendental names, forms, qualities, pastimes and associates of the Lord.
By thus engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, we will surely be freed from all undue fear, and our faith in Sri Krishna will flourish. As a result, we will develop genuine taste for the topics of akhila-rasamrita murti Sri Krishna, who is the embodiment of all transcendental mellows. Having developed taste for his holy names and narrations, material existence will cease to have any influence over us and we will become situated on the transcendental platform, even while externally still surrounded by the modes of material nature.