Estimated reading time: 1 minute
One day, Krishna, the Supreme Being, pretended He had a headache. When many devotee physicians offered to examine Him, He thanked them and said, “No physician can cure Me—but if I can have the dust of my devotees’ feet on My head, then I can be cured.”
Pandits, brahmins, and others familiar with the protocols of devotional practice refused to help. “How can you think we would put the dust from our feet on the head of the Supreme Being? We’d go straight to hell for such behavior.”
When He learned of the general response, Kṛishna suggested that someone go to the cowherd women of His village, Vrindavan, and ask them. “They are My best friends,” He said. “Maybe they’ll agree.”
As soon as the messenger arrived in Vrindavan and described Krishna’s headache and its cure, the gopis bent down, scraped dust from their feet, and handed it to him. “Please take this–and go quickly!”
The messenger said, “Aren’t you afraid of repercussions from…”
“Who cares?” the gopis interrupted. “Krishna is suffering. Just go!”
However severe the consequences to them personally, their only anxiety was for Krishna’s wellbeing.
At the core of this simple story is something more than the specificity of the gopis’ love for Krishna. One can also find in it a call to see our wellbeing in the wellbeing of others. By definition, lovers of God are lovers of God’s creation. The only dis-ease they suffer is the suffering of others—in Sanskrit, para-dukha-dukhhi.
Enlightened life fosters an understanding that God dwells in the heart of all beings, human and otherwise (sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto, Bhagavad Gita 15.15) and that the condition of the “other” is more often than not a mirror image of our own condition. In these troubled times, we can think of those on the front-line—doctors, nurses, caregivers, food service workers, pharmacists, military personnel deployed to deliver aid, and other essential services personnel—who have set aside normal protocols, at great risk to themselves, in order to care for the suffering of others, and be inspired by their example.
Someday, the virus will pass. May the fears that compel us to put ourselves before others disappear with it.