I did not understand the story. As it was Gajendra's mistake to go in the pond,(He should have been cautious), why did Lord come to save him, as he was responsible for the problem? Why doesn't "Survival of the fittest" apply here? Why did God come to save him only after Gajendra called him?If he could have come earlier what difference would it make? If I am in a problem created by my previous mistakes which I was not cautious about and now if it is leading to suffering.What would God do?Will he save me or will he say "You created the problem, you suffer".As there are different stories I am not able to understand the mindset of God,therefore am failing to ask(i.w what and how to ask) Doesn't God come until and unless we call him?Is it not correct to try the best from one's end, like Gajendra did till his last energy? Does the story imply the foolish act of Gajendra of not calling God quickly or any other? Please give me clarity.

  • With sufficient foresight, nearly all mistakes are foolish mistakes. Gajendra was a devotee before he became an elephant and he continued to be a devotee as an elephant. Vishnu chose to help him possibly because he was already a devotee, and his past good deeds and penance added to his karmic pool. Jan 26 '18 at 0:57

You have asked too many questions. I am not sure I can answer all those.

However I can answer one part - what would have happened if god answered Gajendra's call right away?

Swami Velukkudi Krishnan in one of his discourses addresses the issue. He says,

"Gajendra fought the crocodile for 1000 years. All this time, he thought he can win out of his own effort. And god made Gajendra wait all this time. When Gajendra realized he cannot fight anymore, he begged for god's assistance with all his heart. It is just then that Sri Vishnu decided no more wait period for Gajendra, and immediately mounted his Garuda and came to the rescue".

Until we realize something is not within our control, we will suffer.

As another supporting factor, we can cite this incidence from the Mahabharata.

Udhdhava asks Krishna,

"You have supported Pandavas to win the Mahabharata war, because dharma was in their side. However, you could have stopped the entire war by making Kauravas fail in the dice game itself, why did you not do that?".

God Krishna answers,

"Well, if Pandavas were to trust me so much in the first place, they should have called me to play the dice game on their behalf! This is what Duryodhana did, he called his uncle Sakuni to play for him! If they had trusted me so much, and called me to play on their (pandavas) behalf, I would have won the dice game for them! They did not, hence they had to suffer!".

This is just an example to show that full faith in god does not come by that easily and mankind has to wait and suffer till the period they decide to go by his will and his mercy. Then only all suffering ends.

  • "this incidence from the Mahabharata" is too broad..can you please cite Parva/section etc..
    – YDS
    Jan 27 '18 at 3:06
  • Uddhava Gita, also known as 'Hamsa Gita' is the conversation between Uddhava and Krishna shortly before Lord Krishna's demise from the world. Wiki cites this information: "Though the Uddhava Gita is often published singularly as a stand-alone work, it is also evident in the Eleventh Canto of the Bhagavata Purana commencing from verse 40 section 6 through to the end of section 29, comprising more than 1000 'verses' (Sanskrit: shloka) and is considered part of the Purana literature proper.[1] "
    – JRD
    Jan 27 '18 at 12:34
  • Isn't it opposite to"God helps those who help themselves" Jan 27 '18 at 15:27
  • Does that mean one needs to give up his confidence on oneself,so that he can get help from god?Then it will become a habit for that person to ask God everything without performing action. Jan 27 '18 at 15:29
  • The Gajendra moksham episode, the mahabharata episode, etc, are not to tell us not to perform our duties. Rather, they teach us the concept of prapatti. In our life, in many circumstances, our action does not yield fruit. This explanation emphasizes that if such is the case, leaving the result to god and taking refuge will only offer us the eventual solace. For adverse circumstances which are beyond our control, if we take refuge in god and leave it to his will, almighty will redeem us soon.
    – JRD
    Jan 27 '18 at 17:15

Gajendra Moksham is fairly lengthy and detailed in Srimad Bhagavad Mahapurana, a shorter version comprising of 85 verses appears in Vaamana Purana.

Bhakti Bharati Pujya Prema Pandurang – the first woman to adorn the Vyasa Peetam in modern times, in her discourses on Srimad Bhagavad Mahapurana recounts how Lord Narayana shatters the arrogance of people who are overtly proud maybe arrogant of their achievements. The instances narrated are quite large, but she highlights three episodes – the arrogance of Gajendra, the elephant king, proud of his tribe and his immense strength, Parakrami Chakravarti Bali, proud his wealth, kindness and charitable disposition and Uddhava, saka of Sri Krishna, proud of his knowledge, wisdom and of course closeness to Lord Sri Krishna. In each instance the Lord humbles the person - Gajendra with a battle with the Crocodile, Chkravarti Bali by asking for three steps of land measured by His Vaamana feet, and by sending Uddhava to Brindavn to learn full surrender and unstinted love from the gopikas.

All the Puranas are composed in the form of questions and answers thereto. A seeker of knowledge – may be a rishi / maharishi, a king or even a commoner and the Guru – preceptor who then narrates the Purana. In the case of Vamana Purana the seeker is Devarishi Narada and the preceptor is Maharishi Pulasthya.

Gajendra was proud of his strength and valour and he continued the battle with the crocodile for 1000 years - some times Gajendra would seem to be winning, sometimes the crocodile.

तस्मिन्स- सि दुष्टात्मा- विरूपोsन्त- ्जलेशयः |

आसीद् ग्राहो गजेन्द्राण- ां रिपुराकेकर- ेक्षणः|| १९ ||

Unknown to the animals of the forest in this calm beauteous lake resided an evil crocodile which was destined to become the enemy of the king of elephants Gajendra and battle him in a fatal encounter.

तृषितः पातुकामोsस- वावतीर्णश- च तज्जलम् |

सलिलः पङ्कजवने युथमध्यगतश- ्चरन् || २२ ||

One day, as usual, with their arrogant walk, the elephants came and entered the lake and continued their frolicking, bathing and playing. That day for whatever reasons the crocodile got irritated by the trampling of the mighty feet of the elephants.

Suddenly from the midst of the forest of lotus shoots and leaves the crocodile got hold of the feet of one of the elephants. It was Gajendra’s leg which the crocodile had got. Gajendra let out a mighty roar and informed his herd of what had transpired. All the elephants got on the shore and tried to pull Gajendra out of the water, but in vain. At last tired with their exertions they retired to the forest some distance away. And Gajendra and the crocodile continued to battle it out. [In the Second Chapter of the Eighth Canto of Srimad Bhagavad Mahapurana Maharishi Veda Vyasa describes the fight between the elephant and the crocodile – sometimes the elephant succeeding in pulling the crocodile out of the water but it would not let go of Gajendra’s leg and sometimes the crocodile succeeded in pulling the elephant into the water.

नियुध्यतोर- ेवमिभेन्द्- रनक्रयो –

र्विकर्षत- रन्तरतो बहिर्मिथः |

समाः सहस्त्रं वयगमन् महीपते

             **सप्राणयोश- चित्रममंस- ामराः || २९ ||**

Thus this battle raged to and fro for one thousand years and yet the two were alive and fighting. Witnessing this unique battle even the gods and devas were astonished.]

वेष्ट्- यमानः सुघोरैस्तु- पाशैर्नागो- दृढैस्तथा |

विस्फूर्य च यथाशक्ति विक्रोशंश्- च महारवान् || २५ ||

व्यथितः स निरुत्साहो- गृहीतो घोरकर्मणा |

परमापदमाप- ्नो मनसाsचिन्त- ध्दरिम् || २६ ||

स तु नागवरः श्रीमान्ना- रायणपरायणः- |

तमेव शरणं देवं गतः सर्वात्मना- तदा || २७ ||

In this battle between the strongest animal on land and the strongest animal in water, the grip of the crocodiles jaws on the elephant’s leg was strong, vicelike and like the coils of the serpent round its prey, determined and steady. The elephant according to his strength tried to get out of this terrible trouble in this great battle.

Inspite of his determined and hard efforts which went in vain Gajendra gradually began losing interest in the fight. He was thinking about the crocodile’s jaws grip on his leg and was thinking of ways to escape it. Ultimately realizing the futility of his efforts, the inability of his strength – of which he was so arrogant – to serve him in this hour of need, Gajendra concentrated on praying to Shriman Narayanan (Mahavishnu) stating that every soul ultimately goes to Your feet to seek safety.

ग्राहग- रस्तं गजेन्द्रं तं तं च ग्राहं जलाशयात् |

उज्जहाराप- रमेयात्मा तरसा मधुसूदनः || ६२ ||

स्थंलस्थं दारयामास ग्राहं चक्रेण माधवः |

मोक्षयामा- नागेन्द्रं- पाषेभ्यः शरणागतम् || ६३ ||

Madhusudhana (Mahavishnu) took pity on Gajendra whose leg was gripped in the crocodile’s jaws and which was slowly pulling the elephant to its watery grave. As soon as his mount toched the shores of the lake, with His discus Madhava cut off the head of the crocodile and saved the devotee who had taken refuge in His feet (Gajendra) from the serpent like coils of the crocodile.

स हि देवलशापेन हूहूर्गन्ध- र्वसत्तमः |

**ग्राहत्वम- मत् कृष्णाद् वधं प्राप्य दिवंगतः || ६४ ||****

गजोsपि विष्णुना स्पृष्टो जातो दिव्यवपुःप- ुमान् |

आपद्विमुक- तौ युगपद् गजगन्धर्वस- त्तमौ || ६५ ||

And wonder of wonders, the crocodile on being killed by Sri Krishna’s discus attained a divine form of a Gandharva named Hu Hu who was in the crocodile’s form due to the curse of Maharishi Devala.

After releasing Gajendra from the jaws of the crocodile Mahavishnu patted him and on the touch of Mahavishnu, the elephant too attained a Divine form similar to Vishnu with four arms and dressed in yellow silk dress. In his earlier incarnation he was a famous Pandya King from the South Indradumyna. Lord Vishnu’s touch freed him from his Karma and ignorance and he too attained eternal bliss.

Thus as is apparent, the animals of the forest knew not that in the lake dwelt a deadly crocodile. So Gajendra did not commit any mistakes, but continued doing what they did every day. The reason for Mahavishnu coming to the rescue of Gajendra was his realisation that all his mighty strength was no match for the powerful crocodile and it took 1000 years for this realization to dawn and then Gajendra plucked a lotus from the lake - beautifully picturised and depicted by Raja Ravi Varma and offered it to Mahavishnu with the famous prayer starting with the verse:

ॐ नमो मूलप्रकृतय- े अजिताय महात्मने |

अनाश्रिता- देवाय निःस्पृहाय- नमोsस्तु ते || ३१ ||

“OM – I bow to You the root of all creation, undefeated Great One. You are the sustainer, the refuge O Ruler of all Gods, pure and unparalled, I bow to You.” The prayer goes on to sing praises of Lord Mahavishnu and concludes with.

And he wholly surrendered to the will of God.

[This full narration can be seen in my blog with Speaking Tree of India Times by clicking my profile Suresh Ramaswamy MJF]

Let us not forget the old saying God helps those who help themselves. Had Gajendra not fought the crocodile and waited for the Lord to come he would most likely have suffered a watery death.

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