Scriptures say that one’s past deeds determine the joy and sorrow one experiences in one’s lifetime. Our past is hidden from our awareness and we presume that we are entitled to joy and happiness and are reluctant to face the challenge of sorrow. Sage Suka, while narrating the episode of Gajendra goes back to the previous births of both the elephant and the crocodile to explain the cause of long struggle between the two who were facing the consequences of their past karma, said Sri N. Rama Dikshitar in a lecture.
The elephant was a Pandya king named Indradyumna and a great devotee of Vishnu. Once when sage Agastya and his disciples happened to visit him, he was engaged in worship of the Lord, and merely acknowledged their arrival without the customary obeisance to honour a sage’s visit. This conduct angered the sage who cursed the king to become an elephant steeped in ignorance. The king accepted this as a matter of destiny. He was then born as an elephant with no trace of remembrance of his high spiritual nature. Only when in the grip of the crocodile and after a long struggle, the awareness of God’s glory was awakened in him at the last moment in spite of his elephant dullness.
The crocodile too was in fact a Gandharva in his previous birth by name Huhu who had incurred a rishi’s curse. When he repented and asked for release, the rishi advised him to seek the feet of an elephant (who was a true devotee) that would come his way. That is why the crocodile clung on to the elephant’s feet so adamantly.
In response to the elephant’s prayer, the Lord aimed the discus at the crocodile and released the Gandharva from his curse. The elephant was freed from ignorance and was liberated.
When Rama’s coronation was abruptly halted and instead He faced banishment for fourteen years, He accepts the situation with poise and explains this aspect of destiny in the lives of human beings as a crucial one. He attributes the cause of this situation to Divine Will alone for it had brought a total change in Kaikeyi’s nature that was favourably disposed towards Him.
The Lord is not bound by Karma like other human beings, but He participates in life’s upheavals to educate us to maintain equanimity.