Life’s rich and varied experiences continue to attract, despite the intermittent recurrences of sorrowful events in one’s lifetime. The thought that all this is ephemeral and is bound to change is easily suppressed by the belief in the apparent permanence of the present joy. But when a crisis springs in the course of one’s life at some point of time, it gradually becomes evident that there is no protector nor effective help from those beings who might offer assistance, except the Almighty.

The story of the liberation of an elephant king has many spiritual lessons for mankind, said Sri Kesava Dikshitar in a lecture. The elephant had lived life king size with family and retinue. He fulfilled the role of a protector and exulted in this euphoria. He was sure of the mutual help from them in case a need arose. But a predicament of this magnitude — to be caught by a crocodile and destined to a solitary struggle for 1,000 years came as a bolt from the blue. His near and dear were unable to help him. So he continued to struggle, thinking that he would be able to win over the crocodile. Only after he relinquished his hold over his own abilities to save himself, did he realise that the Supreme Lord alone is the only protector. Herein is also embedded the truth that the jivatma has to seek God with utter humility, renouncing any sense of ego. This is the cardinal principle of surrender.

When the soul thus seeks God, the Lord chooses to take the jivatma in His fold and liberate it from the cycle of samsara. The Lord responds to the call of the elephant and rides post-haste on his Garuda to save the elephant from the crocodile. His discus cuts the crocodile who is actually a Gandharva under a curse.

That is why scriptures and sacred literature emphasise the need to seek God always for He alone is enduring while all else is fading and insubstantial. “Who is there to save except Govinda?” asks Adi Sankara and entreats mankind to turn one’s gaze away from the worldly ties of family, friends, etc, towards God.

This episode is believed to chase away fear caused by bad dreams. It removes ignorance and confers jnana.

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