By Virupaksha Dasa
“Why this kolaveri di?” Who doesn’t know this song? Every common man, willingly or unwillingly, has come across it. Whether a schoolboy, an IT professional, a roadside vendor, a village farmer, a doctor, a socialist or whoever he may be… knows it, likes it and sings it. The song has crossed all social, political, religious, economic and even national barriers. One of the reasons for its popularity, as the critics say, is novelty of the expressions made in the song. The song title means, “Why do you have this murderous rage against me?” This song expresses anguish of the singer who is being tortured by someone. The audience, like the singer, have taken it as a merry entertainment, oblivious of the fact that the same question is equally relevant to all of them in an existential context.
There is no person in the material creation who is free from the murderous rage or kolaveri (in popular terms) of the material nature known as Durgadevi. All the miseries in the material world are inflicted upon us by her. Srila Prabhupada explains, “The blazing fire of material nature is supervised by Durga. Often she is portrayed with weapons in her hands. She has ten hands, and each holds a different type of weapon. This indicates that she is ruling all ten directions of this universe. She wields the different weapons to chastise the demons. There is one famous picture of a demon struggling with a lion, and the Goddess Durga is pulling the demon's hair and pushing her trident against his chest. If we study this picture we can determine that we are the demon and that the trident is the threefold miseries of material existence from which we are always suffering. Some miseries are inflicted by other living entities, some are inflicted by natural disasters, and some are inflicted by the mind and body themselves. In one way or another we are always struggling against these three types of miseries. No one in the material creation can say that he is free from them.”
Then doesn’t it become essential for every human being to direct this question towards her? It is not an option but the duty of human being to inquire about his sufferings and to search an eternal relief from them. This inquiry is the prerogative and the responsibility of the human life. Thus, the question raised by the singer is not merely an item of entertainment but a serious quest meant to be pursued in this life. Although wrongly directed towards in the song, this question, in its proper context has been an inevitable part of the Vedic education. When rightly directed, the question aims at the existential struggle put forth by Durga in the form of various incessant miseries. From the time immemorial the wise have always raised it for the benefit of the human society. Unfortunately now it is going unnoticed by the masses as their attention is grabbed by the trivialities of life.
We all are suffering under the reign of Durga because we are the offenders of the Supreme Lord Krishna. Durga has been entrusted to punish the offenders and rectify them of their offensive attitude. This can be understood with the help of a nice analogy given by Srila Prabhupada. In a state there is a police department whose job is to arrest the lawbreakers and put them into the prison for punishment and rectification. Lawbreakers are considered to be those who violate the laws established by the government. In the same way Durgadevi serves as the police for the Supreme Lord Krishna. She arrests the offenders of the Lord and punishes them in this material world. We are Lord Krishna‘s offenders as we have violated His order of serving Him. Therefore we are helplessly subjected to the raging miseries in this material world. No one wants these miseries but no one knows the remedy either. Srila Prabhupada says, “For the four propensities of animal life—eating, sleeping, mating and defending—there is reasoning power even in beasts. Then, what is the special reasoning power of the human being, by which he is called the rational animal? The special reasoning power is to inquire, "Why am I suffering?" The animals are suffering, but they do not know the remedy of suffering. Unless these "why" questions, which in the Vedas are called Kena Upanishad, arise in one's mind, one is not fulfilling the proper function of his human life. These questions must arise: "Why am I suffering? Where from have I come? What is my constitutional position? Where shall I go after death? Why am I put into a miserable form of life? Why are there birth, death, old age and disease?"
These inquiries are highly glorified in the scriptures, not only because they are relevant to each and every human being in this world but also because the answers to these inquiries take one on the path of permanent relief from the murderous rage of Goddess Durga. No living entity, by own effort, can overcome these miseries or escape her clutches. Her ten hands means ten directions: east, west, north, south, the four corners, and up and down. So she is watching all sides: "No one can get out." Durga means very difficult to go or cross over; Dur – very difficult , ga – to go. She is so formidable that one cannot even bribe her by offering worship and adoration. She is firmly fixed up in her duty towards Lord Krishna. Therefore, Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita that the only way to overcome the pangs of Durga is to surrender unto Him. “This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Bg 7.14)
Now comes the point: what is the importance of the relevant inquiries? The importance of these relevant inquiries is that their answers are the beginning step in the surrender process to Lord Krishna, which in turn is the ultimate solution to all miseries. By getting these answers one can understand his real identity, original constitutional position with respect to the Supreme Lord Krishna and his duty towards the Lord. By understanding these basic principles of life, one can act in accordance with the Lord’s order and become a law abiding citizen. By doing so, one becomes free from the clutches of Durgadevi. It is just like a wise citizen who knows his position in the state, his relationship with the state and acts according to the laws of the state is never disturbed by the police.
Therefore, the Vedic scriptures, surpassing the social, political, religious, economic and national barriers, provoke all human beings to attain this freedom by looking into these relevant inquiries. The wise man is he who heeds to this call of the scriptures without any delay. This is the unique opportunity one gets in the human life. Vedanta-sutra advises athato brahma jijnasa, meaning now in this human form of life one must inquire about the transcendence. If this opportunity of getting rid of Durga’s murderous rage is lost then we are assured to degrade and be perpetually harassed by her. Human life is not so cheap to be wasted over a flop song or a soup song. It is meant to break open the shackles of material miseries and put an end to this "kolaveri" forever.