‘Gajendra’ means ‘Indra of elephants, king of elephants’. Sage Patanjali says “Samskaras of previous births are engraved in our memory.” Devotion inspires the intellect and hence hymns, chants, devotional songs memorized in any lifetime can be remembered in future lifetimes. An excellent example of this is ‘Gajendra ākhyān’ in the Shrimad Bhāgwatam.
Gajendra was enjoying water sports with his family in a lake on the Trikuta Mountain. Suddenly, a crocodile caught his foot in his jaw and started dragging Gajendra into the deeper water. The mighty Gajendra fought hard but eventually failed. As he was being pulled by the crocodile, Gajendra remembered the hymns recited in his previous births. The knowledge of God was engraved in his intellect. He began praying ardently, “This universe is Chaitanya, Chaitanya is the cause of the world, His vision is unbiased, He who sees all is seeing me also. That Lord is my saviour.”
Gajendra did not invoke the Lord by any specific name. As soon as he pronounced ‘ch’ in the word Chaitanya, the Omnipresent Chaitanya assumed a new form. He incarnated as ‘Shree Hari (Galāvatār)’. Hearing Gajendra’s fervent prayer, the Lord mounted ‘Vedmay Garuda’ and approached Gajendra at a speed faster than the speed of the mind. An emotional Gajendra offered a lotus with tearful eyes. Accepting him with love, the Lord strikes the crocodile with his Sudarshan Chakra and rescued Gajendra. This shows the importance of true surrender and ardent devotion.
In another incident the Lord came running at the ardent call of His devotee. Draupadi wanted to offer food to Lord Krishna on the twelfth day. Yudhishthira asks Arjuna “How long will it take you to bring Shree Krishna?” “Three days,” said Arjuna. Nakul said, “six days” and Sahadeva said “twelve days”. However, Bhima answered, “I will bring Him right away.” Bhima comes out of the palace. Remembering Lord Krishna, Bhima swings his mace in the air with all his might and throws it high into the sky and said, “O Lord, please come before this mace falls on my head.” In Dwarka, Shree Krishna heard Bhima’s summon and the terrible sound of the mace. He pushed His food plate aside and arrived in an instant to Hastinapur. Seeing the Lord in front of him, Bhima was overwhelmed. He said, “God is mine, mine, I am God’s.” Everyone rejoiced at the arrival of Shree Krishna. Every resolution is fulfilled with ardent devotion.
“Ardent devotion known to animals and birds alike,
O man! Understand and do it right.”