Monday Morning Greetings 2022 #3 – The Science of Omens and the Power of Free Will

January 17th, 2022

When Akrūra was on his way to see Krishna, he saw a very auspicious omen. A deer to his right was staring at his chariot. He was therefore confident that he would be welcomed by Krishna, even though he was serving as the top minister to Kamsa, who had vowed to kill Krishna. We learn this science of omens from our sacred texts. A contemporary commentator of this text gives an analogy to help explain the phenomenon of omens: “Just as when one does not put on his seatbelt the car is programmed to automatically make a sound to indicate danger, in a similar way the universe has ways of indicating auspicious and inauspicious future events.”[1]


For the last three weeks my left eye had been twitching on and off—an inauspicious sign. I knew something was coming. I have watched exactly this type of portent unfold too many times in my life. The day after I arrived in Kerala at the Vedasudha Ayurvedic Hospital for a panca karma detox, the doctor noticed I was run down. He tested me for COVID-19. I was positive. To me it seemed that this was the portent foretold. They quarantined me for ten days in a quaint forest cabin with excellent medical, nutritional, and cleaning services brought by staff in quasi-hazmat suits. My symptoms were only a slight fever, moderate sore throat, and increased fatigue and sleeping. In other words, a mild flu. I immediately took a COVID protocol of repurposed drugs and vitamins that I have kept with me for the last two years, which are prescribed by my doctors just in case I got COVID, in addition to taking whatever Ayurvedic medicine the doctors here recommended. After two days, all initial symptoms were almost gone.  Some karma was foretold, but as I thought about it, I questioned if my sickness was just destiny or whether there was also an element of free will. In other words, to what extent were my own actions the cause of my malady.


Destiny is what happens to you; free will is how you react. Both are factors to one degree or another in any karmic outcome. Basically, I think I could have avoided or lessened my ill destiny if I would have responded to my destiny more maturely, especially as there was already a hint of something unwanted to come. In other words, I will be 72 this year. I should have been much more mindful of the arduous two-day trip beginning from Mayapur to the Ayurvedic retreat center outside of Cochin, especially how I ate during the journey. Different members of the Mayapur Russian community lovingly packed different preparations for my meals for two days. The problem was that almost every preparation was heavy. I couldn’t take much, but I was hungry, and it had its effect. When I woke that morning in the hotel to go to the airport, I was already feeling run down from the four-and-a-half-hour ride to the Kolkata hotel and my late afternoon snack the day before, making me a fertile breeding ground to manifest or catch something during my journey, especially COVID.


In this regard, I think it is worth analyzing the extent to which a germ or the unhealthy body is the main cause of a disease, especially in terms of COVID, which is also connected to my original thoughts about the relationship between omens (destiny) and free will. The last time I remember getting ill in India was about thirty-five years ago. The conditions were very similar. I had eaten very heavy foods, this time at the homes of ISKCON life members in Mumbai, which was followed by a long journey—a train ride from Mumbai to Mathura. I fell ill with malaria immediately upon arriving at my destination, Vrindavan. At the time, however, I was studying a book called A Yogic Cure to All Diseases,[2] which posited the theory that although bacteria and viruses cause disease, they can only fester and harm someone if the body is unhealthy, which made sense to me. I saw in Vrindavan how although everyone at the time was drinking the same water and eating the same food, certain people always got sick, and others never did. I followed the yogic protocol for curing malaria mentioned in the book, which included complete fasting on water and enemas. The idea was that if the intestines were completely clean the virus would have no place to fester, and the disease would be finished. I was encouraged to continue the protocol as the book gave guideposts to indicate whether a particular treatment was working. For malaria it was that the intermittent fevers, the intense fever that arises at the same time every other day, would gradually come closer together until they would merge into one big fever, indicating that the disease was finished. Sure enough, as I fasted, every other day the fever would inflame several hours earlier than normally expected, until on the tenth day they merged into one big fever. I was completely cured without any medicine at all, which I believe is unheard of in the modern medical treatment of malaria.


I think we can bring this practically back to COVID. There are very inauspicious signs that portend that many or most of us will likely get COVID, which has serious side effects if not treated. In that sense, what is happening in the world is a kind of omen. We shouldn’t, however, think that the outcome is exactly fixed. We should, of course, do whatever we can to prevent it. To the extent that we can build up our immune system is just as important, if not more, a factor in how much we will suffer from COVID if we get the disease as is our destiny. And for God’s sake don’t touch anything with fried cheese and cashews during a long journey! What was I thinking? I wasn’t. Be well. I am now. Thank Krishna!




[1] I heard this analogy about omens from a lecture by Srila Radha Govinda Swami

[2] I can’t find the exact book and I am not sure of the title. Perhaps it was A Natural Cure to All Diseases, but it had an elaborate set of exercises and detox protocols for each disease.

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