"Time and tide waits for no one", an old saying goes, bringing to mind what kind of grip time has got on our necks. Are we not easily put into stress by it, and are miseries not coming closer to us, day by day, in the form of old age, sickness and death? Is there any way we can avoid being disheartened by its presence? Srimad Bhagavatam has a specific ability to show the positive side of things, even in regards to kaala, the time element. In fact, the Bhagavatam relates a few instances of persons having experiences specifically in regards to time.
In these instances, the apparently negative actions of time turn to serve a positive purpose because of an important ability of the persons involved, their ability to be Krishna conscious.
The story of King Kakudmi.
He was born as the eldest of the hundred sons of King Revata, in the line of the Sun dynasty. Taking his own daughter, Revati, Kakudmi went to Lord Brahma in Brahmaloka, which is transcendental to the three modes of material nature, and inquired about a husband for her. The Bhagavatam explains:
"When Kakudmi arrived there, Lord Brahma was engaged in hearing musical performances by the Gandharvas and had not a moment to talk with him. Therefore Kakudmi waited, and at the end of the musical performances he offered his obeisances to Lord Brahma and thus submitted his long-standing desire. After hearing his words, Lord Brahma, who is most powerful, laughed loudly and said to Kakudmi, "O King, all those whom you may have decided within the core of your heart to accept as your son-in-law have passed away in the course of time. Twenty-seven catur-yugas have already passed. Those upon whom you may have decided are now gone, and so are their sons, grandsons, and other descendants. You cannot even hear about their names. O King, leave here and offer your daughter to Lord Baladeva, who is still present. He is most powerful. Indeed, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose plenary portion is Lord Vishnu. Your daughter is fit to be given to Him in charity." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.3.29-33)
Having received this order from Brahma, Kakudmi offered obeisances unto him and returned to earth, where he gave his daughter in charity to Baladeva. Then he retired from worldly life and went to Badarikaashrama to please Nara-Naaraayana. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.3.35-36)
The point is that, how a pious devotee Kakudmi Maharaja was!
This is shown by
1) His way of dealing with the unforeseen effects of his travelling to Brahmaloka: He didn't get too much disturbed by the news that everybody he knew on earth had been extinguished 27 yuga-cycles ago while he was waiting for Brahma. He simply followed the order given by Brahma to do his duty and get his daughter married.
2) By his activities of retirement: As many kings in the days of yore did, after making sure his royal lineage would continue, the former king would retire from worldly life and go to the forest or the Himalayas for the sake of liberation. Thus Kakudmi utilized his old age for renouncing his material life in order to establish himself as an eternal servant of the Lord.
The Vishnu Purana (5.25.19) relates that Baladeva married Revati in Dwaraka, and that they got two sons, Nishatha and Ulmuka. At the end of Dvapara-yuga, when Baladeva left this mortal world, Revati also left.... (V.P. 5.38.3) Srimad Bhagavatam 11.31.20 also relates this incident.
How Revati devi's love for Balarama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was transgressing the boundaries of matter, is apparent. The Lord in the form of time is the cause of the continuous manifestation and annihilation of matter, and we can understand that Revati had thoroughly realized the flickering nature of time on Brahmaloka together with Kakudmi, and was not attached to it at all, but took its effect in the form of bodily death simply as an impetus to get back to the Lord’s eternal abode. In the same way, if we simply take the actions of time as the grace of the Lord for our advancement in Krishna consciousness, we may, following in the footsteps of advanced devotees like Kakudmi and Revati, use old age and death as springboards to advance in devotion to the Lord, rather than miserly self-pity.
As Srila Prabhupada says in one of his Bhagavatam verse (2.3.17) purports, "A devotee's old age or disease in the present life is but an impetus to such guaranteed eternal life."