How Krishna protects His devotees

krishnaya vasudevaya haraye paramatmane
prantaklesanasaya govindaya namo namah

kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranashyati

In Bhagavad gita, Krishna declares to His friend and devotee Arjuna: “Know for certain, o son of Kunti, My devotee will never be destroyed”.

Many examples are often given from Vedic literatures, Puranas and Mahabharata, and from the lives of a great number of devotees of Krishna, showing how the Lord is always taking personal care of those who surrender to Him. The story of how the Deity of Sakshi Gopal came to this place is one of the best of this kind, and clearly demonstrates that Krishna is the best friend of His devotee.

However, today we see that in society faith and devotion to the Lord are in decline, and people do not even understand these facts any more. If they read or watch Mahabharata on TV, they usually consider it as a “story” only, and do not ask themselves questions or try to understand the meaning of the story and its teachings, so they end up with wrong ideas.

For example, we read in the newspapers and hear that many people have lost their faith in God because God was not always ready to supply them with everything they wanted or protect them from all troubles and death of their relatives of friends. Others observe how devotees are sometimes harassed and put in troubles by demoniac people, and they conclude that God does not exist, or that He does not care for His devotees. So they join the demoniac side and also follow the example of degraded people by harassing and disrespecting devotees. What then is the real meaning of Krishna’s protection?

In the above verse, Krishna addresses Arjuna as Kaunteya, “son of Kunti”. Kunti was the aunt of Krishna, and in Srimad Bhagavata Purana she offers Him some beautiful prayers about the protection that Krishna gives to His devotees.

yatha hrishikesha khalena devaki kamsena ruddhaticiram sucarpita
vimocitaham ca sahatmaja vibho tvayaiva nathena muhur vipad-ganat

O Hrishikesha, master of the senses, You have released Your mother Devaki, who was long imprisoned and distressed by the envious King Kamsa, and me and my children from a series of constant dangers.

vishan mahagneh purushada darshanat asat-sabhaya vana-vasa-kricchratah
mridhe mridhe aneka maharathastrato drauny astratas casma hare abhiraksitah

You have protected us from poison, from a great fire, from cannibals, from the vicious assembly of the Kauravas, and when we were wandering here and there in exile, living in the forest. You have also protected us from many great generals and warriors during the battle, and now from the weapon of Asvatthama.

vipadah santu tah sasvat tatra tatra jagad guro
bhavato darshanam yat syad apunar bhava darshanam

Let all dangers come, and we are even ready to face other difficulties, because in all these times we have been blessed by Your personal presence, and thus we have been freed from the cycle of samsara and we will not have to get a new birth.

Queen Kunti offers the example of the long sufferings of Krishna’s own mother, Devaki. Since the very day of her marriage, Devaki was subjected to endless harassment by her demoniac brother Kamsa, who kept her and her husband in jail and killed all her six children at birth. Devaki and Vasudeva had to wait for 16 years in intolerable sufferings before being released by Krishna, and they were the mother and father of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna and Balarama. Who could be more worthy of Krishna’s love and protection?

Even Queen Kunti, His aunt, her children the Pandavas and their wife Draupadi were constantly harassed for many years by their own relatives and had to face many difficulties. Protection by Krishna does not mean that a devotee will never have problems, but rather that a devotee will never be destroyed. Whatever will happen to the devotee, it is according to the plan of the Lord for the ultimate benefit of all.

yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
abhyuttanam adharmasya tadatmanam srijamy aham

Whenever there is a decline in the principles of religion and a predominant rise in irreligion, at that time I descend personally.

paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskritam
dharma samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge

Age after age, I manifest personally to protect the good and saintly people, to destroy the evil doers and to re-establish the principles of eternal dharma.

So while Krishna was personally present on this planet, why He did not protect His own mother and father (certainly good and saintly people) from being kept in jail for sixteen years and having their six children brutally killed by their own uncle? Why Krishna did not stop Dhritarastra from spoiling his children, or Duryodhana and Duhsashana from insulting and harrassing the Pandavas and their good wife?

The answer is very simple. Because all these devotees are playing a crucial role in executing the Lord’s plan and everything is carefully arranged by the Lord even if we do not understand His plan through our limited material intelligence and vision.

One reason is that the Lord wants His devotees to set a good example for the mass of people, by showing how a devotee faces difficulties and overcomes them, so that the general people can take inspiration and encouragement in their small and great problems in life. This world is like a jungle, a dangerous place where there is danger at every step, padam padam yat vipadam, and therefore no one can expect a life free of troubles. Even the greatest devotees and saints are subject to difficulties when they reside in this world, although the Lord takes personal care of them and ensures their overall protection.
The proper way to behave in face of all difficulties is the course of action recommended by Sri Krishna in Bhagavad gita to His devotee, friend and cousin Arjuna the Pandava: we should act of duty only, without attachment for the fruits of our actions, and offer everything to the Lord. All our activities must be performed for the Lord and by always remembering the Lord:

yajnarthat karmano anyatra loko ayam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya mukta-sangah samacara
yat karosi yas asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad-arpanam

Action should be performed only for the sake of sacrifice, otherwise it will bind the actor to the consequences of karma. Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you give in charity, whatever difficulty or sufferings you have to undergo, you must offer everything to the Lord in sacrifice.

satatam kirtayanto mam yatantas ca dridha-vratah
namasyantas ca mam bhaktya nitya-yukta upasate

Always chanting the glories of the Lord and talking about Him, endeavoring with great determination to stick to their spiritual principles, bowing down before the Lord, these devotees are always in the presence of the Lord and constantly worship Him with all their activities.

A second reason is that the Lord maintains the universe by arranging for the destruction of evil-doers and demoniac people. Such people can be destroyed by the accumulated consequences of their sins, which become much heavier when they are committed against a sincere devotee of the Lord. So the merciful devotees accept to come and play this role in the world by giving to the evil-doers the opportunity to reform and become free from their sins, or meet their doom by targeting them with their misbehavior. Demoniac people are useful in the general plan of the Lord’s universe as there is always the need of punishing criminals, so the Lord’s energy puts criminals against each other, and they will punish each other easily.

Srimad Bhagavatam gives the example of a thorn which is removed by using another thorn; however, when the work is done, the used thorn must be discarded, otherwise it will create unnecessary troubles. How this will happen?
The pricking thorn of the demoniac people which may create troubles to the social body will be eliminated by its own weight, increased through the harassment of good saintly people who are devotees of the Supreme Lord.
Actually the Lord Himself, when He descended in His Krishna-lila, wanted to relieve the burden of the Earth by destroying the demoniac armies, and arranged for His devotees to become the catalyst of the war of Kurukshetra. Maharaja Draupada celebrated a yajna to obtain progeny who could destroy his enemy Drona, and from the sacrificial fire both Draupadi and Dhristadyumna were born. Actually the real destroyer of the Kauravas was Draupadi, because Krishna decided that all of them would be destroyed when they dared to insult His great friend Draupadi.

sri krishna krishna-sakha vrishni rishabhavani druk
rajanya vamsa dahananapavarga virya
govinda go-dvija-surarti haravatara
yogeshvarakhila guroh bhagavan namas te

A third reason is suggested by Queen Kunti in her prayers to the Lord: the sufferings and difficulties that a devotee has to undergo according to his or her role in the Lord’s plan are actually a purification and an opportunity to surrender more completely to the Lord. Actually, a long life of illusion in this world is not a very good thing. No matter how hard we try to improve our situation, and no matter how sincerely we work, we cannot change the nature of this world, which is impermanent and full of suffering. All those who have obtained a material body will have to accept the inherent defects of a material body: impermanence, ignorance and suffering, and ultimately, to give up this body with death. We should therefore make the best use of this material body by utilizing it in the service of the Lord only, because it is also a valuable instrument enabling us to work for the Lord and for the propagation of His message in this world. A material body allows us to speak about the Lord and His mission to those who do not have spiritual senses and therefore are not able to contact directly the Lord and receive His instructions, so we should also value our own body and take care of it, but we should never mistake it for our own identity and purpose of life. Our body is simply an instrument, a vehicle, useful for a good work. Our family relationships are karmic relationships in which we must act properly in order to fulfill our duties and facilitate those who are in our care so that they can also attain spiritual liberation. The six children of Devaki who were killed by Kamsa actually had to suffer their past karma, and then by the blessed contact with such great devotees they attained liberation and were free to return to the Vaikunthaloka, where they enjoyed a trascendental and eternal life full of knowledge and bliss. We should also consider our family members as spirit souls who have temporarily come in contact with us for the purpose of spiritual development. Otherwise, our life will not be better or more respectable than an animal’s life. The gift and opportunity of a human birth actually offers us the greatest benefit: developing spiritual consciousness and attain liberation.

yasyatma buddhi kunape tri dhatuke sva dhi kalatradishu bhauma ijya dhih
yat tirtha buddhi salile na karhicit janesu abhijesu sa eva go kharah

Simply living on the platform of the material body is the animal level. Also animals have family relationships and take care of their eating, sleeping and defending. A human life is meant for something more than that. This does not simply mean that we should live for a higher purpose, but that we should also become compassionate to the animals and understand their sufferings and needs.

Our real purpose is not to settle nicely in this impermanent world and to lose our spiritual memory in sports and material relationships, but to prepare ourselves for the attainment of our real goal: liberation. Social dharma, artha and kama are only important as much as they serve for the attainment of moksha. By themselves, they are not permanent and they do not constitute the goal of life. On the contrary, the real goal of life consists in reaching the transcendental spiritual level of Krishna consciousness.

bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah
sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva papebhyo mokshaisyami ma sucah

By always engaging in the service of the Lord, and surrendering to His plan, a devotee finds real happiness and peace of mind even the most difficult situations, and at the same time benefits all those who come in touch with him or her.

May the all merciful Lord bless us all and give us permanent liberation from all difficulties.

Manonatha Dasa (ACBSP)
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