Three Great Souls Who Have Literally Given Shelter To God

[Vasudeva crossing Yamuna]“Because of constant rain sent by the demigod Indra, the River Yamuna was filled with deep water, foaming about with fiercely whirling waves. But as the great Indian Ocean had formerly given way to Lord Ramachandra by allowing Him to construct a bridge, the River Yamuna gave way to Vasudeva and allowed him to cross.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.3.50)

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The lotus feet of the Divine are the Supreme Shelter. The acceptance of the claim should be immediate, based on simple reasoning. We look to the heavens when we are in trouble. Even the staunchest atheist does this. It is instinctual, as if something intrinsic to the consciousness acknowledges the existence of a higher power.

Bhakti-yoga is going beyond asking for help. Of course God can offer the greatest shelter. His lotus feet are His servants, and attachment to those feet brings protection from everything found in a material existence and even subsequent births in that world. In devotional service there is a relationship established, and in any relationship there is something offered by both parties.

The Supreme Lord is so kind that He actually allows others to offer Him shelter. From time to time He creates situations where others feel the urgency for service. He becomes very pleased by such offerings, and those who create the shelter remain forever dear to the surrendered souls.

1. Lakshmana

Shri Rama was kicked out of His kingdom. Actually, He could have fought for the throne. This is what Lakshmana, the younger brother, proposed. The father, King Dasharatha, handed down an order that Rama was to leave the kingdom for fourteen years. It wasn’t just moving to some new place. There were rules. Rama had to wander like a person in vanaprastha, which is the third stage of life when following varnashrama-dharma. Vanaprastha is something like voluntarily becoming homeless; being poor and wandering around, outside of town.

Lakshmana argued that when a spiritual teacher or respected personality loses their mind, it is okay to not only disobey them but to also disavow them completely. Rama appreciated the kind sentiments of His brother, but He agreed to the order of the father. Lakshmana then insisted on coming along, as did Sita Devi, Rama’s faithful wife.

“O Rama, for as long as You shall stand before me, even if it be for one hundred years, I will always remain Your servant. Therefore You should be the one to choose a beautiful and appropriate place for the cottage. After You have selected a spot, please then command me to start building.” (Lakshmana speaking to Lord Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 15.7)

One time while traveling through the forest, Rama asked Lakshmana to find a spot to build a hut. Lakshmana gave another heart-warming response, saying that if Rama were to command him for one hundred years even, he would continue to listen. The younger brother then proceeded to build a basic, yet wonderful dwelling for the three to live in. He literally gave shelter to the Supreme Lord.

2. Govardhana

Years later the same Rama incarnated on earth as Shri Krishna, the all-attractive one. Krishna and Rama are the same; they are both Bhagavan, which is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There shouldn’t be any confusion. Just because the Vedas describe different incarnations of the original God, this shouldn’t be mistaken to mean impersonalism. Neither should it be considered that just any divine figure is identical to Bhagavan. The incarnations and non-different spiritual forms are delineated in shastra; they cannot be made up on a whim or through sentiment.

Krishna spent His childhood years in Vrindavana, which is a rural community. One time there was a devastating rainstorm, instigated by the demigod Indra. He is a divine figure, but he is not identical to God the person. Indra would soon find this out, to his frustration.

The rain threatened to wash everyone away. Krishna quickly figured out a solution. He lifted the just worshiped Govardhana Hill and asked everyone to get underneath. This time a massive object literally provided shelter to God. That hill has been known to be identical to Krishna ever since. A defeated Indra later apologized for trying to kill everyone. He was jealous that they had skipped worship of him in honor of Govardhana instead.

3. Ananta Deva

When Krishna first emerged from the womb of Devaki, He asked to be transferred to the nearby town of Gokula. To prove His divinity to the dear parents, He first showed the four-handed form of Narayana. The father Vasudeva kindly obliged. He took baby Krishna and prepared to cross the Yamuna river. It was the middle of the night, and there was a rainstorm.

[Vasudeva crossing Yamuna]From hearing what happened next a person may think it magic or mythology, but the wise know the truth. A serpent with many heads appeared right above the baby to provide shelter from the rain. That serpent is Ananta Deva, who acts as the bed for Narayana to rest on in the spiritual world. Lakshmana is actually an incarnation of Ananta Deva, so it is not surprising that he had the mood of service to Shri Rama. Also, we see that again Indra and his rain were causing trouble, but that the trouble was no match for the Supreme Lord and His servants.

In Closing:

Under greatest protection to live,

Lotus feet supreme shelter to give.

Interestingly also others gave,

Like Govardhana from rain to save.

Lakshmana hut from Rama’s calling,

And Ananta against downpour falling.

With God’s nature not a contradiction,

Supporting servant’s predilection.

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