If Devotees Are Protected Then Why Do Tragedies Sometimes Occur

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]“The promise of Krishna that His devotees are never vanquished had also previously been admitted by Indra when he was defeated in the Govardhana-lila. When Krishna stopped the villagers of Braja (Vrindavana) from worshiping Indra, Indra became angry and therefore inundated Vrindavana with continuous rain. Krishna, however, protected all of the citizens and animals of Vrindavana by lifting Govardhana Hill, which served as an umbrella.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 21)

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Friend1: I think every religion has some sort of promise for protection.

Friend2: Insurance?

Friend1: The basic one is being saved from going to hell. Get on our list. Attend this gathering on a regular basis. Confess your sins. Proclaim your love for the savior.

Friend2: Then you won’t suffer eternal damnation.

Friend1: Yeah. I mean, you have to admit, it’s a good way to increase attendance.

Friend2: Sure. I mean, do you want to suffer forever?

Friend1: Absolutely not. Of course, there are holes in the argument.

Friend2: Such as what happens if a person never reaches the stage of maturity where they can make the decision. What happens to them?

Friend1: Exactly. They never got the chance. I mean the whole thing is silly. If there is love around everywhere else, why isn’t it the same in the relationship with the Almighty? Shouldn’t He be loved?

Friend2: And how can love be the result of fear, of trying to avoid punishment? They make God out to be something like a ruthless dictator, from one of those communist countries.

Friend1: Well, promises are found elsewhere, too. You and I both know the one from the Bhagavad-gita, where Krishna says to surrender to Him and be delivered from sinful reaction.

Friend2: Yes, but that has a specific meaning. It’s not signing a piece of paper and then going and doing whatever. Follow Him means serve Him. Then you won’t suffer any negative reactions you might get from skipping other stuff. Remember, there is the other promise, as well. His devotees never perish. Krishna tells Arjuna to make the proclamation.

Friend1: I was getting to that. There are many examples to prove the concept. You have Prahlada Maharaja.

Friend2: He was just five years old. He was being forced into materialistic pursuits by the father, King Hiranyakashipu. Prahlada was threatened with real damnation, in the present, for not following the father. Krishna protected the child. God wouldn’t let the belligerent father interfere with devotion.

Friend1: There is also Govardhana Puja. I think that corresponds nicely with the promise about abandoning all varieties of religion, dharma.

Friend2: Precisely. The people of the town were accustomed to worshiping Indra, the king of heaven. This was dharma, but more of a business relationship. They worshiped and he bestowed sufficient rainfall in return.

Friend1: By skipping the worship one year, you would think the reaction would be lack of rainfall. The exact opposite happened.

Friend2: Indra got angry. He behaved in the way of the fake God conjured up by the fear-mongers, who imagine the Almighty to be petty and jealous. Indra was ready to wipe away everyone in Vrindavana, through the devastation of rainfall.

Friend1: Krishna was there, however. It was His idea to worship Govardhana Hill in the first place, and that hill then turned into the world’s largest umbrella.

[Krishna lifting Govardhana Hill]Friend2: As you said, a real life example of being protected from all negative reactions. You can’t get a better example than that.

Friend1: Here is a question, though. I’m not arguing here, but I know that people might wonder.

Friend2: Okay. Go ahead.

Friend1: Sometimes devotees are seen to meet with tragedy. For example, a person living in Vrindavana now, travelling to Govardhana Hill to do some service has the misfortune of being in an automobile accident.

Friend2: That is terrible, no doubt. It happens, too.

Friend1: Right, so one might say that the devotee is supposed to never perish. There shouldn’t be any negative consequences due to abandoning other varieties of religion.

Friend2: Those are great questions. We can look deeper into the example of Arjuna. He continued forward in a war. It’s not like there wasn’t tragedy ahead. Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu was killed in the subsequent fight. He was attacked unfairly, and Arjuna was heartbroken as a result.

Friend1: That’s true. So many other people died, too. The leader of the Pandavas, Yudhishthira was distraught even after victory.

[Bhishma on deathbed]Friend2: Bhishma was a great devotee. He quit his body on the battlefield, after being filled with arrows shot by the opposition. We know that Prahlada Maharaja is no longer a king living on earth. The acharyas of the past have moved on. They are always close by through their preserved instructions and teachings, but physically they are not here. Does that mean they have perished?

Friend1: You tell me.

Friend2: The idea is that the devotion will continue. In whatever situation of living the person gets in the next life, they will be able to maintain the connection to Krishna. That is why it is said that devotees don’t fear going to hell, if they have to. They will always see Krishna standing, smiling, holding His flute and looking amazing, ready to bestow His mercy emanating from His wonderful bodily complexion that resembles the dark raincloud.

In Closing:

Futility of material existence knowing,

So abandoning, to holy place going.

There in devotional consciousness living,

Expected that sinful reactions forgiving.

But how then suddenly tragedy to meet,

Protected not those at Krishna’s feet?

Idea that bhakti life maintaining,

Lord their progress sustaining.

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