“Bhumi assumed the shape of a cow and presented herself before Lord Brahma with tears in her eyes. She was bereaved and was weeping just to invoke the Lord’s compassion. She related the calamitous position of the earth, and after hearing this, Lord Brahma became much aggrieved, and he at once started for the ocean of milk, where Lord Vishnu resides.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 1)
Friend1: We know that Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appears in this world from time to time.
Friend2: Whenever there is a decline in adherence to religious principles, dharma. A corresponding rise in irreligion, adharma.
Friend1: To give protection to the saintly people, sadhu. To give the proper punishment to the miscreants.
Friend2: The avatara, referring to someone who descends from the spiritual world.
Friend1: Since the time is fixed, the avatara appears and disappears. Coming and going. Blessing the eyes with the vision of a transcendental form. Remaining for some time. Performing pastimes. Providing endless content to fill pages of Puranas and other recorded recollections published in a beautiful poetic style in a Sanskrit-type language.
Friend2: Another instance of Bhagavan’s causeless mercy. He doesn’t have to do any of that. He could leave us here to suffer. It is our choice, after all, but He tries to help us make the right decision in favor of dharma.
Friend1: Here is one thing to ponder. There is the avatara of Shri Krishna. That experience is well-documented in works like Mahabharata and Shrimad Bhagavatam. Aside from the amazing teachings and heartwarming lila, there is the tragic end.
Friend2: You mean with the arrow of the hunter hitting the sole?
Friend1: Not even that. The destruction of the Yadu dynasty. This is the family in which Krishna appears. They should be happy. They should be always victorious. Instead, at the end everyone turns against one another.
Friend2: That is when Krishna knows it is time to leave. The work has been done. The burden on the earth is lessened. She is the one who petitioned Vishnu directly. In the beginning Bhumi Devi visits the spiritual world in the form of a cow and describes the inauspicious conditions.
Friend1: You have to ask how something like that can happen. Krishna is there. Why the defeat? He was on Arjuna’s side and so the Pandavas emerged victorious in the Bharata War. No asura sent by Kamsa could harm the cowherd boys in Gokula. A jealous Indra could not wash away the residents of Vrindavana. Krishna and Govardhana Hill saved them.
Friend1: Where was the same protection for the Yadus?
Friend2: What do you think the answer is?
Friend1: Krishna chose not to protect them.
Friend2: Exactly. He is the ultimate cause and effect. We make the choice to act, but material nature, prakriti, must give sanction for the result to manifest. This is for something as large and complex as a war and also something as simple as deciding to speak a word.
Friend1: Why couldn’t the Yadus leave peacefully, though? Why did that fratricidal conflict have to take place during Krishna’s time?
Friend2: He had technically left the scene. He sung the Uddhava-gita and then left the world. He knew what was coming and warned those who should be notified.
Friend1: Does this mean that we are not safe even in Krishna’s presence?
Friend2: It means that no one is safe in the material world. Everyone has to leave eventually. But remember, it is something like a dream. You can’t stay asleep forever. Eventually the dream dissipates. The same applies to the experience in this life. What matters most is to where we go next. Krishna’s associates always stay with Him, as was explained to Arjuna:
बहूनि मे व्यतीतानि
जन्मानि तव चार्जुन
तान्य् अहं वेद सर्वाणि
न त्वं वेत्थ परन्तप
bahūni me vyatītāni
janmāni tava cārjuna
tāny ahaṁ veda sarvāṇi
na tvaṁ vettha parantapa
“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)
Friend1: I’m assuming this also applies to those who are Krishna conscious; i.e. devotees who are not necessarily directly in the presence of Krishna’s avatara.
Friend2: What applies?
Friend1: The lack of protection.
Friend2: The devotion will always be protected. Not that you will remain in the same position indefinitely. Even the Pandavas returned to the spiritual world. Their notable successor, Maharaja Parikshit, famously quit his body while listening to Hari-katha for seven days on the banks of the Yamuna River. Those are all auspicious ends that give encouragement to anyone who has doubts.
If harboring doubt,
See how history turned out.
For Parikshit on banks hearing,
Pandavas fate to heaven steering.
In this life rising and falling,
Victor today, tomorrow as loser calling.
All something like a dream,
Known clearly when Krishna seen.