How the Lord Protects
I am a follower of ISKCON. Before that I used to drink and eat nonveg, but now I have left that. In the past two years I have met with two accidents. I have heard that the Lord protects His devotees. Why is the Lord not protecting me? I always do good to others and never lie or cheat.
Via the Internet
Reply: It is important to understand what is meant by the Lord’s protection. We have earned certain reactions in previous lives. They are called parabdha karma. They determine our body and to some extent the things that happen to us. They are sometimes changed by the will of the Lord, but for the most part we enjoy and suffer according to our previous karma. How we react to these events is what determines our next life.
One important way that Krishna protects us is by protecting us from our lower nature. You have given up sinful activities and are living much more in the mode of goodness. That is Krishna’s protection. He sees our effort to serve Him and follow His instructions, and He protects us from our lower nature and guides us to make the right decisions.
The material world will always be temporary and full of misery. Every body is born, grows, dwindles, gets sick, and dies. That is the way of the material world.
Krishna’s protection takes us closer and closer to getting out of the cycle of birth and death and entering the spiritual world. In the Bhagavad-gita He says that He destroys the darkness of ignorance and guides the devotee in how to serve. If the devotee follows Krishna’s direction, Krishna protects that devotee from sinful action, thus opening the door to spiritual advancement. He also sends the spiritual master, the holy name, and the scriptures to assist us in proper behavior.
Generally Krishna’s protection doesn’t manifest in freedom from birth, death, old age, and disease. Even great souls die. But His protection manifests in giving us the strength, knowledge, and determination to make proper spiritual choices so that we can get out of the cycle of birth and death.
A Place at Krishna’s Feet
Can I get a place at the feet of your Gopala Krishna? I am not a very pure soul. I am a sinner, and I lead a very lonely and sad life.
Reply: In this age of Kali, when there are so many distractions and we are so fallen, the Lord has made the process of purification very powerful and very simple. He appeared as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to deliver us by giving the chanting of the maha-mantra as the process of God realization.
The names of Krishna are Krishna, so we can keep connected to Him all the time. We must try to chant in a humble state of mind, begging to be engaged in His eternal loving service. This makes the soul, our real self, happy in this lifetime and in the future.
So, yes, Gopala is ready to accept us all as long as we are pure. If you take up this recommended process of purification, you will certainly be released from this horrible material world. The process is easy and joyfully performed. As you call out to Him, He will surely give you His association and relieve your loneliness. Try to visit our temples or visit them on their live webcams.
What the Lord Wants
What does the Lord want from us so that He will bring us back to His place and allow us to serve His lotus feet? Also, why do different sampradayas in Vaishnavism have different ishta-devas [worshipable Deities]? The Sri sampradaya says Sita-Rama is supreme, the Rudra sampradaya says Lakshmi-Narayana is supreme, and the Gaudiya sampradaya says Radha-Krishna is supreme. Whose path is correct, and will worship of anyone lead us to the same result?
Via the Internet
Reply: In the Gita Krishna says, “Just surrender unto Me and engage in My service.” He wants our devotion and wants us to follow His instructions. This is the art of bhakti, which we are teaching and practicing. Krishna emphasizes that we must approach a spiritual master who will engage us properly in the art of service. In this age we can become purified and revive our loving attitude by chanting the Lord’s holy names.
We are all different, and Krishna appears in different forms to attract us. Rama and Narayana are forms of Krishna. By worshiping any form of Krishna along with His feminine counterpart – Radha, Sita, Lakshmi, and so on – we attain the association of that form of the Lord. So the result is the same; only the forms are different.
One who wants to go to Goloka and be with Radha-Krishna must worship Krishna in His original form and develop unmotivated love for Him.
Renouncing the World
I sometimes feel that I have to leave the world and come to Krishna and become an ISKCON devotee for life, but sometimes I think about other things, related to the material world. I have learned one thing: be happy and say Krishna’s name. I don’t want to be born again and again. I want to become one in Krishna. My main question: Is taking sannyasa good, or should one go on with family, friends, and relationships?
Via the Internet
Reply: Yes, the material world is not a fit place for the spirit soul. We need to connect with Krishna and finish our attraction to this temporary place. The renounced order of sannyasa is recommended for those who have finished their responsibilities in household affairs and have been practicing detachment from bodily pleasures. It usually comes after a gradual process of pulling away from one’s attachments and increasing one’s spiritual practices and purification. Then one can be in a safe position to keep the difficult vows of sannyasa.
In our ISKCON movement, you would have to attend special classes and be observed for a few years before being approved to take sannyasa. It is important to associate with other sannyasis for some time to be sure it is what one really wants. It is a serious choice.
Usually, one will take the vanaprastha order first, leaving the family scene for some time with the permission one’s family. Sometimes the wife will accompany the husband, but there is no sexual interaction, and the life is a very simple one of traveling and preaching. This is usually taken up after fifty years of age. One has to be very regulated in one’s spiritual practices and usually gets the permission of one’s guru before taking these steps.
How do we stop negative thoughts that are making our day worse?
Via the Internet
Reply: The early-morning hours are very important for training and controlling the mind. Therefore it is recommended that we rise early in the morning and take part in the recommended sadhana, spiritual practices, of hearing and chanting about Krishna. If we can sacrifice this time to connect with Krishna, our day will be more positive. We need to include some reading of Gita verses too, to remind us of our real position as Krishna’s servant.
The material world is negative because it is based on bodily consciousness. In our original, pure consciousness, we act as the Lord’s servant, giving Him pleasure. What could be a nicer engagement!
Try to arrange your schedule with the priority of a spiritual program to give your mind spiritual strength and the knowledge of who you are, eternally, and what your real engagement is.