Two wonderful accounts of dealings between the Lord and His devotees recently caught my attention. I’m not able to convey the same sense of deep love and care as devotees who spoke/wrote them down but I will try and capture at least something.
First is about Draupadi and Krishna talking about that famous episode from Mahabharata where Krishna made her sari unlimited in length so that Duhshasana couldn’t disrobe her. I don’t know when exactly this conversation took place and where it is originally recorded but it goes like this: Draupadi was asking Krishna why He didn’t help her right away and instead waited for the last moment.
The point of this episode is that sometimes we don’t feel like Krishna is really protecting us at all times, as He promised in Bhagavad Gita.
Anyway, in reply to Draupadi Krishna said that when Dushasana dragged her into the hall where they were playing dice she first appealed to her husbands – Pandavas, she was begging them to get up and protect her, but, of course, they couldn’t do anything because Yudhishthira had already lost the game. So Draupadi was relying on them, not on Krishna.
Next she turned her mind to Bhishma, begging him to save her dignity. “You didn’t ask me” – said Krishna again.
Then Duhshasana pulled on her sari and, in desperation, she tried to hold onto it with her own hands, relying on her own meager strength – “Didn’t need me again”, said Krishna.
Only when everything else failed she gave up the fight, raised her arms up and cried – “Oh Govinda!” That was the moment when Krishna appeared, in a split second.
The point is that Krishna IS taking care and protecting us, personally, but only when we see no other shelter but His lotus feet, or, more practically, His Holy Name.
He is always there for the asking. He is bhaktf-vatsala-Hari, He loves His devotees with all His heart and will never ever abandon them.
The second story is from Chaitanya Charitamrita, when Mahaprabhu decided to go on a pilgrimage to South India. It was only a couple of months after His taking sannyasa, soon after arriving in Jagannatha Puri. When He announced His decision Lord Nityananda immediately took charge of the whole idea.
“You need at least two devotees to accompany You”, he said. “I will go with You because I know all the ways and passages there, I’ve been there before and I know everything.”
“I’m but a puppet in your hands”, answered Lord Chaitanya, “and you are my master, but I have a couple of points to make, too.”
“I once asked you to take me to Vrindavana but you tricked me and took me to Advaita Acharya’s house instead. I’m sorry, but as a guide you suck. There was also the episode with you breaking up my danda and throwing it away. I know you love me very much but, pardon me for saying so, I’ve had enough of your troubles for a moment.”
“And while we are on this subject – Jagadananda wants me to enjoy bodily comforts and I accept everything he gives me out of fear. Still sometimes I fail and make him upset and he doesn’t talk to me for days and it makes me feel guilty.”
“Also, I am a sannyasi and I have to take baths three times a day in cold water and sleep on the ground, but Mukunda can’t see me taking such austerities and becomes sad, he doesn’t say anything about his grief but seeing him in such distress really really breaks my heart and I suffer twice as much as him.”
“Damodara is just a brahmachari but out of love for me he thinks it’s his job to keep me, a sannyasi, straight, and for that purpose he always carries a stick, so I have to comply with everything he orders me.”
“It is all but impossible for me to humbly carry my duties as a sannyasi in the presence of such love and care, but I am a sannyasi and I cannot abandon my duties, so I decided to go on pilgrimage alone.”
It doesn’t really matter how it played out in the end, it’s this deep love and affection between the Lord and His devotees that is truly astonishing here. No one can catch the Lord, the supreme, absolutely independent cause of all causes, but He can’t go against love of His devotees, He just can’t say “no” to them.
Back to our reality – sometimes devotees feel like they shouldn’t disturb Krishna for no reason, trying to manage their affairs on their own. They are not being selfish, they just accept their fate as punishment for their past actions, good or bad. They are not particularly interested in solving their problems themselves, let alone bothering Krishna about them.
Sometimes, however, we might bring happiness to Krishna by letting Him take charge of our lives instead of leaving it to the mechanical and impersonal law of karma. Too much independence and renunciation hardens our hearts, sometimes we should give up our show of strength and invite Krishna to help with our problems, however insignificant they might appear in the big scheme of things.
Why should we pass up on the chance to get into a personal exchange with the Lord, even if we see His presence only through clever manipulation of material energy around us.
If it makes us feel extremely grateful and dependent on Him – what is the problem? If He ever gets bored we will immediately know, too, then we can return to practicing vairagya and ignoring our problems once again, no big deal.