Vanity thought #801. Lord’s help

One of the first things we’ve been taught is that we should always trust the Lord for our protection. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna has made a public promise to personally protect His devotees. In Srimad Bhagavatam we have stories like that of Prahlada Maharaj who was saved by Lord Vishnu’s personal intervention. We have a story of Ajamila who was saved by the Lord long after he ceased to be a devotee. We have a story of Sudama brahmana who got a celestial palace for his wife.

Why shouldn’t we trust the Lord with our protection and why shouldn’t we beg Him for help at every step of our lives? Shastra supports it, after all.

Well, there’s also Chaitanya Charimrita and it’s a bit different book from Bhagavad Gita or Srimad Bhagavatam, it has descriptions of devotees’ everyday lives and their everyday problems and there’s very little magic in it.

Lord Chaitanya Himself behaved like an ordinary man, His journey through Jarikhanda forest was mind blowing, with all the animals coming to join Him in sankirtana, but at other times He needed protection from local rulers to pass through their lands. One time He was nearly arrested by a Muslim patrol.

On that occasion He could have displayed His powers and overcome the soldiers with transcendental tricks but He preached to them instead.

Sri Advaita Acharya, the incarnation of Maha Vishnu, got Himself in an embarrassing debt situation, well, embarrassing enough for other devotees to notice and try to help. And then get rebuked by Lord Chaitanya for doing so.

Srila Haridas Thakur was protected by the Lord during his punishment but Sanatana Goswami had to bribe his way out of jail like a common criminal, and that same Sanatana Goswami, on the way through Jarikhand forest, picked up a nasty disease that made pus ooze from his sores. Was he protected by the Lord then? No, he got rebuked for having the wrong mental attitude towards his problem.

Subudhi Raya’s service was to take care of visiting Bengali devotees, cook rice for them, find them yogurt and offer them massage. Sounds nice but the reason for that was that Bengali devotees on a pilgrimage to Mathura couldn’t eat local food. Their stomachs were not accustomed to digesting chapatis, they grew on rice, but in northern India they ate mostly wheat chapatis, and that was during a visit to Vrindavan. Did the Lord help them? Apparently not, only through Subudhi Raya and only to those who were lucky to receive his care.

Every year Sivananda Sena took devotees to visit Lord Chaitanya in Jagannatha Puri and on the way there they had to cross many rivers. When Mahaprabhu made the same journey earlier toll collectors were merciful to Him and let Him through but Sivananda Sena had to deal with them every time, every year, and it wasn’t easy. One time he had to pay a lot of money for the dog that eventually got liberated.

Did he ever complain that he was doing this service for the Lord and His devotees’ pleasure so a little help would have been appreciated? No, he didn’t go to toll collectors and try to overcome their will by calling on Mahaprabhu’s transcendental powers.

There are plenty of examples in Chaitanya Charitamrita where devotees didn’t get any special treatment and they didn’t expect any special treatment. Not because they were devotees, not because they were engaged in Lord’s mission, no excuse whatsoever.

So, what help can we reasonably expect from the Lord?

Free passes and discounts, it seems.

We actually judge others’ devotion by the amount of discounts they can squeeze out of ordinary people. We believe that because it’s possible only with Lord’s help those who are better devotees should get more of it and those who are not so advanced would have to pay full price for everything.

The more devoted we are, the more we expect. I once heard a self motivation guru who, as a proof of the power of his method, offered the fact that he can always visualize a free parking spot in an city center and lo and behold, the spot is there and he can take it.

We are not that different. We want the similar kind of success and even greater achievements. The only difference is that we claim this success for the mission of the Lord, and it’s a really crucial difference, but are we more devoted than Lord Chaitanya’s associates from Chaitanya Charitamrita? Is our service and our mission more important than theirs?

Narottama Dasa Thakura’s party carried the only copy of the works for the Six Goswamis from Vrindavana to Bengal and got robbed. They had a dozen soldiers protecting their cart but it didn’t help. Did the Lord help them? No, it took about a year and a big detour on their mission to recover the stolen manuscripts, and it didn’t happen by magic but through dedicated preaching, and not for the purpose of recovering books, Srinavasa Acharya didn’t even know the books were there.

Did they blame the Lord for not helping them sooner? Did they lose their faith? No.

Do we have the same amount of patience in the face of adversity? No, but at the same time we think we are so important that we deserve Lord’s help right away.

I guess my point is that we are not supposed to enjoy Lord’s mission, we are doing it for His pleasure, not ours, and we are not supposed to hurry it up. What we are supposed to do is to be patient, and we are supposed to keep our enthusiasm for the service, not keep begging for help.

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