Why does God not protect his devotees today like he protected Prahlad?
Transcription by-VandanaGoel and Keshav Gopal Das
Question-There areso many people who are trying to work for the sake of the Lord and they get brutally killed. Why doesn’t God protect them the way He protected Prahalad Maharaj?
Answer-Scriptures do not reduce God’s protection only to physical or material protection. The complete protection is physical, emotional and spiritual. And the ultimate protection is spiritual because essentially we are souls. The souls are protected by the Lord when ultimately He takes the souls out of this world; take us back to Him for our eternal life of love with Him; that is our ultimate protection. In the scriptures both kinds of examples are there. There are examples of extraordinary protection at a material level also. And there are examples of protection at a higher spiritual level where apparently the protection at material level doesn’t seem to be there.
For example-In the Mahabharata, Krishna protected Arjuna, even when Arjuna was in grave danger, Krishna repeatedly planned and arranged for protection of Arjuna but in the same Mahabharata it is also depicted that Abhimanyu is killed and killed brutally by six warriors coming together and killing him. Similarly in the Ramayana we see Hanuman did heroic activities and he always attributed the strength and intelligence to Lord Ram’s grace especially in the Lord’s name but in the same Ramayana we see Jatayu being killed quite brutally by Ravana. So the scriptures do not fight shy of the fact that even those who are devoted to the Lord may sometimes not be protected. At least what it will seem to our vision at a material level.
What is the cause of this? Let’s look at how the scriptures analyze these two incidences. With respect to Abhimanyu, Yudhishitara; the eldest of the Pandavas, asked Abhimanyu to penetrate in the chakravyuha; the military formation in which Abhimanyu was eventually trapped and killed. Yudhishtara was heavily laden by guilt for have practically send Abhimanyu to his death, unintentionally of course, but it resulted in his death. At that time Vyasadeva consoleshim and says many things. One of things he says is, ‘no one in this world is immune to the law of death.’ Then he talks about the kings who are far more virtuous than Abhimanyu, who was just a young lad; were also killed. They also have to succumbto the law of death. So no one can escape and then he says, ‘actually in this world, there is always a choice between virtue and vice and a person by repeatedly choosing virtue can rise to a elevated position butby choosing vice, the person may fall from that situation any moment also.’
So this world is a place of test and temptation. Ultimate protection is to go beyond this world of test and temptation to that eternal abode where there is no such test and temptation. So the ultimate protection is to be taken beyond the world of temptation. And it is that protection that the Lord has given Abhimanyu. Don’t think that the Lord did not protect him.He said, ‘he was young and we all still have to live in this world of temptation and endure the suffering. But Abhimanyu has gone beyond that.’
In general if we only have to look at this world, look at life only with one life’s perspective then ultimately we will never be able to reconcile the problems of existence, the problem of why there is suffering and how there is ultimate justice in the presence of suffering without taking a multiple life time perspective. We have to understand that existence doesn’t begin with birth or end with death. Even when we say somebody is not protected they are not their bodies, they are souls and for the souls, supreme protection is to be taken beyond the world of temptation. So Vyasadevatells Yudhishatara, ‘do not think that Abhimanyu was not protected rather he got the supreme protection by being taken beyond the world of temptation. Whereas we are still in this bad world of temptation and we have to battle for our whole life time against the distraction of temptation and then we will attain the destination that he has attained.
So rather than grieving for one who has attained such a great destination, we should grieve for all of us who have to stay still in this world.
After hearing this, we may further get the question does that mean that to go beyond the world of temptation everybody has to die young? No, ultimately in this world, the important thing is to recognizethat we have a particular duty. We have to do our duty. Different people have different karmic reactions to get and we don’t know who is at what level and what is best for them? So we should know that this world is like a hospital. And we are all under the care of Supreme Lord. The doctor gives different treatment to different people based on what is best for them. We think death as the termination of our existence but for those who are devoted to God, death is not the termination of existence but death is the discharge from the hospital. It is actually something very positive and glorious.
So if we just see with a limited perspective of this world then we will not be able to make sense off the sufferings of the world. But when we take it from broader perspective then death of a devotee is not like the death of the one who is not devoted to God. It is different from the death of somebody else.
Cat may have its jaws around a rat; for that mouse that jaw is death but cat may have jaws around its own kitten and for the kitten it is love of amother. So like that even if in its external form the death comes around in a brutal way that death actually takes the soul who is devoted to God; back to God and in that sense it is supremely auspicious.
Still why does this happen? Vyasadeva says that, ‘the inscrutable will of the Lord is surely for the good of all living beings. If we follow that will then we will understand itin due course of time. The thing that he emphasizes here is the will is inscrutable but it is benevolent. Because we are so tiny we can’t understand what is the reason of what happens in this world? Our scope of vision is very small and that’s why we can’t know what is the cause of what? So the important question in our life that should be asked is not ‘why this?’ but ‘how now?’. How best can I act in a way by which I can move forward in the path of dharmaand that is the path which is demonstrated in the scriptures.
Vyasadeva says, ‘If you act according to His will, you will understand in due course of time’. In Jatayu’s case also what is the attitude inValmiki Ramayana?He was a martyr, laid down his life for a glorious cause and Lord Ram came personally and performs his last rites; Lord Rama accepted him as his father. There have been and there will be millions of vultures that have lived and died. They just came and they went. But here this vulture is who fought for the sake of God and what was the result? God Himself granted him; blessed him to attain the realms of everlasting bliss. That was the supreme blessing that anyone could have got. Jatayu lost the battle against Ravana but he won the war against temptation, against illusion; against Maya, against the prison this world is. So he was liberated off this material existence. So the Lord always protects everyone and what to speak of those who are devoted to Him?
But our vision of the protection can be deficient if we reduce existence only to the physical or material level and don’t see from a multi life time or a broad perspective which encompasses physical, mental and the spiritual and ultimately it centers on the spiritual. To understand the depth of God’s love; we have to understand the breadth and length of our own existence. Breadth means that we are not just the body but we are the body, mind and soul. Ultimately we are the soul essentially because the body and mind are external and that is the breadth of our existence and also the length of our existence. It just doesn’t extend to our body but it extends beyond to not just multiple life times but to all of eternity.
When we understand from this broad perspective then we can understand that God always protects.