Krishna descends to offer not just protection but also participation
One of the most quoted verses of the Bhagavad-gita (04.08) states the purpose of Krishna’s periodic descents: cosmic protection. He protects the social and spiritual order in the world by delivering the pious, disciplining the miscreants and re-establishing dharma.
Important as this purpose is, the next verse (04.09) conveys an even more important purpose of Krishna’s descent: to offer participation – participation in his life of eternal love. This verse indicates that those who truly understand his divine activities become enchanted by them, fall in love with him and eventually attain him in his personal abode.
Why is Krishna’s offer of otherworldly participation more important than his offer of this-worldly restoration? Because life in this world, no matter how expertly organized, is ultimately doomed to the misery of mortality. As we are immortal souls, we are meant for something far better than the death sentence that is inbuilt with our material bodies. We are meant for eternal life with Krishna. And he descends to offer us that eternal spiritual birthright by sharing his message of love and displaying his love-filled pastimes.
The endearing thing about Krishna’s offer of participation is that it can begin right now. Even when we are not pure enough to participate in his pastimes in the spiritual world, Krishna offers us a role in his mission of compassion in this world. By devotionally serving him according to our inclinations and interests, we can assist him in sharing his message of love.
Protection offers safety, but participation offers satisfaction – the fulfillment that our survival and safety serve a constructive purpose not just for ourselves but also for others.
Thus does Krishna’s protection-plus-participation provide perfect protection – not just for our self by liberating us from material existence, but also for our self-worth by bringing value to our material existence.
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