Krishna descends to offer not just protection but also participation

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.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 04 Text 09

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  1. From the biological point of view this material world is a prison in which we are all awaiting the execution of our death sentence. From the spiritual point of view we are always free and existing beyond the cycle of birth and death. Our perception of reality depends on which point of view we identify with. The weapons the Lord yields in many of His incarnations are impressive and we can easily conclude that He is invincible and that taking shelter of Him is the smartest. But above all Krishna’s most impressive weapon is His flute with which He attracts our hearts into His unlimited Love. Responding to His call not only frees us from our death sentence but invites us to participate in His eternal celebration of ecstatic love that is filled to the brim with divine happiness.

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