“Therefore get up and prepare to fight. After conquering your enemies you will enjoy a flourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasachin, can be but an instrument in the fight.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.33)Download this episode (right click and save)
Destiny, or daivam. Time, or kala. The material nature, or prakriti. Fruitive activity, or karma. Whatever way we choose to define it, we are not solely responsible for the future. It’s silly to have to even stipulate, but in the state of illusion it’s easy to think otherwise. After all, I decide to get up out of bed in the morning, and it happens. I make arrangements for a marriage ceremony, and everything goes through as planned.
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)
The living entity, which in this world is a combination of spirit soul and material covering composed of gross and subtle elements, is not the doer. Due to ahankara, or false ego, they think otherwise. Real ego comes through education, or vidya, the highest of which Shri Krishna presents as the Bhagavad-gita.
One of the many important verses from that work describes how a person can act as God’s instrument. The idea is that destiny is already set. A certain outcome will already occur, regardless of our feelings. The Supreme Lord is so kind that He allows others to act as instruments to get credit as the cause for the outcome. There are many examples from history.
1. Prahlada causing Hiranyakashipu’s death
In the material world everything is available as far as rewards. Everything means gathering, accumulating, and amassing material elements. The laws stay the same, namely that objects are temporary and the experience miserable. The first naturally leads to the second. If I love something but can’t have it forever, I am guaranteed to be miserable at some point.
Hiranyakashipu received amazing strength. He had the entire world afraid of him. He was a king, so whatever he said went. He lived the full extent of material life. Still, death was slated for him. The destruction was to occur at the hands of the Supreme Lord Himself, as this was a special circumstance.
The greater honor went to a small child. Just five years old, he used his devotional strength to overpower the atheism and material power of his father. Hiranyakashipu was the aggressor, and though he scared the celestials into hiding, Prahlada was not going anywhere. The boy continued to be devoted to God the person. Through enough attacks against the child, Hiranyakashipu invited Vishnu to arrive in a half-man/half-lion form. The physical instrument of death was the nails used to tear open the king, but the subtle instrument was Prahlada’s devotion.
2. Hanuman, like one of Rama’s arrows reaching Lanka
Many years later the same Narasimhadeva appeared on earth as Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. Rama was the best fighter in the world with the bow and arrow, which was the style of warfare at the time. Rama used His arrows for protecting the innocent. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, the Divine descents are for the purpose of protecting the pious and annihilating the miscreants.
“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)
The aggressor this time was similar to Hiranyakashipu. Named Ravana, he had a terrifying scream. The world again was afraid of Him. Rama came to get rid of this demon-like person, who was in the physical form of a Rakshasa, or man-eater.
Though He could have, Rama did not do all the work Himself. At one point, He sent a representative to Ravana’s city of Lanka. Hanuman bravely travelled there, leaping over the ocean to reach the distant island. The factual journey was symbolic as well; Hanuman was like one of Rama’s arrows. That arrow flew to Lanka, found the whereabouts of Rama’s wife Sita, and then returned to Rama with the news.
3. Bhima killing Jarasandha
Some people just don’t learn. After being forgiven time and time again, they continue with their sinful ways. Such was the case with Jarasandha. He attacked Krishna in Mathura a total of seventeen times. Krishna is the most powerful, the Supreme Lord Himself. Therefore killing Jarasandha would not have been a problem for Him.
Instead, Krishna let him off the hook with embarrassing defeat after embarrassing defeat. Finally, Krishna and His brother Balarama fled the scene, using the attack as an excuse to erect the underwater city known as Dvaraka. From running away from Jarasandha on the battlefield, Krishna also earned the name Ranchor. With God everything is transcendental. Even apparently sinful behavior is celebrated. It is His lila, and those who carefully study the spiritual science come to know and appreciate this side of the Divine.
The instrument for Jarasandha’s death was Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers who were so dear to Krishna. Bhima was incredibly strong, but even that strength wasn’t enough to fulfill destiny. After days of wrestling with Jarasandha, Krishna gave Bhima some advice, very subtly at that. Bhima then understood that the way to kill the king was to tear him in half at the legs, which is what he proceeded to do in the next and final round of their match.
4. Arjuna in the Bharata War
The verse about being God’s instrument comes from the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. This occurred on the eve of a great war, and the peculiar situation was that Arjuna was afraid of winning. It’s not like he was scared to enter danger. Arjuna was quite brave. Rather, he saw into the future and didn’t want to be responsible for causing the deaths of people he respected and loved, people fighting for the other side.
Krishna used Arjuna’s doubt as a way to explain time. In fact, Krishna showed the future in the universal form. Arjuna saw all the fighters for the opposing side entering into Krishna’s many and large mouths. This was a vision of what was to occur. Arjuna was urged to fight on, to act as destiny’s instrument, to get the credit because Krishna cared for him so much.
5. Sita causing Ravana’s destruction
Rama loves His devotees so much that He brings fame, honor and glory to them. As they surrender, He rewards accordingly. Hanuman got tremendous credit for travelling to Lanka and finding Sita. The wheels began to move for Ravana’s destruction when he became infatuated with Sita. The king of Lanka already had so many beautiful wives. He lacked nothing as far as material enjoyment. Yet his kama, or lust, was not in check. He was driven by his senses instead of the other way around. Sita persevered through difficult times. She was like a prisoner of war mentally tortured in different ways. She remained steady, though, showing that devotional strength can be found in any type of body, even a female’s. One woman brought down a powerful and evil king, and she did it without raising a hand.
Nothing to prevent the Divine will,
Credit given to devotees still.
As instrument for the Lord to act,
Like with Arjuna of target aim exact.
And Pandava Bhima winning wrestling match,
Sita, king of Lanka’s attention to catch.
Hanuman swift to island in flight,
In glory of devotees God to delight.