“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.10)Download this episode (right click and save)
You really wanted something. You had to have it. It was important to you. You played everything right. You were careful not to sin during the period in question; at least based on what you know of sin. You approached the Almighty for help. You knew that it was a big thing, that so many factors were out of your hands. You couldn’t influence everything. Divine intervention was necessary.
The outcome? What you prayed for didn’t occur. God failed, if you will. Considering there are many millions of human beings who have prayed over the course of recorded history, this scenario is not impossible to relate to. There are different ways to respond, and reviewing some of the options helps to determine the proper path moving forward.
1. Get angry
God is supposed to be dependable. He is all-pervading. The Sanskrit word is antaryami. He accomplishes this through the expansion known as the Supersoul. The Supreme Lord is always with me in the heart. The presence is there regardless of the type of body I have. Time has no bearing. Whether I am in the body of an infant, living through adulthood, or ready to quit the body and move on to another, the Supersoul is there. It is known as Paramatma, supreme compared to the individual soul, jivatma.
As He is powerful enough to travel with me, He should deliver when asked nicely. If He doesn’t, I have justification for getting upset. At least this is the way I think. My mindset is that if He fails me after I was nice enough to approach Him, He deserves my disdain.
2. Vow revenge
The Bhagavad-gita describes the dangerous path of succumbing to kama, which can translate to “lust.” I lust after something. If I don’t get it, there is frustration. Frustration naturally leads to anger. That is not the end, however.
“From anger, delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memory is bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one falls down again into the material pool.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.63)
Anger leads to loss of intelligence. One sign is the vow to take revenge on the Almighty. First I prayed to Him because I knew that He is capable of coming through. When He supposedly fails, I vow to get even with Him. One way is to forget about Him entirely. Another is to speak ill of Him to others. One time a great devotee took revenge by cursing the Supreme Lord to appear on earth as a human being and be forced to live separately from His beautiful and chaste wife. This devotee was so dear to God that the curse stayed true, even though the Supreme Lord is never obligated to listen to anyone.
3. Turn to another God
This is another indication of a loss of intelligence. Perhaps in the first place the understanding was unclear; therefore I went to a specific god in hopes of getting what I wanted. He failed me, so now I am moving on to someone else. The first store promised that a specific item was in stock, but after I placed the order and handed over the money, they never gave the item. They didn’t return the money, either. They cheated me.
Of course the proper understanding is that there can only be one God. The definition of the Almighty alone proves this. He is the origin of everything. He is the supreme eternal among all eternal beings. He is supporting them as well. Nityo nityanam, chetanash chetananam. If I turn to another god, it means that I don’t really understand God. If I turn to another heavenly figure, it means that I never approached the Supreme Lord in the first place; just an incorrect conception of Him.
4. Ask again
Maybe I didn’t deserve to get what I asked for. Maybe God didn’t hear me. He was busy with the other requests flooding in. Never mind, as I have nowhere else to turn. Let me just ask again. Perhaps this time He will come through for me.
5. Assess the outcome; maybe His failure was for my benefit
Perhaps what I asked for wasn’t good for me. Haven’t I made mistakes in the past? Didn’t my parents have to deny so many of my requests when I was younger? Aren’t I now thankful for their oversight? Didn’t it benefit me in the long run?
The Supreme Lord, who is known as Krishna because of His all-attractiveness, assesses the requests of the devotees. Even if they are full of material desires, He still listens. It is not that He automatically rejects or accepts proposals. This is His special mercy. He will say “no” if that is what is best for the devotee. For this reason people of all persuasions, whether they are free of desires, full of them, or wanting release from the cycle of birth and death, should approach Krishna.
When they go to other gods, who are actually just elevated living entities residing in the heavenly region, they may get what they want. The demigods are empowered in this way; first come, first serve. They can give everything possible to be had in a material existence, up to immortality.
History has shown powerful kings who received amazing boons were still left unsatisfied. They were still victims to kama, lust. Their requests weren’t denied; there wasn’t discretion on the part of the benefactors. This is because the Supreme Lord, God the person, was not approached. Another way to know that He is supreme is the fact that He sometimes fails to deliver.
After with conviction prayer to do,
No result, God failed to come through.
Angry one option to be,
Revenge, with disdain to see.
Maybe better luck with another,
So many gods, one better than the other?
Wise assessing the rejection,
See benefit in bhakti’s direction.