Kavaca - Protect us from the External Difficulties

by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja

sbrsm12.jpg - 18224 Bytes Student: Srila Guru Maharaj, in the Ganesh-kanda section of Brahma-vaivarta Purana, the history of Sri Parasurama is related. I read there that Lord Siva gave to Parasurama a protective mantra, a kavaca: Krsna-kavaca. But one devotee told me that in this Age, Kali-yuga, the only kavaca which is really potent is Narasimha-kavaca, so that is the only one it is possible to accept. My question is: what is true about these kavacas? Is it possible in the present day for anyone to be given, or to accept, these kavacas which appear in the ancient scriptures? Is it necessary, or practical?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: The use of kavacas is, on the whole, an external affair. The Mantram (Gayatri) and the Nama (Hare Krsna) they are all-useful and all-powerful, and using the kavaca to help externally, is a thing of minor importance. The nama, the Lord’s Name, and the Lord whose Name it is, they are one and the same; and that is enough. It is sufficient, complete. Here in the mundane world, to help us, we can sometimes accept the kavacas but that is not a thing of very great importance. Either krsna-kavaca, or narasimha-kavaca, we may accept, to help our bhajan (worship); but not at the cost of faith in the divine Name, nama-bhajan, that is the best of all; even the (Gayatri) mantram is to help nama-bhajan.

krsna-mantra haite habe samsara-mocana
krsna- nama haite pabe krsnera carana

(Cc. Adi-lila 7.73)
“Simply by chanting the Holy Name of Krsna one can obtain freedom from material existence. Indeed, simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra one will be able to see the lotus feet of the Lord”.
The worship of the Name, nama-bhajan, is the highest, and with our whole concentration, we shall stick to that. And to see or to look for other things to help it, may be allowed to a certain extent. But not much attention should be given to those external things; they are only something like a varna, a kind of dress, a covering, for protection. So, there is not much harm if we take krsna-kavaca or narasimha-kavaca, with the intention: “It has come to help my nama-bhajan life”. If meant in this way, it may be allowed, but it is not the highest standard.

The purpose of using the kavaca is, generally, that external difficulty may not come to us; it is to protect us from the external difficulties, superficial difficulties. But the pure devotees, the extreme devotees of Krsna, they won’t be afraid of any external difficulties. Rather, they may invite them, like Kunti devi, Queen Kunti, who told: “External dangers let them come and attack me. I don’t care for them; I shall go on with my service.”

In using the kavaca there is some karmana, some karmic connection, but if that is to help the good, then its use may be acceptable. Still, in the highest form of bhajan, everything is depending on His will: the devotee thinks, “Whether I may be in danger or in happiness, I shall go on with my nama-bhajan uncaring, without any care for the external conditions that may come to me according to my previous karma. I may be in hell, or I may be in heaven, or anywhere else; I won’t waste my energy going to any other direction, but I will go on with nama-bhajan.” Bhajan done in this mood is of the higher quality. Do you follow?

Student: Yes.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: In Prahlada Maharaj, and others, we see such an attitude: “Dangers may come, at their wish, with their extreme power to disturb me; I don’t care.” So, pasu-pakhi haya tabe wherever my karma may take me, even to the body of bird or beast, I won’t pray to Krsna for favourable circumstances. I shall utilise my energy best only if it is towards Him; and I shall only want from Him, that: “Your sweet will may be victorious. You can make or mar; You can kill me, or save me. If it is necessary for Your sweet enjoyment to kill me, You can do that. I am a slave; You have got every right over me, to do anything and everything.” With this conception in the background we have to make our approach towards Him, and that will be of the highest quality. Our bhajan should be in this line.

In our worship we are not seeking any comfort from anything outside, or from Him, also. We won’t pray: “O Krsna, You please create protection. I am going towards You, so please create protection for me, please manage for my protection”. Our bhajan should be of this purest type: “You may do whatever you like; I want your service. I want only that Your sweet will may be satisfied by me.” There is to be such self-forgetfulness, total self-forgetfulness in the service of Krsna. The whole concentration will be: “How can I satisfy You?”

And whatever troubles may come upon us on the way, we must not deviate our attention from that main purpose to any of those external things, for then the quality of our bhajan will be less. Its quality and also its intensity will be less, if we are very eager to maintain our safety as we are going on in the path of our devotional life, as we are proceeding to our destination. Such concerns should be uncared for, as much as possible, and our only concern will be: “I want Your satisfaction”. And in that attempt, one must be self-forgetful, as much as possible.

But according to their adhikara, capacity, the practitioners may sometimes take the help of some protection on their way, and that may be tolerated. It may be tolerated, but it is not the highest ideal. To seek protection on the path in this way, is not the ideal. “I am going to You, please protect me on my way, please manage for me, for my protection” our fundamental attitude should not be such. But rather, we should think: “Whatever comes to me, it is Your sweet will; I won’t pray for protection.”

Student: I have another question, in this connection. I am now studying Indian astrology, Vedic astrology. In my studies I have made some astrological charts for devotees. I see the natal chart is like a photograph of the karma of the person. So my question is: what is the use of astrology for a devotee, or in devotional service? It has some use, or not?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Just as general education, money, learning, physical health and other things are necessary for the purpose of preaching, so in a particular situation knowledge of astrology may be, also. But all such items are subsidiary, they are not the all-important thing. Generally, the public is attracted by the astrological statement, so it may be used like bait to capture people, so as to gradually convert them. Just as one devotee when asked by Srila Swami Maharaj Prabhupada to go to China, to preach, told him: “I shall go there and open a hostel; in this way, men will come, and I shall capture them, for Krsna’s service!” This is, in itself, not suddha-bhakti, pure devotion, but it is anukulasya-sankalpa: it may be favourable for the cause. Namacarya Haridas Thakur used to give sweets to the children, and then ask them, “Take the Name, the Name of the Lord, Krsna. Say ‘Krsna’!” First he is distributing sweets and then telling them “Say ‘Krsna’!” It is a kind of strategy like that.

So, astrology may be utilised to create some confidence in the general public, that they will think: “This man is super-class, so I should be as a disciple to him”; and in this way gradually they may be taken towards the real path. Such an approach is anukulasya-sankalpa it may be anukula, favourable, a favourable step towards devotion proper. But pure devotion, suddha-bhakti, is not dependent on any such things.

Even jnana, knowledge, and also vairagya abnegation, indifference, renunciation, the renouncing nature they are also not a part of real devotion: jnana-vairagyadi bhaktira kabhu nahe ‘anga’ (Cc.Madhya 22:145).

Vairagya means abnegation, “I don’t want anything”, to have no taste for all the things of this world. For example, someone may be taking food only once in a day; or even he may not be using any dress, any clothes, in all such matters he is indifferent. ‘Virag’ means indifference, indifference to everything in this world; but that also is not intrinsically a part of devotion. And it is so also with jnana, knowledge: na jnanam na ca vairagyam, prayah sreyo bhaved iha (S.Bhag. 2:32-33). Both jnana and vairagya, which are the real property of the Jnani and Yogi Schools, are not a part and parcel of devotion; then what to speak of other things.

vasudeve bhagavati bhakti-yoga prayojitah
janayaty asu vairagyam jnanam ca yad ahaitukam

(Srimad Bhagavatam 1:2:27)
Here it is told that real jnana and vairagya will come as the consequence of bhakti. As a result of devotion, the proper abnegation and proper knowledge will come. Otherwise, through the empirical method, ordinary knowledge and ordinary apathy towards worldly things cannot create devotion proper. “By trying, by my self-abnegation, or by my learning all these worldly things, gradually I shall attain bhakti” it is not so. But, bhaktya-sanjataya-bhaktya bhakti is the cause of bhakti. Devotion is its own cause. When I get devotion proper, the real vairagya, self-abnegation, and real knowledge, will come in its retinue, naturally; that is natural, it is normal. Otherwise, neither ordinary self-abnegation, the mood or tendency of renunciation, nor knowledge of the worldly matters, can produce devotion proper, real devotion.

So the knowledge of astronomy, or astrology, or mathematics, or all the great achievements of science, like those of Einstein, they may be utilised to capture the ordinary people who may then be introduced to pure devotion to Krsna. They are a kind of bait, like laddu, sweets: by distributing the sweets one may attract the person, and then tell him, who is the Lord, who is Krsna: “The sweetest thing is Krsna!” That is in the line of anukulasya-sankalpa, favourability to the cause. And this should not be misinterpreted to mean that we should try to acquire some special power, like the knowledge of hypnotism, and whoever will come, we will hypnotise them, and then give them the mantram that is all artificial, it is a misunderstanding. But to capture the mind of the other party with such attractions like astrology, and thereby to defeat their mental pride, to crush their vanity, and then to help them to come forward with surrender, so the true thing can be distributed to them in this way, such knowledge may be utilised. Is it clear?

Student: Very clear, Maharaj. There is something else I would ask. I have now passed three years of sannyasa, three years in the sannyasa ashram. So I want to ask, to pray to your Divine Grace for some instruction, some practical advice about sannyasa life.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Keep the association of the higher Vaisnava, and go on with your duty. Always keep in association with the higher Vaisnava, the Vaisnava of higher plane, in order to keep yourself healthy, to supply yourself vitality. Whatever you do whether it is preaching, or any other service you may do all-important is to keep the vitality within you, and that can come from the different ‘dynamos’, the Vaisnavas, from their association. That is the main idea: to keep your life intact, and then go on with work. Because if the vitality diminishes, then everything will go, it will be lost. So most important is the spiritual vitality, and its supply; and the source of that supply, the dynamo, is the Vaisnava. And when the Vaisnava is absent, we can receive nourishment from the scripture the Gita, the Bhagavatam, and other books, and the writings of Gurudeva.

Student: I am very satisfied, hearing from your Divine Grace.

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: I consider myself fortunate, if I can render some service to you in this way.

Student: No, no, I consider myself to be fortunate to sit at your feet. I cannot express my satisfaction...

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: So, I think you are genuine, a sincere person; you have got connection with that which is unlimited, of infinite character. That is your fortune.

Student: I would like to ask another question if I may. In my country I have contact with a very influential man, he is President of a Karate Association and himself a very expert martial artist. He likes Krsna Consciousness and wants to be a devotee but he is not so much of a brahminical type, he likes the ksatriya dharma. Also, he is attracted to mystic powers and apparently he has them, also. What is your Divine Grace’s view of these things? What instruction would you give to your Mission about dealing with, or accomodating them? Perhaps you could give some advice as to what way I should introduce Krsna Consciousness to this person. What would be your Divine Grace’s guidance in this case, to help a person of such nature?

Srila Sridhar Maharaj: Just as you have already asked, regarding the learning of jyotisa, astrology, so it may be in this case also. It is of a very lower order to take physical strength, to utilise physical strength to fulfil our purpose. It is of a lower order. Mahaprabhu did not accept that. Srila Swami Maharaj also, when his Math here in Mayapur, Sri Candradoya Mandir, was attacked by a party of gundas, gangsters, did not oppose them with physical force. He was inside the building at the time, and he sent a kirtan party out: “Go, and offer yourself to be prey of those gundas.” Those ruffians had come, entered the compound, and created some disturbance; Swami Maharaj asked his devotees, “Go out and challenge them, with kirtan; without any weapon, unarmed, go with the kirtan party, and offer yourself to be prey of the gundas.” And thereby, that danger subsided. So Mahaprabhu’s weapon is passive resistance. Not physical attack, offensive for offensive, but to show a passive attitude in order to conquer the offensive thing that will be better, and that is the policy of Mahaprabhu.

But when that is not possible, for one in a lower stage of realisation, one can take physical help for his protection, self-protection. And sometimes, if we see that the Deity or the Vaisnava is going to be prey to the rowdies, if They are being attacked, or are going to be demolished, then we are justified in using any measure against them the stick, or even the gun, or any other weapon available to us. At that time, whatever force possible we can assert. But generally, such measures we may not use for ourself; for our own protection, we depend fully on Krsna, raksisyatiti-visvaso: “He will protect me”. But in the case of Vaisnava, Guru, or Deity, we can assert ourselves as far as possible, and with all our resources; and we will be ready to give our own life, also. If sincerity of purpose is there, then in extreme cases such use of physical force may be accepted. But it is question of realisation; according to one’s own realisation, the proper adjustment in understanding and applying these principles will come.

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