Prayers- Material or Spiritual?

Hare Krsna!


I have a question. Whenever I suffer from problems that sometimes affect my service for Krsna and chanting, everyone says that I should pray to Krsna for relief or to give me strength to overcome them. It is true that this body is where Krsna resides and I should take care of it. And if I can't take care, I must seek help from Krsna. But I feel like whenever I am asking relief from these problems, I am asking for something material. I feel like doesn't Krsna already know my bodily problems? Won't he give them to me for a good reason? And I feel that I should only pray to Him only for spiritual things like maintaining my desire to serve him selflessly, increasing my determination to be on spiritual path etc.

I also feel that when Draupadi was praying to protect her when her saree was being pulled, wasn't she praying for a material body which is temporary? I know it is a huge thing to compare to... but still.. I feel that whenever I ask for something like that, I am asking for material protection and I should be above that.

Am I wrong?

Thank you in advance. Hari Bol!

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  • Volunteer

    Hmm. this question walks a thin line in which case both sides do have valid points, but here is my response

    Your mentality is correct in that one should feel remorse when we ask Krishna for things. I mean we are Krishna's servants, thus we should be the ones asking Him what He wants. But here is the tricky thing- you aren't asking it for yourself, rather you are asking relief for Krishna's pleasure, so you can serve Him nicely. And in that case- this is spiritual. 

    Now if you ask Krishna for help and the reason is opposite of service to Krishna, then that would be material. 

    Let's go to the next part: "I feel like doesn't Krsna already know my bodily problems? Won't he give them to me for a good reason?"

    Krishna resides in the heart of everyone, thus he knows everything. He is all knowing, omnipresent, etc. The Bhagavad Gita states that the is the friend and well wisher of everyone, thus he certainly is aware of your problem. However, Krishna did not give you the body pains. Due to some action in your past life (or maybe this one even) -- that  is the cause for the suffering. Krishna will not take away your karma, you have to pay for it. But what Krishna does is he minimizes it (provided you are a devotee serving him, etc.), instead of amputating a leg, Krishna gives a small scratch. 


    "And I feel that I should only pray to Him only for spiritual things like maintaining my desire to serve him selflessly, increasing my determination to be on spiritual path etc." 

    That mentality is correct, but we are also living in the material world. As long as you think of Krishna as the master, and yourself as the servant, as long as you wish for Krishna's pleasure- that is spiritual. If your pains are interfering with Krishna's service, Krishna won't sit back and watch. He will do something about it, but then again we can't expect these things to be instantaneous. If I get a cold, the symptoms lasts for a while, it's not like I wake up two hours later and I am all better. It's the same thing. You will feel the pain, and the way to get past it is to think a) Krishna is minimizing your true deserving pain (I don't mean you deserve it (as in me pointing a finger at you), but I mean that Krishna takes away the bigger thing and gives you a smaller thing. No offense intended) and b) This is just one of Krishna's little tests, and it's your duty to ace this test. 


    In the end- praying to Krishna for relief of bodily pains is material, but praying to Krishna for relief of bodily pains TO SERVE KRISHNA FULLY is spiritual. Krishna won't shun you from Goloka because you prayed to him for help, and knowing Krishna he probably will just make a tallymark on his "how many times has X remembered me" list.


    I just listened to a lecture on Sunday, and the speaker mentioned the accumulation of wealth. It has two sides. It's material if you use it for yourself, and it's spiritual if you give it to Krishna and spreading K.C. Same case applies to this too.


    To answer that last question of Draupadi- her situation is completely different. 

    FROM WIKIPEDIA (not authentic, but the story is important to establish the point):

    One day when Krishna cut his finger, Draupadi immediately tore off a piece of her sari and bandaged his cut. Krishna said that with this loving act, she wrapped him in debt and he would repay each “thread” when the time comes. Indeed, when Draupadi needed Krishna’s protection and fervently prayed for his help, he came to the rescue and gave her unlimited cloth. 


    Furthermore, her honor was at stake (which was very important back then). But like you said, it's a huge thing to compare. Draupadi was also a friend and sister of Krishna, so they have a very strong relationship. There are just too many things in play to give a straight answer. Draupadi may have asked for help, but it was to save her honor, and she called out ot Krishna purely,  (and that's the best i can explain it, becuase I'm a bit woozy right now).


    So as long as you request (don't ask, request Krishna. In other words, you shouldn't care about the results. If Krishna wants to help you, wonderful. If not, Haribol!) help for spiritual purposes (and that itself includes serving Krishna, his devotees, etc.) then you already are above asking Krishna for material things.


    I'm not a scholar or anything and I just stated what I have heard in lectures, so please forgive me if I stated errors. I hope this helps.


    Gaura Prema Anande.... Hari Haribooooool!


    • Hari Bol prabhu. Thank you soo much for your response (and thank you for taking the efforts to write such a big one!).

      The statement "don't ask, request Krishna. In other words, you shouldn't care about the results." helps a lot.

      Thanks again!

      • Volunteer

        Hare Krishna dear Devotees, please accept my humble obeisances!

        All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

        Already Shyam Patel Prabhu gave very nice replies.

        i also wanted to give some examples.

        Firstly we have to understand that we are not yet pure Devotees and artificially make a show that i do not need anything from Krishna, i mean material things. Please, forgive me Krishna's servant Prabhu i am talking about myself!

        When i become sick i feel that i waste my time, i can not attend Mangala Arati, chant with Devotees, sing, dance, do other services...i can not. Because of that i pray to Krishna to forgive me for my sins and engage in His service more and more better and better.

        If body in pain it is very difficult even to chant sitting properly in the mode of goodness. Very difficult, that time again i pray for forgiveness and to cure me from this pain.

        Let it be something material but if that material thing helps me to serve to Krishna better then why not to use that? 

        Yukta Vairagya.

        Draupadi asked because she was honest. She knew that she has some material attachments to body and honor in the society so she prayed. And that is dependence on Krishna. That is personal-ism. Krishna loves when we depend on Him and surrender to Him in everything even for material things.

        For example, in Vrindavan whenever there is problem with demons they  gopas and gopis immediately call for Krishna to help them and protect them. They are strong because in everything they depend on Krishna. It is called as Devotional service.


        One more thing, for example when wife is in danger she can try to protect herself but when she just asks her husband to protect her then husband will be in 7th sky (happy) to protect her.

        Your servant, 

        • Hari Bol mataji!

          Thank you for your reply. You are right. I am not a pure devotee and must not artificially try to be one.

          • Volunteer

            my humble obeisances Krishna's Servant Prabhu,

            No no on the contrary let me tell one lila of Krishna:

            Once Madhumangal desired to eat many laddus. So he requested Krishna to give His yellow dhoti and peacock feather to him so that he would go to Gopis as being "Krishna" because Gopis adore Krishna and always fulfill His desires. 

            So Krishna was agreed and gave. Madhumangal was on the way then in the forest Demon Keshi who was informed by Kamsa to kill Krishna in yellow dhoti and with peacock feather on his head. Keshi found Madhumangal and just just wanted to kill him.

            Immediately Madhumangal remembered Krishna and loudly called out for Him to protect him. And Krishna immediately came.

            In this way Krishna loves when we depend on Him in everything.


            Another example, Pandavas and Draupadi are all pure Devotees of Krishna. Because of that Draupadi asked for help from Krishna. She requested for help from her husbands, Demigods...but at the end understood that only Krishna can protect her. So it is pure devotional service. Devotees protect their bodies and whatever they have because they know that they  belong to Krishna.


            not to request for help seems little bit impersonal. 

            Your servant, 

          • Volunteer

            no you must try to be a pure devotee. But what mataji is saying is that given some circumstances, it is not always possible to be following the guidelines of a pure devotee. And this is when we pray to Krishna to forgive our sins. We cannot go to Krishna unless we are pure, so whenever we can- we must try being pure devotees (the saying practice makes perfection comes into play here). 

            As mataji stated, Krishna is not hungry for the style of service, rather he is hungry for our love. I read this in an Amar Chitra Katha a while back, but the story goes as follows- Narada thought himself as the best devotee because he remembered Krishna always. In  order to teach Narada a lesson, Krishna and Narada go to the material world and stay with a farmer who is a great devotee. THe farmer continually shows examples of his love for Krishna (ie. him and his family go to sleep starving, yet he thinks of his guests as god- athiti devo bhavah; he works hard in the field and he sings the names of Krishna, etc.) ... Narada doesn't get it, so Krishna gives him a pot of oil, tells him to walk around the hill without spilling anything. Narada does that, and when he returns, Krishna asks him, "How many times did you remember me?" and Narada replied- "I'm afraid my mind was only on not spilling this pot of oil" [I'm afraid the story is told much better in hte comic book version)

            The essence, is - being the pure devotee comes with rendering service to Krishna continuously, and chanting his names, etc. to give an example- Bhaktivinoda Thakor- he did material work and always found time for Krishna. That is also another side to a pure devotee. We each are individuals, so Krishna looks at each one differently. Just remember Krishna as much as you can, make Him part of your life. Leave the rest to Krishna.

            Like i said, if you love Krishna sincerely, don't worry about anything. If Krishna wants to accept it, he'll accept it. And if Krishna doesn't want to accept it, we make sure that Srimati Radharani, Balramaji, Srila Prabhupada, Lords Chaitanya Mahaprahu and Nityananda Prabhu hear our prayers by remembering them too! (they are far more merciful than Krishna himself :) )

            Remember Krishna and his servants. That's all! 

            Gaura Prema Anande.. Haribooool!

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