Seeing The Unseen Hand Of God by Achyut Gopal Das


"kartum akartum anyatha kartum"
"Everything happening, not happening or otherwise happening is His happening."

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a retreat for brahmacharis (monks) connected to the Radha Gopinath temple, Mumbai at the Govardhan Eco Village - the farm project of Radha Gopinath temple. Among other feelings, retreats like these always leaves you feeling a little more grounded and humble. You feel small in front of hundreds of other accomplished monks. The saying - "a big fish in a small pond becomes a small fish in a big pond" aptly summarizes the feeling one experiences in these Yatras.

Another interesting experience was the experience of saving my slipper. May sound a little silly. But, it wasn't that silly given the fact that most monks have a similar kind of slipper (paduka type sandals). It was a kind of fun to try to hide my slippers in different places so that it wouldn't get interchanged with those of others. Finally after a little circus, I managed to save and protect my slippers. There was a feeling of accomplishment and pride. But did "I" save my slipper. I definitely can't take the full credit for it. If it was not for the mercy and sanction of the Lord, it wouldn't be possible. Yes, my endeavor to protect my slipper also counted but in the final conclusion, without the mercy of the Lord nothing is possible. Even for the smallest of small things, we are dependent on the mercy of the Lord. We are helplessly dependent on Him. Whatever little or big, we are able to achieve and experience, we need to thank Krishna and be grateful to Him.

I am reminded of an interesting episode from the Mahabharata which perfectly encapsulates the point of being dependent on Krishna's grace in our life. As we all know, Lord Krishna performed the role of the charioteer of Arjuna during the eighteen days of the Kurukshetra war. Whatever role Krishna performed, be it big or small, He did it perfectly. He really plunged into the task at hand fully. Status never mattered to Him as long as what He did mattered. As a charioteer, every morning He would arrive much before His boss and master, Arjuna arrived. He would personally check the wheels of chariot, check the stock of weapons to be used by Arjuna (especially check if the favourite weapons of Arjuna were in place) and see to it that the horses were fit, fine and medically treated after the previous day of warfare. After all this, He would be waiting on the ground, ready to escort Arjuna to the chariot. And at the end of day, Krishna would first descend from the chariot and give His hand to Arjuna, for him to descend.

But this sequence changed at the end of the final day of war. After the eighteenth and the final day, Lord Krishna asked Arjuna to descend from the chariot first. Arjuna was surprised by the change of sequence. He asked Krishna, "What is the reason for this change?". But Lord Krishna didn't have time to answer; He seemed in a hurry of some sort. He again ordered Arjuna to get down. Arjuna, by now knew that the ways of Krishna may appear strange, inconceivable and unorthodox but they were always for his very best. Without further questioning Arjuna jumped out of the chariot to witness another miracle unfold. Being with Krishna, miracles became a regular affair for him. Krishna told Arjuna to stay a distance away. He then unyoked the horses, left them free and finally He Himself jumped off the chariot. As soon as Lord Krishna jumped off, the entire chariot exploded with fire and the chariot was burnt to ashes in no time. Arjuna was shocked seeing this. He was expecting a pleasant miracle not a ghastly one like this.

Miracles in our life may not come as we expect them to come. We need to see below the veneer of the external packaging to truly appreciate the hidden gifts that God gives us. Everything that comes our way is definitely for our very best because God has only our well being in mind. Anyway, as the story unfolds Arjuna asked Krishna, the reason behind the mystery of the explosion of the chariot. Krishna explained to Arjuna that due to the unlimited celestial weapons that was heralded on the chariot, the chariot should have blown into pieces long back but due to His personal presence on the chariot, the chariot remained intact. It was solely due to Krishna's mercy on Arjuna that the chariot remained intact. Similarly, in our lives, it is only because of Krishna's mercy that things materialize in our life. But the beauty is that this mercy and protection of His is not visible to the naked eyes. One needs the eyes of faith and wisdom to see this hidden hand of God at work. How often we get carried away by our ego and claim credit for our achievements, completely overlooking the hand of God. All our skills, power, abilities and faculties are the grace of the Lord. He has given it to us and He can withdraw it at any moment. We need to be humble and modest in life and give credit to the Supreme Lord who is truly worthy of all credit. Srila Prabhupada, the founder acharya of ISKCON would say, "We give Nobel prize to a person with great intelligence but forget to give any credit to the Supreme Lord who gave intelligence to this person."

We may have fantastic plans and execute it to the finest precision but if His sanction is not there, nothing materializes into reality. As the saying goes - "not a blade of grass moves without His sanction". The life that we take for granted is completely at His beck and call. Even a smallest thing in life like transmuting from one place to another, if it is not His sanction, we will not reach our planned destination. Whenever I board a vehicle to embark on any journey  and reach my destination, I try to offer a prayer of gratitude to God for making this journey happen. Nothing in life is guaranteed and nothing should be taken for granted. A little mishap could change the trajectory of our life for good. So, whatever little experiences come our way and whatever plans of our's materializes, we need to be extremely grateful to God for sanctioning it and whatever doesn't materialize, we need to still be grateful to God knowing that He has better plans for us. The path of surrender is to give ourselves in His hands recognizing the fact that anyway it is His hand that is working in our life.
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