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Depending on Krsna's Mercy

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Author: 
Inmate Bhakta Joseph, P., Galesburg, Illinois

The time I spend chanting the Maha-mantra in the quiet early mornings is one of my most favorite times of the day. It is that special time spent in direct association with our dear Lord Sri Krsna. But there are days when I don’t feel anything special, that even in this most auspicious transcendental activity, I feel alone, and oh, so far from my dear Lord. When this happens, it is easy to wonder if I am actually receiving His mercy; if there is purpose to my chanting or if I am just wasting my time. Recognizing my own faults in this process is Krsna’s merciful way of allowing me to become more sincere and attentive towards Him.

I must be considered is the fact that we are never actually apart from Him (BG 15.15); sometimes it just feels that way. But even in this, we are receiving Krsna’s divine mercy in that we, by missing Him, are connected through feelings of separation. Any time we are thinking about Him, He is present in our thoughts; whenever we feel deeply His absence, He is strongly in our hearts; and when we chant His name, Krsna dances on our tongue. Even the blessed Gopis of Vrndavan relished Krsna’s presence in separation when they couldn’t find Him in the woods that late autumn evening.

Whether in joyful closeness, or despairing separation, we are always with Him. In our thoughts and words, He manifests; He exists personally in our very heart. I absolutely know this, so there is no question of Krsna not being present, though I sometimes have that impression. So when my chanting seems a failure, when I feel no connection to dear Krsna, I can at least relish that I am thinking of Him, and that is His mercy. I should never forget that. He is everywhere- in my hopes and dreams, in the love of my heart. And even if Krsna bestowed no mercy upon me, ever, isn’t He still worth my most sincere efforts?

I am set to be released from prison in about 6 years, and after over two decades behind bars, the world I will be entering will seem quite foreign to me. The way people work, communicate, and even shop, has changed (not to mention the changes within myself). Not only that, but the people I knew and cared about have either passed from this world, or rejected me (with good reasons). I will leave here penniless, homeless, unsupported, and with little chance to fit well into this new society. It is truly daunting, and I have asked myself many times how I am supposed to survive on the outside. How do I achieve any level of security and happiness in a world I don’t understand, and which doesn’t want to understand me?

In September of 1965, another man, a truly great soul, found himself in an externally similar condition. With only a few dollars in his possession, and little experience of the customs and practices of our society, Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York. Far from his home, he was separated from the common man in the way he dressed, spoke, ate, and even thought. Truly a daunting condition and one I can hardly imagine.
The truly amazing thing is that, unlike most anyone else, he welcomed this condition as an opportunity. Srila Prabhupada came here, no under threat or exile or any other such thing. No, he came freely and willingly. In order to fulfill the mission given to him by his Guru Maharaja, and to offer the only means of salvation to a degraded people, His Divine Grace eagerly sought the means to come here.
So what made him so willing to take this dangerous and scary chance, to risk homelessness, starvation, and death just to help those who he had never met?
“In all activities just depend on Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me. If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditional life by My grace.” BG 18.57-58
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada came, not worrying about his personal needs or condition, because he was assured of success. Home, food, money…everything, he knew, would be provided; he trusted absolutely in the promise of Krsna to care for His devotees, and Prabhupada is truly a pure devotee of Sri Krsna. No matter what happened, regardless of the hardships, he willingly and eagerly jumped into the fire of Americanism because he absolutely knew God would provide and care for him.

Such faith is so rare and amazing that it defies our logic. But for those with this conviction, no place, no danger can deter them. For most of us, for me, this trust doesn’t come easily, and the idea of stepping out into a world unknown to me, with no support, is a scary proposition. But even as my faith may be lacking, I can look to this example of Srila Prabhupada, and know that Krsna does indeed care for His devotees. I needn’t simply trust and believe, because the Lord, in His divine mercy, has shown us a practical example by sending His pure devotee to not only teach us, but also to show us the glories of Krsna.

As my release date draws nearer, my fears may grow about what will happen to me. But even in this, I can be assured that as long as I depend and trust in Krsna to help me, my ultimate success is guaranteed. I will be OK, and my path, though certainly difficult, will lead me back to my divine Father, Sri Krsna.

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Note from Bhakti-lata Dasi:

This article is just a small part of the bi-monthly IPM NEWS, an electronic newsletter I send the 450 devotees. If you wish to receive it in your electronic mailbox, simply email me at iskconprisonministry@gmail.com with "SUBSCRIBE" in the subject line. Thank you!

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