How many of us are constantly living in fear? Fear of failure, of the future, of rejection, of uncertainty, of growing old, of getting sick, of death… As natural as these events may be, as inevitable as they may be, we are all still afraid. Why is all of this so terrifying? More importantly, how can we overcome this fear? How can we face this demon of fear head-on, and come out on top?
The answer is God.
When Srila Prabhupada was asked how he felt when he chanted, he said, “Fearless.”
Just a while ago, I entered my building to find that the lights in the lobby were off. It was pitch dark. I stepped into the lightless elevator and pushed the button. The lift doors closed and made its way to my floor. Only, it got stuck. It was impossible to see anything. I put my hand in front of me to check if the doors were open. They weren’t. How awful.
“Oh Gopinath! Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”
I started to chant. I made sure I kept chanting. I kept telling myself to keep chanting. The fear I was feeling at first was dissipating.
I fumbled around trying to hit the ‘alarm’ button. A bell sounded and the lift began to move again. The watchman had called the lift from the ground floor and then the door opened. I asked him what had happened, he said that the power was out. I then made my way to the staircase, using my mobile for light. I climbed a flight of stairs and realized I never thanked him for his help. So I went back down and said thanks to him.
Then I went out of my building to make a phone call when I started to feel the gravity of the situation. I almost felt like crying because I felt afraid that I had been stuck in the elevator. Now it may have been trivial – I was only in there for a short while. But it was pitch dark in the elevator. I had been stuck inside once before, but the lights were on. This time I couldn’t see anything. Moreover, it’s not really pleasant being stuck in an elevator. Anyway, upon realizing that I was feeling afraid after having gotten out from the elevator, I started to think that I wasn’t really so afraid when I was actually stuck in the elevator. Because Krishna’s Holy Names were there with me. Therefore Krishna Himself was there with me, keeping me company and looking after me. This may have been a little experience, but it was enough to teach me that the Holy Name can truly make me fearless.
What worries should I even have, after knowing Krishna as the Lord of my life? Why should I ever have to be afraid? I am in safe hands. Krishna will always protect those who seek His shelter. Srila Prabhupada says that real protection is Krishna. And protection begins when devotional service begins. So when we are in devotional service, what need is there for us to ever be afraid? When Krishna is actually present with us, in our hearts, and through our chanting, why should we ever be scared?
Raakhe Krishna maare ke? Maare Krishna raakhe ke? If Krishna wants to protect someone, who can kill him? And if Krishna wants to kill someone, who can protect him? As devotees, we can be sure that Krishna will always protect us. Aah but to even die by his hands is such a great blessing! Recall Bhishma who stretched open his arms on the battlefield of Kurukshetra when he saw Krishna running towards him with a huge chariot wheel to kill him. Even though Bhishma died on the battlefield and was the opposing team, Krishna still glanced lovingly upon him. On his deathbed, Krishna granted Bhishma perfect memory, promising him he would feel no hunger, thirst or other discomforts. He provided him with protection from all these material discomforts. There is a beautiful part in the Mahabharata where Krishna is meditating. Who could Krishna be meditating upon? Could that mean that there is someone more superior to Krishna? Someone that even Krishna, the God of this Creation, worships? Upon being asked whom He was meditating upon, Krishna replied, “Bhishma.” Why? Simply because Bhishma was meditating upon Him.
“The pure devotee is always within the core of my heart, and I am always in the heart of the pure devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but me, and I do not know anyone else but them.” – Srimad Bhagavatam, 9.4.68
“Just fix your mind on Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt.” – Bhagavad Gita, 12:8
“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” – Bhagavad Gita, 9:29
So many times Krishna has promised to keep us in His thoughts. We are always in His thoughts. We are never far away from Him. From seeing how Krishna was engaged in meditation upon Bhishma, we should know that when we lovingly meditate upon Krishna, He is similarly focusing on us and reciprocating with us.
Now when Krishna so explicitly says that He is our friend and we are so dear to Him, why would He not help us? It cannot be possible that He does not care about us. He is God. He is the Creator of this universe. Simply with a glance, this entire creation came into being. By His will alone, everything is accomplished. He can dispel any fear that we may have in an instant. He promises us that His Holy Name can dispel all fear, all ignorance, all darkness and all inauspiciousness. Krishna and His name are non-different. Have full faith that Krishna and His Holy Names will protect you. Through His Holy Names, Krishna can help us realize important things. Krishna teaches us about the truths of life. He encourages us to develop good godly qualities. In this way we can become more accepting of anything that comes our way. Krishna can teach us through others, through scripture, through gurus, and even Himself through experiences, realizations and by talking to us from within the heart. Knowing and understanding things can reduce some of the fear we may have. So study scripture, engage in devotee association, and more importantly, talk to Krishna. Pray to Krishna. Just keep Krishna in your thoughts always. Your life is in His hands. He will not put you in grave danger. Have full faith that He will protect you from any harm that may come your way. In His perfect protection, there is absolutely no need to be frightened of anything at all. Do not doubt even for a second that He will not protect you. Just remember Him at all times. Chant and sing His glories always. Keep thinking of Him. In this way, He will be right here with us – actually present with us. Just chant and keep your mind fixed on Him and let yourself feel His presence.
So when we know that Krishna will protect us, I believe it is Fear that needs to be afraid.