Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Does Krishna Send Us Signs? Yes, Sometimes Literally
By Thomas Haribol, ISKCON News Managing Editor   |  Aug 09, 2023

When people say, “God will give you a sign,” they usually don’t mean that literally, but for me, that’s exactly what He did.

In 2015, I was driving south on I-15 to vacation at Capitol Reef National Park. This busy interstate carries millions of cars to the “Mighty Five” national parks in southern Utah. I’d traveled this western artery many times, but on this particular drive, I was gobsmacked to see a colorful “sign” along the road, a billboard showcasing a “Krishna Temple.” Utah is known for its dozens of temples dotting the I-15 corridor, but they belong to the major religion in the state, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Not to mention, the county I was driving through was the most densely populated Mormon county in the state. “What in the world is a ‘Hindu’ temple doing in Utah County?” I thought. I didn’t exit to investigate but couldn’t get the name “Krishna” out of my head. I kept repeating it in my mind. I mused, “What do I know about Krishna?” Sadly, I only knew what I had seen in popular media: He was a blue Hindu deity, one of the millions they worship. Nevertheless, my mind was tenaciously holding that name.

Following my vacation, I returned home and googled “Krishna” to learn more about who He was. Soon I found Prabhupada Memories videos, ordered a copy of “Bhagavad Gita As It Is” online, and began chanting the Maha Mantra on some beads I bought at a local New Age bookstore. I had given up eating meat a month earlier for health reasons. Even though my motives weren’t pure, I think it cleared my heart enough to let Krishna’s Holy Name penetrate and help me begin my journey home.

A few weeks later, although I was experiencing the fruit of contact with the Holy Names, I still had reservations and fears about these new spiritual experiences I was having. Was it too much to ask Krishna for another “sign”? At the time, I was visiting Pendleton, Oregon. It sits on the famous Oregon Trail along the Umatilla River. Known for its rodeos and whiskey-centered events, Pendleton is called “Cow Town USA.” Now, more conscious of Krishna’s special love for cows, I thought this was the last place He could give me a sign; after all, everything in the city seemed tied to cow violence. Every other storefront was a steak restaurant or a leather shop selling belts and saddles made from cowhide. “How could He speak to me in such a degraded place?” I thought. As I rounded the corner, I was confronted by a bright pink sign for Govinda’s Garden. Yes, in Pendleton, Oregon. All I knew was that it was an Indian restaurant. Still ignorant of all of the Lord’s names, I stepped inside. A friendly Indian man greeted me, and I said to him, “You must be Govinda.” He quickly replied, “Oh no, Govinda is Krishna! That’s one of His names. It means ‘He who gives pleasure to the cows.’ ” I was gobsmacked again by Krishna’s mercy.  He was giving me “signs” even here.

I’m grateful to that devotee for opening a vegetarian restaurant in the middle of “Cow Town USA” and for the pioneering work of devotees like Caru and Vaibhavi, who planted the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Utah County. They’ve since become mentors and friends.

In 2020, I served on a weekend at the same Utah-based temple I had seen five years earlier on that billboard. I greeted dozen of guests who arrived at the temple because they saw it too and were equally curious about what a Krishna Temple was doing in Utah. They toured the temple, saw the Deities, learned about the Lord, chanted the Holy Names with us, and many stayed for prasada before continuing on their way. I marveled at the mercy of the Lord to guide all of us as we navigate this material world. Some recognize the spiritual road signs and respond.

The Bhagavad Gita says in 18.61, “The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities.” We never know how Krishna may use us or our service as “signs” for others in their wanderings. As J.R.R. Tolkien noted, “Not all those who wander are lost.” 

May we joyfully join You, Krishna, in helping to direct all living entities we encounter today as they make their own journey back Home, back to Godhead.