Human-like God

A God who laughs, cries, dances and gets angry is a worrisome phenomenon for many spiritual seekers. They feel that this is nothing but ascribing human tendencies to God. They agree that this material world is indeed a place full of miseries. And since it has form, features, emotions, etc., then by necessity the spiritual world should be without form, features and emotions. This logic that all spiritual things have to be exactly opposite of all material things is not fully accurate. In the Bhagavad-gita (8.20) we learn, “Yet there is another unmanifest nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is.” Thus, there is another nature and its characteristics are completely opposite to that of the nature that we see now. But the Gita goes much, much further than this. It describes that that nature is supreme (or superior) to that which we are experiencing here and now. This means that the form, features and emotions of that spiritual nature are opposite to our form, features and emotions, and simultaneously, they are vastly more exquisite.

Everybody who has seen a picture of the Bhagavad-gita has seen a picture of Krishna along with Arjuna on the cover. Both Krishna and Arjuna look young and are very handsome. But Krishna warns in the Gita that, “Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be.” Here Krishna admits that His form does appear like a human’s but is not exactly human. What does it mean to be “not exactly human”? Our human body is born and then suffers from old age and disease and ultimately dies. We suffer these experiences because our birth is controlled by the three modes of material nature – goodness, passion and ignorance. Krishna , however, does not come under the control of these modes at any point in time. Rather He is the supreme controller of these modes all the time. So it follows that He does not suffer from old age, disease and death because His birth is not due to the action of the three modes.

So, as long as we use mundane logic and rationalization, these will trap us and will succeed in giving us a material picture of reality. Intimidated by this overbearing and confounding concoction of the material mind, the material intelligence then seeks escape into the impersonal conception of monistic Brahman. Unfortunately, if this understanding becomes fixed, it closes the doors to perception and realization of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

To conclude, all the Upanisadic descriptions of Krishna being nirguna (no qualities), nirakara (no form) or niskriya (inactive) are actually positive descriptions of Krishna ’s excellence such as a charming and beaming face, eyes like lotus petals, the cooling sanctuary of His lotus feet, exquisite and graceful limbs, and so on. Thus a spiritual form in pure goodness is described. The human-like form of Krishna is the embodiment of both kinds of characteristics, form and all-pervasiveness, and is supremely exquisite.