Iskcon Heidelberg

Krishna the Supreme Lord

For want of a taste of things spiritual, a grave doubt arises in the minds of those who are enchained by worldly knowledge. On hearing a narration of the pastimes of Krsna, they think that the truth regarding Krsna is a mental concoction created by the imaginative brains of certain learned scholars out of material drawn from mundane principles. With the object of removing this harmful doubt, Lord Brahma, the chief created person in this universe, distinguishes between spirit and matter in a rational manner and then explains the pure pastimes of Krsna according to realization he obtained in a trance of unmixed ecstasy. This is the subject of the Vedic scripture known as the Brahma-samhita. Brahma then concludes that the form of Krsna is all existence, all knowledge, and all bliss, whereas all mundane experiences are full of palpable ignorance.

When people who are not devotees hear about Krsna, see a picture of Krsna, or see the worship of the Deity of Krsna, they sometimes think that Krsna is accepted and worshiped as God by foolish sentimentalists simply on the strength of legendary or mythological scriptures. Because such less intelligent persons are accustomed to understanding things by the direct experience of their limited material senses, they cannot understand the transcendental form and absolute nature of Krsna, who is described as the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, by the Vedic scriptures. Because these fools, employing the blunt tools of sense, mind and intelligence, indulge in endless speculation regarding the nature and existence of the Absolute Truth, they infer that the words of authorized scripture, which are in fact the very words of God, Krsna, of whom they claim to be in search, are also tinged with ignorance.

These so-called pilgrims in search of the Absolute are compared with the owl, who sits all day with his eyes closed and then opens his eyes when night falls. When the owl is informed that there is a sun whose illumination dissipates the darkness of the night, the owl will argue that it is not possible because he has not seen it with his own eyes. This is called owl philosophy. God is a fact and can be seen, but we have to be prepared to cleanse our vision to see God. A sound awakens a sleeping man from the travels of his dreams, and he finds his real self lying in bed. Similarly, all human society is sleeping on the lap of material nature, and the Vedas are calling us through the agency of the authorized spiritual master to awaken from our material dream and enter our real life of Krsna consciousness by hearing authorized philosophy describing the nature of God.

God, Krsna, is a fact. A blind man may not believe in the existence of the sun, but there is a sun nevertheless. Similarly, there is God, and He is the origin of everything. Everything we experience has an original cause. Whether we examine a harmonium, a tape recorder, a house, a city, or whatever, we will find a cause behind everything. If one is asked where he has originally come from, he will answer that he has come from his mother and father. If we ask where his father and mother came from, the answer will be that they came from their fathers and mothers. We can conjecture that if we go on searching in this way, we will come to the ultimate cause of everything, the Supreme Father—God or Krsna. However, to save us the botheration of so much research work, Krsna has kindly given us all information and directions regarding His transcendental existence. From the scriptures we understand that the one duty in human life is to become fully conversant with and obedient to the words and instructions of God, just as a citizen of a country is expected to be fully obedient to that country's law. Ignorance of the law is not excused. Therefore, it is necessary for human society to gain a practical understanding of religion or God consciousness. Now we are unconscious that there is Krsna, but by hearing and chanting from authorized scripture, one becomes aware or conscious of God.

Although Krsna is the cause of everything, He Himself is not caused by anything. In the material world everything has its cause, but when we examine further, we find that each cause has in turn another cause, and this cause and effect goes on and on. That is the difference between God and God's creation. God is the cause of all causes, yet He Himself has no cause beyond Himself. Therefore, it is a qualification of God that He is supremely independent. If we wish to understand God, we must find that person from whom everything has come, by whom everything is maintained, and into whom everything is merged to rest, who is the controller of everything but is not controlled by anyone. That is Krsna. Although it has now become fashionable to claim oneself to be God or to say that everyone is God, these foolish statements only show that one has no knowledge of who God is. Whereas God is the supreme controller, we are controlled at every moment. We are controlled by our senses, which oblige us to eat, sleep, defend ourselves and engage in sex in material life, and we are further controlled by material nature's law of birth, old age, disease and death. No one can deny or challenge this fact. Who can say, "I am never controlled but always free?" No one can say that, for everyone is controlled, whether by his wife, his boss, community, country, or some other agent. And, most certainly, everyone is controlled by nature's law. For example, no one wants to become old or diseased, but old age and disease come upon us. Similarly, although no one wants to die, everyone must. Yet still people foolishly declare, "I am God." What is the use of being God if one is subjected to so many unwanted problems? To claim to be God is simply nonsensical. It is better to become the servant of God than foolishly claim to be God Himself.

In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, "The material energy is very difficult to overcome, but one who surrenders unto Me can very easily cross beyond it." (Bg. 7.14) Krsna is not a creation of the mundane minds of mundane wranglers who are entangled in the mundane world. The mundane world is a creation of Krsna as a gift to the rebellious souls who want to enjoy mundane things because of their willful disobedience toward the Absolute Truth. The living entities are constitutionally spirit souls, part and parcel of the supreme spirit whole, Krsna, yet they are entrapped in this mundane world when they are enchanted by the desire for sense gratification. This enchantment is called maya.

Problems of Imitation God

There are three primary energies of the Lord: (1) the spiritual energy, which manifests the transcendental world known as Vaikuntha, (2) the marginal energy, which is the tiny individual spirit spark known as jivatma and (3) the material energy, which covers the living entity and causes him to forget his supreme master, Krsna, thus affording the illusioned soul the false sense of being the proprietor and enjoyer of everything he sees. When such illusioned living entities are confronted with the bona fide description and philosophy of God which is imported directly from the spiritual world for their enlightenment, they attempt to cover God by the same mayaor ignorance which by the grace of God is covering them. These illusioned souls, who say that they are God, that everyone is God, or that God is impersonal and has to accept a form of matter when He comes to this material world, are called Mayavadis.

God, however, is neither formless nor impersonal. On the contrary, He is the supreme amongst all persons. Krsna says inBhagavad-gita (15.19that one who knows this fact about Him is to be understood as the knower of everything. This conclusion ofBhagavad-gita is understood as the most confidential knowledge of the Vedic wisdom. Although everything is God's energy, one cannot say that everything is God and that we are therefore also God and there is no need to worship God. This Mayavadi philosophy is imperfect, for the conditioned soul is covered by maya or illusion. If God were also covered by maya, maya would be God. This is contradictory.

In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, "Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." (Bg. 2.12) From this statement we can understand that God and the living entity are both individual; in the past they existed, they exist now, and both the living entity and God will exist as individuals in the future. In Bhagavad-gita there is no mention of one's becoming impersonal or becoming God. In the Upanisads it is said that God is the supreme eternal amongst all eternals and that He supplies and fulfills the desires of all others. How then can we conclude that God is impersonal or formless or that everyone is God? If He has created this world with all its varieties of form, how can He be formless? I have form because my father has form, but no one is ever born of a formless father. How then can we imagine that Krsna, the supreme father of all living beings, is formless or impersonal?

God is never impersonal. Indeed, in the Brahma-samhita, Lord Brahma, the most intelligent being in this material universe, describes that it is under Krsna's jurisdiction that he engages in material creation. As the original created being in this universe, Lord Brahma is the original recipient of the Vedic knowledge, and thus he is the first spiritual master in the disciplic succession through which the science and philosophy of Krsna consciousness is disseminated in the material world. Brahma composed the prayers of Brahma-samhitaas an offering after his mature realization regarding the transcendental nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Therefore, following in the footsteps of Lord Brahma, we accept Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth and cause of all causes. This is not a question of speculation, sentiment or blind following. We accept the scientific understanding presented by Vedic authorities like Bhagavad-gita (which was directly spoken by Krsna 5,000 years ago), Srimad-Bhagavatam (spoken about Krsna by the great sage and literary incarnation, Srila Vyasadeva), and Lord Brahma, who expresses his conclusions in the form of Brahma-samhita.

For one has a little attraction and faith and agrees to hear from an [authorized agent of the Lord, or from the Vedic scripture, he will be convinced about the existence of God in reality. The Vedas present the science of God with all logic, reason and arguments in order to clear up our illusion. Therefore we should make a scientific experiment which will not cost us anything and which promises us the greatest gain. That experiment is simply to give aural reception to the message of Krsna consciousness as presented by the bona fide representative of Krsna. Because this message constitutes an absolute sound vibration, it will have its absolute effect, just as medicine has its effect when prescribed by a bona fide physician, regardless of the faith of the patient.

Lord Brahma says, "I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord." The word "primeval" in this context indicates that Krsna is the original cause of everything. As already explained, there is a cause for everything, and the cause of all causes is Krsna, who is also the ultimate effect. Krsna is cause and effect simultaneously. Because everything originally emanates from Him, nothing is different from Him, and thus it is understood that God is simultaneously, inconceivably one with and different from everything. The sun is the cause of the sunshine, and clouds also exist due to the existence of the sun, but one cannot say that a cloud is the sun, although in another sense there is no distinction between the sun, the sunshine, the vegetation, fruits and flowers produced by the energy of the sun, and the clouds that sometimes cover the sun from our view. Similarly, Krsna is understood as inconceivably, simultaneously identical with and different from everything. This philosophy of inconceivable and simultaneous oneness and difference, which was taught by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is called the acintya-bhedabheda-tattvaand is accepted by all authorities of Vedic evidence as the complete view of the Absolute Truth. It may be argued that if God is one with everything, He must be all-pervading and therefore impersonal. This argument is accepted as only partially correct, for it is said that He is also different from everything simultaneously one and different. Therefore impersonal understanding of the Absolute Truth is partial understanding only.

We can try to understand simultaneous oneness and difference in this way: When we speak of a tree, we automatically understand that the leaves, branches, fruits, etc., are included. But if we speak of a leaf, WE refer to only part of the tree. One cannot say that the leaf is the tree, for ii is only part, and the tree is the whole. Krsna, in a like manner, is the supreme whole, and all others are His parts. Yet He is a person, as described by Brahma Krsna's form is full of bliss, truth and substantiality. Substantiality refers to eternal existence. We have no experience of any form that is substantial because everything in this material world is temporary. As living spirit souls, we are also eternal and share the same qualities of existence with Krsna. But, in contact with material energy, we become bewildered. Changing from one body to another, we accept various designations of bodily identification as factual, although they are unreal. The material energy is also eternal, but it is endlessly changeable. The hard struggle of the living entity to adjust to his ever changing condition of life in the material nature is called maya or illusion.

Everyone is subjected to four unavoidable miseries in the struggle for existence-namely, birth, old age, disease and death. Even before taking birth, one has to struggle and suffer in the womb of the mother for nine months, and then one comes out with great pain. After living packed within the womb of the mother, where he is surrounded by blood, stool and urine, the child is born crying. Thus his life begins in an abominable condition, and similarly it ends in due course when the body becomes old and diseased and is no longer workable. I n this way the soul who is under the spell of bodily identification suffers the changes of birth, old age, disease and death, only to accept another body and repeat the same process in his attempt to enjoy a life of illusory sense gratification.

This changing of bodies is also described in Bhagavad-gita "As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones." (Bg. 2.22) Thus we are always changing form. However, the form of Krsna is nothing like the material form of our experience. That is stated by Krsna as follows: "Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original form." (Bg. 4.6) Therefore we should not think Krsna to be an ordinary person like ourselves. Krsna never comes under the control of material nature. Since Krsna created material nature for the punishment of the conditioned souls, how could it be possible for Krsna to be contaminated by material coverings? The king is the creator of the prison house, and he can come and go freely and not be arrested. But if the king visits the prison and the prisoners think, "The king has become a prisoner like us," that is a mistake. Similarly, when Krsna appears in the material world, His appearance is nothing like ours. Just as a king comes of his own accord to give amnesty, so Krsna appears by His internal energy for the pleasure of His devotees. The living entities who are wandering through this material world are forced by the reactions of their work to take birth in order to suffer and enjoy the reactions of their past activities, and for this purpose they are awarded different types of material bodies under the stringent laws of nature. But Krsna is never subject to these stringent laws, for it is Krsna who is the ultimate controller of material nature. Therefore He says, "There is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread." (Bg. 7.7)

Krsna is full of truth or knowledge. He says to Arjuna, "Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember al I of them, but you cannot." (Bg. 4.5) We cannot even remember all that has happened in this one life. Because we are changing our bodies, we forget. A grown man cannot remember what he said or how he acted on the lap of his mother because the body is always changing. We say that we are growing, but actually we are changing bodies. This is explained in Bhagavad-gita: "As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth, to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death." (Bg. 2.13) We are bewildered because we accept different types of bodies. For example, when a man is sleeping, his real body is lying in bed, but in dream he accepts another body a mental body-and he completely forgets his real body. But although he is sleeping, he dreams that he is awake and is acting with the body that his dream has concocted. Material existence is like that. Constitutionally we are pure spirit souls and have nothing to do with material bodies, but under the spell of maya we accept a body for sense gratification, and we act in so many ways in forgetfulness of our real identity. Like a man lying in bed dreaming, we are lying in the lap of material nature and forgetting ourselves.

The difference between God and he minute living entity is that God does not change His body, and therefore He never forgets, whereas our bodies are changing at every moment, and therefore we are full of ignorance. Since Krsna does not change, He is full of knowledge. He therefore says in Bhagavad-gita: "I know everything that has happened in the past, everything that is happening now, and all things that are yet to be. I also know all living entities, but Me no one knows." (Bg. 7.26) Krsna is full of pleasure, for He issac-cid-ananda-vigraha, the form of eternity, full knowledge and bliss. The form of our material body, however, is temporary, ignorant and full of misery. Anyone who has accepted a material body must be full of misery, because the body is a breeding ground for misery. If we find that we are healthy, that is unusual, for it is the nature of the body to always give us troubles in the form of toothaches, stomachaches and so many other miseries. No one can deny this, but still we think and act as if a doctor could give us an injection and we could enjoy good health perpetually. Krsna does not need any injection, nor is He ever attacked by disease, for He is God, and He is always enjoying. God does not have to suffer, but we suffer because we have forgotten God.

Although a king is free to enjoy, the disobedient citizens in his state have to suffer under the agency of the king's prison department. However, it is not that the king wants the citizens to suffer in prison; rather, he is always anxious for the welfare and happiness of all his subjects. Similarly, Krsna does not want His parts and parcels to suffer the pangs of material misery. Therefore He appears from time to time in this material world just to remind us of our actual position as His eternal parts. In quality we are one with the Lord, for we are also eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. Death exists only for the body. For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. That which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul. These are instructions given by the Lord in Bhagavad-gita. We have only to accept Krsna and the instructions of Krsna without unnecessary interpretation, and immediately we can experience our eternal life of knowledge and bliss.

There is no necessity of a candle to help us see the sun, for the sun is the source of all illumination. Similarly, there is no need to interpret the words of God, to change their meaning, or to speculate in our own way on what God is. In Bhagavad-gita God Himself reveals Himself in His own words. Is there someone more qualified than God who can create a new religion by speculation or interpretation? Religion cannot be created by speculation, for religion is the law of God. It cannot be changed, nor is there need for interpretation, for it is clear as it is. God is the supreme proprietor, the supreme enjoyer and the supreme friend of everyone. We are not the proprietors of anything, and therefore we have no right to enjoy anything independently of God, who is the best friend of everyone because He is supplying everyone his necessities of life.

It is the duty of a human being to understand God, for without this understanding one's life is considered to be a failure. The process is very simple. It requires only that we give submissive aural reception to the message of Krsna, and gradually, by our hearing, the cloud which covers our real knowledge will be removed. Bhagavad-gita says, "When one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime." (Bg. 5.16) When the sun of Krsna consciousness rises in the heart of the conditioned soul, he will be able to understand God, his own position, and the material nature, by direct spiritual perception. This is the way of lasting happiness.