Krishna–The Ever-Loving God, by Stephen Knapp

        When it comes to humanity’s conception of God, it seems that each religion and culture describes the character of God differently. In some we find God described as an angry and jealous God. Or we find the God of the Old Testament of the Bible with lots of rules but little mercy. Or in other religions we read about a God who is heartless to any nonbelievers, even if they merely lack understanding. In other cultures, God recommends killing all that do not wish to surrender to the local faith. Others may describe that there is a just and loving God watching over you. So, what are we to believe?
 
        Naturally, God will reveal Himself differently to those who are more devoted. He will reciprocate to the degree in which we love Him. But we are all parts and parcels of Him, so He is our Supreme Father who should have unconditional love for His children, even if we do go astray or get confused. So, it makes no sense how a God who is supposed to be all loving and merciful can send His children to an eternal hell or some damnation without the means of retribution or correcting themselves. Of course, we often find mankind putting his own fears and tendencies into the character of God, without true understanding. However, we find a very different and more loving God in the Vedic tradition in the form of Lord Krishna. So, let us find out the nature of this more loving form of the Supreme Being.
 
        Lord Krishna describes His ever-loving nature towards one and all, but especially for those who engage in loving Him. This is not favoritism but a natural reciprocation with those who are filled with loving feelings for Him. Lord Krishna explains Himself this way:
 
        “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. Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service, he is considered saintly because he is properly situated. He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti [Arjuna], declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes. Those who take shelter in Me, even though they be of lower birth, or women, or simple merchants, or ordinary workers, all can approach the supreme destination.” 1
 
        This is further explained by Narada Muni in his talks with Maharaja Yudhisthira. He says that Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Personality, is the supreme controller and Supersoul within all living beings. Because He has no material body, he has no false conception of who He is, or of “I” and “mine.” So, it is not accurate to think that He feels pain when blasphemed or happy if offered prayers. This is impossible for Him. He has no enemy and no friend in that respect. When He chastises the demons or the envious it is for their own good. When He accepts the prayers of the devotees, it is also for their own good. He is affected neither by prayers or blasphemy. Therefore, by enmity or by devotional service, by fear or affection, or even lusty desires, if the materially conditioned soul can concentrate his mind on the Lord by any method, the result is the same for one’s benefit. The Lord, because of His blissful position, is never affected by enmity or friendship. 2
 
        So, if the conditioned souls somehow or other think of Krishna, who is sac-chit-ananda-vigraha [the eternal form of knowledge and bliss], they will become free from their sins. Whether thinking of Him as their worshipable Lord or enemy, because of constantly thinking of Him they will regain their spiritual bodies. 3
 
        In this way, it does not matter how we think or focus our attention on Krishna, He is nonetheless all powerful and purifying. His form alone and any thoughts of Him will uplift our spiritual awareness and purity.
 
        When Akrura was praying to Lord Krishna, he also asked what learned person would approach anyone but Him for shelter, since He was the affectionate, grateful and truthful well-wisher of His devotees. To those who worship Krishna in sincere friendship, He rewards them with everything they desire, even His own self (which is the rarest of attainments). 4
 
        It is explained by Sri Havir to King Nimi that the Supreme Personality is so kind to the conditioned souls that if they call upon Him by chanting His holy names, even unintentionally or unwillingly, the Lord is willing to destroy innumerable sinful reactions in their hearts. Therefore, when a devotee who has directly taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord chants the holy name of Krishna with genuine love, the Supreme Lord will never give up the heart of such a devotee. One who has captured the Supreme Lord within his heart is most exalted, and called a bhagavata-pradhana devotee. 5
 
        Sudama, the garland maker, also prayed to Lords Krishna and Balarama when They went to see him at his house because They are the well-wishing friends and Supreme Soul of the whole universe. They regard everyone with an unbiased vision. Although They reciprocate Their devotees’ love and worship, They always remain equally disposed toward all living beings. 6
 
        As Lord Krishna says in this regard, “To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.” 7
 
        Lord Krishna loves His devotees so much that He doesn’t descend into this world without them. They all appear in the world to make preparations whenever He is ready to descend. And they all leave this world whenever the Lord again wraps up His pastimes. He gives Himself to them in such a way that no one feels neglected, and they actually feel that they are getting extra and exclusive attention from the Lord.
 
        In His instructions to Durvasa Muni, the Lord explains how much He loves His devotees. He says that He is completely under the control of His devotees. He is not independent of their love. Because His devotees have no material desires, He sits within the core of their hearts. But not only His devotees, but those who are devotees of His devotees are very dear to Him. Without the saintly persons, for whom He is the only destination, He has no desire to enjoy His own transcendental bliss or supreme opulences. Since these devotees give up so much for Him, such as homes, families, even riches and their own lives if need be, how can He give up such devotees at any time? So, just as a chaste wife brings their gentle husbands under their control by service, such pure devotees also bring Him under control.
 
        The Lord explains that His devotees are simply satisfied by engaging in service to Him. They are not even interested in liberation, though this is automatically achieved by their service. And they are certainly not interested in the perishable happiness of reaching the heavenly planets that exist within this universe. The pure devotees are always in the core of His heart, and He is always in the heart of His pure devotees. His devotees do not know anything else but Him, and He does not know anything else but them. 8
 
        When instructing the brahmana ladies who came to render service to Him, Lord Krishna said that those expert personalities who can see their own true interest in life, render unmotivated and uninterrupted devotional service to Him, because He is the most dear to the soul. 9
 
        In discerning Krishna’s love for us in this life, it is said that if Krishna likes us, He will give us everything. But if Krishna loves us, He will take everything away from us. This does not necessarily mean that He leaves us with nothing. But what gets in the way of our devotional life and spiritual advancement may be taken away. As Krishna Himself explained to Indra, the proud King of Heaven, that a man who is blind with the intoxication of power and opulence cannot easily see Him with the rod of punishment in His hand. If He desires someone’s real welfare, He will drag such a person down from his materially opulent position. 10
 
        When a person is deprived of unnecessary material benefits, he will at first become morose, but then he will have little else to distract him from understanding his real position in life and the spiritual purpose behind it. This is extremely fortunate, otherwise a person with power and money is often preoccupied with the materialistic aspects of life all the way until the moment of death. Then he still loses everything. So, it is better to be deprived of such preoccupation before then so that a person can make inquiries into the Self and thus have a chance to prepare oneself for leaving the body. That way one can take care of death before death takes care of him. The joyful process of spiritual advancement is the real benefit that Krishna wishes for everyone, and not the blindness that comes from the preoccupation of a materialistic lifestyle. As Lord Krishna Himself says, “the wealthy hardly ever worship Me.” 11  In other words, having many dollars or many rupees usually means many lives. An intelligent person will try to prevent that.
 
        Krishna continues to explain this aspect of His display of love in His instructions to the gopis, the cowherd girls of Vrindavana. He explains that the reason He does not always immediately reciprocate the affection or worship of living beings is that He wants to intensify their loving devotion. Then they become like a poor man who had gained some wealth but then loses it, and who then becomes so anxious about it that he can think of nothing else. This does not mean that Lord Krishna stops loving us, and we should certainly not harbor any bad feelings toward Him. 12
 
        We need to understand that in the broader picture of things, He never stops loving and caring for us, but He understands what is best for us and what we need to learn through the experiences that are sent our way. Our progress toward higher understanding is all that we take with us into the next life, while everything else must be given up or forcibly taken away. For most people it is hard to understand this, which is why we sometimes must learn it by force of nature, or the deliberate arrangement of Krishna.
 
        Lord Krishna further explains this point wherein He says that if He especially favors someone, He gradually deprives that person of his wealth, at least if it is getting in the way. Then someone who was wealthy but becomes poverty-stricken will be abandoned by his relatives and friends. So, he suffers one distress after another. When he becomes frustrated in his endeavors to make money and instead befriends the Lord’s devotees, then the Lord bestows His special mercy on him. Such a person then can become sober and fully realize the Absolute as the highest truth. Realizing the Supreme Truth as the basis of his own existence, he is freed from the cycle of birth and death. However, Krishna admits that because He is difficult to worship, people often avoid worshiping Him and instead worship the other demigods who are more easily satisfied. Then when such people receive rich opulences from these deities, they become arrogant and intoxicated with pride, and then even neglect their own duties. They may even offend those who gave them their blessings. 13
 
        One point to remember is that Lord Krishna’s teachings are for anyone. His love and affection showers down like the sunshine from the sun planet. Yet, if someone persists in living in a cave, the sunshine cannot reach that person. Similarly, if someone insists on living in ignorance of the Lord, or without devotion to Him, how can such a person feel the Lord’s love?
 
        The Lord showed everyone the path of spiritual progress, which is the way to follow dharma, the balanced path to righteousness and personal well-being and development. Lord Krishna never exhibited special attachment toward one person over another. When Duryodhana wanted Krishna’s army to fight for him, Krishna gave it to him. And when Arjuna wanted only Krishna on his side, Krishna accepted that but told Arjuna He would not take up arms during the battle. He would only act as Arjuna’s charioteer. But that was enough for Arjuna.
 
        The same thing goes for the reason why Lord Krishna killed Kamsa, the demon king, even though Kamsa was Krishna’s own uncle. Kamsa used everyone for his own agenda and terrorized the area of Vrindavana. He could not stand the thought of dharma. He made so many arrangements in his attempts to kill Krishna until finally Krishna killed him. But ultimately only the body was destroyed while Kamsa’s soul not only lived on but was purified by Krishna’s touch and attained immortality. So, this is also Krishna’s ultimate level of mercy and care. If Krishna gave His mercy even to the demoniac like Kamsa, then we can understand how much more He will give His love and care to His devotees. So, all we really have to do is to become and act as one of Lord Krishna’s devotees, and soon we will experience Krishna’s loving nature.
 
CHAPTER NOTES
1. Bhagavad-gita 9.29-32
2. Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.25-26
3. Ibid., 7.1.28-29
4. Ibid., 10.48.26
5. Ibid., 11.2.55
6. Ibid., 10.41.47
7. Bhagavad-gita 10.10-11
8. Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.4.63-68
9. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.23.26
10. Ibid., 10.27.16
11. Ibid., 10.60.14
12. Ibid., 10.32.20-21
13. Ibid., 10.88.8-11

 

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How to Understand God, by Stephen Knapp

Sometimes people say that they want to see God, or that God is not perceivable. And this is confirmed in the Vedic scripture, but with additional points of instruction on how we can perceive the Supreme Being. The Svetasvatara Upanishad (4.20) explains “His form of beauty is imperceptible to mundane senses. No one can see Him with material eyes. Only those who realize, through deep pure-hearted meditation, this Supreme Personality, who resides in everyone’s heart, can attain liberation.”

 

Krishna lila or His pastimes are eternally going on in the spiritual world, whereas they appear to be happening only at certain points in time within the material energy. However, one who has purified or spiritualized his or her consciousness can still witness these activities even while in the material body. This can especially happen at the holy places (dhamas) where the spiritual and material energies overlap, and where the spiritual world appears with this material domain. Such places include Vrindavana, Mathura, Jagannatha Puri, Dwaraka, etc. And when the Lord is pleased with your service, He can reveal Himself to you. In this way, many greatly elevated and pure devotees of Krishna have been able to have personal darshan of the Lord and witness His pastimes even while in the material body. Then they may leave instructions for the rest of us to follow so that we can do the same. This is verification that the process of devotion, bhakti-yoga, works.

 
The Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.29) continues with this point. “My Lord, if one is favored by even a slight trace of the mercy of Your lotus feet, one can understand the greatness of Your Personality. But those who speculate to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead are unable to know You, even though they continue to study the Vedas for many years.”

 

The Katha Upanishad (1.2.23) also relates “The Supreme Soul can neither be attained by studying the Veda, nor by sharp intelligence, nor by hearing many discourses on the scriptures. However, the Lord reveals His original transcendental form to the soul who embraces Him within the heart as the only Lord and Master. That soul alone can attain Him–the Supreme Soul, the Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the heart.”

 

Since Krishna is the Supreme Being and source of all enjoyment, it is in our best interest to engage in His service, for that will also connect us to Him and give us that great pleasure and bliss that we are always trying to find. That is the point of devotional service, called bhakti-yoga, which is the process of connecting (yog) with the Supreme through devotion (bhakti). In this way, our inherent loving propensity is directed toward the supreme lover and natural object of love, God. There is no better way of finding God than this. In other words, through devotion we do not try to see God, but we act in such a way that God reveals Himself to us. Then everything is accomplished. There can be no greater achievement in the human form of life than that. Everything else is temporary; it comes and goes. Only our spiritual achievements last eternally because they are connected with the immortal soul. Therefore, reawakening our relationship with the Supreme is the highest goal in human existence.

 
Since it is established in the Vedic texts that the Absolute ultimately is a person, then meditating on the personal form of God rather than the impersonal feature is the highest form of meditation. This is verified in Bhagavad-gita (12.2): “The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: ‘He whose mind is fixed on My personal form, always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith, is considered by Me to be the most perfect.’”

Herein, we can understand that realizing the Absolute Truth in the form of the Supreme Person is much easier and much more attractive than struggling to realize, meditate on, or merge into the great white light of the impersonal brahmajyoti, or some other non-personal aspect of God. By understanding the Supreme Personality, all other facets of the Absolute, such as the Brahman effulgence and Paramatma or Supersoul, are also understood. In fact, those who are absorbed in Brahman realization can easily become attracted to understanding the Supreme Personality as did such sages as Sukadeva Gosvami and the Kumaras, as noted in Srimad-Bhagavatam:

“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, the son of Vyasadeva, Sukadeva Gosvami. It is he who defeats all inauspicious things within this universe. Although in the beginning he was absorbed in the happiness of Brahman realization and was living in a secluded place, giving up all other types of consciousness, he became attracted by the most melodious pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna. He therefore mercifully spoke the supreme Purana, known as Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is the bright light of the Absolute Truth and which describes the activities of Lord Krishna.” (Bhag.12.12.68)

Therefore, since Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality, then naturally there are certain ways in which to understand Him. This is a science, which we can more deeply explain later. But for now we can offer a summary of the instructions that point the way. The main point of consideration is that if we are trying to understand Lord Krishna, then we need to know what pleases Him, which is something that we can find from His direct instructions.

The key is explained directly by Lord Sri Krishna Himself when he says: “Knowledge about Me as described in the scriptures is very confidential, and it has to be realized in conjunction with devotional service. The necessary paraphernalia for that process is being explained by Me. You may take it up carefully. All of Me, namely My actual eternal form and My transcendental existence, color, qualities and activities–let all be awakened within you by factual realization, out of My causeless mercy.” (Bhag.2.9.31-32)

Therefore, it is Lord Krishna’s causeless mercy upon us that allows us to reach the stage of being truly awakened. Any other process is but mechanical and does not necessarily invoke the mercy of the Supreme Lord. So, to start this process, one needs to hear from one who knows and is acquainted with the qualities of Lord Krishna and can explain them to others. This is established in this famous verse:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthaha
prakashante mahatmanaha

“Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad 6.23)

Lord Krishna also says, however, that “I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible.” (Bg.9.25)

Lord Brahma concurs with this point and verifies the need for the performance of devotional service, in which he says to Lord Krishna, “My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.” (Bhag. 10.14.4)

As Lord Krishna establishes the foundation for attaining the means to understand Him, He continues to emphasize the importance of this process: “Only by practicing unalloyed devotional service with full faith in Me can one obtain Me, the Supreme Person. I am naturally dear to My devotees, who take Me as the only goal of their loving service. By engaging in such pure devotional service, even the dog-eaters can purify themselves from the contamination of their low birth.” (Bhag.11.14.21)

In his summary of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Suta Gosvami also explains the above point: “Remembrance of Lord Krishna’s lotus feet destroys everything inauspicious and awards the greatest good fortune. It purifies the heart and bestows devotion for the Supreme Soul, along with knowledge enriched with realization and renunciation.” (Bhag.12.12.55)

Lord Krishna continues His instructions to Arjuna: “My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding.” (Bg.11.54)

“The person who is searching after the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, must certainly search for it up to this, in all circumstances, in all space and time, and both directly and indirectly. O Brahma, just follow this conclusion by fixed concentration of mind, and no pride will disturb you, neither in the partial nor in the final devastation.” (Bhag.2.9.36-37)

Herein it is as if Lord Krishna is speaking directly to us, that if we follow through with this process, we will be successful even at the time of death, which is certainly the final test of life in whatever we may have done.

“For one who worships Me, giving up all his activities unto Me and being devoted to Me without deviation, engaged in devotional service and always meditating upon Me, who has fixed his mind upon Me, O son of Pritha, for him I am the swift deliverer from the ocean of birth and death.” (Bg.12.6-7)

“All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me. In this way you will be freed from all reactions to good and evil deeds, and by this principle of renunciation you will be liberated and come to Me.” (Bg.9.27-28)

“By regularly hearing, chanting and meditating on the beautiful topics of Lord Mukunda with ever-increasing sincerity, a mortal being will attain the divine kingdom of the Lord, where the inviolable power of death holds no sway. For this purpose, many persons, including great kings, abandoned their mundane homes and took to the forest [for performing spiritual pursuits].” (Bhag.10.90.50)

Here it becomes clear that, as it is further described, for those who hear and chant the holy names and topics of Krishna, millions of grievous sinful reactions become immediately burned to ashes. Of course, the most important time for remembering the Lord and chanting His name is at the time of death. That is why it is said that those who chant “Krishna, Krishna” at the time the body expires become eligible for liberation.

 
The GopalaTapani Upanishad (1.6) states, “One who meditates on this Supreme Person, glorifies Him, and worships Him, becomes liberated. He becomes liberated.”

In conclusion, Lord Krishna simply explains that, “Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do. Because you are My very dear friend, I am speaking to you the most confidential part of knowledge. Hear this from Me, for it is for your benefit. Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Bg.18.63-66)

This, therefore, is the means by which we can reach the stage of understanding the Supreme Being.

[More information can be found at: http://www.stephen-knapp.com]

The Absolute Truth: What or Who is It, by Stephen Knapp

Scientists agree that all time, all history, and all creation start from a single point. And that point would have to be the ultimate or Absolute Truth. So what exactly is the Absolute Truth? How do we go back through time and space to find the original source of everything? Even if we research the Bible, the Koran, the Jewish writings, or even the Sikh, Zoroastrian, or Buddhist texts, we will find limited information on what is the Absolute Truth. And forget about depending on modern science, they are still searching and have many varying theories to offer. 

Fortunately, the Vedic texts of India have always been a guiding light to provide knowledge of what is the Absolute Truth. For example, the second verse of the Vedanta Sutras (1.1.2) clearly explains, “The Absolute Truth is that omniscient, omnipotent, all-merciful Being from whom proceeds all things (origins, sustenance, and dissolution).”

This is similar to the Aitareya Upanishad (1.1.2) which states, “He (the Supreme Person) created this entire material world.”

Herein we start to understand that the Absolute Truth is a person, the Supreme Person, who is all-powerful, fully merciful, and the origin and source of everything. Thus, the single point from which all time, history, and creation originate is this Supreme Person, God. Actually, this is only logical because material nature is inert. It cannot be the cause of its own creation. Thus, a living brain is behind the great plan for this manifestation. Seeing how everything is wonderfully arranged in this material world for its continued existence, we should understand that a living brain, a person, is the cause of this development, just as a building cannot develop and build itself.

The Aitareya Upanishad (3.11) goes on to explain, “He saw, and His power sent forth the creation.” The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (4.4.22) continues, “He is the Lord and controller of everyone.”

The Vishnu Purana (1.3.2) also explains that all creative energies that act in the process of creation, maintenance, and annihilation are the natural characteristics of the Supreme Truth, just as heat and light are the natural energies of fire. Therefore, we can understand that everything in the cosmic creation emanates from this Absolute Truth, and even after its annihilation the material energies again enter the same Absolute Truth.1

The definition of this Absolute Truth is presented in the Vishnu Purana,2 that He is the all-pervasive, all-increasing, changeless soul of all. Furthermore, He is one without a second, without whom nothing can exist.3

The Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.1-5) goes on to explain that God is the ultimate cause of all causes. It is He, the Supreme Person, who pervades the whole world with His consciousness and power. He is the controller of time, through which the creation itself unfolds. It is He who sets the creation in motion and then rests peacefully, after uniting the individual jiva souls with the principles of matter. He is the primal cause of the universal creation and propels the living beings toward their material desires. He is the one reality without a second, beyond matter and time. He is beyond the perception of our senses but can be perceived through the eyes of devotion. He is immortal and the monitor of every living being as the Supersoul in the core of everyone’s heart. Knowing Him in this way can lead one to final liberation from the material energy.

The Svetasvatara Upanishad (6.8) gives further information about the nature of God and describes the Supreme as having nothing equal to or greater than Him. Through His various potencies He manifests His parts and parcels–the individual living beings–who are all situated differently within His energy. Later on in verse thirteen of the same chapter we find it said, “The Supreme Lord is eternal and the living beings are eternal. The Supreme Lord is cognizant and the living beings are cognizant. The difference is that the Supreme Lord is supplying all the necessities of life for the many other living entities.”

The point that God is one only is repeated in the Svetasvatara Upanishad (3.2), “Truly God is One; there can be no second. He alone governs these worlds with His powers. He stands facing beings. He, the herdsman [meaning Sri Krishna], after bringing forth all worlds, reabsorbs them at the end of time.”

Herein we get an additional hint of who is this Supreme Person. We find He is called the “herdsman,” which is a clear reference to His pastime of being a cowherd boy. This is none other than Lord Sri Krishna. And this manifestation of His material energy is considered to be only one of His innumerable pastimes.

The Kurma Purana (1.5.1-3) relates that there are innumerable names for the Supreme Person. He is named according to His qualities and activities. “Because He is not born of any prior person, he is called Svayambhu (self-born). Since He is the goal of men, he is called Narayana. Because He is the remover of samsara (the cycle of repeated birth and death), He is Hara. He is called Vishnu because of His all pervasiveness. He is called Bhagavan because of His perfect knowledge of everything. He is called OM because of His protectiveness of all. He is called Sarvajna (omniscient) because of His knowledge of everything. He is called Sarva because he is identical with everyone [spiritually of the same quality but infinite in quantity].” And, as we find elsewhere, the name of Krishna means the one who is attractive to everyone, who can provide the greatest pleasure.

In the Vedic classic Bhagavad-gita (7.6-7)  Lord Krishna is quite clear about being the Absolute Truth, wherein He says, “Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution. No truth is superior to Me. Everything rests on Me as pearls are strung on a thread.” Also (9.5), Krishna explains that He is the maintainer of all living beings and the very source of creation.

In the four most important verses in the Bhagavad-gita (10.8-11), Sri Krishna explains, “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” 

Even the Rig-veda (1.22.20 & 21), one of the oldest of all Vedic texts, establishes that there is no higher truth than Lord Vishnu, Krishna. “The supreme abode of Lord Vishnu, or the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, is spread all around like the sunlight in the sky. Great demigods and saintly persons always see that supreme abode, recognizing Him as the highest truth. Spiritually awake souls learned in transcendental understanding glorify the Lord and make that abode more brilliant.”

Srila Jiva Gosvami also presents a common verse that is found in three Puranas, namely the Padma Purana, Linga Purana, and the Skanda Purana, which states, alodya sarva-shastrani / vicharya cha punah punaha / idam ekam sunishpannam / dhyeyo narayanah sada: “By scrutinizingly reviewing all the revealed scriptures and judging them again and again, it is now concluded that Lord Narayana is the Supreme Absolute Truth, and thus He alone should be worshiped.”

The Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavat Purana) (10.85.4) also specifically relates how Lord Krishna is, “the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who manifests as the Lord of nature and the creator of nature [as Maha-Vishnu]. Everything that comes into existence, however and whenever it does so, is created within You, by You, from You, for You, and in relation with You.”

The Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.24.19) goes on to describe how the material nature, time, and Maha-Vishnu, all come from Krishna, who is the Absolute Truth. Furthermore, it is explained that the entire cosmic creation is caused by Lord Krishna, and the material manifestation is an effect of His energy.4 

Sanatana Gosvami has also concluded, as related in the Chaitanya-caritamrita,5 “Both the material and spiritual world are transformations of Krishna’s internal [spiritual] and external [material] potencies. Therefore Krishna is the original source of both material and spiritual manifestations.” 

The three main categories of these energies of the Lord are explained in the Vishnu Purana (6.7.61-63). These are the spiritual potency, by which the spiritual world is manifested; the individual living beings, which belong to the marginal potency since they can enter the spiritual strata or be subject to bewilderment in the material energy; and the third energy is the material potency, which is filled with ignorance and exhibited when the living beings become godless or instilled with the desires for fruitive activities. It is this darkness which covers the living being with forgetfulness of his true spiritual position. Thus, the living beings exist in numerous forms and species while in the material creation. Through these energies, all aspects of the spiritual and material worlds are manifested. In this way, we can understand that not only does everything come from the Supreme Being, but nothing can exist without Him.

The  Vishnu Purana (1.12.69) goes on to explain that the nature of the Supreme Being Himself is sat-chit-ananda-vigraha. This means the personal form of God is eternal and full of pleasure and knowledge. Thus, he is beyond all material influences. However, the living entities, being part of the Supreme in quality, can also experience this eternal pleasure and knowledge to a lesser degree once they regain their eternal spiritual position. 6

Thus, whatever we see in this material world is but an expansion of the different energies of the Supreme Person.7  It is He who is the Supreme Being and Creator of all. This is why the Brahma-samhita (5.1) explains that, “Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, for He is the prime cause of all causes.”

This is also why Krishnadas Kaviraja further explains in his Chaitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila, 1.3), “What the Upanishads describe as the impersonal Brahman is but the effulgence of His body, and the Lord known as the Supersoul is but His localized plenary portion. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna Himself, full with six opulences. He is the Absolute Truth, and no other truth is greater than or equal to Him.”

The Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.28) specifically relates Akrsnas tu bhagavan svayam,@ which means that out of all the various avataras of God, “Lord Sri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead in person.” All other incarnations or avataras are but plenary portions or portions of the plenary expansions of the Lord.

In this way, we can understand that the ultimate philosophical conclusions, as presented in the above Vedic references, and by various spiritual authorities, is that the Absolute Truth is a person, known in the Vedic literature as Sri Krishna. It is He who manifests the material creation through His various forms and energies. Many more verses that establish this are found in the Bhagavad-gita, Brahma-samhita, as well as various Puranas and other Vedic texts written by many spiritual masters and teachers that verify this point.

 CHAPTER NOTES

1. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya.lila, 6.143

2. Vishnu Purana, 1.12.57

3. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, 24.72

4. Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.9.31

5. Chaitanya-caritamrita, Madhya-lila, 20.150

6. Ibid.,  Madhya-lila,  6.153

7. Ibid., Adi-lila, 7.120 purport, quote from the Vishnu Purana

The Meaning of the Phrase “God is Love”

The Meaning of

“God is Love”

By Stephen Knapp

The phrase and concept that “God is love” is often used by many people of different religions, but it is hardly ever explained adequately. People may say that God is all-loving, forgiving, or your eternal friend, which is true, but, essentially, this is a fairly shallow explanation of how God is love. So if we are to understand how a person can experience so much spiritual ecstasy that the material pleasures become insignificant, then this is a fitting time to analyze how God is the source of the ecstasy and love and happiness for which we are always seeking. But only in the highest levels of Vedic literature, especially in the Vaishnava tradition, do we find a proper and more complete explanation.

The Vedic literature describes the Absolute Truth as sat-cit-ananda vigraha, which means the personal form of eternal knowledge and bliss. And in the Taittiriya Upanishad (Second Valli, Seventh Anuvaka), the Absolute Truth is described as concentrated ananda or bliss. It is understood that this spiritual bliss is the dynamic and personal form of Sri Krishna. The Brahman effulgence, or great white light, is the expansive impersonal glow of that bliss. So the impersonal Brahman originates from the Supreme Personality, who is Sri Krishna, who is also the source of all bliss. The taste or experience of this bliss is dormant or undynamic in the brahmananda, or Brahman effulgence. By its very nature, the impersonal Brahman is not something with which you can have a personal relationship. There are no activities or reciprocation in the Brahman. In this way, it leaves unfulfilled those who merge into the impersonal Brahman, or who believe it to be the highest truth. But in the personality of Krishna, the bliss is always expanding and ever-growing to new dimensions in the pastimes and activities Krishna performs. The most sublime taste or experience of the pleasure of this spiritual bliss is called rasa, and Krishna is the rasa, or the center and source of this ecstatic spiritual experience. In other words, He is the most relishable object. This can also be broadened to mean that Krishna is the most worshipable and lovable object, as well as the ultimate realization and object of all knowledge, religion, yoga, and love. But Krishna is also rasika, which means the ultimate enjoyer of rasa, the experience of spiritual bliss.

Now we can begin to understand that Krishna is not only the ultimate object of all love, but also is the topmost enjoyer of all loving relationships. Therefore, in the dynamic and expanding form of Krishna, He has unlimited desires to enjoy spiritual loving relationships or pastimes, known as lila. To do this He expands Himself into the dual form of Krishna and Radharani, His eternal consort and topmost devotee. In other words, Radharani is the feminine aspect of Lord Krishna and is non-different from Krishna, but together (both the masculine and feminine aspects) They fulfill the purpose of engaging in sublime loving pastimes to exhibit supremely transcendental loving exchanges.

Radha is bhava, pure and selfless love personified. Everything Radha does is entirely for Krishna’s pleasure. Radha is also hladini-shakti, the bliss potency that resides in Krishna. This bliss or pleasure potency within Krishna expands throughout the spiritual and material worlds, and whatever pleasure is felt by anyone is a form of this pleasure potency. But the closer we get to Krishna on the spiritual platform, the more directly we can feel the potency of this pleasure source. And its topmost personified form is Radharani. Therefore, Krishna engages in loving exchanges with Radharani and enjoys the bliss of Her love many millions of times more than the pleasure that comes from His own self. Radharani’s love is the selfless love of Krishna’s personified bliss potency. In this way, Krishna is the sweetest object of love, while Radha is the sweetest devotee of love.

As Their loving relationship increases, there are more and more devotees who assist in this pastime who also participate in these loving affairs of Krishna. Since all living beings are spiritual in nature, we all have a spiritual relationship with the Supreme Spirit, Sri Krishna. In the spiritual world this loving relationship fully awakens, and everyone feels great bliss because of this. As Krishna’s pleasure increases, it expands to all the devotees who feel the ecstasy and reflect it back to Krishna through their devotional exchange. Krishna then reciprocates this love even more, and the loving exchange (bhakti) between Krishna and His devotees continues to expand and grow to new and higher levels in never-ending cycles. Thus, everyone is fulfilled in this spiritual love which is completely beyond the boundaries and estimation of material pleasures and relationships.

This is how a person can feel completely fulfilled and satisfied when he or she is engaged in pure Krishna bhakti. This is why bhakti, which fully manifests as pure love for God, is the real goal of any religion or yoga system. It is both the means and the goal. Therefore, the ultimate end of bhakti-yoga, or the devotional process, is not to enter heaven or the spiritual world, but simply to enter prema, which is to regain one’s spiritual loving relationship with the Supreme regardless of what is our external situation. This is our natural spiritual position. This is the emotional fulfillment and love for which we are always looking. But rarely do we find such love and happiness while we are in the material concept of life, when we think that the temporary material body is our real identity. This sublime loving relationship is desired by all souls as well as the Supreme Being. This love is the gravitational force between us all, but can be fully manifested only on the spiritual level, between the living entities and the Supreme.

This is actually how God is love, all-loving, and the supreme lovable object for whom we all are looking, whether we understand this or not. No matter where we try to look for love, nothing can completely satisfy the soul as much as this spiritual love.

This is why Vaishnavas, worshipers of Lord Krishna, claim no allegiance to any particular religion, but only continue developing pure, unalloyed bhakti, love of God, through the practice of devotional service, bhakti-yoga. When this fully manifests as prema, such a pure relationship becomes so intense that there is no awareness of anything else. In this pure consciousness, there is no question of being Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or being affected by any other distinction. There is only God and the lovers of God on the spiritual platform, all of whom are absorbed in sublime and boundlessly ecstatic, loving exchanges.

The Supreme is waiting for us to return to our spiritual position to engage in these spiritual activities. How long it takes for us to return to our spiritual home simply depends on how long we allow ourselves to be influenced or controlled by the material impulses and desires which bind us to this material existence. We should not feel that we are so sinful or fallen that we have no hope for developing our spiritual relationship with the Supreme, for He is always waiting for His lost servants. But we have to begin to show that we want to return to Him by rising above bodily identifications and realizing the science of the soul: our real identity.

The essence of our pure spiritual identity and spiritual experience is our direct and personal loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This spiritual identity is the underlying principle of unity amongst all living entities. Reawakening this identity and love is the ultimate purpose of any true spiritual path. And this is most easily attained through the process of bhakti-yoga, the yoga of love of God.