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.