Only then can we begin to understand
our intimate relationship with Him.
A lecture by
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Love of God is not possible until we have clear, accurate knowledge of God. The Vedic literature elaborately describes the various features and activities of God, as well as the processes necessary for purifying our hearts so that we can understand Him. According to the Vedic literature, the highest level of God realization is to know and love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Lord Krsna is eternally youthful, and His body, which is the color of a rain cloud, is full of bliss and knowledge. Wandering in the transcendental forest of Vrndavana (left), Krsna enchants all living entities by playing upon His flute.
Devotee: [Reads Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.1] “O my Lord, Sri Krsna, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead. I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Sri Krsna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmaji, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Sri Krsna, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representation of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth.”
Srila Prabhupada: Srila Vyasadeva, the author of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, is offering his obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Krsna—om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. The word bhagavate means “unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead,” and vasudevaya means “who is known as Vasudeva, the son of Vasudeva.” Even the leader of the impersonalists, Sankaracarya, has accepted that the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared as Vasudeva, the son of Vasudeva and Devaki.
Srila Vyasadeva uses this word vasudevaya so people may not misunderstand to whom he is offering his obeisances. Sometimes we identify someone by giving the name of his father or mother. Similarly, Krsna’s indentification is that He is the son of Vasudeva, the friend of Sridhama and Sudama, and so on. In this way, Krsna has hundreds and thousands of names.
Sometimes people protest that God cannot have any name. In one sense, we agree with them—God does not have any one name. The scriptures say that He has many, many names, but the chief name is Krsna.
Krsna’s names all indicate His pastimes and qualities. They all have meaning, Vedic significance. When we call God “Krsna,” that means He’s all-attractive. He’s attractive not only to the devotees but also to the nondevotees. It’s not that Krsna is one-sided, attractive only to the devotees. No. He attracts even the non-devotees.
We can become attracted to someone in two ways—as a friend or as an enemy. Enmity is also a kind of attraction. You may think, “This man is my enemy. I want to kill him. I want to do some harm to him. How shall I do it? How shall I capture him? He goes to the office on this road, so I can capture him at that time.” In Texas President Kennedy was killed. So, the man who killed him made a plan, and he was always thinking of President Kennedy. That is a kind of attraction.
Therefore, “all-attractive” means that Krsna is attractive to everyone, whether one is Krsna’s devotee or His enemy. The best example is Kamsa. When Kamsa heard that the eighth son of his sister Devaki would kill him, he became attracted to Krsna. “Oh, Krsna is coming as my sister’s eighth son to kill me. Let me kill my sister, the source of Krsna.” So, his desire to kill his sister was due to his attraction for Krsna.
Previously, Kamsa was very kind to his sister. After his sister’s marriage he very jubilantly drove his sister and brother-in-law in a chariot. Devaki was Kamsa’s younger sister, and everyone naturally has some love for his younger sister. So he was affectionate. Although he was a non-devotee demon, he could not avoid such natural affection. A tiger, for example, is ready to kill anyone, but the tiger and the tigress still have affection for their cubs. That is natural.
So, Kamsa had natural affection for his sister, but when he heard that his sister’s eighth son would kill him, Kamsa immediately wanted to kill her. And that was due to his attraction for Krsna as an enemy. Therefore Krsna, or Vasudeva, is attractive to everyone, even His enemies.
[To devotee:} Read the purport.
Devotee: “Obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva, directly indicate Lord Sri Krsna, who is the divine son of Vasudeva and Devaki. This fact will be more explicitly explained in the text of this work. Sri Vyasadeva asserts herein that Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead, and that all others are His direct and indirect plenary portions or portions of the portion.”
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, this will be explained in the third chapter of the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the list of various incarnations of God, Krsna’s name appears. But at the end of the list it is said, ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam: “All these incarnations that have been mentioned are plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.”
Krsna, or God, has many incarnations, just like so many waves in a river. If you have ever seen a flowing river, you know how so many waves are coming one after another, one after another. If you sit down on the bank and go on counting the waves the whole day and night, the whole year, for your whole life, still you will not be done counting. Similarly, Krsna has so many incarnations that you cannot even count them. Therefore, one of Krsna’s names is Ananta, “He who has no end.”
Yet despite so many incarnations, Krsna remains full in Himself. This cannot be understood materially. If you have some money in a bank account and you take from it one, two, three, four, five, six, seven dollars, then at a certain point the bank balance will be zero. But Krsna is not like that. As the Vedas say, He is purnam, complete. Purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate. So many incarnations are coming from Him, just like the waves of a river, yet He remains the complete whole.
This is confirmed in the Brahma-samhita, where it is stated, goloka eva nivasaty akhilatma-bhutah: “Krsna lives at His home, Goloka Vrndavana, but He expands Himself throughout the whole creation.” In the creation there are innumerable universes. We have a little experience of this one universe. But there are innumerable universes with innumerable planets, and everywhere, in every planet, is Krsna. Still, He continues to exist in His own abode, apart from the creation.
We cannot imagine this because we have no such experience. If we are sitting in this room, we are not sitting in another room. But Krsna is here and also in the other room, the other building, the other city, the other universe—everywhere. Try to understand the distinction between Krsna and ourselves.
We are not imagining these things about Krsna. We are taking evidence from the Vedic literatures. Again, in the Brahma-samhita [5.46] it is stated,
diparcir eva hi dasantaram abhyupetya
yas tadrg eva hi ca visnutaya vibhati
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
Krsna has a direct expansion, and then expansions of the expansion. His immediate expansion is Lord Baladeva, or Balarama. Then from Balarama come the catur-vyuha, the quadruple expansions of Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. And from Sankarsana, the Narayanas expand. Then from the Narayanas come second sets of Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha.
There are innumerable Narayanas, because in Vaikuntha loka, the spiritual sky, there are innumerable planets, and a form of Narayana presides over each planet. In this one material universe you cannot count the millions of planets. And there are in numerable universes, also. Still, all these universes taken together are only one-fourth of the manifestation of Krsna’s energy. The Vaikuntha loka contains three-fourths of the manifestation.
So, we cannot count the number of expansions of Krsna even on one planet, what to speak of counting those spread throughout all the material and spiritual planets. Therefore, one of Krsna’s names is Ananta, “He who has no end.” He has innumerable forms (ananta-rupam). Yet Srila Vyasadeva will explain in the third chapter that although the Lord has all these innumerable forms, Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam).
So, we should try to understand Krsna. The Bhagavatam is trying to inform us about Krsna. The first words are om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. From this we learn that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Vasudeva, or Krsna. Now, what about Vasudeva? Janmady asya yatah: “He is that person from whom everything emanates.” This means that Krsna is the source of all creation, sustenance, and destruction. We can understand that every material object has these three stages. For example, take your car. It has a date of creation, it continues to exist for some time, and then it is annihilated. These states apply to every material thing.
And for living beings, these stages are expanded to six: birth, growth, living for some time, producing offspring, dwindling, then destruction. These are the six transformations of every living being.
But Krsna goes through no such transformations. Therefore His body is not material. As explained in the scriptures, His body is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha: it is composed of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. So anyone who thinks of Krsna as an ordinary man is a rascal. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam: “Only the rascals take Me for a human being.” One great rascal scholar has even written, “Perhaps Krsna was the leader of an aborigine tribe, and foolish people have accepted him as God.”
We should not learn about Krsna from the fools and rascals. We have to learn about Him from authorities like Srila Vyasadeva. Here he is explaining who Krsna is. So first of all let us understand who Krsna is; then we can enter into a more intimate understanding of our relationship with Him. For example, if you want to know somebody intimately, you first of all have to acquaint yourself with him gradually. First you must understand that the man has such-and-such a position, his financial strength is such-and-such, his influence is such-and-such, and so on. You must understand so many things before you can get to know him well.
So, first of all we must know what God is. Then we can say something about our relationship with God. But if we do not know what God is, how can we understand anything else about Him? That is the defect in many modern religions. Generally, religion means the process of understanding God. Religion without God is just like the play Hamlet without Hamlet. And any so-called religion that is without God is a cheating religion (kaitava-dharma). Religion means following the laws of God. But if you do not know what God is, how can you know His laws? If you do not know the king, how can you understand the king’s laws?
Of course, many people are trying to understand God’s laws without God. For example, the scientists try to understand the laws of God, which are the laws of nature, but because the scientists reject God, they cannot understand these laws, despite all their scientific advancement. They do not know the origin of the laws of nature. Ask any scientist: “Sir, you are a great scientist. Can you say where the laws of nature come from?” The reply will be “No. But we are studying them.” But when there is a law, somebody must have made that law. That is our experience. For example, when we drive on the street, we see signs that say, “Keep to the right side,” or “Keep to the left side.” It’s the order of the government, and you have to abide by it.
So, people in the modern so-called civilization have no knowledge of God, yet they are trying to study the laws of God. They should accept, at least theoretically, that God exists. How can they say God is dead? God is the law-giver, and by His order everything is working nicely. The sun is rising exactly on time, the moon is rising exactly on time, the seasonal changes are taking place exactly on time. Food is growing for our sustenance, and also for the animals’. Everything is going on nicely. So, how can anyone say that He who is managing all these things is dead? How can we accept this ridiculous proposal?
The Krsna consciousness movement is against all this rascaldom. We present Krsna: “Here is God.” Take His name, and take His address also. Krsna consciousness is so perfect. People are searching after God, and we are giving His name, His activities, His qualities—everything.
Here is God’s name: Krsna. Here is His form: the Deity in the temple. He is playing on His flute (venum kvanantam). We are not imagining all these things. It is not that some artist or poet has imagined Krsna. No. That is rascaldom. We take our information about Krsna from the Vedic literature, which describes that when Krsna was present personally on earth five thousand years ago He played on His flute and enjoyed pastimes with the cowherd boys and with His parents, Vasudeva and Devaki.
The scriptures say, venum kvanantam: “Krsna is always engaged in playing on His flute.” This is a Vedic statement from the Brahma-samhita about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then, aravinda-dalayataksam: “His eyes are shaped like lotus petals.” And barhavatamsam: “He wears a peacock feather on His head.” These are all Vedic descriptions. Then, asitambuda: “His complexion is blackish, just like a fresh rain cloud.” He is beautiful (sundarangam). Hew beautiful? Kandarpa-koti-kamaniya-visesa-sobham: “Krsna is so beautiful that even if you gather together millions of Cupids, He will appear more beautiful than all of them.” These are all descriptions from the Brahma-samhita.
So, the Krsna consciousness movement is very nice. If you take part in it, you will be able to understand what God is and also what your relationship with Him is. And you will also be able to understand how to go back home, back to Godhead.