Observers of the Krsna Consciousness Society’s educational system often admire the joyfulness of the Society’s children, but they also sometimes criticize the devotees for teaching “only about Krsna.” Of course, Krsna conscious students learn reading, writing, math, history, geography, science, and so on, but all in relation to Krsna. And there is an important reason for this—one that applies not only to children but to adults as well, and not only to followers of Krsna but to all living beings.
Everything animate and inanimate is ultimately related to Krsna. When people criticize Krsna conscious education as sectarian or narrow-minded because it excludes anything not connected to Krsna, they reveal their misunderstanding of what is meant by “Krsna.” To one who understands Krsna according to the Vedic scriptures, Krsna is indeed all things.
Krsna is a name for God, the Supreme Being. As the Vedic literature describes, everything in the universe—including all living entities and all matter, from the largest planet down to the atom—is but an emanation from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everything emanates from Him, exists on His energy, and at the time of annihilation merges back into Him. Nothing, therefore, is apart from Krsna, yet Krsna always maintains His primeval personality intact and unchanged.
We can compare Krsna to a mine of gold, and the multifarious forms of creation to golden objects—gold rings, gold necklaces, and so on. Although qualitatively one with the gold in the mine, the gold ring and the gold necklace are quantitatively different. Similarly, although all things are one with Krsna, being emanations of His energy, nothing can be absolutely equal with Him.
We may also compare Krsna to the chief engineer of a complex construction project. Although he doesn’t watch his men lay every brick and pour every ton of concrete, he still knows every job being done and every piece of equipment in use, because it’s all under his supervision. In the same way Krsna, the Supreme Engineer, knows every nook and corner of the universe, although His agents and energies are the ones who actually perform all the cosmic functions.
Some people who consider themselves religious say, “Teaching only about Krsna is sectarian because Krsna is a Hindu God.” But this statement reveals these critics themselves to be sectarian. God isnotthe domain of a particular religion; He is the Supreme Lord of all beings. Any child receiving Krsna conscious education understands this basic truth, which somehow eludes even highly educated religious leaders. Krsna conscious education, therefore, embraces and can unite all religions.
Other people superficially dismiss Krsna as a mythological character or an ancient philosopher. But actually Krsna is everything. Sometimes people, impatienttosee God, demand that He show Himself, even though they are unqualified to perceive His transcendental form. But the devotees of Lord Krsna, understanding that God is all-pervading, are able to think of Him always and see Him everywhere. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna instructs His devotees to meditate on Him in all things: “I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and moon.”
When properly understood, therefore, studying all things in relation to Krsna is not shortsighted, uncultured, or incomplete. For example, philosophy and the arts concern themselves with truth, beauty, and knowledge. But Krsna, being Absolute Truth, Absolute Beauty, and Absolute Knowledge, is the object and culmination of these various disciplines. The author, artist, and philosopher may comprehend through their work a small aspect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but their achievements remain incomplete. The devotee, however, is in love with the absolute person Himself and comprehends Him in His full feature of complete beauty, knowledge, power, and wealth. The devotee regards the work of the mundane artist or the knowledge of the speculative philosopher as mere shadows of the opulences of the Absolute Personality of Godhead. And the devotee appreciates such achievements for what they are: tiny manifestations of Krsna’s opulences. Thus the devotee remains always targeted on the goal and perfection of education, without being diverted by the shadows.
Persons learned in various disciplines can perfect their knowledge by linking it in service to the Supreme Lord. Srila Prabhupada explains how this is possible:
All the sages and devotees of the Lord have recommended that the subject matter of art science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology, and all other branches of knowledge should be wholly and solely applied in the service of the Lord. Art, literature, poetry, painting, and so on may be used in glorifying the Lord. . . . Similarly, science and philosophy should also be applied in the service of the Lord. There is no use in presenting dry speculative theories for sense gratification. Philosophy and science should be engaged to establish the glory of the Lord. Advanced people are eager to understand the Absolute Truth through the medium of science, and therefore a great scientist should endeavor to prove the existence of the Lord on a scientific basis. Similarly, philosophical speculation should be utilized to establish the supreme truth as sentient and all-powerful. Similarly, all other branches of knowledge should always be engaged in the service of the Lord.
Thus a person who does not receive a Krsna conscious education inevitably misses the essence of education. He may hold a Ph.D. from Harvard, but if he fails to use his knowledge in the service of Krsna, he remains ignorant of his own identity and his relationship to God. Considering himself the body and the world a place for his enjoyment, he remains an atheist, ignorant of God, the Absolute Truth.
According to the Vedic literature, the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, and the Bhagavad-gita confirms that Lord Krsna is that Absolute Truth. Thus by understanding Krsna, one can have essential understanding of everything. This is the philosophical basis of a Krsna conscious education.
Practical or applied Krsna conscious education teaches the student to use everything in Krsna’s service. From the Krsna conscious standpoint, therefore, modern atheistic education is misguided, in both its theory and its application. Krsna consciousness, as the complete theistic philosophy, brings one personal fulfillment and happiness, and its practical application can unite everyone and everything with God, establishing universal peace and harmony. Mundane education, on the other hand, can never fully yield the desired goals of enlightenment, fulfillment, and happiness. Criticisms of Krsna conscious education, therefore, come from people who have only the most superficial understanding of its breadth and profound purpose. And a little learning is a dangerous thing.—SDG