How to Know Someone Is Great

Krishna devouring forest fire“On the very night of the day of the chastisement of the Kaliya snake, when the inhabitants of Vrajabhumi were sleeping carefreely, there was a forest fire ablaze due to dry leaves, and it appeared that all the inhabitants were sure to meet their death. But the Lord, along with Balarama, saved them simply by closing His eyes. Such are the superhuman activities of the Lord.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.29)

Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.29“How do I know that this player is great? Look at his history. Look at what he’s done in the playoffs, when the games mattered most. In the bigger games, it’s more difficult for the top lines to score. They are often matched up against each other, and so in that struggle quality chances are hard to come by. Therefore if you want to win, it’s the second and third lines that have to score. This player always came through in the clutch. Though he was known as a checking center, look at how he always outscored his opposition. He shut down the opposing team’s best lines, and then added some timely scoring himself. Look at how he scored the winning goal in the final game of the playoffs. That’s how you know his importance to the team.”

Sports Illustrated Cover“How do I know that this politician is great? Look at what he did when in office. For starters, he won two landslide elections. This means that the people overwhelmingly supported him. Do a before-and-after comparison of the state of the country. See how bad things were when he came into office and see how good they were when he left. Sometimes good luck follows a person, but this president passed specific legislation that dramatically shifted the role of government in the economy. All the economic indicators were better after he left office, and so we know that he was a great leader.”

“How do I know that this actor is great? Look at the movies he’s made. Every one of them is top notch. He is versatile too. In one film he played a villain and in another a hero. One movie was a drama while another was a comedy. He has been recognized countless times by critics for his achievements. His many awards tell of his greatness. His resume speaks for itself.”

Indeed, if you want to know how great someone is, you look to their activities. These activities include accomplishments and achievements. Others give endorsements as well, but these are also based on activities. Since the greatest person is God, the same exercise can be used for analyzing Him. Discussions on Him needn’t be limited to mental speculation or theoretical expositions. The Vedas, the original scriptural tradition of the world, discuss His activities at length.

Krishna lifting Govardhana HillYou can know that God is great because one time He lifted up a mighty hill. This wasn’t part of a strong man competition. This wasn’t to show off His strength, either. The achievement occurred at the most opportune time, when there was danger. Lives were on the line. Innocent people of a simple farm community were in danger of being washed away by a torrential flood. The rain kept coming too, so it looked like there was no hope. God, in His original form of Shri Krishna, effortlessly lifted up a massive hill and held it aloft to act as an umbrella. The helpless residents of Vrindavana took shelter under this hill, which was held in the air until the rain finally stopped.

You can know that God is great because one time He fought off wicked creatures who used black magic. In conventional combat, there are rules that the participants follow. One of the principal rules is that you give the appearance that you are engaged in conflict. This is done to protect the civilians. You show up wearing a uniform so that the other side knows how to identify you. If you have no scruples, however, you will not want to give away your location to anyone, including those not engaged in combat. Better if they can’t spot you. A gang of night-rangers many thousands of years ago cast aside decency in favor of deception. They masked their shapes and then finally revealed themselves right at the time of attack.

You may be tempted to think that this behavior was justified since the other side was equally desirous of victory in combat. Actually, the other side consisted of innocent priests living in the renounced forest. They didn’t have smartphones or tablet computers with them to pass the time. They didn’t have a comfortable bed to sleep on. They didn’t have air conditioning or a nice heating system, either. They hardly had anything, and that was fine by them. They chose this austere lifestyle so that they could better concentrate on worshiping God. Not even the snakes were bothering them, so you would think that they were safe.

The night-rangers made sure this wasn’t the case. As Rakshasas by birth and nature, they had no problem eating human flesh. They also took the priestly class to be the greatest enemy. The staunch atheist will always feel this way. It is not enough that they don’t believe in God; they want to make sure no one else does either. They want to make sure that no one worships God, for the Supreme Lord is their number one competitor. He has everything, and the Rakshasas want to be in the same position. They would rather everyone worship them instead.

Rama and Lakshmana fighting demonsGod, in His incarnation of Lord Rama, protected the peaceful sage Vishvamitra from these attacks. Again, the form of the Lord was a child, though one slightly older than the one that would later lift the massive hill in Vrindavana. Shri Rama effortlessly cast aside Maricha and Subahu, two fiends who were not accustomed to failure. They had previously carried out many such attacks without a problem. They wouldn’t have the same luck with Rama around, though.

You can know that God is great because the wisdom He once supplied to a hesitant warrior applies to every single living entity, past, present and future. It was delivered at the beginning of the creation to the sun-god and then again to Arjuna some five thousand years ago. Unlike the newspaper stories released today or the blog posts about some current event, the words of wisdom provided by Krishna are eternally relevant. They are still studied to this day, and through an authorized study they are used to find the best end in life.

Of course there are so many more examples of God’s greatness. In each of His personal activities, the work is done for the same purpose: to help one or many practice devotion. There is no concept of liberty versus tyranny or freedom to pursue happiness in the material sense. The animals already are relatively free. They can enjoy their senses to their heart’s content. They don’t have religion. No one is speaking to them about philosophy or how to improve life.

Krishna delivering Bhagavad-gitaThe philosophical aspect exists for the use of the human being, who is endowed with the potential for a higher intelligence. Shri Krishna protects the ability to practice devotion to Him because devotion is the mature fruit of an existence. It is a destination difficult to reach, and so philosophy and explicit practice are often necessary. Even when there is practice in earnest, others can prove to be obstacles, and so the Supreme Lord, in all His glory, intervenes to protect the vows of the devoted. In the process He reaffirms His position in greatness and shows why the truly wise worship Him with body, mind and speech.

In Closing:

By scoring goals in pressure time late,

Player shows why others call him great.


Famed politician country’s spirits to lift,

Improvement of economy a worthwhile gift.


Greatness of God understand the same,

See why He has Girivaradhari as name.


See also night-rangers He defeated how,

Know that always to protect devotee’s vow.

Categories: krishna pastimes

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