“Bhagavad-gita, which is the science of God, is spoken by the Personality of Godhead Himself. This is perfect knowledge. Mental speculators or so-called philosophers who are researching what is actually God will never understand the nature of God.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.26.33 Purport)
Any person can come up to us and say anything. That is the nature of free will. My good sense is what keeps me in check. My conscience prohibits me from doing horrible things, though when lust runs strong, the defense of the conscience starts to weaken. Therefore people are known to tell lies. People cheat, they have imperfect senses, they are easily illusioned, and they commit mistakes. In the matter of the origin of everything, the entire universe and its whole population, any person can step up and lay claim. Shri Krishna is different because He actually describes how He is God.
Let’s suppose someone comes up to us and claims that they are God.
“I am the origin of the universe. I am the truth and light about which you speak. Surrender unto me and I will show you the way.”
Naturally, we could ask them why they are roaming around this miserable land if they are so great. We would also ask them to read our minds and tell us everything that occurred in the past. We’d ask them why they created this land, populated it with creatures, and forced us to live here. We’d ask them what happens after death, and why death takes place to begin with. We’d ask them why we see variety around us. We’d ask why there isn’t only one species. We’d ask them to explain the purpose to our existence.
The pretender will not be able to answer these questions. At best they could show us some mystic power. Maybe they could put a curse on us which causes our health to decline for a brief period. Maybe they could make fire come out of our hair or levitate for a few moments. Such amazing things already happen through nature, so the fact that a human being can do the same doesn’t mean very much. The less intelligent person may be fooled by such a show, but the rational thinking person won’t.
Shri Krishna claims that He is God. He has a bluish complexion, like that of a dark raincloud. He came to this earth in His personal form some five thousand years ago, but He was here before that. He sports an enchanting smile, carries a flute with Him, and is known to defeat the pride of the proudest among us. He is always young, never growing old. His body is eternal, full of knowledge, and always blissful. He remains in His form all the time. There is no difference between matter and spirit for Him.
He claims to be God only in private. He doesn’t walk around beating His chest. He doesn’t insist on surrender. In fact, He will only look for it in certain places. He does not disturb those who are too mired in a life of ignorance. We find out about His claim in a book called the Bhagavad-gita. This chronicles a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna is a warrior in distress at the time, and Krishna, His dear cousin and friend, offers Him sound words of advice after being asked.
The work is studied and speculated on widely today, but it is meant to be heard by only those who are open to spiritual life and not inimical towards Krishna. Lacking these two things, the reader will never understand what is being said. Krishna says that He is God, but not at the outset. It comes after a thorough explanation. He says that He is the Narayana that is worshiped prominently in the Vedic tradition. From Him everything emanates. By Him everything is destroyed.
prakṛtiṁ svām avaṣṭabhyavisṛjāmi punaḥ punaḥbhūta-grāmam imaṁ kṛtsnamavaśaṁ prakṛter vaśāt
“The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will it is manifested again and again, and by My will it is annihilated at the end.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.8)
There is no ambiguity. It is not that Krishna initially referred to someone else doing these things and that many years later those sympathetic to Him claimed that it was Krishna Himself who is responsible. The Sanskrit word “mam” [me/my] is prominent in the Bhagavad-gita. It appears in the most famous and important verse, where Krishna says that Arjuna should abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Him.
sarva-dharmān parityajyamām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vrajaahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyomokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 18.66)
Krishna reads Arjuna’s mind by knowing exactly what is bothering Him and the cause for it. Krishna explains how He has always been around, since the beginning of the creation, when He spoke the same Bhagavad-gita to the sun-god Vivasvan. Krishna explains that He can remember all of the past, while Arjuna cannot, even though both of them never die due to the nature of spirit.
Krishna lives forever into the future, but since we must die and take birth repeatedly, we have no way of testing that claim. We take it on faith, which is strengthened by knowing that Krishna continues to teach the Bhagavad-gita to this day. The same original words spoken are there to consult, with the spiritual teacher in the line of teachers following the mood of Arjuna there to explain them to us.
There is much more to understanding Krishna and His teachings, which are collectively known as the science of God. Yes, it is indeed a science, as blind faith is neither required nor recommended. We are advised to bring every doubt that we have to the table. We’re not supposed to suppress the objections we have based on apparent contradictions we hear. Being in the auspicious human species, we are to use all of our intellect for understanding God, as Krishna describes Him. In so doing, we find out the true nature of the Supreme Spirit, a nature which is all-merciful and always inviting.
Claim of God anyone to make,
How their word for it to take?
At Shri Krishna have a look,
And words from Him that Arjuna took.
All aspects of Divinity to him explained,
Through applied intellect knowledge gained.
When described is He in such detail,
To know the Supreme Lord without fail.