“But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.42)
atha vā bahunaitena
kiṁ jñātena tavārjuna
viṣṭabhyāham idaṁ kṛtsnam
ekāṁśena sthito jagat
Question: If I am fortunate enough to meet God after this life is over, will He be able to answer some questions for me? Will I be able to find out who really shot President Kennedy? Can He tell me about my past lives? Will He let me see into the future? It would be really cool if I could gain access to this secret information.
The living entity is known as a jiva in Sanskrit. The identifying force is the atma, which typically means “soul.” It can also refer to the body or the mind. Taking the two terms together, the life forces we see in this world are jivatma. They have a choice in association. They can opt for the struggles of the material world, where the energy known as prakriti covers them. Or they can choose in favor of the Supreme Spirit, who is more commonly known as God. Shelter of prakriti requires constant replenishment of information, as everyone is in ignorance of what goes on. On the other side, shelter of God does not require as much knowledge. Knowing just one thing about Him is enough to be considered enlightened.
Prakriti constantly changes, and these changes are effected through time. The combination of time and changes is what leads to the bewilderment. As jivatma lives on through the passage of time, it means that previously I was in a different body. So was every other person. The idea of the time machine is for going in the reverse direction of the time continuum to experience what version of prakriti was previously manifest.
The hope is to also leap forward into the future. How will prakriti manifest at that time? The shifts can be compared to changing clothes. I see a suit jacket on a rack in a store that catches my eye. I wonder how I would look wearing it. I can’t know for sure until I try it on. The changing of bodies is like this, and the desire to know details from past, present and future is to want to see how the different material clothes look on the otherwise spotless living entities.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Shri Krishna says that there is no use of such detailed knowledge. His statement is specifically in reference to how He creates everything, how He is the ultimate source. A wise person can deduce that the changes in prakriti are rooted in the same person. If knowing exactly how Krishna creates, maintains and destroys is not so important, then the same must be the case for the minute details about the things that happen in between the creation and destruction.
But what makes these details trivial? What if we don’t want to take Krishna’s word for it? He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we should therefore listen to Him. Yet the information needn’t be accepted on blind faith alone. We can come to the same conclusion through sober analysis of our own situation.
Are we so much concerned with what we had for breakfast ten years ago to the day? What was in our head at the time? We are existing somewhere and someplace right now. This cannot be denied. In the past, this point was the uncertain future. In the future, this point will become the distant past. If right now we are so concerned with things that happened before, it means that this moment isn’t so important. If it’s not important now, why should it be later on?
Krishna says that with a single fragment of Him He pervades and supports the entire universe. This is all that is needed to be known. There is obviously much more to God than this universe. If He only needs a single fragment of Himself to maintain this endless variety that shifts through the passage of time, what must the rest of Krishna be doing? Where is the majority of His energy? What is it involved in?
We know the answer to this based on past history. He has come to this earth many times and shown glimpses of His true nature. That nature is eternal, blissful and knowledgeable. He knows everything needed to be known. We do not. He is always blissful; whereas we struggle in the material existence due to choosing in favor of prakriti. He is eternally the same in body and spirit; we have a distinction in that area.
From His pastimes in the holy land of Vrindavana, we know that Krishna is always enjoying. In this enjoyment His true nature is on full display. Knowing this nature is more important, as it allows one to regain the Lord’s association. More important than knowing about trivial matters from past, present and future is finding out what Krishna is doing with His friends right now. Will I get the chance to join Him? Will He be pleased with my work? Will I get to keep His association going forward?
These questions are satisfactorily answered through the process of bhakti-yoga, as taught by the bona fide spiritual master. Though the guru is trikalajna, the seer of past, present and future, he keeps the disciple focused on Krishna and His nature. The authentic guru does not say that Krishna is a prophet or that God is impersonal. Knowing Krishna in truth, the spiritual master shows the way for others to know the Lord as well. And knowledge of the Lord of the universe is all that’s needed to be known.
People living in past how,
Though not concerned with right now.
Present quickly the past to become,
And so worry over future how come?
Better if Shri Krishna a little to know,
Then to escape changing nature so.
With a single spark the universe pervading,
His transcendental form towards bhakti persuading.