“This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, all-pervading, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.24)
acchedyo ‘yam adāhyo ‘yam
akledyo ‘śoṣya eva ca
nityaḥ sarva-gataḥ sthāṇur
acalo ‘yaṁ sanātanaḥ
Question: “What is the relevance of Krishna consciousness today? The world is completely different from the time of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Vedas are profound philosophy; there is no doubt about this. But can words spoken to disciples living thousands of years ago have applicability in a time where inquisitive minds are hooked to smartphones and social media websites? In the upheaval of the modern day, what effectiveness can bhakti-yoga really have?”
It is natural to think that a certain philosophy has limited effectiveness. This is due to the ever-changing nature of the world we live in. As an example, the people of the country can rebel against what they consider to be tyranny from the government. They decide to come up with a new system of government, one especially meant to safeguard against aggressiveness from the people in power.
With the passing of years, the situation changes. New problems emerge, ones that the original rules for government didn’t foresee. The cry against tyranny isn’t necessarily applicable anymore, as the government has other problems. Therefore a new philosophy is tried. The old rules are rewritten, and the cycle begins anew.
It’s tempting to think that bhakti-yoga has the same limitations. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada translates bhakti-yoga as “Krishna consciousness.” Krishna is a name for God, “the all-attractive one.” Consciousness is a match for the term “yoga,” which is the linking of the individual soul to the Supreme Soul. Krishna is that superior soul; a singular entity, though seemingly divided. His influence is spread everywhere, as He is present within every single body. There is oneness in the individual soul’s presence too, as spirit animates all living things. Spirit comes from Krishna, which means that there is unity in the division.
bhāvam avyayam īkṣate
taj jñānaṁ viddhi sāttvikam
“That knowledge by which one undivided spiritual nature is seen in all existences, undivided in the divided, is knowledge in the mode of goodness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.20)
When you mention a personality named Krishna and describe His transcendental features, such as His bluish complexion, it sounds like you’re talking about religion. If you’re in the realm of religion, it’s safe to assume that you’re dealing with faith. Faith changes, and it is not uniform. Each person has their own faith. So how can a faith coming from thousands of years back have applicability today?
In fact, Krishna consciousness is the science of God. Just as the material nature has inviolable laws that we live under, so the highest being and His many sparks can be understood through properties that cannot be removed from the objects in question. Bhakti-yoga is the science of self-realization. The self never changes. A thousand years ago the people may have spoken a different language and they may not have had electricity and advanced machinery, but they still were souls at the core. They still underwent birth and death and everything in between.
The foundational teaching of the science of self-realization is the difference between matter and spirit. You are not your body. I am not mine, either. We look different because the covering known as matter is different. In some people there is more intelligence and in others more strength. Some people have more compassion and others get angry more quickly. Spirit is found in all species; which means that the animals are just like us too. They have a different covering, one which doesn’t allow them to do things that we can. The dog can’t talk and the cat can’t develop routines in a programming language. By the same token, we can’t fly through the air like the bird or live in arctic temperatures like the penguin.
The knowledge that we are spirit is relevant in any time period. It is always beneficial to know your real identity. Whether I am living in a remote cave or a congested city, to know that I am spirit soul will help me immensely. From that knowledge, I can gain further insight into the nature of the world I live in. I can understand that I never actually die. As a soul, I continue to live on. I’ve lived before in the period known as childhood. After death, I will live again in a new body.
The soul persists through the time continuum and so does the Supersoul. As the knowledge in the science of self-realization is the most valuable gem to be discovered by the intelligent human mind, so too the Supreme Lord remains ever fresh and attractive. The Vedas describe Him as nava-yauvanam, which means that His transcendental body always appears to be in the stage of youth. He never grows old, as seen on the battlefield of Kurukshetra when He delivered the famous Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna. This occurred over one hundred years after Krishna emerged from the womb of Devaki.
That conversation has relevance today and it will continue to be valuable going forward. Any other philosophy is limiting. The material is dull and lifeless. The senses get tired of interacting with the material; hence the constant shifting from one interest to another. Krishna is the reservoir of pleasure, and through Him the senses interact in a spiritual way. That interaction is the height of an existence in any time period, for any living being.
Not just for ancient people seen,
Philosophy of bhakti is evergreen.
Matter and soul difference between,
And equality of all living beings.
Unlike philosophies others the rest,
That fail the time’s passage test.
Like Krishna of beautiful complexion blue,
Science to connect with Him ever fresh and new.