“Akshaja means ‘the measurement of our senses,’ and adhokshaja means ‘that which is beyond the measurement of our senses.’” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.19.25 Purport)
In the ancient Sanskrit texts of India one finds many names for God. There are many corresponding forms as well, as the names have specific meanings. Each name is valid, and each one, when properly understood, is sufficient for gaining the association of the person it addresses.
“Krishna” is likely the best known name. It means “all-attractive,” which is a pretty obvious description for the Supreme. God is so attractive that He makes sex enjoyment in material life seem stale and boring. His association turns the excitement of a wager into something as boring as brushing your teeth. His portrait is thousands of times more beautiful than the most famous painting we can think of. And this attractiveness never exhausts. It is for this reason that people can continue chanting the holy names for an entire lifetime: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
One of the more interesting names for Krishna is Adhokshaja. This means “one who is beyond the measurement of blunt instruments.” For sure an odd way to describe the Supreme, as we know that so many of the instruments used today were developed in recent times. There was no such thing as a digital scale in ancient Vedic times, when these names for God were first written down. There was no barometer, thermometer, digital clock, or machine to check blood pressure. Why, then, was there emphasis on instruments and measurements?
The idea is that everyone uses measurements in their assessment of greatness. To truly believe that God exists, one would surely try to measure His abilities. After all, we know someone is strong based on what they can do relative to others. If hardly anyone in a town can lift up a car, we know that we’ve found a really strong person when they are able to do it. By name Adhokshaja says that Krishna’s opulences are impossible to measure. When you have found someone with this feature, you have found God.
1. You can’t measure His size.
This works in both directions. Man is trying his best to extend life indefinitely, to remain in the same body for a long time. Yet this doesn’t address the other side. At one time man survived in the tiniest of spaces known as the womb. If man were truly interested in greatness, he would be able to reduce his size and live in that form again.
Shri Krishna is both larger than the largest and smaller than the smallest. One time He approached a king named Bali while in the visual manifestation of a dwarf. Known as Vamanadeva, Krishna asked for as much land as could be covered in three steps. Bali agreed, after which Vamanadeva expanded Himself to a gigantic size. He took His three steps, which covered the whole world and beyond. Because of this He became known as Trivikrama. From that pastime, one can see that Krishna can become too small to take seriously and also too large to fathom.
2. You can’t measure His weight.
One time a demon disguised as a whirlwind entered the town of Vrindavana. To us this seems like mythology, but through mystic yoga and black magic such powers are not out of the realm of possibility. Known as Trinavarta, this demon picked up a small child and took Him high into the air. That child was none other than Krishna. Relying only on visuals, Trinavarta thought he had an accurate estimate of Krishna’s weight. He thought that his whirlwind was powerful enough to pick up the Supreme Lord and carry Him into the air.
When the demon reached the apex of his ascent, suddenly Krishna’s weight was too much to bear. It was like a mountain was secured right onto Trinavarta’s neck. The demon couldn’t hold on any longer. He fell to the ground and died. In this way we see that Krishna’s weight is too great to understand.
3. You can’t measure the range of His presence.
Where are you right now? Are you sitting in a room? Are you in the car? Wherever you are, you are only in that place. You can’t be in two places at once. Some mystic yogis have this ability, which comes to them after intense meditation. Yet even they can’t be everywhere at the same time. The extent of the presence can thus be measured.
The same is not true with Krishna. Through His expansion of the Supersoul, He appears in every single space. There is the famous question about if a tree falls in an empty forest does it make a sound. It’s an interesting thought piece for only those who don’t know about the Supersoul. Krishna is everywhere, even in the empty forest. This means that He hears everything. Since we don’t know the limit to space, we can’t accurately measure how far Krishna stretches out. And yet He remains a singular person, undivided.
4. You can’t accurately measure His skill.
Who is the best fighter in the world? The champion in the heavy weight division? Someone who fights valiantly in an army? Is it someone who is both skilled at using their weapon and physically strong? The Supreme Lord has such amazing skill that you can’t even accurately measure it. We get only a rough idea from several historical incidents.
There was one time when 14,000 Rakshasas attacked in Janasthana. Krishna was on the scene as Rama, the famous bow-warrior and prince of the Raghu dynasty. Rama handled these attackers all by Himself, using only the arrows from His bow. And for Him the opposing army was nothing, for Rama can defend against an unlimited number of attackers. A trademark characteristic of the Rakshasa is disobedience to conventional rules of warfare. They would appear and disappear at will. How can you fight someone you can’t see? Rama can do it, because He is God.
5. You can’t measure His mercy.
The kindness flowing from the Supreme Lord is impossible to measure. His presence as the Supersoul within our heart is evidence enough. Even still, when we find ourselves in the trouble of doubt, if we are sincere He sends the bona fide representative to rescue us. If society as a whole deteriorates even further, He incarnates Himself as Krishna Chaitanya and inaugurates the sankirtana movement. That is the vehicle to actively seek out the destitute, who are struggling in the material ocean. The divine mercy flows to them instead of them having to seek it out. And just as Adhokshaja’s abilities know no limit, those who practice devotional service purely do so without motivation and without interruption.
Trinavarta taking Krishna into air,
Of Lord’s true weight unaware.
Rakshasas 14,000 attacking,
Knowledge of Rama’s prowess lacking.
Expanding into infinite space and beyond to see,
As Supersoul Lord inside of both you and me.
Adhokshaja thus name for Him befitting,
Both short and tall, small and large in Him sitting.
Categories: the five