“Despite the fact Lord Krishna grows from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth, astonishingly enough He never ages beyond youth. At the time of the Battle of Kurukshetra, He had many grandchildren at home; or, in other words, He had sufficiently aged by material calculations. Still He looked just like a young man twenty or twenty-five years old.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 4.6 Purport)
Can God be a person? Is it possible for Him to have an identifiable form, where His appearance is similar to our concept of a regular person? Is it possible to then direct worship to that specific form, where there is association through thoughts, words and deeds? Vedic teachings answer “yes” to these questions, and the affirmation has a significant impact on the style of worship.
Religion should not be dry and tasteless. It should not be about dressing up in uncomfortable clothes and staying serious throughout the day. Most importantly, it should not be rooted in fear. Just like the massive Govardhana Hill that was lifted to act as an umbrella to provide protection to the innocent residents of a farm community a long time ago, the Divine should be the Supreme Shelter. It is understandable to have fear outside of spiritual life, but the association of the origin of the creation should remove all fears.
Others will say that God cannot be a person. “To think that God can be identified as such is foolish,” they will chide. But upon analyzing the features of the Supreme Lord, as He is identified in the Vedic tradition, we see that He indeed can be a person. His features prove that He is the Supreme Person, unlike any other that we’ve met. He is similar to us in quality, but the potential quantitative output of those qualities is vastly superior. He gets many names, including Krishna, which means “all-attractive.” Krishna’s behavior and transcendental qualities validate that He is indeed God the person.
1. He is not old.
As we get older, things start to slow down. We no longer can eat whatever we want. We don’t look as beautiful. Wrinkles enter the face, hair on the head begins to fade, and injury and disease appear more frequently. In paintings of God found in traditions outside of the Vedas, we see the Supreme as an old man. He has a beard and a serious look on His face, as He observes what is happening on earth with disapproval.
Krishna is described as nava-yauvanam. He never ages beyond sixteen years. This means that His beauty never diminishes. He can be a great-grandfather and still look like someone in high school. There is no aging for Him since His body is transcendental. As it is not composed of material elements it has no defects. Birth, old age, disease and death are for us mere mortals only.
2. He is not vengeful.
You should turn the other cheek. You should not hold a grudge against someone. You should learn to forgive. These things are taught to us as we grow up. The human being has to learn, which means that they are not perfect. If God is the all-perfect, He can’t possess the flaw of holding animus towards anyone.
Krishna is not vengeful. He loves everyone, forever and ever. One way He shows this is through His expansion of the Supersoul. So small in size, but still fully potent, Krishna acts as the all-pervading witness to man’s actions. Due to His kindness, He does not interfere with free will. He remains close by should the decision to turn towards spiritual life ever be made.
Krishna does attack every now and then. Every time it is for the purpose of defense. Devotees who surrender to Him get the Divine shelter. If outside forces come to thwart the exercise of that devotion, Krishna either sends His direct representative or arrives Himself to give protection. This is not vengeance, but rather love.
3. He is not angry.
In the Bhagavad-gita Shri Krishna describes how anger arises. First there is kama, or lust. When lust is not satisfied, there is frustration. From frustration comes anger, which then leads to bewilderment of memory, and eventually loss of intelligence.
dhyāyato viṣayān puṁsaḥ
saṅgāt sañjāyate kāmaḥ
kāmāt krodho ‘bhijāyate
“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.62)
Krishna provides this teaching for our benefit, not His. He has desires, but they are not in kama. He never knows frustration, since He can make anything happen. Since there is no frustration, there is no anger. When He shows His ferocious form of Narasimhadeva, the half-man/half-lion, it is due to the aforementioned protection He offers to the devotees. Krishna is always in bliss; He has no reason to be angry at anyone.
4. He is not doing anything.
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
Krishna descends to earth whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice and a rise in irreligion. He makes the decision when to appear and in what form to roam the land. Depending on the time and circumstance, Krishna might mask some of His opulence. Sometimes He appears in a species that is not humanlike. These forms are still identical to Him, but they don’t show everything about God the person.
Krishna Himself has nothing to do. This is one way to know that He is the Supreme Godhead. He spends the whole day playing on His flute and happily traversing the sacred land of Vrindavana. His friends are always with Him. Those friends include mothers, fathers, peers, and even animals like cows, deer, peacocks, and parrots. Since Krishna is God, He has no responsibilities. No one makes Him do anything.
5. He has every opulence in full.
There is an easy way to know if God can be a person. Take every opulence and see if the Supreme Lord has it. He should have every single one and they should be in the highest quantity. Fortunately for us, the great sages of the past have made the analysis much easier. Parashara Muni says that God the person is Bhagavan, which is a Sanskrit word with a specific meaning.
vīryasya yaśasaḥ śriyaḥ
ṣaṇṇāṁ bhaga itīṅganā
“Bhagavan means who possesses these six opulences in full: all riches, all strength, all influence, all wisdom, all beauty, all renunciation.” (Vishnu Purana, 6.5.47)
Bhagavan is someone who has all beauty, all wealth, all strength, all fame, all knowledge and all renunciation. Each opulence is a reference point for continuous study. Study of Krishna in this way itself qualifies as devotional service, or bhakti-yoga. Because Krishna is God the person, worship of Him is full of taste. It features interactions, association, attachment, and even pains of separation. To long for the company of the all-attractive one is to be in the highest state of bliss, which is the reason for an existence.
Shri Krishna never angry to see,
In youthful appearance always is He.
Without vengeance to live,
Forgetfulness of Him ready to forgive.
Compelled to do anything never,
Can play His flute forever and ever.
Every opulence of Him an endless study,
Highest bliss for those with devotion steady.
Categories: the five