“A learned scholar who has studied the Vedas perfectly and has information from authorities like Lord Chaitanya and who knows how to apply these teachings can understand that Krishna is the origin of everything in both the material and spiritual worlds, and because he knows this perfectly he becomes firmly fixed in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8 Purport)
Friend1: How important is it to know Krishna?
Friend2: It is everything.
Friend1: Why? What is Krishna?
Friend2: He is the very definition of “is.” The statement “I am” only has meaning because Krishna allows it to. “I am” indicates my identity, my individuality. Every other living thing can say the same thing, but the overseer and permitter must first allow the existence to continue.
bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ
paramātmeti cāpy ukto
dehe ‘smin puruṣaḥ paraḥ
“Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.23)
Friend1: Krishna means the person who oversees everything?
Friend2: That is one way to define Him. He is the complete whole, the virata-rupa. Everything you can conceive of – put that into a single image for analysis purposes. That everything is one way to understand Krishna. And that is just an impersonal view, for He is also separate and above everything in the manifest world.
Friend1: Why is it important to know Him?
Friend2: You don’t think there is significance to knowing the origin of the entire creation? That puts everything into the proper perspective. It gives the understanding of birth and death and the suffering and temporary happiness that occur in between. It clears up the mission in life. Rather than have to guess about what to do with time, the individual can with confidence follow the path that will allow them to be happy going forward, for lifetime after lifetime.
Friend1: What if someone doesn’t know Krishna specifically?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: What if they know Him only as God, a generic person? What if they don’t put a face to the name?
Friend2: They are acknowledging the existence of the Almighty, then? There are so many false definitions of God, so what exactly does this hypothetical person know?
Friend1: They understand the origin. They know that a spiritual energy connects every living thing. They know that not a blade of grass would move without God’s sanction. They think of Him constantly. They see Him in the beautiful nature. They feel His presence in the love shown by parents to their children. They see forgetfulness of Him in the horrible acts done to harm others. They are conscious of Him in every way.
Friend2: That is wonderful, then. Such a person is highly advanced.
Friend1: They don’t know about the all-attractive son of Nanda Maharaja, though. They don’t know that the Supreme Lord holds a flute in His hands, wears a peacock feather in His hair, and plays in the forest of Vrindavana.
Friend2: That’s okay. What are the qualities of this person?
Friend1: They are without sin. They respect every creature, since they know the connection to God. What is the fate of such a person?
Friend2: You want me to give a judgment on this person, but actually they are highly advanced and very rare to find in this world. You should be asking them to give a judgment on me, for I wish I could be so conscious of God throughout the day.
Friend1: They don’t know Krishna, though.
Friend2: They do, in a sense. They understand one feature of His. That feature is very important. They know Him as the source of everything.
Friend1: Is that enough?
Friend2: You are worried about their future?
Friend1: I guess you could say that.
Friend2: Just knowing God as the cause of all causes is rare. After many births, such a person reaches such a conclusion. Then surrendering to Krishna becomes very easy.
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.19)
Friend1: They’re not surrendering to Krishna, though. That is my whole point. They know God only in the abstract.
Friend2: I beg to differ. The person you describe knows the Almighty a lot more than that. Shri Krishna also declares that good qualities are equivalent to knowledge [Bg 13.8-12].
Friend1: I see. What does that knowledge get them?
Friend2: People with such knowledge, who behave kindly towards all creatures, are very dear to the Lord of the life breath of Shrimati Radharani. Their future wellbeing is assured. You need not worry on this point. If they don’t know the exact details of Krishna’s form and pastimes, it is okay.
Friend1: Then why is it important for anyone to know Krishna? Why not speak only about the abstract?
Friend2: Connecting directly with the jewel of Vrindavana brings increased pleasure. Everything recommended for the living beings in the Vedas is for their benefit. There are different levels of pleasure that are tied to moods of interaction, even with people who do know Krishna the person. Just because one person enjoys a connection with God in one way doesn’t mean that they are shut out from the Divine Mercy. It’s a matter of taste. The key is to make the connection, especially when given the wonderful opportunity of the human birth.
As the cause of causes all,
In every time of day to recall.
Of the source everything respecting,
Good qualities, not from others expecting.
Where in the future that person to go,
When God as Shri Krishna not to know?
Supreme Lord providing variety of tastes,
Any knowledge of Him never a waste.