“The Lord is personal although impersonal, He is atomic although great, and He is blackish and has red eyes although He is colorless.” (Kurma Purana)
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The crow Kakabhushundi and the eagle Garuda had a meaningful conversation one time. Typical of what is found in Vedic literature, it was more question and answer than a casual talk. There was an authority figure and a worthy listener. The ideal disciple approached someone who could remove his doubts.
In that discourse about the Supreme Lord Rama and His many features, Kakabhushundi mentioned how there are contradictions in the Supreme Lord. This is one way to know that God is something special. He is beyond comprehension. He is more than an abstract, and He can never be fully defined. That feature is actually a benefit, for it facilitates endless contemplation and adoration. Studying the contradictions is one way to increase attachment to Him, which is the reward most worth seeking.
1. He is faster than the wind, but has no legs
There is the famous scene from the Monty Python movie about a fighter continuing on despite losing his limbs, one by one. At the end he is left helpless, but continues to have a fighting spirit. The living entity in the human form relies on their limbs, but those limbs don’t define them. The limbs are part of the material form, and the living being inside is spiritual. It continues in its existence despite the constant changing of bodies.
The Supreme Lord does not have legs. This makes sense since He cannot be associated with the material energy. For Him there is no distinction between material and spiritual. He does not live in duality. Yet despite not having legs, He is faster than the wind. He can appear at any moment, in any spiritual form, whenever He so desires. He empowers His representatives with similar speed. The best example is Shri Hanuman, who is also known as Vegavan for his swiftness.
2. He is brighter than the sun, more soothing than the moon
Kakabhushundi made a comparison relating to artificial lighting and the Supreme Lord’s mercy. You could turn on every lamp in existence during the nighttime but you still won’t get rid of the night. Only the bright sun rising in the next morning can do the trick. Similarly, you can try everything to remove the darkness of ignorance, but without Shri Rama’s help it is not possible.
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)
God has brightness that is more powerful than the sun. In His realm there is no need for electricity since the natural effulgence prevents the onset of darkness. Though He is brighter than the sun, He can be more soothing than the moon. The sun can destroy with its heat, causing tremendous pain also. The moon is there to give soothing light in a time of darkness. The Supreme Lord is more powerful than the moon in this respect.
3. He is a maintainer like Vishnu, a destroyer like Shiva
There are three guna-avataras of the Supreme Lord who manage the material creation. Brahma creates, Vishnu maintains, and Shiva destroys. All three represent God, but Vishnu is the Supreme Lord directly. No one is better at maintaining than Vishnu. In His role as Supersoul in the heart, He is the overseer and the permitter.
“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)
As God mentions in the Bhagavad-gita, He brings to the devotees what they lack and preserves what they have. Though He preserves at the highest levels, He can also destroy. For the creation He accomplishes this through the representative Shiva. For the obstacles in the path of the devotees, He intervenes directly.
4. He has no eyes, but sees everything
As the Supersoul, who is known as Paramatma, God is antaryami. He is the all-pervading witness. Nothing goes unseen. He knows everything that has occurred – past, present, future – for every living entity. No one escapes His watchful eye.
At the same time, He has no eyes. This is according to our understanding of eyes. We know that the ability of eyes diminishes over time. If you cover them up, it is impossible to see. With the Supreme Lord, the eyes are of a different nature. They cannot be covered up to cause blindness. He is not dependent on them. He is without eyes in the sense that they are not like what we typically see.
5. He is immovable like the Himalayas, a plaything for the gopis
Another name for Rama is Achyuta. This Sanskrit word means “one who never falls down.” After accepting a vow, He does not break it due to weakness. He does not succumb to the threefold miseries of life. He is the controller of time, not the other way around.
Think of the sturdiest object, something that is impossible to move. The Himalayas are a great example. The Supreme Lord is like that mountain range. A person could try to destroy it, but picking it up is a different issue.
Despite being so strong and sturdy, God is a plaything in the hands of the gopis. These are the cowherd women of Vrindavana. They are the topmost devotees in the universe, as they have no personal desires. They simply want the best for God in His form of Shri Krishna. The gopis ask Krishna to dance, and He does. Some of them make fun of Him, and others try to punish Him for stealing their butter. The person who is faster than the wind gets caught by the loving mother Yashoda after having broken a pot of butter. These contradictions are wonderful to behold and blissful to remember.
With spiritual form of binding free,
Still with spiritual eyes everything to see.
Despite having legs none,
With speed of the wind can run.
Vow like Himalayas impossible to move,
Plaything for gopis in commanding mood.
In Supreme Lord these contradictions and more,
Further reasons for all-attractive one to adore.
Categories: the five
Every time I read these writings I learn something new or my knowledge gets refreshed. This is great service for any aspiring devotee.
The story referred here is actually explained in length in Tulasidasa’s ” Shree Ramayana Charita”.
The description of God as ” achintya” is due to our own limited ability to grasp His unlimited nature and His qualities which appear contradictory to one another as explained here, but are only so in our material sense. They in fact are absolutely natural for The Supreme Person and not therefore not really contradictory in a spiritual sense.
This is my comment based on my very meagre ability and almost no spiritual knowledge.
September 1 2017