“By glorifying the Lord with exalted verses, one becomes purified. Although we are unable to offer prayers to the Lord in an adequate fashion, our duty is to make the attempt in order to purify ourselves. It is not that we should stop our glorification because demigods like Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva cannot adequately glorify the Lord.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.16.2 Purport)
Neti neti. This Sanskrit phrase is found in Vedic literature and has been passed on by highly advanced intellectuals undertaking the difficult study of Vedanta, which is the conclusion of all conclusions. The translation is “not this, not that.” Look around you. Take the small. Take the infinitesimal. You have not found God.
Then work your way up to the macro level. Take the largest collective you can conceive of. If you’re having a difficult time, look to the Bhagavad-gita, where the universal form was shown to Arjuna. The virata-rupa – even that is not God completely.
The Absolute Truth, He who is beyond our comprehension, is impossible to glorify at a sufficient level. At an awards ceremony if the speaker continues with their praise for hours and hours, after a while the audience has had enough. From both points of view – sender and receiver – the glorification of God is never complete.
1. Lord Brahma can’t do it
Chaturanana. The four-faced one. Vidhata. The creator. Lord Brahma is the first living entity. He is the progenitor of not just the human race, but of all 8,400,000 different species.
He learned of God through meditation. He received knowledge directly within the heart. He is described as self-born, Svayambhu, since he emerged from the lotus stem growing out of the lotus-like navel of Lord Vishnu, who is God Himself.
Though Brahma has seen everything and been around since the beginning of the present timeline, he cannot adequately glorify God. He even offered a very nice set of prayers to Vishnu’s incarnation of Krishna one time. Krishna was on earth in His transcendental form, enacting wonderful pastimes on the sacred land of Vrindavana.
Under the spell of yogamaya, Brahma decided to test Krishna. He stole the cowherd boys and cows that were always enjoying Krishna’s company. The Supreme Lord was up for the game, as He simply expanded Himself to create the identical forms.
The ruse went on for a year until Brahma finally apologized. He then offered prayers that were appropriate and full of truth. He is also the author of the Brahma-samhita, which glorifies God as Govinda, which is another name for Krishna. Even with those wonderful prayers, Brahma feels as if he has not glorified enough.
2. Lord Shiva can’t do it
Shiva is the auspicious one. He is also known as Mahadeva, or the great god. Though he emerges from the forehead of Brahma, Shiva is actually almost identical with Vishnu Himself. Like Brahma, Shiva is also a great devotee. His Vishnu-form of choice, ishta-deva, is Shri Rama, the king of Ayodhya.
Shiva keeps the story of Rama with him, and he reveals it to worthy listeners. One such recipient is his wife, Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king. Their conversation is passed on through the generations. It made its way to Goswami Tulsidas, who then used it as the basis for a poem in Hindi describing the glories of Rama. That tale became famously known as the Ramacharitamanasa, for it is like a holy lake consisting of Rama’s transcendental pastimes.
Even with being the inspiration for another Ramayana-like tale, Shiva does not adequately glorify God. It is said that there are millions of verses in the spiritual world that describe Rama and His interactions with the wife Sita, the younger brother Lakshmana, and the dedicated servant Hanuman. In the material world we only have access to thousands of those verses.
3. Ananta Deva can’t do it
In the spiritual world Lord Vishnu rests on a serpent bed. That living entity has unlimited hoods; hence one name is Ananta. Ananta Deva has been glorifying Vishnu since the beginning of time. He has been speaking with an unending number of mouths, and he has yet to reach an end. He feels like his glorification is insufficient; so he continues further.
4. God is Adhokshaja
We know who the “fastest man in the world” is. We know who the fastest swimmer is as well. The determinations are made through measurements. That is one aspect to the material world. Things are limited. We may not know how much water is on the earth, but we know that there is a certain amount. If you collected every drop of ocean water, eventually you would get the entire ocean.
Krishna is known as Adhokshaja. This means “one whose qualities cannot be measured by blunt instruments.” For instance, we have no idea how tall God is. He can be very small, such as when Krishna was in the lap of the witch Putana. He can be very tall, such as when He showed the universal form to Arjuna.
There is no way to properly measure. This is with just one example – height. The same applies to every attribute. Strength, beauty, renunciation – everything about God is beyond our comprehension.
Does this mean we are doomed? Should we not glorify God? Is the effort futile? The idea is that the process itself is purifying. It brings tremendous joy to the heart. We can use others as support. We can take the words of Brahma and Shiva as inspiration. Even if we are not skilled in composition, the effort is appreciated so much by Krishna. At the very least, we can always chant His holy names and hope to continue in the glorification: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
For many reasons deficient,
Glorifying no words sufficient.
Brahma even cannot do,
Same with Mahadeva too.
Ananta since beginning of time,
Still not completion to find.
Krishna as Adhokshaja is known,
But praise effort worth it alone.
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