“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Bhagavad-gita, 4.5)
So many religions. So many people who follow. So many true believers, who would sacrifice everything to move forward in the path laid out for them. Something must be there, but how do they know for sure? Where is the evidence? Where is the tangible proof of a Divine being, someone who is the origin of everything?
Testing the origin is traveling one direction on the time continuum. The other is the future, moving forward. In Vedic culture the Almighty is described to be anadi. This means “without beginning.” He is also ananta, or unlimited. The creation goes through cycles of manifestation and dissolution.
“Again and again the day comes, and this host of beings is active; and again the night falls, O Partha, and they are helplessly dissolved.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.19)
The idea is that what we see now wasn’t here before. Nor will it remain forever. At some point the cycle will start anew. God is the one person who remains alive throughout. People like Markandeya Rishi have had the special benediction of living through the dissolution, seeing firsthand that the Supreme Lord remained. When everything was getting destroyed, God was in the form of an attractive and carefree youth, not worrying about anything.
That is one person’s testimony, but what if we should get the same opportunity? In His original form, Bhagavan, also known as Narayana and Krishna, appears before us. We are skeptical, so we insist on visual proof. There are different lengths of time to utilize in a test of divinity.
1. One hundred years
I don’t remember my birth. I don’t remember my past lives, which according to the spiritual science of the Vedas I supposedly had. I am here, in the present, with someone who is apparently God. I have the future to work with.
Let’s say that I stay with Krishna for one hundred years. That is a remarkable achievement. Though rare in modern times, it is indeed possible. If I stay with Him for that long a time, will I prove that He is God? He stays in His exact form, without aging.
2. One thousand years
Every person I previously knew is long gone. Even future generations have since passed. I never believed someone could live for a thousand years, but somehow I have. Krishna is still with me. Is this proof that He is something special? Is He the Supreme Personality of Godhead?
3. One billion years
This length of time is practically unfathomable, but it certainly exists. Let’s say that I am with Krishna for this long. Not only have so many generations come and gone, but the earth itself is different. Continents aren’t where they used to be. The climate is different. Some species are now extinct.
Is one billion years enough? Does this prove that Krishna is deathless, which should be one property of the Almighty? Actually, if I am able to live this long, maybe I’ll start to think that I am God. After all, who else has lived this long? They say Lord Brahma has so many years to his day and night, but I never believed it. He is the creator, but now I am living for just as long.
From this theoretical exercise we see that from perception alone it is impossible to prove God’s existence. We must eventually move on. If we don’t, we might start to think of ourselves as being the Almighty. Does this mean the process is hopeless? Is there no way to be sure of God’s existence?
As with so many other aspects of life, faith is involved. Extend some faith in the beginning, follow some recommendations from the representative of God, the spiritual master, and soon come to realize at the personal level. Markandeya Rishi saw for himself and then told the Pandava brothers about the experience. Their well-wisher, Shri Krishna, was none other than Narayana Himself.
Krishna explained this truth later on to the leading fighter in the Pandava group. Arjuna was informed that both he and Krishna had appeared on earth many times before. The distinction was that Krishna could remember those appearances, while Arjuna could not. This is one difference among many between the living entities and the source of all energies. He has perfect memory, while we forget the simplest things.
Though even billions of years of direct perception won’t bring certainty in the idea of Divinity, just a few seconds of engagement in devotional service, bhakti-yoga, can bring a taste that was not previously experienced. Something as simple as chanting the holy names brings proof of the existence of God: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
For test in certainty to know,
Forward in time just go.
Today Shri Krishna with me,
In hundred years same to be?
One thousand or billion how about?
By then thinking I am death without.
Bhakti-yoga, beginning with faith the way,
Confirming what Markandeya and others to say.
Categories: the three