Five Misunderstandings To Resolve About God

[Krishna stealing butter]“Krishna is complete in the spiritual sky [Vaikuntha]. He is more complete in Mathura and Dvaraka, and He is most complete in Vrindavana, Vraja, due to His manifesting all His opulences.” (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 20.398)

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व्रजे कृष्ण — सर्वैश्वर्य-प्रकाशे ‘पूर्णतम’
पुरी-द्वये, परव्योमे — ‘पूर्णतर’, ‘पूर्ण’

vraje kṛṣṇa — sarvaiśvarya-prakāśe ‘pūrṇatama’
purī-dvaye, paravyome — ‘pūrṇatara’, ‘pūrṇa’

1. He has no envy

“What is wrong with me? Why am I always so envious? When I hear good news from someone else, my first response is to compare against myself. How am I doing? Am I able to accomplish the same? Is there something that I am missing?

“It should not be this way. I should be happy for others. I should try to lift up the downtrodden. Their successes and failures should have no impact on the way I view my life.”

2. He is not petty

“What is wrong with me? Why am I so petty and vindictive? Why do I hold on to offenses for so long? What is to be gained by getting revenge? I won’t correct the wrong. It rarely teaches the other person a lesson. They are in ignorance for a reason. They will not change their ways simply because I have returned the offense to them.”

3. He is not miserable

“What is wrong with me? Why am I not happy? I have everything in this life. I barely know struggle. That is the honest and objective assessment. At the same time, I am always looking for faults in others. I take pleasure in the failures of others. That is not a good way to go about life.”

4. He is not miserly

“What is wrong with me? Why am I so stingy with sharing vital information? Why am I so worried what others will think of me? None of what I have will carry forward to the afterlife. There is no harm in extending grace, in being liberal. I should spend as much as is necessary to accomplish objectives.”

5. He is not lacking anything

“What is wrong with me? Why do I always feel inadequate? I keep thinking that if I get this one more thing, then life will be better. That was about one hundred ‘things’ ago. Life has not gotten better. I have more attachments, with more to protect. I am never at peace, since I think that I need more and more.”

If left to mental speculation, it would make sense that I would conjure up a similar portrait depicting the Almighty. After all, these are the defects I suffer from. I have a difficult time finding anyone who is outside of this model. No one is excluded from these shortcomings.

If we access authorized information, however, we get a different picture. This authority is based on the links in the chain. Like passing a baton in a race to those athletes who have trained for such an occasion, parampara is the method by which timeless wisdom gets passed along to future generations.

एवं परम्परा-प्राप्तम्
इमं राजर्षयो विदुः
स कालेनेह महता
योगो नष्टः परन्तप

evaṁ paramparā-prāptam
imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā
yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa

“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)

As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, the descending knowledge process is the only way to understand transcendence. We cannot come upon the Absolute Truth through discovery, through observation and experiment.

This only makes sense, considering that our period of observation is limited. I can only go by what I have seen, analyzed, and documented in my lifetime. That amount of time is miniscule in the grand scheme. I can certainly build upon what others have observed, those appearing before me, but that has similarities to the descending process.

In that we trust the information that we did not access directly. We accept the knowledge from authority. To understand the Absolute Truth, we approach someone who is in a line of instructors that trace their origin to someone like Arjuna, who received the wisdom of Bhagavad-gita directly.

समो ऽहं सर्व-भूतेषु
न मे द्वेष्यो ऽस्ति न प्रियः
ये भजन्ति तु मां भक्त्या
मयि ते तेषु चाप्य् अहम्

samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham

“I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.29)

Arjuna heard that Shri Krishna is not envious. He validated that Shri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This was both through hearing the recommendations of others, posing questions directly, and witnessing the awe-inspiring vision of the virat-rupa.

अर्जुन उवाच
परं ब्रह्म परं धाम पवित्रं परमं भवान् ।
पुरुषं शाश्वतं दिव्यमादिदेवमजं विभुम् ॥
आहुस्त्वामृषय: सर्वे देवर्षिर्नारदस्तथा ।
असितो देवलो व्यास: स्वयं चैव ब्रवीषि मे ॥

arjuna uvāca
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam
ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum

āhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve
devarṣir nāradas tathā
asito devalo vyāsaḥ
svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me

“Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.” (Bhagavad-gita, 10.12-13)

[virat-rupa]We know that the various elements of nature are generally impartial. The sunlight is available to both the saintly person and the thief. The earth is the host upon which land creatures roam. The sky is available for use by whichever beings can reach it.

It would make sense that Krishna is not envious. He has no reason to be petty. Rather, as a constant companion in the travels of the individual, He is the best friend. He is the greatest well-wisher. No one can be more forgiving, as there is always the opportunity to return to His shelter.

मय्यासक्तमना: पार्थ योगं युञ्जन्मदाश्रय: ।
असंशयं समग्रं मां यथा ज्ञास्यसि तच्छृणु ॥

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha
yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ
yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu

“Now hear, O son of Pritha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.1)

Krishna has no reason to be petty because He is not inferior in any way. He is also purna, or complete. As described by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, there are different places in which to witness this completeness. That is to say, in some places, like Vrindavana, the completeness in opulence of Shri Krishna is more on display.

[Krishna stealing butter]These misunderstandings are important to resolve because they allow for the development of a close relationship. The more a person takes shelter in the Almighty, the more they have faith in His ability to deliver, the more they remain in consciousness of Him, the better the living experience becomes. This is something every individual seeks, and the meeting place, the culmination of the many lifetimes spent in forgetfulness, is bhakti-yoga.

In Closing:

Envious like a snake,
Never pleasure to take.

Hoping for others to fail,
And that behind me to trail.

Thinking that God must be the same,
From Vedas a clear picture to gain.

That most forgiving and loving of all,
The one a friend to Arjuna to call.

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