Found in Sanga, Sanga 2002.

Q. Is Krishna God the Absolute? I ask this because in Sri Gita it says that Krishna is (just) the Supreme Lord Personality. Is somebody or something else not manifest behind God?

A. In the Gita Krishna says:

mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya/
mayi sarvam idam protam sutre mani-gana iva//

“Nothing whatsoever is superior to me, O winner of wealth. Everything rests on me like pearls strung on a thread.” (Bg. 7.7)

Later on he also says:

atha va bahunaitena kim jnatena tavarjuna/
vistabhyaham idam krtsnam ekamsena sthito jagat//

“But what need is there for all this extensive knowledge, Arjuna? I sustain this entire universe by a mere portion of myself!” (Bg. 10.42)

Comment:

Krishna concludes this section by referring back to its beginning in verse twenty. There Krishna began describing his divine manifestations by mentioning the Paramatma. Here in verses forty-one and forty-two he describes the Paramatma as a fraction (amsa), or plenary portion, of himself, by which the entire material manifestation is pervaded. Thus Krishna has reiterated that he is the source of everything, including the Paramatma, who is but a spark of his splendor. From this verse it should be clear that Krishna is not an incarnation of the Paramatma in the form of Maha-Visnu.

At the close of this chapter, Arjuna is overwhelmed at the thought of his friend’s opulence—the fact that Krishna is the source of Visnu, who is his mere plenary portion. This awe inspires the next chapter.

From Bhagavad-gita: Its Feeling and Philosophy.

Q. Srila Sridhara Maharaja wrote in one of his books:

“We are interested not in objective, but in subjective reality. We shall always try to live not in objective but in subjective reality.

Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja once remarked to me that although the engineers in New York have built so many skyscraper buildings that will stand for ages, they were never mindful of how long their own bodies would last. The buildings will stand for a long, long time. But those who will live in those buildings have forgotten how long their bodies will stand. In this way people are very busy on the objective side, but they are neglecting the subjective values. Their concern is with objects and not with those who will use them. They think that no subjective cultivation is necessary for the user of the objective world. In this way they give all importance to the objective side, neglecting totally the subjective side.”

I am not sure that I have understood the point Srila Sridhara Maharaja is making here. Could you please elaborate on this?

A. In the passage you have cited, Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja is using the terms objective and subjective to refer to matter and consciousness. Thus he stresses the importance of nurturing one’s self over the body. Matter is objective in the sense that its manifestations are objects to be experienced by our selves. Whereas we are the experiencers, the subjects.

Q. How should I interpret constant difficulties and suffering in my attempts to develop Krishna Consciousness?

A. They represent your prarabdha (manifest) karma. You have to tolerate them and continue your practice. Always stay within the parameters of your guru’s guidance. He is the managing agent of your karma, and under his guidance such reactions will not get the best of you. If you follow him closely, over time as you become fixed in your practice your suffering and difficulties will appear favorable because you will understand that they represent your karma exhausting itself once and for all.

Q. What does Srila Sridhara Maharaja mean when he says in this answer that the jiva can become Shiva? (From the book Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion.)

Devotee: Does a jiva attain the position of Siva?

Srila Guru Maharaja: Yes, he can be ‘Siva,’ when he is out of the clutches of Maya; and the Vaikuntha devotee is more than Siva. When a spiritual molecule is free from the clutches of the exploitation tendency, he is known as ‘Siva.’ Pasa-baddho bhavej jivah pasa-muktah sadasivah: When he is entangled, he is ‘jiva,’ and when he is free, he is ‘Siva’ (Sivo ‘ham).

A. The word siva does not only refer to Siva himself. It also means auspicious, fortunate, happy, etc. and refers to liberation. Thus Sridhara Maharaja describes Siva here as that condition in which one is free from the clutches of the exploitation that characterizes life under karmic rule. When the jiva is liberated he is in the position known as Siva. However, it is mentioned in Brhat-bhagavatamrta that the jiva can take the “post” of Siva.

Q. I have been studying and practicing Hinduism for nine years now. I know that Shakti is the complement to Siva and that they are the male and female forces of the God beyond all gods. The practice of Shaktism has drawn me to it. The Divine Mother almost calls out to me, but I do not know where I can learn more about the practices of the Shaktis. Can you recommend books, web-sites, or anything for me?

A. Our Gaudiya sampradaya is formally a lineage of bhaktas, not saktas. However, in a higher sense ours is a para sakta lineage because we venerate the Supreme sakti in the form of Sri Radha and consider her to embody the highest love, a love so pure that the Supreme purusa/male (Sri Krishna) is conquered by her. We consider Siva/Sakti to be expressions of Radha/Krishna that have expanded from them for the purpose of manifesting the world. For the most part people worship Siva for liberation and Sakti for material gain. Others also worship Sakti with liberation in mind.

Here is another idea. Worship Radha-Krishna with emphasis on Sri Radha only for the purpose of loving them and all they represent, with no concern for material gain or liberation from birth and death. This is the path of pure devotion—devotion for its own sake. Sri Radha not only embodies the highest devotion, but by example she teaches it as well. When it comes to love, she is Krishna’s guru.

My suggestion is that if you are truly drawn to the sakti of God, as those in our lineage are, you should try to learn more about the relationship of Radha-Krishna and the notion of the subtle supremacy of sakti in the form of Sri Radha. I have written extensively about this in my book Aesthetic Vedanta.

Q. I have a question regarding different forms of Srimati Radharani. I heard that during the Battle of Kuruksetra, by Yogamaya’s arrangement, the whole of Vrindavana, including Radha and (another form of) Krishna remained above the battlefield, while on the earth Vasudeva Krishna, or Partha-sarathi, helped Arjuna to defeat the Kauravas. Can you say more about this? What are the other forms/manifestations of Srimati Radharani and how do they correspond to Krishna’s forms?

A. Information about Radha at Kuruksetra during the battle might be available in Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s comments on Padma Purana. I know that he has made fine theological distinctions about Krishna’s presence in different places in his comments about this Purana found in his Bhagavata commentary. However, I have not read any such comments about Sri Radha hovering above Kuruksetra, etc.

She did visit Kuruksetra before the war. There she and Krishna met and Krishna admitted that he was purchased by her. The forms of Radha and Krishna meeting (yugala milana) at Kuruksetra are not their original forms. Radharani’s original form stands next to Krishna in Vrindavana. When he becomes unmanifest there and ostensibly goes to Mathura, Radharani remains in Vraja and is sometimes referred to as samyogini Radha. Her expansion that goes to Kuruksetra is sometimes referred to as viyogini Radha.

At the time of the Kuruksetra War, svayam Bhagavan had already departed from the world along with his Vraja devotees. They went with him to Goloka and also invisibly remained in Bhauma Vrindavana along with him. I have explained this as follows in my Bhagavad-gita commentary:

“According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.11.9), Krishna returned to Mathura to kill Dantavakra before the Gita was spoken. Padma Purana reveals that he then went from Mathura to Vraja Dhama. After remaining in Vraja for two months, he transferred all of his Vraja devotees to his unmanifest eternal lila of Goloka.

According to Visvanatha Cakravarti’s comments on the Padma Purana, Krishna himself went in a nearly complete (purna-kalpa-prakasa) manifestation to Goloka. In another most complete (purnatama-prakasa) plenary manifestation, he remained perpetually enjoying in Vraja while invisible to material eyes. In yet another plenary manifestation (purna-prakasa), he mounted his chariot and returned alone to Dwaraka.

Following his return, Krishna spoke Bhagavad-gita. This prince of Dwaraka no doubt thought of the highest devotion of his Vraja devotees from time to time while speaking of devotion to Arjuna. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, the entire lila of Dwaraka is not unrelated to Vraja. Krishna went to Dwaraka for the sake of protecting his Vraja devotees. As Sanatana Goswami finds Dwaraka’s prince calling out Radha’s name in his sleep in his Brhad-Bhagavatamrta (1.6.5152), Gaudiya commentators have heard him speak of Vraja bhakti by reading between the lines of his song to Arjuna. Indeed, even within the embrace of his principal queen of Dwaraka, prince Krishna thinks of Vraja and Radha’s love. Umapati Dhara, quoted in Rupa Goswami’s Padyavali (371) and Ujjvala-nilamani (14.184) prays thus: “In his palace in Dwaraka, on the sparkling, gem-strewn shores of the ocean, Krishna’s body shivered with ecstasy in the tight embrace of none other than Rukmini. Yet his mind recalled the fragrance of the love he had enjoyed with Radha in the reeds by the banks of the black Yamuna waters, and he fainted. May that faint protect you always.”

In the section above I have referred to the chapter of Brhad-Bhagavatamrta in which the devotees headed by Brahma created a Nava Vrindavana in an effort to appease Krishna’s pangs of separation and to keep him from leaving Dvaraka. For more insight read Sanatana Prabhu’s Brhad-Bhagavatamrta 1.6.

Q. What is the nature of God’s kingdom?

A. The kingdom of God is constituted of nondual consciousness (advaya jnana tattva), yet knowledge there is suppressed by the overwhelming influence of love and beauty. In Goloka all souls are one in will with Sri Krishna, and all the movement there (lila) is thus the ecstasy of Krishna expressing itself through them in unlimited variety. In this way unity and difference coexist without one compromising the other. In that plane, all the walking is dance, and all the talking is song. Just imagine then what the dance and song there must be like! The environment—the land, the trees, the cows—are all capable of fulfilling any wish, but the residents there do not want anything, and this is the real opulence of that plane.

In a land of cintamani, the philosopher’s stone, fully satisfied people crave one thing alone, not fortune nor freedom, no care for fame, but a taste for two syllables that make up his name.

Animate and inanimate all lost in his will, what is it that enables them to move yet be still? Love eternal, love divine, love of Krishna so sublime, the truth that is beauty in a realm beyond time.

Who knows that place at once knows all, yet he at the same time knows not at all, for truth is beauty but beauty calls, and calling, beauty bewilders us all. (from Aesthetic Vedanta)

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