Found in Sanga, Sanga 2006.

Krishna Has a Problem

April 30th, 2006 | No Comments

Q. I read your Sangas and appreciate your arguments based on Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s understanding of relative (artha-prada) and absolute (paramartha-prada) considerations. Where can I find more information about these topics?

A. You can find more information on this topic in Thakura Bhaktivinoda’s Sri Krishna-samhita. We owe a great debt to Thakura Bhaktivinoda for his insight into the nature of the Absolute’s descent into the realm of relativity. He charted the course for the future of Gaudiya Vaisnavism in this and the previous century, while conceiving of himself as a mere street sweeper for the sankirtana of Sriman Mahaprabhu. In turn, the great Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura conceived of himself as but one straw in the broom of Bhaktivinoda.

My Gurudeva considered his service an extension of the mission of Thakura Bhaktivinoda. We are most fortunate to be connected with the Bhaktivinoda parivara.

Q. I am initiating a Bhagavad-gita discussion group in my town and would like your advice regarding attracting students and teaching the main points of the Gita.

A. I suggest that you try to attract your students to Krishna’s charm and philosophy as presented by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his followers, while, in the universal spirit of Thakura Bhaktivinoda, acknowledging that there are other interpretations of the Gita. Logically and grammatically speaking there are many convincing ways to explain the Gita. That being said, the theistic devotional conclusion to the Gita promoted by Vaisnavism in general is more readily supported by the text itself and this should be brought out.

In his Gita edition, Srila Prabhupada emphasized two main themes, one being that Advaita Vedanta is a forced interpretation and thus incorrect and the other that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead–krishnas tu bhagavan svayam. The first point is foundational to a life of bhakti and the second point is foundational to attaining Krishna prema. One cannot be a suddha bhakta of Bhagavan Sri Krishna and at the same time accept the false notion of absolute identity between Brahman and the jiva as presented in the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta.

Regarding the second point–krishnas tu bhagavan svayam– it will be difficult to attain Vraja bhakti without first understanding that Krishna is the source of all manifestations of divinity. When one understands Sri Krishna as the ultimate source–aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate–there is scope for entering into the kind of spiritual practice that begets love of God in intimacy–iti matva bhajante mam budha bhava samanvitah, raga bhava samanvitah.

Try to thoroughly understand these points and discuss them with your students, not in an authoritarian manner but rather a nonconfrontational one, energized by the extent to which you have been charmed by Arjuna’s friend Partha-sarathi. Conduct the class for your own spiritual improvement, and as you are being benefited, so too will others be. The success of your class will ultimately be judged by your realization.

Q. I read that Lord Caitanya is Krishna, but he is Krishna in the mood of Radha. What does this mean and how does this understanding affect our devotional service to him?

A. It is important to establish that Sri Caitanya is Krishna and to broadcast this to the world. Although Krishna has disguised himself as a devotee of himself in the form of Sri Caitanya, our service is to reveal this secret to the world. Rendering this service will purify our hearts and help others as well.

When Krishna becomes a devotee of himself as Sri Caitanya, he does so to taste the ecstasy of his devotees and to teach us about devotion. Because no one is more devoted to him than Sri Radha, he adopts her mood. In this way he teaches the highest devotion in the midst of tasting it. Thus although Sri Caitanya is Krishna and we should teach others this truth, it is also important for us to understand the mood of devotion he has adopted and follow his example of devotion. The selfless love of Sri Radha manifest in Sri Caitanya is thus our guiding light and from it we learn how to be a devotee.

As we become advanced in bhakti, we will internally conceive of ourselves as servant friends of Sri Caitanya. This is appropriate for advanced devotees’ internal life of nama-bhajana. Such devotees try to assist Sri Caitanya in his efforts to taste Radha’s love. They do so in deep meditation resulting from absorption in nama-sankirtana.

Q. In a lecture, you spoke about Krishna being in love with Radha and wanting to hear Radha nama. Doesn’t the Hare Krishna maha-mantra represent Radha nama and the relationship between Radha and Krishna?

A. Radha nama, the name of Radha, appears covertly in the Hare Krishna maha-mantra in the name Hare. Hare is the vocative for Hari. However, it is also the vocative for Hara. It is said, harati krishna-manah krishnahlada-svarupini ato harety anenaiva sri radha parikirtitah: “Because she steals Krishna’s mind and because she is the incarnation of Krishna’s joy, Sri Radha is also known by the name Hara.” With this understanding of the word Hare, many Gaudiya Vaisnavas chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra desiring to unite Radha and Krishna in transcendental romantic love. This is their ideal, the union of Radha and Krishna.

Q. Sometimes when I chant, read about Krishna, or view the Deities in the temple I have an overwhelming desire to cry. Does this have any internal spiritual significance or is just some type of material religious sentiment?

A. It is not unusual for religious people to cry when reading scripture or attending services, but such tears are not necessarily reflections of genuine spiritual emotion. Indeed, most people who have taken seriously to Krishna-bhakti will admit to having had a tearful epiphany at some point during their introduction to its precepts.

So even before actually beginning a life of devotion we may cry simply on hearing the profoundly charming theology and philosophy surrounding Krishna lila. Such tears propel those who are actually sincere into a life of divine service. Then, in the beginning of sadhana-bhakti, another type of tear will appear. Sincere students will cry because they sense that despite Krishna nama’s generosity, they do not have a sustained attraction to him and are thus easily distracted. In teaching us this, Sri Caitanya prays, durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah: “I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for Krishna nama.”

Then, if we become steady in devotion and are successful in sadhana-bhakti by developing a taste and attachment for bhakti and its object, Sri Krishna, we will experience tears of ecstasy leading to bhava. Sri Caitanya prays for such ecstatic tears when he says, nayanam galad asru dharaya: “While chanting your holy name when will my eyes flood with streams of tears?” Then, when speaking of prema-bhakti, he declares, yugayitam nimesena caksusa pravrsayitam: “My eyes have become a monsoon.”

Thus from beginning to end, bhakti is about crying for Krishna.

Q. You said in one of your CD lectures that Krishna has a problem, but I did not really understand this point. Krishna is the supreme person. How can he have a problem?

A. Yes, Krishna is the supreme person. This is one angle of vision in consideration of scriptural conclusions–krishnas tu bhagavan svayam. However, even this central point of siddhanta is true only when we look at Sri Krishna objectively through the lens of bhava or rasa. Because Sri Krishna is Rasaraja, therefore he is the supreme person, higher than even Narayana. Otherwise, Krishna and Narayana are one.

However, through the subjective lens of bhava, rasa, or lila, great devotees also lose sight of the fact that Krishna is the supreme person and think of him as their friend, son, or lover. Indeed, Krishna’s mother Yasodamayi does not think him to be the supreme person, and neither does Krishna himself when he is nursing from her breast.

Although Krishna is God and in this sense has no problem, in his lila he has many problems. For example, when Srimati Radharani exhibits mana (jealous love), which Krishna takes great pleasure in, she will sometimes forbid him to enter her chambers, and her handmaidens will block the doorway. At such times Sri Krishna seeks solace from his friends like Subala, who give him advice on how to solve such problems.

Through the pen of Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja, Sri Krishna says:

purnananda-maya ami cin-maya purna-tattva
radhikara preme ama karaya unmatta

“Although I am the full spiritual truth and am made of complete joy, Radha’s love drives me mad.”

Is it not a problem if God has gone mad? Indeed, the entire advent of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is predicated on the problem that arose for Sri Krishna during his rasa-lila. At that time he realized that Radha’s love for him enabled her to taste a measure of love that he himself was not privileged to taste. Although he says in the Bhagavad-gita that he will reciprocate with love in proportion to the love with which he is approached, he realized during the rasa-lila that Radha’s love had defeated him, and thus he could not reciprocate in kind. Being defeated by her love, he tried to steal it in a last ditch effort. This got him into more trouble in his appearance as Sri Caitanya, who spent the better part of his antya-lila in tears and madness. Only by the mercy of Radha’s intimate associates Lalita and Visakha in the forms of Svarupa Damodara and Ramananda Raya was he able to resolve the issue, one that is nonetheless eternal and one that presents a golden opportunity of service for us.

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