The Dancing God

Frederick Nietzsche is famous for his audacious proclamation “God is Dead”. Interestingly, the German philosopher did say something further, albeit in jest. Walter Kaufman translates Nietzsche’s quip – “I should believe only in a God who understood how to dance.” Clearly, the philosopher had a particular picture of God in his mind’s eye. Nowadays I use the word ‘God’ with great caution, not knowing exactly what kind images it conjures up. As one philosopher noted, “if God had a house on earth, people would probably break his windows.”

Maybe Nietzsche thought of God as a ruthless judge; the grim old man who sits on a high chair and hurls down thunderbolts every time someone deviates. Maybe he thought of God as an ego-maniac; the attention seeker who needs to be at the centre of everything, harboring a deep fear that someone somewhere is having a good time without him. Maybe he thought of God as an emotionless and irrelevant energy, disinterested in the people and devoid of reciprocal relationships. Maybe he thought of God as a mythological creation of the power hungry elite, used to keep the masses in line and maintain the status quo.

Ancient Sanskrit texts describe Krishna as “Raso vai sah” – the very embodiment of affectionate relationships, loving relish, and transcendental sweetness. I was just in Vrindavana, the place which is famous for its sacred spots where Krishna danced with His most confidential devotees in the dead of the night. Now I am in Mayapur, West Bengal, the ancient town where Krishna advented himself 500 years ago as Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Caitanya was renowned as nataraja, the “great dancer” who loudly chanted and danced through the streets in spontaneous unbounded spiritual love. The extraordinary revelation is that God is a person who is full of color, character and bliss. He knows how to have a good time, and is much more interested in relishing the sweetness of love, than the regulated worship of those who approach Him in awe and reverence.

pic above: Caitanya and his brother Nityananda dance in spiritual happiness

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