Centre of Attention

As a traveling monk you have to keep your philosophical boxing gloves at the ready. Recently, someone quite bluntly told me they had serious issues with Krishna’s personality! I was slightly taken aback, but tried to dig a little deeper. “First God creates us for His enjoyment” they exclaimed, “Then, when we decide to leave Him, He sends us to the material world to cyclically suffer disease, old age and death. After repeated disappointment and frustration we are forced to surrender, at which time we resume our position as an eternal slave in God’s life of pleasure.” Interestingly, they then referred me to a famous Bhagavad-gita verse. There, Krishna implores Arjuna “Engage your mind in always thinking of ME, become MY devotee, offer obeisances to ME and worship ME. Being completely absorbed in ME, surely you will come to ME.” There were some serious doubts here – the person had painted a picture of God as an attention-seeking ego-maniac!

I could have given a philosophical rebuttal, but instead I tried to take them on a journey to the spiritual world. As the sun rises, Krishna wakes up, frolics with the villagers, and plays a few cheeky tricks on his parents which gives them great delight. While the cows happily run around in the luscious pasturing grounds, Krishna has wrestling fights with His cowherd friends, drawing emotions of laughter, joy and loving competition. Today Krishna loses and the penalty is to carry his friend all the way home on His shoulders. Returning home later than normal, His mother is waiting in eager anticipation. Externally she rebukes him for not being on time to eat, but internally her heart is jumping for joy at the sight of her charming son. With overflowing motherly love she feeds Him a sumptuous meal till He is completely full. As everyone tucks into bed, Krishna sneaks out to the forest for a secret rendezvous with the cowherd maidens. They excitedly leave their homes and husbands, readying themselves for the amorous pastimes in the dark night. This is the moment they have been waiting for all day. After hours of intimate association, they quietly return in the early morning hours as if they had never left. As the sun rises for another day, nobody suspects anything.

Clearly, the pastimes of love in the spiritual world are bringing ecstatic pleasure to everyone involved. The nature of a loving relationship is that each side tries to please the other with no expectation of return. Their happiness is in giving happiness to others. A further twist in the tale is the fact that God actually wants to quit His occupation! The cooperation of lover and beloved in the spiritual world doesn’t simply bring equal happiness to both parties. Interestingly, it is said that the devotees of Krishna actually experience more happiness than Him! Thus, Krishna comes to this world as Sri Caitanya – God in the form of His own devotee. Feeling an intense desire to experience this happiness, He wanders the land relishing the transcendental taste of devotion to Krishna in a state of intoxicated love of God. Reentering the spiritual dimension is about elevating oneself to an ecstatic life of pure consciousness where the heart is being melted by transcendental emotions at every step. It’s not at all a dull one-sided affair.

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