Limitless Kṛṣṇa

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In our regular monthly program, one of the guests asked me ‘Why do you call God as Kṛṣṇa? Why not just refer it as God?’ He also took exception to the title of the lecture ‘Who is God?’ He preferred ‘What is God?’ And he said he will read the book he bought substituting ‘God’ for ‘Kṛṣṇa’.

Names are used to refer to specific persons who occupy specific space in a specific place. The person John is not the person Tim – each have their own boundary of existence with their own likes and dislikes, circle of friends and relatives and so on. And if we side with John, we are not siding with Tim and vice-versa.

Having this in mind, people think when we refer to God as Kṛṣṇa we are referring to a specific person at a specific place. By addressing Him as Kṛṣṇa, we are distinguishing Him from Śiva and by worshiping Him we are ignoring others. So these people think that we should use the general term God and not any specific names such as Kṛṣṇa or Śiva. The idea is that calling God by a particular name limits Him and God is some impersonal energy.

The argument of the impersonalists is that we are using our mundane conception of name, form etc to address the higher reality called “God”. They think that since all names, forms, qualities, pastimes etc are limiting and mundane, the higher reality should be without name, form etc. Now if we look closely at what they are saying, it is they who are using their limited mundane conception of name and form. Since they think that all names and forms are limiting, the name Kṛṣṇa is also limiting. But if they come out of their mundane understanding they can see that there is limitless name, form etc possible in the spiritual realm.

The name Kṛṣṇa is an all encompassing one. In fact it means the all-attractive one. Arjuna tells Kṛṣṇa ’sarvam samāpnoṣi tato ‘si sarvaḥ’ – “Since You encompass everything, You are everything”. (BG 11.40). So the name Kṛṣṇa is not a limiting one. And Kṛṣṇa’s form is not limited to a particular area like ours. When Yaśodā opened Kṛṣṇa’s mouth to see if He had eaten dirt, she saw the whole creation in His belly. How could a limited form hold everything in existence? Kṛṣṇa does have His likes and dislikes. He plays on a flute and not on a guitar. He likes butter and not cow’s flesh. His color is bluish black and so on. And He says in BG that He appears to protect His devotees and kill the miscreants. So He makes distinctions. But this does not mean that there is something in existence that is not Kṛṣṇa. Everything is Kṛṣṇa but Kṛṣṇa is different from everything. He is the concentrated form of Brahman, full of bliss.

Śrīla Prabhupāda in his introduction to Bhāgavatam, makes a distinction between God and the Absolute Truth. God is some powerful controller, whereas the Absolute Truth is the source of everything. As said in the message about Janmastami from Krishna.com, Absolute Truth means everything and everyone is a part of Krishna. His point of view encompasses all reality.

And we should know that the Absolute Truth is much more than the all powerful Almighty. He has a sweeter side too and that conception of God is the highest, and that is Kṛṣṇa. So when we accept Kṛṣṇa we accept all other deities and more.