Could the unbelievable stories about Krishna not be some poets’ fabrications?
From Mrigank Sharad
ISKCON being related to the school of Gaudia Vaishnavism emphasises upon
the form of devotion that is generally termed as ‘madhurya rasa’. You talk
about gopis, and Krishna’s form etc. I have heard many stories being
discussed by ISKCON celibates which sound strange: one goes like this:
Radharani cooks new dishes for Krishna every day in the spiritual world,
and never repeats a dish’… this kind of man-made stories are hard to
believe! And your slogan is to follow the foot-steps of acharyas! whats
the proof that the acharyas who told all these strange stories did not
fabricate them. for me Gita is logical, whether i look at it from the point
of view of dualism or advaita. Every rational person can connect with it.
But absolutely not with these kinds of stories.
Transcription : Vadanan Goel Mataji and Ashish Gupta Prabhu
QUESTION: Could the unbelievable stories about Krishna not be some poets’ fabrication?
ANSWER: There are three different aspects to this first is role of logic, second is the authority of the acharyas and third is the nature of Krishna’s pastimes. Let’s look at them one by one.
The role of logic- Now it is logical to understand that the Supreme will be beyond logic. Actually by logic, we can come up with the reasonable arguments to talk about existence of God; the Supremebeing. So there can be cosmological argument, designargument, moral argument like that various arguments are there. So now once we understand that there is Supreme that implicitly means that logic is not Supreme. The Supreme is Supreme. If Supreme is Supreme that means it is superior to logic and there will be aspects about the Supreme that are beyond the comprehension merely by logic. And what to speak of Supreme that applies even to fields of science like Quantum Physics. There is much in Quantum Physics which can’t be understood by logic and yet Quantum Physics is widely used branch of science because there are criteria other than pure logicality that are used to understand its validity. For example mathematical equations that are there, they don’t make sense. The concepts of Quantum Physics don’t make sense in terms of giving us a logical picture of what the universe look like. But mathematically they make sense, they work! Similarly there may be certain things beyond logic but that itself does not make them invalid, so it is logical to say that Supreme will be beyond the reach of logic. So there are illogical things, there are logical things and there are trans-logical things. Trans-logical means that which is beyond the capacity of logic to comprehend. Whereas illogical means that which will not sustain logical scrutiny. Trans-logical is which logic itself cannot sustain itself in front of that. So we should not misunderstand trans-logical to be illogical. If we do that we make logic into a surrogate God. Instead of considering God as Supreme we are taking logic to be Supreme and logic can’t satisfy the heart. Logic can’t answer our innate longing for love and happiness. So logic is a false God which we should not let displace the true God. Now of course there is a valid concern over here that which we may call trans-logical may well be illogical so could it be that what we are saying is inconceivable pastime of the Lord are just fabrications by the some past poets. It’s possible! But is that what is actually happened, we can’t say for sure. If look at the lives of acharyas for example JivGoswami has written a book called Gopaljampu in which he elaborately analyzes the pastimes of Krishna and at many places where there seem to be some logical inconsistencies, he resolves them through logic. Then he has got a book Sandharbhas in which there is tremendous logic. The whole book is based on logic. One of the Acharyas, Ramanujaacharya, Madhavaacharya all of them have also used tremendous logic especially in there philosophical commentary on books like VedantSutra. Now at the same time those people who have some penetrating logic while enhancing philosophy also accept the transcendental pastimes of the Lord as something which is an exhibition of His extra-ordinary supremacy, extra-ordinary power and his supremacy basically His omnipotency.
JivGoswami and thereafter BaldevThakur talks about achintyatatva. Achintyatatva means inconceivability and they explain that the Supreme in order to be Supreme has to be superior to our intelligence that means He has to be inconceivable. So inconceivability is not a license to illogicality because inconceivability is trans-logical. They accept the point that God is Supreme. And once we accept that God is Supreme then there is a innate reasonability or logicality to the world of Love which is revealed by the acharyas through their books, based on the scriptures. The concept of God as Krishna who subordinates his Supremacy so that love can reign Supreme. It has charm of its own that is both logical and emotional that Lord is a delight in bragging His God-hood but God subordinates His God-hood, so that love can reign Supreme and in the concept of Madhuriyarasa, where the Lord and His devotees in female form are attracted to each-other. That is actually the best explanation, even from the logical point of view for why the male female attraction is present in the world. What is the origin of this male female attraction? The religions that do not have the religious world that does not include the romantic relationship with God are hard pressed to explain the origin of the sex-drive and they are hard pressed to explain whether there is something in the kingdom of God which is a replica or it is a perverted reflection or whatever. But the concept of MadhuriyaRasa is both a testimony to the sweetness of God as well as the logical explanation of how this world’s male female attraction can be a perversion of that original spiritual attraction between the Lord and His devotees. So the scriptures and the acharyas don’t just describe some fantastic stories as has been written by ????….these pastimes are fantastic but not fantasy. They sound fantastic that seem impossible but they are not fantasy because the Lord has got the inconceivable potencyto do these things and as the another aspect of the logicality of the bhakti philosophy is that it is experiential aspect as Krishna says in the 9.2 verse of the Gita
su-sukham kartum avyayam
One can purse this to be true by experiencing within. pratyaksavagamam ..so the acharyas if we look at their lives, they have led lives of selfless devotion to Krishna and purified themselves and therefore it is quite reasonable that if there is a higher reality which can be pursed after purification. When they have pursed the reality and they have acted as transmitters of the events of that reality for us to know. As you said could well be a fabrication, yes it may be possible that it could be fabrication but it will also be transmission. Now how will we know what is the reality? We can’t in advance. If we use just logic as the final authority then we are installing the false God. So it’s much more open minded to try the experimental aspect to purify our hearts and to check whether we also get the similar revelations of higher pastimes, the pastimes that happened in the spiritual world. And as far as the specifics are concerned let’s say Radharani cooks fresh dish for Krishna everyday for all of eternity, it’s possible that we may find it difficult to believe. And there are certain things like this which we can keep it in case of suspended judgment. We neither accept them, nor do we reject them. Considering God’s inconvincible potency it’s possible that it can happen but at the same time it doesn’t seem to make sense to me. Now this sought of specific thing is not the most important point of Krishna’s pastimes. The important thing is reciprocation of love that is there. And normally we express our love for our loved ones by doing special things for them. The principle is that Radharani cooks special items for Krishna and that is the way she expresses her love for Krishna. So if the specifics are difficult to believe for us, we can put those specifics for the time being in the state of suspended judgment and focus on the principle. The principle is sweet reciprocation of love between the Lord and His devotees. In this way by refusing to let logic to become a false God that rules our lives, by recognizing that the Lord’s omnipotency enables Him to do things that seem inconvincible to us. By recognizing the bhakti includes experiential aspect we come after purification and the acharyas experienced and realized and got revelations of higher realities. We can be open minded in understanding the philosophy in bhakti and we can practice bhaktidiligently so that we can eventually get realization or get conformation or disconfirmations of the higher truths, as it may actually turn out to be. So we should focus on pratyaksavagmam…Gita is logical, and Gita itself directs to the path of bhakti and in many ways the conception of God that is given in the gaudiyavaishnavism tradition is the extension of the conception that is given in the BhagwadGita. The BhagwadGita says Sarvadharman paritajyete maam ekam sharnam.. Bhagwadam says Dharmam………….same theme is continued, give up lower dharmas and the higher Dharma is the dharma of pure love. Now what happens in the dharma of pure love in the world of pure love, that is described in the Bhagwadam and in the ChatanyaCharitamrut and in other scriptures. So in one sense there is a logical continuity, the BhagwadGita gives the identity of God and Bhagwadam describes the activity of God and the ChatiynaChritamrit describes the mentality of God, how God thinks? What He feels? Is a progression in these books and if we study them open mindedly we can see these progressions as it brings the personality and the beauty of God in closer and clearer focus for us so that we can fall more and more in love with Him.