Can Krishna’s exalted pastimes be understood without philosophically understanding his greatness?
Transcription by bhaktin Andreea Chelu
Can the elevated subjects be spoken without proper philosophical understanding?
Actually, No. There is God’s greatness and there’s God’s sweetness. Knowledge of God’s greatness evokes submission. And Knowledge of his sweetness evokes affection. And authentic devotion is a combination of submission and affection.
So sometimes if we don’t properly understand the philosophy, and then prematurely try to introduce into the pastimes of Krishna, at that time we may appreciate his sweetness, to some extent to the pastimes. But we will not understand that this sweetness is categorically different than whatever other novel stories fiction, whatever we may be reading. Nowadays this happens increasingly in India, that Mahabharata, Ramayana, these are being depicted on TV serials a lot, and using high technology and good actors and things like that is depicted, but for people, it just becomes another entertainment program. They may be seeing a Bollywood movie and there they’re experiencing some emotions and then they turn on some Krishna serial and they experience some emotions over there. They may cry over there when the heroine is separated from her hero. And they may shed tears when they talk about Krishna and Radharani. But they are not really experiencing spiritual emotions over there.
So without philosophical understanding, Krishna Lila is at best amusing. But with philosophical understanding, Krishna Lila becomes amazing, not just amusing, but amazing. We understand that this is God and this is how God really is, this is how God is filled with love and gives himself up for love.
The sahajias focus on God’s sweetness without considering his greatness. There are some people who say I am not attracted to Bhagavad-gita at all. I can’t even feel like reading the Bhagavat-gita. I simply read Caitanya-Caritamrta, I simply read 10th Canto of Bhagavatam, I simply read Govinda-lilamrta, all these elevated books. Now there may be a few great souls who may be relishing those things, but to speak such a thing in public, is to actually minimize the Bhagavad-gita. And that is not just wrong, it can be offensive also.
So we do need a proper appreciation of God’s greatness before we can truly appreciate his sweetness.
Now his sweetness can be appreciated through some cultural presentations, like deities. People may still be thinking of the deities as statues, as idols or something like that. But they will see the beauty and it attracts them to some extent. People may see some drama of Krishna Lila and may become attracted to that. So the cultural presentations usually bring out the sweetness of Krishna and that is attractive. So even if through the TV channels Krishna is presented, that is good. But we should not stop at the cultural presentations alone. Along with the cultural, there has to be a philosophical presentation as well.
And Srila Prabhupada did emphasize the philosophical quite a bit. One time someone asked him: Swamiji, please speak rasa-Lila. So Prabhupada said: Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita at Kurukshetra first. So what he said is basically Krishna performed the Govardhana-Lila first, where he lifted Govardhan. And how a 7-year old boy can lift Govardhan, you have to study Bhagavat-gita to understand that. So Prabhupada would say that those who go to rasa-lila prematurely, sometimes people imitate rasa-lila, he said that is not rasa-lila, that is rascal-lila.
So we have to be careful, definitely, caution is required and philosophical understanding is first needed.