Why can some people readily accept Krishna’s supremacy and some can’t?
Transcriber: Dr Suresh Gupta
Edited by: Sharan Shetty
Question: Why can some people readily accept Krishna’s supremacy, and some can’t?
Answer: There are three broad categories of people when it comes to practicing religion: (i) nominal religionists (ii) emotional religionists (iii) rational and emotional religionists.
Nominal religionists are the ones who worship a particular devata because they are born in a particular family or due to a particular situation. There is a religious instinct which is present in everyone and that religious instinct gets expressed according to circumstances. For nominal religionists, that religious instinct neither has an intellectual foundation nor a strong emotional connection, mainly because it is circumstantial. However, later if such people get an intellectual conviction or some emotional experience, then such people are quite open to change. For them religious instinct was there but was circumstantially directed towards a particular devata. There was no personal investment of their own consciousness in that particular object. If they hear the scriptural explanation of the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition about how Krishna is God, how Krishna is the source of all gods, then they accept it.
People approach religion for different reasons. Some come due to a sense of cultural belonging. They experience a feeling of connection when they perform aarti with others, see people dress in a traditional way, watch them execute acts of devotion which they have seen their ancestors do. Some may go just to connect with others socially. There are also psychological factors since some people visit a temple simply because they feel good.
The other extreme is where people have a very strong emotional connect with a particular form of worship like worshipping a demigod, or some baba etc. If such people are told that Krishna is God, it shakes the very basis of their connection because they are very much emotionally invested. It is only when they also connect emotionally with some devotee or with something within Krishna bhakti that they may be inspired to change.
A third category is of those who have both emotional and rational connection. Such people are not only emotionally connected with the particular form of worship, but they also have a rational philosophical understanding about it. In such cases, if somebody rationally presents the philosophy to them, they may take it up and change what they are doing. In such cases, the preacher should be sensitive enough and should not hurt them emotionally by blaspheming their present belief or practice.
Srila Prabhupada used to approach people by appreciating them no matter at what stage they were and would connect them to the process of Krishna bhakti. The gap between their present belief and Krishna consciousness can be bridged if our presentation does not strongly challenge their existing belief. Generally, nobody from a broad Hindu tradition will object to that Krishna is God. However, the difficulty arises when they are unable to fathom the higher philosophy about Krishna being the Supreme Personality of Godhead and all the demigods being subordinate to him. That is why, in general it is best not to focus on those aspects, at least initially.
Generally, when people are completely nominal in their early religious practice they may change easily. When people are completely emotional, it is almost impossible to change. If people are somewhat rational and emotional, then it is best to start with the rational aspect. We can talk about existence of soul, reincarnation, about the need to gain knowledge from the Vedas and progressively its practical application in specific scenarios of life. If presentation is not rational, they may become irritated. When we have to take people from where they are to the next level, then we may have to carefully point out the dos and don’ts. Most importantly, give reasons for that. If somebody is rational, it is quite likely that over a period of time, they will come closer to Krishna.
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