Who is God?

by September 8, 2010

Question: Different religions claim their God to be the real God. Sometimes, certain people claim to be incarnations of God. Some consider God personal, others, impersonal. Who actually is God?

Answer: God has nowadays largely become an object of naïve sentiment and blind faith. However, knowledge of God is a precise and profound science. Based on that divine science, let’s address these questions one by one:

  1. As science begins with definition of the object under study, let’s begin with the definition of God. The Vedanta Sutra (1.1.2) gives a definition that agrees broadly with the conception of God in the major world religions: “God is the source of everything.” Just as there is one source of illumination for the whole world, who is called sol in Mexico, surya in Hindi and sun in English, similarly, there one source of all existence, who is called Allah in the Islamic tradition, Jehovah in the Judeo-Christian tradition and Krishna in the Vedic tradition. On a superficial reading, the Vedic texts may seem polytheistic, thus making the Vedic gods appear to be like the pagan gods whose worship the Semitic religions forbid. But a deep and guided study of the Vedic scriptures reveals that, though they contain multifaceted rituals for multilevel forms of worship, they are conclusively monotheistic. That’s why the epithets to glorify Krishna in the Vedic tradition (e.g. Bhagavad-gita 10.32: “Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle”) are strikingly similar to the biblical eulogies of God (e.g. Revelations 22.13: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end…”)
  2. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna demonstrated his godhood by displaying to Arjuna his universal form, wherein lay everything and everyone in existence: the planets, stars and universes as well as all living beings – celestial, terrestrial and sub-terrestrial. If those who claim to be God cannot similarly display that they are the source of everything, we can safely reject their claim to godhood.
  3. If God is the source of everything, then he must be the source of both the personal beings and the impersonal things seen in this world. To be their source, he must himself have both these aspects. The Vedic texts reconcile these two apparently contradictory aspects through the example of the sun. The sun has form as a celestial globe and is formless as its widespread effulgence. Similarly, God has a form as the Supreme Person, Krishna, and is formless as the all-pervading effulgence, known as brahman. Just as the sun globe is the source of the sunlight, Krishna is the source of the Brahman, as is confirmed in the Gita (14.27).
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