Why is it so difficult to know God?

by November 9, 2011

Question: Why do many intellectuals inquiring about God – be they scientists investigating his existence or historians of religion researching his ancient appearances – often fail to understand God properly?

Answer: Their failure results from adopting an inappropriate method that neglects the vital difference between knowing about God and knowing God.

The Bhagavad-gita (7.7) reveals that God in his highest aspect is a person, a living, loving person who reveals himself in reciprocation with our desire. Intellect-centric approaches overlook this essential personal reciprocal nature of God. Such approaches treat God either as a laboratory object for examination under a microscope, or as an archaeological artifact to be exhumed for investigation. Such exclusively or overly intellectual approach to know God can at best give some hints of his existence through scientific research of nature or of his appearances in ancient history, but all this is knowledge about God, not knowledge of God.

To better grasp this difference, let’s consider the example of a child who is taken for a health checkup to a diagnostic center. At the end of the check-up, the checkup incharge knows a lot about the child – the blood pressure, the heart beat, even the urine and stool compositions. He may probably know much more such details about the child than even the child’s mother, but who knows the child better? Obviously, the mother. If the checkup incharge approaches the child as a clinical object for investigation, then his very choice of approach depersonalizes the child to the level of a pathological object. On the other hand, the mother treats the child not as an object to investigate, but as a person to love. That’s why she knows the essence of the child – his likes and dislikes, his hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows. Put succinctly, she knows the child, whereas the checkup incharge knows about the child.

This principle of “what we want to see determines what we see” applies to God too. That’s why serious seekers don’t let the overly intellectual approach distract them from their purpose; they surely use their intellect – but for the purpose of deepening their love for God. The Gita declares that only by loving God that they can know him (4.3), and also that the true knower of God is the whole-hearted lover of God (15.19).

Thus, when it comes to God, by loving, we know; by knowing, we love. We know to love; we love to know. When we try to love and serve God, then we will discover that knowing him becomes easy, as is promised in the Gita (8.14). In essence, love is the key to the treasury and the treasury: love is the ultimate way to knowledge and love is the ultimate knowledge.

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  • Abhishek Kaushal
    November 10, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Nice article to understand that GOD is to be loved first then we can understand the rest of the things about GOD .

  • tushar vora
    November 10, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Wonderful! I need to learn from you, how do you get such deep realizations? Please share your secret with us.

  • Praveen Shanmugam
    November 10, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Wonderful anology of child-mother and child-pahologist to show how to approach GOD. Thanks.

  • Ashish Kumar
    November 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Hare Krsna,

    PAMHO, All Glories to Srila Prabhupad.

    I could not help myself to post this comment. The words of praise won’t suffice the beauty and love with which this article has been written.

    Thank you for your service.


  • Ramanreti
    November 12, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Hare Krishna Dandavat prabhu,

    Thanks for such a nice analogy.

    A question;
    Is it okay if we try to serve and at the same time try to understand Krishna?


    • Your Servant
      November 17, 2011 at 10:15 am

      Hare Krishna,

      Kindly allow me to answer your question. I will try to answer based on my realization.

      More we understand Krishna more lovingly we serve him and his devotees.

      Thus our service becomes more intense and better if we understand Krishna more and more.

      Knowing Krishna and serving krishna and his devotees are simultaneous processes.

      If I am wrong in answering then I request senior devotee’s to correct me.


      Your Servant

  • supartha
    November 12, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji,

    Thank you very much for such a nice and esay to understand analogy…this is one of the best analogies I’ve ever read or heard.

    your aspiring servant,

  • Deepak
    November 15, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Awesome answer

  • Abhay Charan Das
    November 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm


  • Narayan P.
    November 16, 2011 at 5:06 am

    Very simply written – excellent article.

  • Pankaj
    November 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    When we try to love and serve God, then we will discover that knowing him becomes easy….So true!

    Now trying to love God by practicing bhakti, it is so easy for me to understand Him than ever before!

    Thank you for your wonderful articles,

  • Manojyoti Sarma
    November 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    after reading ur article, it seems that knowing God has become easier!
    wonderful article.
    thank u. Haribol

  • Vishnu
    December 2, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    In the story that you have mentioned. In the end if the child has some serious illness who can save the child His mother or the Dr ?

  • Jyotsna Dey
    December 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Wonderful Article to know God and feel the presence of God all the time.I think we all need to remember that what ever we do in our day to day activities, it is God’s Blessing which keeps us moving and we all look forward for peace of Mind.

  • Vikas Garg
    January 9, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Hare Krishna Prabhu ji
    Dandavata Pranam

    Wonderful article with wonderful analogy.
    I never thought of such deep meaning of verse 7.7..

    Thanks a lot.

  • Ravikumar Shukla
    March 7, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Hare Krishna Prabhuji
    Dandavat Pranam

    This goes very well with a small line mentioned in Ramayan written by TulsiDasji, which I have heard from my Father “Jaaki rahi Bhavna Jaisi Prabhu Moorat Dekhi Tin Taisi”…which means God will give you darshan in the same way as your mental state

    Hare Krishna

  • administrator
    March 12, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    (Submitted by email)

    Hare Krishna!!!
    Amazing Article.

    Parth Joshi

  • ambuj
    May 18, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    very nice article

  • prashanth
    June 17, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Hare Krishna.!
    Excellent Q&A
    we have to adopt method which god tells through shastras. otherwise
    By man made methods we can NEVER access god.
    proof is :
    I am/many others are NOT happy even though government is ruling country for many years.!

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