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October 18, 1999   VNN4963  Comment on this storyAbout the AuthorOther Stories by this Author

Krishna: Contradictions And Synthesis


EDITORIAL, Oct 18 (VNN) — "When we meditate on Krsna, we go beyond the mind and enter the land of all possibilities. All accumulated knowledge from the past is turned upside down."

Q&A Sanga discussion with Swami B.V. Tripurari.

Q u e s t i o n : How is it possible to attain realization of the Absolute by following a particular method? Isn't God realized in a more perfect and complete way if one is free from all limited ideas, and when the mind is void of all accumulated knowledge from the past?

A n s w e r: The Upanisads inform that both words and mind are not capable of capturing the Absolute. However, the logic that specific descriptions of God are a limitation on the Absolute is not perfect. Indeed, such descriptions may give us a clearer picture than we might arrive at otherwise. Taken in this way, we understand the Upanisads to be saying that God is not indescribable (iksater na sabdat). Rather, there is not enough we can say about the Absolute! The more we hear about God the better equipped we will be to understand him.

While divine revelation must be free from sectarianism and thus represent the greatest generality, it must also possess the greatest wealth of positive content. Doing away with distinctive features of the Absolute we find ourselves, not at the zenith of divine truth, but at the lowest common denominator, the bare minimum of religious content, Brahman at best, if not nihilism leading to atheism. Rather than making the indifferent foundation of religion found in all sects the highest conception of divinity, the perfect religion is the one that contains within it all other religious conceptions - a complete religious synthesis. This is the Krsna conception of Godhead.

Descriptions of the form of Krsna are intended to dismantle our mental constructs, freeing us from all limited ideas. Thus he is appropriately described as being possessed of contradictory qualities and engaged in unbelievable lilas. Careful study of the descriptions of Krsna reveal an Absolute that is inconceivable to the mind, one in which all contradictions are resolved in a plane where they can simultaneously exist.

This plane is beyond the mind. When we meditate on this plane, on Krsna, we go beyond the mind and enter the land of all possibilities. All accumulated knowledge from the past is turned upside down. The sun appears closer than the moon. Descriptions of Krsna are incomplete inasmuch as one can never fully describe him, yet at the same time they do not limit one who contemplates them from realizing the Absolute. Indeed, they take one to the very heart of divinity.

Incidentally, when the theistic mind suffers from lack of logic to dispell arguments such as the one you have just posed, and one's sadhana suffers along with it, this is evidence that one is not yet eligible for raganuga sadhana. Such a sadhaka has not even become free from the need for logic and scriptural mandates (natra sastram na yuktin ca) to fuel his or her bhajana, much less being possessed of a passionate desire for following in the wake of Krsna's dearest devotees' love. Furthermore, the so-called spiritual greed (lobha) that is incapable of generating such logic in the face of opposition is very weak at best. It needs strong support from vaidhi bhakti if it is to ever blossom into actual lobha, qualifying one for raganuga sadhana proper.

Q u e s t i o n : You say 'the Upanisads inform that both words and mind are not capable of capturing the Absolute.' So what is the use of trying to describe the Absolute?

A n s w e r: This is what the Upanisads do. They describe the Absolute.

Such is the nature of revelation. As I already explained, although the mind and words are incapable of capturing the Absolute, this is so becasue not enough can be said about it. This implies that much can be said, and that which can be said is useful. Were this not the case the scripture itself would be suicidal.

Q u e s t i o n : How can any description give us a clearer picture, if the Absolute cannot be conceived or described?

A n s w e r: As I explained, the Absolute can be desribed. It is described in the scripture, however not exhaustively. One could just as well ask, how can one arrive at an understanding of the Absolute without hearing about it?

Q u e s t i o n : Isn't it the opposite, that the less we hear about the Absolute, the more open one becomes for actually experiencing the Absolute? Because in one's consciousness there will be no limitations imposed on the Absolute, thus the mind is totally open.

A n s w e r: Unfortunately, we hear about all kinds of things all the time, and thus our minds are hardly 'open.' Thus, the more we hear about God, the more our mind becomes open to God and the idea of going beyond the limitation of thought. However, such hearing must be submissive and in relation to one who knows God, a realized soul. Otherwise, hearing about the Absolute from anywhere and everywhere may lead to agnosticism.

Q u e s t i o n : Why ascribe either positive or negative qualities to the Absolute Reality? Is not the Absolute both positive and negative at the same time and thereby beyond both? Your conception of Brahman or Bhagavan seems limited, but the actual Absolute is not the same as those conceptions, it is beyond that.

A n s w e r: If you cannot say more about the Absolute as those great souls exhibiting spiritual qualities have said in describing God as Brahman and Bhagavan, etc., than this certainly appears to be a limitation on your part. If you insist that saying anything about the Absolute limits God and one's capacity to realize God, then it would be best to bow out of this discussion altogether. Personally, I do not find it more profound, enlightening, or useful to hear that descriptions of God as Brahman or Bhagavan are limiting and that God is indescribeably beyond both.

Q u e s t i o n : I wouldn't limit the Absolute with any words, but let the experience speak for itself. When you start describing reality it immediately becomes a part of the area of the known, whereas the Absolute actually is unknown, and can never be captured by imagination.

A n s w e r: Once you have the experience will you not try to describe it? And if so, will that not be useful? Moreover, you are already describing reality, albeit negatively, by saying what it is not.

Questions or comments may be sent to sadhusanga@swami.org.

[Reprinted with permission from Sanga 10/17/99 http://www.swami.org]

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