Like most people, I had only a vague idea about God before I learned about Krishna. I was raised in a religious family and spent ten years in a school run by Catholic nuns. Religion class was the first class of the day. We learned that God is “the Supreme Being who made all things,” but a fuller picture of His personality seemed unavailable. I imagined an old man who spends His time dealing with human beings while they’re alive and judging them when they die.
Because we’re absorbed in concerns about our life in this world, it’s natural for us to think of God in terms of His relationship with us in our current situation. We think His attention is focused solely on all of us. We tend not to consider that He might have other things to do. Religiously inclined people pray to Him for help in facing life’s challenges, but only the rare soul asks, “What else does God do?”
When we’re introduced to Krishna, we meet God as a multifaceted person with His own distinct personality, His own likes and dislikes and ways of doing things. First and foremost He’s the charming cowherd boy who spends His days frolicking with His young friends and enchanting everyone in His rural village. Simultaneously, in His majestic form as Lord Vishnu, He’s ruling each of the innumerable Vaikuntha planets, where everyone bows to Him in awe. And “with a single fragment” of Himself, as He says in the Bhagavad-gita, He creates, sustains, and ultimately demolishes the inestimably vast material world. In other words, He’s enjoying at home and “working” somewhere else at the same time.
Krishna can do countless things simultaneously because He’s not bound by our limitations. He reveals His Godhood in the Bhagavad-gita, and that revelation is corroborated throughout the Vedic literature.
Many years ago I wrote an article for Back to Godhead titled “Is Krishna God?” I was a BTG staff member, and at the editorial meeting where my submission came up for consideration, one of the editors, remarking on the title, said with a smile, “I think I know the answer.” I wrote the article because people encountering Krishna consciousness for the first time don’t always understand right away that, yes, we’re saying that this beautiful bluish flute-playing boy is in fact the one and only God you’ve been hearing about (vaguely) your whole life.
Krishna’s biography is so expansive that to appreciate it requires a lifetime – or many lifetimes – of study. His activities are infinitely varied. And they take place in transcendence, where things inconceivable to us in our space- and time-bound condition are ordinary affairs.
From the Puranas, the histories of events occurring on a cosmic time-scale, we learn about Krishna’s avatars, who show clearly that He can do anything and assume any form He chooses, each with its own unique mood. Srila Rupa Goswami, in his Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, describes four facets of Krishna’s own personality that contain seemingly contradictory qualities. For example, as a dhirodatta person, He’s gentle and forgiving, but when He shows His dhiroddhata side, He’s proud and easily angered. Srila Prabhupada writes, “If one asks how a personality can be beheld in four quite opposing ways, the answer is that the Lord is the reservoir of all transcendental qualities and activities.”
Krishna performs an unlimited variety of acts, and by hearing about them we gain insight into the all-attractive Supreme Person, whose days fill even Him with wonder.
– Nagaraja Dasa