When God Loses Control

We can truly know about God only when He reveals Himself. Srila Prabhupada often said that God reserves the right to not reveal Himself to the unworthy, including people who try to understand Him through intellectual endeavors alone.

Fortunately for us, God, Krishna, has revealed Himself in various ways, including repeatedly coming to this world with His eternal associates. The Vedic scriptures tell of His descents, and even if we’re not there to witness them, by respectfully reading about them we can learn a great deal about Him. That reading purifies our hearts, allowing us to appreciate Him and develop our love for Him.

One of the most amazing things we learn about God from the Vedic scriptures, especially Srimad-Bhagavatam and other scriptures that focus on Krishna, is that even though He’s God and therefore unlimitedly powerful, He enjoys being controlled by His devotees. This quality of His shows that love is at the core of ultimate reality.

Vaishnava authorities teach that one way to describe the ultimate truth is to say that it consists of three essential elements: God (Krishna), His devotees, and the loving exchanges between them – or Bhagavan, bhakta, and bhakti. The exchanges of love between Bhagavan Sri Krishna and His devotees (all of us in our pure state) motivate everything He does.

Many religious traditions appreciate the majesty of God and praise His unlimited power, especially as displayed in His act of creation. Granted, religions outside the Vaishnava tradition may also speak of God’s love for mankind, but they say little if anything about His love-filled relationships with His purest servants.

Through Srimad-Bhagavatam and similar scriptures, Krishna grants us access to His most intimate relationships with His devotees. Even in the Bhagavad-gita, where He plays the role of a teacher, He speaks of the love He and His devotees have for each other.  

In commenting on text 15.6 of the Gita, where Krishna says something about His eternal abode, Prabhupada writes, “One should be captivated by this information.” We should likewise be captivated to learn that pure love is so powerful that it can control even God, the Supreme Controller.

Srimad-Bhagavatam relates many examples of the power of pure spiritual love. One example that quickly comes to mind is Krishna’s being tied up by His mother, Yashoda. He’s God, so no one can tie Him up – unless He allows it. Yashoda’s love is so pure that it overpowers Him. Similarly, when Brahma prays to Lord Krishna for the ability to build and populate the universe, he praises Krishna for appearing to each devotee in whatever form of His the devotee wishes to see. “This is Your mercy on Your devotees,” Brahma says.

In the ultimate sense, Krishna is always in control of everything, but because love is essential to His nature, He arranges events in which He is free to ignore that He’s God so that He can savor the pure love of His devotees.

Krishna’s dealings with His devotees go on eternally in the spiritual world. In His transcendental land of Goloka Vrindavana, He lives with His eternal associates in an atmosphere of love and intimacy. His Godhood is not displayed there. His friends climb on his back, His parents scold Him when He’s naughty, His girlfriends rebuke Him out of jealous anger – all because He wants things that way. And because He’s God, He always gets what He wants.

  • Nagaraja Dasa