Why Would God Have Wives?
Upon reading the letter entitled “The Spiritual World” in the letters section of the March/April issue, I became rather confused by a statement in the response to the letter. You stated that Krishna is engaged in loving exchanges with friends, wives, and children, and you also stated that Krishna has “girlfriends” and is involved in loving exchanges of all varieties. Could you please explain further exactly what you mean by this? Why would the Lord need many wives and lovers, let alone even one, and just what type of relationship would Krishna be engaged in with these women, and why? Is it spiritual or sensual?
Our reply: Krishna is the Absolute Truth, from whom everything emanates, and thus the different kinds of relationships we have in human society come from Him. These relationships exist with Krishna in perfection in the spiritual world, and Krishna and His devotees are completely satisfied with them. Although Krishna is the reservoir of all spiritual pleasure and, as you mention, does not need wives or lovers, still to satisfy the devotees who approach Him in those moods, He fulfills their desires and enjoys doing that in an exchange of affection that is fully spiritual.
Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, describes Krishna’s relationships in the Sixtieth Chapter of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, certainly has no business being anyone’s husband or son or father, because everything belongs to Him and everyone is under His control. He does not require anyone’s help for His satisfaction. He is atmarama, self-satisfied; He can derive all pleasure by Himself, without anyone’s help. But when the Lord descends to play the part of a human being, He plays a role either as a husband, son, friend, or enemy in full perfection. As such, when He was playing as the perfect husband of the queens, especially of Rukminiji, He enjoyed conjugal love in complete perfection.”
In “Relationships Matter” (March/April) the author recounted that her young son once questioned “if Krishna and Srila Prabhupada were real because it seemed like hardly anybody knows about them.” He wanted her to “tell more people to chant Hare Krishna.” In contrast, in the “How I Came to Krishna Consciousness” article, the author (writing about his experiences in the 1970s) was “trying to avoid Krishna devotees, but His devotees were everywhere.” A recurring theme in these stories is that many times the subject follows the “ching-ching-ching” sound to a chanting party in the process of transforming the streets with unique devotional fervor. We can repeat the heyday of ISKCON’s fired-up 70s by simply following the example Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupåda set in order to lead people to the feet of the holy name: routinely perform public chanting and dancing.
Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Charity and the Modes of Nature
In the Bhagavad-gita, Chapter 17, Krishna explains about charity in the three material modes. Under which category does unmotivated charity given to orphans and the disabled come?
As I understand it, charity given to worthy persons (brahmanas and Vaishnavas) is in the mode of goodness. Orphans and the disabled may not be worthy persons. At the same time, if the charity is unmotivated, it may not be in passion. Does it come under a mixture of the modes of goodness and passion?
Bandhu Madhava Dasa
Via the Internet
Our reply: You mention that the gift is “unmotivated,” but if it is not motivated, then why is it not being given somewhere else, where Krishna is involved? The idea of helping people materially but not helping them also (and more importantly) spiritually is at least to some extent wrongly motivated. Although it might not be motivated by a desire to be famous as a charity giver, there is an underlying desire to feel good about helping someone in need. That is a personal motivation. So the charity is not really “unmotivated.” Although the motivation might not be totally egocentric, it is still based on the bodily conception of life.
In the Bhagavad-gita (12.8), Krishna instructs us to fix our minds on Him. If we are unable to do that, He recommends following the principles of bhakti-yoga to develop a desire to attain Him (12.9). If we can’t do that, then “just try to work for Me” (12.10). Then: “If, however, you are unable to work in this consciousness of Me, then try to act giving up all results of your work and try to be self-situated.” (12.11) In the purport, Srila Prabhupada makes the point that a person who is Krishna conscious or trying to be Krishna conscious may give in charity to some material cause due to social obligations and this charity is purifying and gradually elevating. In your question you do not mention whether or not the giver of charity is Krishna conscious.
The point is that several factors influence the degree and quality of benefit for the giver. If someone gives charity to an orphanage and the money is used to buy meat to feed the residents, for example, that would affect the result of the charity.
That is why it is recommended to give charity to the proper persons (Vaishnavas) and for the proper cause: to assist others in their journey back to Krishna. Then and only then can one be assured that the result will be positive in every way.
Even charity in the mode of goodness has a reaction in that the giver will be bound to return to the material world to receive charity from the person to whom the charity was given. This creates a cycle. Only when one engages in karma-free activity—activity done for Krishna’s cause—is there no reaction. Otherwise, there are unforeseen reactions that may be far from “good karma.”
These points suggest that the charity you describe would be goodness/passion at best. The more Krishna is involved—in the activities and motivation of the giver, and in the qualifications of the receiver—the less affected by the modes of nature the charity becomes.