THE UNIVERSAL FORM
DEVOTEE: In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna reveals His
universal form to His devotee Arjuna. This is a very special form of the Lord
that is not one of the Lord's eternal spiritual forms. After revealing this
form, He says to Arjuna, "O Arjuna, whatever you wish to see, behold at
once in this body of Mine! This universal form can show you whatever you now
desire to see and whatever you may want to see in the future. Everything -
moving and non-moving - is here completely, in one place." [Bg. 11.7] In
other words, Arjuna was able to see what even the greatest scientists cannot
see - everything past, present, and future, everywhere in the universe, even
while sitting in one place. Do the Jewish scriptures describe any visions of
God similar to this universal form?
RABBI: There is a statement similar to this. It says,
"When an individual looks into these permutations in a proper manner, he
can see all of the creation. He is like a person looking into a glass mirror,
who sees both his own face, and the faces of all who pass by." [Meditation
and the Kabbalah, p 78] In other words, when a person properly chants the names
of God, he can become qualified to see this form.
DEVOTEE: Because of Ajuna's purity, Lord Krsna agreed to
give him divine eyes to see His universal form. The statement you just quoted
from Meditation and the Kabbalah clearly says, it was by properly chanting the
names of God (looking into the permutations in a proper manner) that a person
could qualify himself to see this form. According to Vedic understanding also,
if one chants the holy names of the Lord properly, without offense, the Lord
will reveal everything to us according to His pleasure. Pure chanting
ultimately means to chant the Lord's holy names while not maintaining even a
tinge of desire separate from the desire of the Lord. That is pure devotion.
Arjuna was not known for always chanting the Lord' s names like a religious
monk, priest or rabbi might, but he was certainly a soul fully surrendered to
Lord Krsna and thus became qualified to see the universal form.
THE OMNISCIENCE AND OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD AND HIS PURE SERVANTS
RABBI: In the
Torah, God says, "Behold, the former things have come to pass, and I am
declaring new things. I am telling you of them before they spring forth.
[Torah, Halftorah of Beresthith, Isaiah 42:9] I think that any religion in the
world accepts that God knows everything - past, present and future.
Rabbi, I think that you are right. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says,
"I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me comes remembrance, knowledge
and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the
compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas." [Bg. 15.15] Not
only is the Supreme Lord omniscient but His pure devotees are also omniscient
by the grace of the Lord Who is the source of their knowledge.
to the Vedas, how can an ordinary person know everything past, present and
answer to your question is in the verse I just quoted. God as the Supersoul is
in the heart of every living entity. Our intelligence comes from the Supersoul.
Since the Lord knows everything, if He wants to give intelligence to someone,
it is not difficult for Him. The Lord is always ready to give us direction from
within the heart, but generally we are not receptive to His good instructions.
We have many material desires that oppose the desires of the Lord. The pure
devotees however are souls fully surrendered to the will of the Lord. When the
Lord speaks to them from within the heart, they understand fully. Thus pure
devotees are known as tri-käla-jna, or those who can understand everything
past, present and future.
RABBI: Moses was
able to speak directly with God, and the Lord constantly gave him specific
instructions of what would happen in the future and how to act in His service.
For example, God, already knowing the mind of the Pharaoh, instructed Moses how
to convince him to permit the Israelites to leave Egypt. God told Moses, "Observe!
I will be making you like a god to the Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be
your prophet. You must announce all that I order you to, and your brother Aaron
will relate it to the Pharaoh. He will then let the Israelites leave his land.
I will make the Pharaoh obstinate, and will thus have the opportunity to
display many miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt. This is why the Pharaoh
will not pay attention to you. But then I will display My power against Egypt,
and with great acts of judgment, I will bring forth from Egypt my armies - My
people, the Israelites. When I display My power and bring the Israelites out
from among them, Egypt will know that I am God " [Torah, Exodus, VeEra
7:13] Moses and Aaron did exactly as God instructed and the Pharaoh responded
as God predicted. This was the prelude of the ten great plagues brought about
by God against the Pharaoh and his people. Not only did God know everything,
but He also gave perfect intelligence to Moses and empowered him to act as his
instrument to free the Israelites from the Pharaoh's control.
DEVOTEE: In the
Vedic culture, there were saintly persons like Moses who had direct communion
with God. The most recent was the Founder/ Acharya of The International Society
for Krishna Consciousness, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada. Although Srila Prabhupada, as we would affectionately call him, did
not openly perform miracles of the magical quality shown by Moses, he was fully
empowered by God, Krsna, to propagate Krsna consciousness throughout the world.
The real miracle that Srila Prabhupada performed was that he transformed
millions of miserable people addicted to all kinds of sinful life, and made
them happy by giving them Krsna consciousness, or devotion to God.
One of his most important
contributions was his elaborate translations and commentaries of Vedic
literatures, the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Caitanya-Caritamrita.
Unlike ordinary scholars who must write and rewrite their books until they feel
they are ready, Srila Prabhupada would simply dictate them once. The
information and instructions given in his books are flawless. Without being
directly instructed and empowered by the Lord, no one can successfully
propagate pure God consciousness. Srila Prabhupada said that Lord Krsna
constantly directed his actions, and that he never acted independently of the
RABBI: So once
again I see that God does not discriminate against any religious path. He will
give the necessary intelligence and ability to any of his pure servants to
carry out His mission.
DEVOTEE: Yes, and
not only that. Besides the Lord empowering His servants to act wonderfully on
His behalf, He personally arranges to glorify His pure servants or pure
devotees who have no tinge of desire other than to please Him. As God
predicted, in spite of His sending calamity after calamity to the Egyptians for
their unwillingness to let the Israelites leave to serve God, the Pharaoh
became more and more hard hearted. In fact, the Lord said that He would make
the Pharaoh obstinate just so that He could display many miraculous acts in
Egypt. The Lord could have immediately killed everyone in Egypt, but He chose
to perform miracle after miracle (as the ten plagues) to increase His own
glories and to increase the glories of Moses who was intimately acting as His
instrument. Srila Prabhupada's situation was similar. He always glorified the
Lord and asked nothing for himself. By the grace of the Lord, Srila Prabhupada
is glorified by millions of people all over the world for the spiritual
contributions that he gave the world as His service to Lord Krsna.
LIFE COMES FROM LIFE
RABBI: There is a great controversy between the religionists
and the scientists regarding the source of life. According to the entire first
two chapters of Genesis of the Torah, God created everything, including all
forms of plants, fish, mammals, birds, insects and human beings. There is no
mention of any of the species of life arising from an inorganic source. The
materialistic scientists' theories only give reasons for man to look away from
God. They try to prove that life came from an inorganic source, which would
imply that there is no God. The similarly inclined speculative philosophers
then attempt to create philosophies to justify materialistic man's ultimate
hope - for a life of unrestricted sense enjoyment without any accountability.
If there were no God, then we would ultimately be unaccountable to anyone for
DEVOTEE: Yes, this is our material disease, to want to act
like there is no God or that we are God. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says,
"I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates
from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and
worship Me with all their hearts." [Bg. 10.8] Without understanding that
God is the source or the fountainhead of everything two problems are created.
First, we will justify our desire to be the center of existence - as both the
enjoyers and controllers. Second, if we do not accept the existence of God, we
will not be able to engage in loving transcendental service to the Lord. Both
are artificial positions that will not bring us any true satisfaction or
happiness, regardless of our success at material enjoyment. That is, the
highest material enjoyment will not truly satisfy the soul. Certainly, our
conviction that God is the source of creation is an essential building block
for a spiritually progressive and happy human society.
RABBI: Even with millions of people believing in principle
that God is the source of everything, the world continues to become more
materialistic. The more materialistic and atheistic it becomes, the more people
will suffer. So it is of utmost importance that we become convinced that God is
the source of everything and that we each have a perfect, transcendental,
loving relationship with Him.
Closely related to the discussion of the original source of
life is whether all species of life were existing since the beginning of God's
creation or if they developed over time such as in the Darwinian theory. Again,
in the first two chapters of Genesis it is clearly stated that God created all
the species of life. Additionally, it is not logical that so many complex
changes could take place totally based on chance.
DEVOTEE: I totally agree. It is said that not a blade of
grass blows in the wind without the sanction of the Lord. There is nothing in
the Lord's creation that happens by chance. If the sun deviated even slightly
from it's path, the whole earth would either burn up or freeze. In either case,
life as we know it would be destroyed on earth. Yet, for countless millions of
years the sun has not gone off it's path.
There is a kind of evolution however, but it is far removed
from the atheistic Darwinian theory. This evolution is one of increasing
consciousness, as the soul transmigrates from one species of life to another.
The Vedas describe that there are innumerable species of life in the universe
of which only a relatively small number are human beings. Only in the human
form of life can a soul perfect himself through devotional service. To take a
human birth is the greatest fortune and we should fully utilize this golden
opportunity to cultivate devotion to God. If we misuse our human birth,
dedicating our time and energy to gratifying our senses without interest in
God, we will loose our human existence and again take birth in the lower
species of life.