We cannot understand secrets of God’s actions

Swami Nikhilanand
Swami Nikhilanand

In the previous article, the reason for Shree Krishna’s avatar was explained: He comes in order to establish dharm. By modeling good behavior, he establishes the ideal of apar dharm – physical duties and good deeds – to inspire more people to follow it. This leads to greater personal well-being and greater harmony in the family and society in general.

Following this, the question was raised that many of Shree Krishna’s actions – like stealing butter – do not seem to exemplify dharmic behavior; so what is the reason behind such actions?

God’s actions are Divine and are beyond human comprehension
Before going into the specifics regarding such actions of Shree Krishna, we must understand a few fundamental points regarding God’s actions. Firstly, as stated by Shree Krishna in the 9th shlok of the 4th chapter, all of His actions are Divine (including stealing butter).

What makes them Divine? As explained in the previous article, He has no personal motivation to perform any action, because He Himself is the form of Divine bliss. So what could He possibly need? Therefore, His reason for performing any action is only to benefit others. In contrast, material souls (those under the bondage of maya) perform actions for their own personal reasons, because they are full of desires, since they have not attained perfect happiness yet.

For this reason, we have a special term that we use for God’s actions: they are called leelas. A leela is always gracious, because the motivation behind any action of God is to grace.

Secondly, we need to understand that God’s leelas are beyond human comprehension. With our material mind, we struggle to understand the motivation behind the actions of ordinary souls like us – then what hope do we really have of understanding the actions of supreme God?

An ordinary person tries for his whole life to know his spouse, his friends, his coworkers, and their children, but the fact is, nobody really knows what anyone else is thinking – then how can you really know them? When we fail to know the ones in this life who are closest to us, then how can we expect to know God, Who is by nature beyond the reach of our material intellect?

In the 11th shlok of the 9th chapter, Shree Krishna tells Arjun that the ignorant people of the world are unable to recognize Him when He appears in this world in a human-like form. They do not understand that He is supreme God Who rules over all the souls and the material universe.

Since our mind is material and limited, we cannot know God Who is Divine and unlimited. The only way to know Him is by surrendering to Him. Then, with His grace, we can know Him. In other words, we cannot know God by exercising our intellect, or by logically analyzing Him – we can only know Him when we faithfully join our heart and mind with Him in surrender.

Even Indra, Sati, and Brahma have failed to understand Shree Krishna’s leelas
Some great personalities have failed to understand the reasons behind Shree Krishna’s leelas; what to say of ordinary souls? When Shree Krishna was 7 years old, He convinced the Brajwasis to do poojan of Govardhan hill instead of poojan to the king of swarg, Indra. When Indra heard this, he flew into a rage and tried to drown Shree Krishna and all the Brajwasis in a torrential downpour that lasted 7 days and 7 nights. Only after witnessing the power of Shree Krishna, Who lifted Govardhan hill with one finger to allow the Brajwasis to shelter beneath it, did Indra realize his mistake, and come to Shree Krishna in humbleness and surrender.

Sati couldn’t realize the Divinity of Bhagwan Ram when she saw Him lamenting the loss of Sita (Who had been kidnapped by Ravan). She judged Him as an ordinary man, even though God Shiv told Her repeatedly that Ram is supreme God. When she appeared before Ram in the form of Sita, He immediately recognized Her and inquired as to the whereabouts of God Shiv.

When Shree Krishna was 5 years old, Brahma saw Him having lunch with the Gwalbals. They were all sharing their lunches with Shree Krishna, Who was laughing, joking, and even taking food right out of His friends’ mouths to eat Himself. Brahma couldn’t understand this childlike behavior of Shree Krishna. He thought that God would be acting in a much more formal way.

He tried to confuse Shree Krishna by stealing away all the Gwalbals and calves and hiding them in a cave. But Shree Krishna was one step ahead of Brahma. He Himself took the form of all His friends and calves, and it was Brahma who became confused. Only when he humbly surrendered to Shree Krishna, was he able to realize His Divinity (with His grace).

Thus, we cannot know God through the power of logical analysis; and by extension, neither can we know the reasons behind His leelas. It is foolhardy to think that we can understand God’s motivation.

However, if we approach the question with faithfulness and humbleness (instead of with pride in the power of our intellect), we can understand it to some extent. Having understood that all actions of God are divine, the leela of Krishna stealing butter will be explained in the next article.

Disciple of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj
Swami Nikhilanand Ji is a Canadian born Hindu spiritual leader based in Austin, Texas. He is a sanyasi disciple and pracharak of Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj.

Attracted to the teachings of Hinduism from a young age, Swamiji eventually let his deep spiritual longing lead him to India, where he was most fortunate to come under the guidance of Shree Kripaluji Maharaj. Thereafter, living in the ashrams of JKP, he extensively studied Hindi, the philosophy of the prime Sanskrit scriptures (Vedas, Darshan Shastras, Gita, Bhagwatam), and practiced meditation in the tradition of raganuga bhakti. In 2003, he was given sanyas.

Now, with the blessings of his Guruji, he offers satsang programs throughout America, engaging audiences with his clear explanations of Hindu philosophy coupled with inspired chanting of Sanskrit mantras and shlokas and charming nam sankirtan. His informative and compelling speeches provide practical insight into how to adopt the teachings of Sanatan Dharm into our daily lives, and inspire us to awaken our inner spiritual potential.

To stay in touch with Swami Nikhilanand Ji, like his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SwamiNikhilanand or follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/Swami_Nikhil.

Swami Nikhilanand 

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