God’s Personal and Impersonal Features – Part 2

Continuation of a discussion following a seminar in Terre de Ciel:

Every morning, Krishna’s mother Yashoda used to make butter from milk. She heated the milk and added some yogurt to it. She let the mixture sit overnight and by the next morning, it had become yogurt. Yashoda then churned the yogurt with a wooden stick and churning rope and after some time it became liquid and fresh butter floated on the surface. Yashoda removed the tasty butter and placed it in a clay pot.

So one day when Yashoda was churning the yogurt, Krishna climbed on her lap and started to drink milk from her breast. In the other room, Yashoda had cow milk for Krishna heating on the clay stove. When she heard the sound of milk boiling over, she immediately removed Krishna from her lap and ran to remove the milk from the heat. Krishna became very upset, thinking “What is this? I am drinking milk and she is running there! The great yogis are meditating on Me to have My darshan, and here I am drinking milk from Yashoda and she throws Me from her lap.” So He took a stone from the ground and hit the clay pot, breaking it. When the yogurt spilled all over, He quickly ran away, afraid of being punished.

When Yashoda came back and saw the yogurt on the floor, she understood it was Krishna’s game. She was thinking, “This boy is too naughty. I have to chastise him!” She found Krishna in another room, breaking the pots with butter in them and feeding it to the monkeys. When Krishna saw Yashoda approaching Him with the stick in her hand, He started running away. Yashoda chased after Him.

Damodarara Lila
Damodarara Lila

After a little struggle Yashoda caught Krishna and wanted to punish Him. At first, she twisted His ears and said, “Why did you do this?” Of course Krishna didn’t have any answer. She said, “You have become a very unruly boy. I am going to teach you a lesson. I will tie you with a rope and put you in the corner!” So she got some rope and tried to tie Krishna around the waist and the other end to a heavy stone in order to keep Him in one place for some time. But when she took the rope and put it around His waist, although it was long and Krishna was only a baby, the ends didn’t meet. The rope was too short by two fingers. Then she thought of adding another rope. Since Krishna’s parents were cowherd people, they had many ropes around to tie the cows. So Yashoda attached another rope to the previous one, but again the rope was too short by two fingers. She was very surprised. How is this possible? Krishna’s waist still remained the same size. He didn’t expand His belly by some mystic power. He was just standing there like a small boy. Determined to tie Krishna, Yashoda got another rope and tried again. Finally, seeing that His mother was very determined and working very hard to tie Him, Krishna allowed her to do so. So Yashoda was able to tie Krishna only because he agreed and decided to be tied by her.

This story is very interesting in that Krishna showed both His personal and impersonal features simultaneously. This is the key point. He remained a person standing in one place and Yashoda could see Him, but at the same time He manifested His impersonal feature as the power that did not allow Yashoda to bind Him. We can’t tie anything impersonal.

So God has both features: personal and impersonal, and both exist simultaneously. He has a form, but it is not material. Our body is made of matter and therefore is limited, but God’s body is made of spirit. Similarly, the soul (atman) is also made of spirit and is therefore not limited. Although it is very small and cannot be seen inside the body, it spreads its consciousness throughout the body. Basically, the impersonal aspect is a feature of the personal God. The Sun planet, which has a form and is situated in one place, has light that spreads all over the universe. In the same way, God has His personal form and by His energy, He is everywhere. He can remain in one place and yet He can be everywhere.

7 thoughts on “God’s Personal and Impersonal Features – Part 2”

  1. Jai Sri Radhe,

    Thank you for the explanation and lila smarana.
    I would like to know if Sri Krishna’s “I” is limited to His transcendental body or all pervasive.


  2. Thank you for the response.

    Jiva’s atma is anu and it pervades the body through its consciousness.Even though its consciousness pervades, it remains anu in dinmension.Atma is subtle in nature too.

    I would like to know if Krishna’s atma is all pervasive.

    My understanding is that you mean to say all pervasive nature is impersonal which in your definition can not think -“Something impersonal doesn’t have identity, it cannot think”

    However I was thinking krishna’s atma is all pervasive on contrast to jivas. He thinks and He moves being all pervasive from His souls standpoint. This movement etc is the effect and not the cause. Cause is never divided though its effect appear divided.BG 13.17

    Hence krishna’s sense of I is all pervasive and he still remains personal individual differentiating from the other individual jivas.

    Could you please point out where my understanding is wrong?

    1. Reply by SND:
      The problem in your thinking is that you are trying to understand Krishna only by logic. You have missed the whole point of this Damodara lila, which is to show how Krishna is translogic. Unless you get this point for which Krishna agreed to almost get spanked by his mother, so that dull-heads like us can understand that He cannot be grasped by any amount of logic. Sri Vyasa has clearly stated in his Sutra , “Tarko ‘pratisthanat”. Damodara lila is a commentary on this Sutra.

      Mahaprabhu Sri Chaitanya has said that the Bhagavatam is the commentary of Vedanta Sutra by the author himself, but some Vaishnavas ridicule this statement. Of course it is not a commentary in the order of the Sutras, and Mahaprabhu did not say that. But indeed it is a commentary nonetheless.

      The Sutras are very terse and although many acharyas have written commentaries on them, people still cannot grasp them. Therefore it is necessary to study Srimad Bhagavatam and understand Vedanta Sutra. When I say “study” I do not mean to read it, but to actually study it from a qualified teacher. Then these things will become very clear.

      When I use the word “translogic” for acintya, I do not mean incomprehensive. I mean truth, which can be understood not by logic, but by the study of shastra. Now coming to your point, Krishna’s “I” is all-pervading and yet not impersonal. This is the gist of this pastime.

  3. Thank you for your kind words.

    Though everything about Sri krishna is achintya and beyond words and logic, I feel one should be clear in understanding what is the nature of absolute truth that is achintya.Otherwise one can say supreme truth is ultimately nirguna by nature and it is achintya.Infact sri sankara says this in BS 2.1.11. It becomes a mute point in discussion when we use achitnya.Therefore We indeed use sastra and logic to establish absolute truth is personal.Srimad bhagavatam gives a lila to support this personal nature of absolute truth who is all pervasive.Sri Nammalwar was swoon in ecstasy for 6 months when He heard about Sri Damodara lila.

    1. Yes we do not try to take shelter of acintya to avoid understanding or explaining transcendence.
      What i said was that we should know that logic has its limitation but it is not useless. Logic has to be used to understand sastra, not to contradict it.
      It is ecstatic to know that Sri Nammalwar swooned for six months. This Lila is so amazing that the more i meditate on it, the more it amazes me and the more i feel how gracious the Lord is.

  4. Thank you for the response.

    Logic does not stand in front of Sri Krishna. As per tatkratu nyaya – yatA upAsate tataiva phalam asnute , one attain what one meditates. Interestingly when one meditates on Krishna being bound , one gets liberated.

    All Glories to Sri Damodara Lila.

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