Saturday, September 15, 2012

Looking for God

In Mumbai, India, on February 24th, 1971, Srila Prabhupada (His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness [ISKCON], the group I've belonged to since birth) was giving a lecture on the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.137-146.
Prabhupada: So in Koran there is God consciousness, in Bible there is God consciousness, in Vedas God consciousness. Now you have to utilize it, develop it. The aim and objective is already there. But in the Vedic literature they are very explicitly presented. That is the difference. The Christians, they agree, “God is great.” We also agree, “God is great.” But how God is great, that is explained in the Vedic literature. There is no difference of opinion if one is actually religious. God created this world, God is the supreme father, God is great. This is accepted by everyone, either Hindu or Muslim or Christian. There is no doubt about it. But in the Vedic literature you'll understand how God is great, how He is acting as father. That's all. Even God's name is there, God's address is there. Do you agree to this point? Yes, that is the difference. Any other scriptures, if you ask what is the name of God, what is His address, what He is doing, they cannot give you. But we can give. We do not give; God Himself gives, Krsna. Krsna says, “My address is like this.” What is that? Yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama [Bhagavad-gita 15.6]. That is address. Paras tasmat tu bhavo 'nyo 'vyakto 'vyaktat sanatanah [Bhagavad-gita 8.20]. God is giving address. We have to note down. And His name is Krsna. You'll find Vyasadeva is writing sri bhagavan uvaca, “the Supreme Personality of Godhead speaking, or Krsna.” And in the sastras [scriptures] there is list of incarnation of God. And Vyasadeva concludes: ete camsa kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam: [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.28] “All the list, comprehending list, they are either part or part of the part of God. But the name Krsna,” krsnas tu bhagavan svayam, “He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Similarly, in the Brahma-samhita it is said,
isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah
[Brahma-samhita 5.1]
Sarva-karana-karanam. And Krsna also says, mattah parataram kincid asti, kincid asti dhananjaya. “There is no more.”
Srila Prabhupada said this same sort of thing many times, and this was the initial inspiration behind my blog's title: What is God's address? If you want to know, come and ask here, because we Gaudiya Vaisnavas can tell you. Through the authority of God-given scriptures and many pure devotees of the Lord who've spoken with Him face to face, we have so much information about where He lives, what His name is, what are the names of His family members and best friends, and what He likes to do all day. What is He doing up there all the time with His loved ones in His eternal realm? Just come and find out!
However, I also had other thoughts in mind in relation to my blog's title. My son has a “First Little Golden Book” called My Little Book of Prayers, which I dearly love. One of the prayers in it goes like this:
Where is God?
In the sun, the moon, the sky,
On the mountains, wild and high,
In the thunder, in the rain,
In the vale, the wood, the plain,
In the little birds that sing,
God is seen in everything.
I think this is something that all religions teach. Mine certainly concurs. So that is another answer to the question “Where is God to be found?” “Everywhere! In every part of His creation, great and glorious or small and precious. All of it is perfect, all bears His mark and points to Him.” The Franciscans are big on this point. In her article Franciscan Symbolism, Sister M. Michaeline, O.S.F. says of St. Francis: “He paid deference and courtesy to every creature because every creature to him was a monstrance bearing the God of all truth, goodness and beauty.” To further illustrate this idea, she quotes the wonderful, eloquent, true and enlightening words of Maurice Zundel from his work The Splendour of the Liturgy, because she says these words do best at explaining St. Francis's attitude toward creatures:
The very notion of them (creatures) takes us beyond their present realization towards the boundless Ocean of Being, and what is most perfect in the created order, includes in its own value its value as a symbol. In fact since every being possesses its peculiar excellence, it is essentially a revelation of God.
It is in this way that the Infinite is in creatures. It is thus that everything becomes worthy of veneration, and the world puts on grandeur.
Another answer to the question of where to find God also involves finding Him within this world, but rather than taking notice of the more general (albeit nonetheless wondrous) way in which He is present everywhere, this approach looks for special places where He is particularly to be found. In the Karttika-Mahatyma of Padma Purana is a famous verse wherein the Lord proclaims, naham vasami vaikunthe yoginam hrdaye na ca (or yoginam hrdayesu va) / mad-bhakta yatra gayanti tatra tisthami narada. It means, “O Narada, I don't live in Vaikuntha nor in the hearts of the yogis, but wherever My devotees are singing, there I reside.” The Lord's devotees sing ecstatic kirtana out of their overflowing love for Him, and this attracts Him so much that He prefers to live there over anywhere else. So another question I'm asking with my blog's title is – where is God especially to be found within this world? Which people in each faith tradition are successfully doing His will, living according to His heart, and displaying His love to the world? Who is pleasing Him and living in His grace? If I wanted to find God, where could I look for Him? With whom and in what? What can I do in order to find Him (and how can I serve Him & please Him)? Which things remind me of Him? Where in this world is He to be found? Where is He?

From a lecture given by Srila Prabhupada on Srimati Radharani's Appearance Day, in London, on September 18, 1969:
The Gosvamis... they’re searching after. He radhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nanda-suno kutah/ sri-govardhana-kalpa-padapa-tale kalindi-vane kutah: “Are you there under the Govardhana Hill or on the banks of the Yamuna?” Kalindi-vane kutah. Ghosantav iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair maha-vihvalau. Their business was crying like this, “Where are You? Where are You, Radharani? Where are you, Lalita, Visakha, the associates of Radharani? Where are You, Krsna? Are You near Govardhana Hill or on the bank of the Yamuna?” Ghosantav iti sarvato vraja-pure. So throughout the whole tract of Vrndavana they were crying and searching after Them, khedair maha-vihvalau, as if madmen. Khedair maha-vihvalau. Vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau.

So we have to follow the footprints of the Gosvamis, how to search out Krsna and Radharani, in Vrndavana or within our hearts. That is the process of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s bhajana: feeling of separation, vipralambha, vipralambha-seva. 
The Lord is the answer to our deepest longings. He is Love, as is well-known. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est (Where charity and love are, God is there). What else are we looking for? So in looking for Him, and all the traces, hints and flavors of Him and His sweetness and kindness that I can find anywhere, in practice this blog of mine will also become a collection of what we ISKCON members call “nectar.” Please feel free to dive in! :D

Srila Prabhupada lecture quotes copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International,
My Little Book of Prayers copyright © 1982 by Western Publishing Company, Inc.