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Facets of Spirituality
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi

Undated-4: The Lord's Lila—What is it?

An ashramite: What is lila (as we see in the war of Kurukshetra)?

Swamiji: What we cannot understand we simply call lila.

Ashramite: Can we say that it is the cause and effect of the Cosmic in the lilas because in Lord Krishna's life we discern lilas. He never directly does anything; He always causes things to be done.

Swamiji: He directly does also.

Ashramite: Which one?

Swamiji: Perhaps His directions produce the feeling that He is causing them. When I push you and you fall on somebody, it does not mean that you have done something. I make you fall on that person. But if you are not conscious that I pushed you, you think you have done it yourself. Ultimately, He only does.

Ashramite: He does not want an instrument to do it.

Swamiji: And when you are not aware that you have done it, you say He has caused it or caused it to be done by somebody else.

Ashramite: It was even so in the case of the man who was led by Lord Krishna into the cave so that the sleeping man, when waking up from slumber, would see him and the former would, by the power of the latter, be burnt up.

Swamiji: That man was not led by him into the cave; he was forced to go there on his own accord by the will of Krishna, and that man thought he went on his own accord like the hypnotised man not knowing that he was hypnotised.

Ashramite: No. Swamiji seems to think that I am bringing down God's capacity to cause...

Swamiji: God does not cause anything to be done through an instrument because He has no instrument outside Him.

Ashramite: Then, why does Krishna tell Arjuna, “Be my instrument”?

Swamiji: He is not Arjuna for God. Arjuna is God's own limbs working. But from your point of view it is Arjuna. Sri Krishna simply showed the Cosmic Form, and Arjuna vanished in it in one second. Krishna said, “I have done everything Myself. Now, from your point of view, let it be that you do it, as it were, though already what has to be done has been done.” The future has taken place in the present itself because He has no time. For you, the war has not taken place. For Him, it has already taken place and the matter is over. But still, from your point of view, it is a future. In Eternity, there is no future. What you are going to have or what process you are going to undergo in the future has already taken place in the Eternal Mind. So it is not a future for it. What has not taken place for you has already taken place there.

Ashramite: But except in the case of Sisupala, He does not war with anyone. And he always...causes wars.

Swamiji: This is all your way of looking at it.

Ashramite: [Bursting into laughter] Yes, that is true.

Swamiji: But it may not be correct. He might have willed it.

Ashramite: I am not objecting to it. I am only asking if it is the correct interpretation.

Swamiji: He has no instrument and He does everything Himself from His point of view. But from your point of view, He has done it through somebody.

Ashramite: Lord Krishna was in the human form only, when he performed all His lilas.

Swamiji: No no.... If you think of Krishna as a human being, you are thinking wrongly. He said, “Foolish to think that I am a human being.” It is mentioned there in the Bhagavad Gita: anjananti ma moodha manusham... “Not knowing Me really, if you think that I am a human being…” He has made that point there.

Ashramite: Even when He shows Himself, He conceals His prabhava.

Swamiji: He says, “You have not understood Me.”

Visitor: He is known as kapata nataka sutradhara.

Swamiji: You have not understood Him. Because He has concealed Himself, perhaps you are not able to understand Him still.

Visitor: Yes, He will never allow you to understand Him. Not that you cannot understand. In that also He is kapata nataka sutradhara.

Ashramite: But what is the idea in appearing like that? He could have retained His prabhava?

Swamiji: Why are you commanding Him like that? [Laughter all round.] The moment you command Him, He ceases to be free. But He is free [laughs].

Ashramite: It is not that we are commanding Him. We are only trying to understand Him.

Swamiji: When you understand Him, you become Him, eh?

Ashramite: Where is the harm in trying...?

Swamiji: There are the Gopis. They became Krishna when they behaved like Him.

Ashramite: They never bothered to understand...

Swamiji: They played flute like this [imitates]. They took broomstick and played like this [laughter all around], and somebody killed Putana. The Gopis are doing that. Another Gopi killed Bakasura. They were playing all His drama because they became one with Him.

Another ashramite: Mira also behaved like that.

First ashramite: Mira became one with Him. What I am saying is: Why does He conceal His cosmic personality and reveal it only occasionally?

Second ashramite: Even to Arjuna, He did not reveal it always. Arjuna could not have contained it.

Swamiji: “Everything is in Me and nothing is in Me,” He said. “And yet everything is in Me, look at my wonder. Look at this great yoga of mine!” Now what is His yoga? Hatha Yoga? Or what is it? He said, “Pasya-me yoga maiswaryam.” Look at my yoga. What is the yoga He is telling about? Raja Yoga? Hatha Yoga?

Second ashramite: That is what I was saying. Though it may not be intellectually understandable for us, it is quite possible for God to be the world also simultaneously.

Swamiji: But He is not calling it the world at that time. He Himself is that. It is something He is doing within Himself. Even the process of His doing is Himself.

First ashramite: Why does He conceal it from us?

Swamiji: He never concealed it. Even that you can call His lila, His way of concealing it. Why did He vanish from the Gopis for a few minutes?

Ashramite: They say that viraha is the highest state...

Swamiji: Well, that is why He is doing it for you so that you may create viraha in you. He is troubling you very much. Otherwise, why will He do it, unless He wants you?

Ashramite: No. I am saying why does He...?

Swamiji: Only to create viraha in you. Otherwise, if you understand Him, what viraha is there? Then you will keep quiet and sleep very well because you understand Him very well. You won't aspire for Him.

Ashramite: No, no. There must be some difficulties in revealing your inherent nature.

Swamiji: He has no difficulty. What difficulty has He?

Ashramite: The world. Why does not He reveal Himself? The world is not ready for Him? Or they will injure Him?

Swamiji: What is the difficulty for a child to keep quiet without being naughty? It is building a mud house and playing with it. God is looking at us like a child. He builds a house and plays with it. What is the harm in keeping quiet? Why does He not keep quiet?

Ashramite: For 114 years He did this; for everything...

Swamiji: I am not talking of time limit, but of facts. Why does He create the world? This is what you have been asking in a sense, again and again, and putting various questions. This is your question, isn't it? The very same thing you are putting in difficult words whenever you ask, “Why is God doing something? Why has He created the world?” Why did He create the world? You tell me that first. Then I will answer other questions.

Ashramite: I am not bothered about it.

Swamiji: [laughing]. The questions are all interrelated. When you cannot ask one why, you cannot ask another why also. Otherwise, you should not ask why at all. You are trying to subject Him to some logical analysis.

Ashramite: You must understand why I am asking.

Swamiji: That is called logical analysis. Again you are coming to the same point. You are trying to understand through the intellect, through logic. First of all, by cutting Him off from you, you have done it already. You have already separated yourself from Him and then put this question, which is why it is not permissible. You have taken Him as an outsider, and then put questions about Him. Otherwise, why this question? How does it arise if He is not outside you? You are judging Him as a person judging another person. The moment you become an organic entity involved in Him, you will never speak. You will say, “Well, I understand everything.” Because you know yourself, you do not put questions to your own self.

Ashramite: I can speak of Him as Him only because...

Swamiji: What Him? You have separated yourself from Him. He will never answer questions about Himself. You don't put questions about yourself, such as “Why am I asking you?” You don't ask me this question. Or why do I put questions? You have got a justification for your own point of view. You have no doubt about the validity or the justifiability of your own questions because you are one with your question. But you can't give so much concession in respect of a thing outside you. The whole problem is of a dichotomy between the subject and the object, as philosophers tell us, which is the trouble with everything, down to the atom. No scientist can understand the world even today, because he sees the world outside him. No philosopher can understand, because he thinks God is outside him. Creation is outside him, etc., etc. And no sadhaka can understand God's ways, because he thinks God is outside him, that God is a future being, or transcendent, or whatever it is.

Ashramite: As a child He is never concealing...

Swamiji: Again you are putting the same question. Who told you He is concealing Himself? It is your own interpretation, and you are justifying your interpretation. I am saying He is not concealing Himself.

Ashramite: I want to know the secret. And you are not telling me that, Swamiji?

Swamiji: [laughs] Why should you say that He is concealing? Because it is not clear to your mind, you are saying He is concealing.

Ashramite: He takes efforts to see that it is not clear to my mind.

Swamiji: He says, “I never do anything.” [Quotes the verse “Na ......] “I neither give anything nor take anything, nor am I concerned with your merits and demerits.”

Ashramite: But He has given all authority to Maya. It is the same as He is doing it.

Swamiji: Again you have brought in another thing for the same question [laughs.]

Ashramite: He tells Arjuna, “This is your duty. Go and do it.”

Ashramite: And yet He says, “I take birth for punishing the wicked...” And then He says, “I do nothing…”

Ashramite: He is very shy!

Swamiji: This is another, a greater glory you are giving to Him (laughs). The highest credit that you can give Him is that He is the greatest liar. To say, “I create the world without creating it,” is the greatest lie He is telling. Isn't it? Eh?

Ashramite: But does He say that?

Swamiji: Well, you see, it looks like that.

Ashramite: He tells lies which are truths, and speaks truths that are lies! [Hearty laugh all around.]

Swamiji: This is the devotee who speaks.

Second ashramite: Devotees and non-devotees, both speak like this.

Swamiji: What you are doing is ninda stuti.“You fellow, you think you know everything. You don't know your own father!” This is what a devotee cries out. “When you don't know your own father, how do you say you are omniscient. I deny this,” he said.

Ashramite: Yes, ninda stuti.

Swamiji: “You fellow,” one man cried, “when Buddhists denied your existence, I established you, and you have no pity on me. You are not giving me a morsel of food.” He wrote a book in Sanskrit, called Kusumanjali. He wrote a book in which he established the existence of God on various grounds, against Buddhists' denial. But he was a poverty-stricken Brahmin. He had no food to eat. He just cried, “I established your existence when the Buddhists completely denied your existence. And see what I get for it!” This is all devotion. Devotion takes various forms, which are inscrutable. Devotion is as inscrutable as God Himself. And the devotee also becomes as inscrutable. Afterwards he is not in any way less than God. And they say that the devotee becomes so great that he simply pockets God afterwards! God starts dancing to his tune behind him. What do you say for this? If he speaks, then God speaks—only then.

Ashramite: God becomes afraid of him!

Swamiji: Yes, yes. “I am Bhakta-paradhina.” “I am helpless,” Narayana told Durvasa. “I cannot do anything.” Narayana said that He cannot do anything. When Durvasa says, “Withdraw your Chakra”, He says, “I never did anything. Don't insult Me like this. I am helpless in this matter. I am Bhakta-paradhina.” Metaphysical philosophy can't explain all this. There is a transcendent truth in it. There is something transcendent which overcomes the limits of intellect, and surpasses in every way, and takes you to the realm where you are flooded with what you may call devotion, or bliss or ananda, or whatever you call it. You get flooded with it, and your philosophy goes into thin air. It demonstrates the limitations of philosophy, ultimately. When philosophy has known its own limits, then it has transcended itself. But if it thinks itself to be powerful and proud, then it won't understand anything. Reason is helpful only to the extent that it can tell you where its limits are. When it loses its own limits, it has become humble at once, and then you are taken by some other force. Limitations of reason must be realized, and reason helps you understand its own limitations. When scientists like Einstein have realised the limitations of science itself, they are the greatest scientists. They have understood the limitations of science and know why it is limited, and because they know the limitations of science, they are more than mere scientists. They are almost mystics. When you know the reason why you cannot understand a thing. you have understood it to some extent (laughs.)

Ashramite: You have got your answer! Is that what Swamiji means?

Swamiji: Because you must be knowing why you have not understood it. That is the reason. That is wisdom. There is some flaw in the way of your thinking itself, and you understood the flaw. Then you have overcome that flaw immediately, you have transcended it and gone to another realm beyond the human level. There you become a real devotee.

Ashramite: Beyond reason...

Swamiji: No, transcend it. Then you are possessed by a force and caretaking element which is superhuman. Then it is that you become a real instrument of God. You are crying about instrumentality. The real instrument you become at that time when you have completely overstepped the limits of your own capacity, and you know that you have no capacity except that you have become a humble instrument of a Power which is completely in charge of you. This is what the devotees realised. And they are the most carefree people, the most helpless, the most happy, and there is no botheration at all for them.

Ashramite: Is it not called intuitive perception?

Swamiji: Well, call it whatever you like. They go beyond your intuitive and logical and scientific understanding, and your social law. They behave like fools and idiots, and you cannot understand them. They have no ethical or moral principle, nothing of the kind. Their law is quite different.

Ashramite: Swamiji, in the Gita they say that knowledge is higher than...

Swamiji: Well, that knowledge is of no use. That knowledge is not your book-knowledge—no Plato, Kant or Hegel. It is not that knowledge.

Ashramite: It is not...

Swamiji: Knowledge is greater than devotion. That knowledge is interpreted in one way. Devotion is greater than knowledge. You have to interpret it in another way. And yoga is the greatest. He is saying karma is the greatest, yoga is the greatest, knowledge is the greatest, bhakti is the greatest—in different places. But He puts it in different contexts, and they appear greatest at that time.

Visitor: Gita has 700 slokas, and Vyasa has written all the 700, or was it composed by three different authors, as some say?

Swamiji: A 'somebody' cannot say that. If Vyasa has written the Mahabharata, he has written the 700 slokas also. If you think he has not written the whole Mahabharata, then you can omit some. If he has not written it, who else has? Nobody else. Isn't it? Who is that somebody, otherwise? “Sanjaya said...” Sanjaya himself could not have written that sentence.

Visitor: And it takes hours to recite the slokas.

Swamiji: No, no. He has not recited them. He was not singing the slokas. He only spoke as He spoke. The poet wrote it in slokas. He spoke ordinary language, like 'get up'. But when you sing music [Here Swamiji puts the words 'get up' into a musical and literally sang: 'G…..e…..t……..u…..p' to the hilarious delight of all present, and he himself rejoiced when his singing was over.] But Vyasa did not say like that. They say he took a few minutes, not hours. We do not know exactly. Some say it was a conversation for 4 hours and some say it was 48 minutes, etc. There are various versions. Anyhow, there was sufficient time. They were not in a hurry to attack because after the Gita was over, war did not take place suddenly. Yudhisthira had something to say, and he went and prostrated before all people, and something took place.

Question: What is dharma and what is rita?

Swamiji: The effect of rita is said to be the dharma of the cosmos. 'Rita' is cosmic law, order of things... Says the Rig Veda [Swamiji recited it in the exact orthodox cadence in which it is meant to be recited.] It manifests itself as the first order of things. That is the dharma of the universe. The law which is operating in the universe is called the rita. And the basis for it is the Absolute. That is the satya.

Sadhak Disciple: Swamiji, `Namaha' is said to be self-surrender. How does it mean so? Does the word mean that?

Swamiji: No, the word does not mean that, but that's its significance! When you say Namaha, at that time you are in union with and united to the deity you say Namaha to.