HH Bhakti Raghava Swami

The Concept of God

Greetings, I am a lifelong Orthodox Christian and have recently been invited to ISKCON temple in Detroit, and have been attending and studying. Am struggling with reconciling the concept of God The Father (YHWH) and Jesus Christ with something that appears so foreign, so different. Is Krishna/Vishnu the same as YHWH/Jehovah/God the Father? Did God perhaps reveal Himself in 2 totally different manifestations in different times and cultures, one to India and one to the Hebrews? And if so then is Brahma somehow the same as Jesus?

As you know, we believe in one God The Father, who created everything by His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, the Word of God (the Logos) made flesh, who died and rose again for the sin debt and salvation/redemption of the whole world.

Thank you,

Andrew Kevorkian

Dear Andrew Kevorkian,
Please accept the blessings of Lord Jesus and Lord Krishna. All glories to Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya and world teacher of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, ISKCON.Your inquiry has been sent to me recently and I am very happy to note your genuine interest to understand more clearly about the relationship between Jesus and Krishna.Coming from a Christian background and having joined a minor seminary as a young boy for some 7 years, I have always admired and been attracted to understand more about Lord Jesus and the very concept of Godhead. It was only when I came in contact with the Vedic knowledge around the age of 25 that I could more clearly appreciate and understand the core principles of transcendental knowledge and after being introduced to the Personality called “Krishna” could I fully understand the glorious position of Lord Jesus.I will quote your mail inquiring about the relationship between Jesus and Krishna and in response I will comment on the different points you have raised.

I am a lifelong Orthodox Christian and have recently been invited to ISKCON temple in Detroit, and have been attending and studying.

*** In the Vedic sacred book of knowledge called Bhagavad-gita (The Song of the Lord), Lord Krishna explains how the pre-disposition of sincerity and inquisitiveness are essential features to qualify one to more clearly and more deeply understand the science of Godhead (Bhagavad-gita 4.34).

Am struggling with reconciling the concept of God The Father (YHWH) and Jesus Christ with something that appears so foreign, so different.

*** Being from an Orthodox Christian background you are well aware of the designation of God as the Father and Jesus as the Son of God. So there is a natural eternal relationship between the Son and the Father. As such, the simple and obvious understanding is that Jesus is the Son of God and that in the Vedic literatures, God is known as Krishna. Hence, Jesus is the son of Lord Krishna.

When we have this basic understanding, we can then easily accomodate what Christians refer to as the “mystery of the Trinity”, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Actually, it is not at all mysterious in that there is in Christianity the Father (God), the Son (all living entities in their pure state) and the Holy Ghost (the all pervading presence of God in all beings and in all things as Supersoul within the heart). We easily translate this within the Vedic view as 1) God the Father, Lord Krishna, 2) the sons of God (all created living entities or jivatmas) and 3) the Holy Ghost called Supersoul or Param atma within the heart of all living entities and all atoms, hence all pervading.

It is therefore a relatively simple notion, that the son is simultaneously the same as but different from the Father in that the son is of the Father but not directly the Father. To help understand this point, our Vedic preceptors or teachers explain how the living entity, the soul or “atma”, is simultaneously one with but different from God. In quality, we, the children of God, have the same quality as God just like the drop of water from the ocean has the same quality of being “salty” like the ocean but in quantity is differnet, i.e. the drop of water, although “salty”, is not the same as the ocean. The atma, although eternal by nature, is presently entrapped in this material body and struggling with the three modes of material energy (Bhagavad-gita 15.7).

All created living entities (atmas) are actually the son’s of God, hence having the same qualities as God (essentially three in nature, that is being “sat”, eternal, “cit” full of knowledge and “ananda” full of happiness.

Jesus is designated as the “Only Son of God” because of His uniquely being transcendentally situated at the time of his appearance 2000 years ago, being in His liberated condition of a pure and self-realized soul. Such souls are referred to as “jivan mukta”, eternally liberated souls who descend at times in this material world to disseminate the message of Godhead or who may be sent from higher planets within the material world, called Siddhaloka, where such liberated souls also reside within the material world.

Is Krishna/Vishnu the same as YHWH/Jehovah/God the Father?

**** According to Vedic scriptures, Lord Krishna is the original Godhead and from Him come innumerable expansions or incarnations called “avataras” meaning one who descends in the material world. So sometimes the Lord descends Himself or sometimes sends some special representatives, as in the case of Lord Jesus.

Actually, our Acaryas or Vedic Teachers describe six types of incarnations or “avataras”. All originate from the Godhead, Lord Krishna, who is a person, but a completely transcendental person having a transendental form but no material body like we have.

Vishnu is actually the first of the six avataras called “Pususha Avatara” and there are three levels of Vishnus each having a different role to play in the creation and maintenance of the material world (for reference and details, you will need to read the First Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam).

Another category of “avataras” is called “Shaktyavesha Avatara”, those living entities, who desccend in the material world for a special purpose, sometimes in the category of “eternally liberated” or “mukta jiva” or in the category of ordinary living entities who become liberated and also perform their activities sometimes in their purely transcendental body as does one such person called Narada Muni. So Visnu is one of such six categories, called “Pususha Avatara” and Lord Jesus is in another caterogy called “Shaktyavesha avatara”.

Did God perhaps reveal Himself in 2 totally different manifestations in different times and cultures, one to India and one to the Hebrews?

*** God continues to reveal Himself in innumerable manifestations in different times and within different cultures. Christianity has developed what we call a linear concept of time, i.e. at one time there was creation, and after a certain period of time there will be destruction of the world. The Vedic understanding is quite different in that creation takes place continuously, again and again, hence the cyclic concept of time, similar to our yearly experience of spring, summer, autumn and winter that appear in that order every year. These rather long periods of time are referred to as “Yugas” and their durations and characteristics are given in the Vedic literatures such as the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagaavatam.

And if so then is Brahma somehow the same as Jesus?

*** Lord Brahma is not the same as Jesus. Lord Brahma belongs to a third set of avataras called “Guna Avatara”, in charge of one of the three “gunas” or modes of material nature. Lord Brahma is an ordinary living entity or atma, also called jivatma. One who qualifies can also assume the post or role of Lord Brahma. In some ways Lord Brahma and Lord Jesus are similar in that they are both in the category of “jivatma”.

As you know, we believe in one God The Father, who created everything by His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, the Word of God (the Logos) made flesh, who died and rose again for the sin debt and salvation/redemption of the whole world.

*** The Vedic literatures describes many living entities who have sacrificed their lives for the welfare and salvation/redemption of the whole world. The foremost quality of a Vaisnava, someone dedicated to the Lord, is to bestow compassion (daya) or mercy (karuna) to all living entities. Many examples are there in our Vedic history of such persons as having attained the spiritual world in their transcendental bodies, or with their material bodies having transformed from flesh (matter) to spirit.

All of us are meant to become like Lord Jesus, totally liberated from the modes of material nature and totally absorbed in fulfilling the mission of our Father, God, also known as Lord Krishna. If an ordinary father can beget many children, why should we limit God or Krishna to create or beget only one child or one Son. We are all the sons of God but when one becomes liberated or when one descends in the material world as a liberated soul, his position becomes very special.

I would suggest that you continue taking the time to study the Vedic point of view, in particular by reading and discussing the revealed knowledge from the Bhagavad-gita as well as the more advanced level of knowledge found in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Although initially it may appear somewhat foreign, I can assure you that very quickly you will be able to appreciate the parallells that exist between Chriastianity and the Vedic culture. According to time, place and circumstances the Lord appears and actually speaks the same message. It is also important to note that the Lord or His representative the Pure Devotee will also speak according to the audience. Although the same topic of transcendence will be presented, one who has an audience of primary school students will speak according to their level of understanding whereas if the audience are all post-graduate students, the same topic will be presented differently and generally in more details.

I also suggest that you kindly continue meeting and discussing with our devotees who will be happy to address any questions or doubts you may have while reading these transcendental literatures.

Thank you very much once again for having shown genuine interest and sincerity in wanting to deepen your understanding of the most important topic of life, that of transcendence.

Trusting this finds you well and always enthusiastic to advance in transcendental knowledge and in its practical application, devotional
service to the Lord.

“Krsne matir astu”. May Lord Krishna bestow all His blessings upon you.

Your well-wisher,

RP Bhakti Raghava Swami

Leave a Comment





WhatsApp