“Sometimes mother Yashoda and her gopi friends would tell Krishna, ‘Bring this article’ or ‘Bring that article.’ Sometimes they would order Him to bring a wooden plank, wooden shoes or a wooden measuring pot, and Krishna, when thus ordered by the mothers, would try to bring them. Sometimes, however, as if unable to raise these things, He would touch them and stand there. Just to invite the pleasure of His relatives, He would strike His body with His arms to show that He had sufficient strength.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.11.8)
Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is worshiped in so many different ways, as there is both direct and indirect worship. When the conditioned soul is deluded by ignorance of his constitutional position, the meaning of life, his place relative to other living entities and objects, and how the repeating cycle of creation and destruction operates, indirect worship will take place. The vile hatred shown towards the religiously inclined, the vehement denial of the existence of God, the dogmatic insistence couched in the shelter of scientific evidence relating to evolution, and even the willful neglect of adherence to religious principles are all examples of indirect worship. Krishna, or God, is the supreme father, so how can anyone not be interacting with part of His creation at every second? In direct worship, however, the transcendental tastes are present; hence the pleasure that everyone seeks at every second of their existence is found at the highest level. Shri Krishna is intimately aware of these tastes and how they can be produced. Therefore, for the sincerest souls He takes the impetus to create as many unique situations as possible where the transcendental taste can be relished through personal interaction.
Can there be impersonal interaction with God? Yes, and it is another type of indirect worship. There is an intermediary stage where one understands that they are not capable of creating a sun, maintaining inconceivably large land masses and holding them in the air, and controlling the weather, but at the same time they don’t know who actually does maintain these things. Therefore at best they can worship an impersonal feature of the Lord, a sort of light of Truth. This method of worship is still superior to the indirect worship that takes place with those who completely deny the existence of a creator. Big bangs destroy; they don’t create. No one can take a series of chemicals and create life or even have a species evolve. Such theories are based only on outward perception, seeing visible outcomes and then trying to explain them with the paltry knowledgebase available to the human being.
How can we make this assertion with confidence? Just imagine if we could absorb every single experience belonging to every single person who ever existed into our brain. Would we then have perfect knowledge? We can find the answer from our own personal experience. How many people do we see that are much older than we are and yet they don’t have anything intelligent to share with us? They make mistake after mistake, find perpetual misery and angst, all the while not progressing towards any favorable condition. People older than us have had more experiences, i.e. they have fed more information into the computer that is the brain. But more information doesn’t always mean that the mind will know how to process what it is collecting. Through intoxication, gambling, meat eating, illicit sex and the feverish pursuit to secure sense gratification, the mind casts aside good judgment in favor of animal instincts. The human being may look down on the animals for their lack of intelligence, but when the same behavior is followed by the seemingly more intelligent human, the deficiency is ignored.
Even if we could collect knowledge of every experience, we’d have no way of creating something like the sun. It is just there. We know some of its properties, but we have no idea how to create it. Since we can’t even create a miniature version of the sun, what do we really know about the universe? Mind you, to create a replica of the sun, you’d have to make an object that remains in place, gives off heat and light, and does not require any maintenance whatsoever. This means that this miniature sun cannot have an external fuel source. This paradoxical combination of properties is impossible to create, yet man somehow thinks he can control the weather or evolve the species.
The mental pursuits to try to supplant God’s authority are also a type of indirect worship. To better understand how this operates, let’s say that we had young children and they constantly played with the toys that we bought them. After playing and playing, they might generate their own theories as to where the toys came from and how to find happiness in their environment. There is no direct worship of the parents, who are the suppliers in this case, but the playing field still could never be created without the intervention of the superior entities, the parents. Just through their play the children perform some type of worship of their superiors, but there is no transcendental taste; there is no personal interaction.
The behavior of atheists and those who ignore God’s influence is similar to the children in this regard. If you take a young child to the store and they see that you pay for a specific item by swiping your credit card, the child may think that this is how to pay for things. Just take out your card and swipe. What that transaction actually represents is not accounted for. That the credit card company will send a bill later on asking for the amount of the purchased item to be paid is unknown to the child. Even if the parent pays with cash, the child has no concept of what it took to earn that money, where it came from.
Similarly, the scientists going off of simple sense perception and the documented perceptions and theories of others have no idea where matter comes from and what its purpose is. Rather, they look only at the results and then try to manipulate them for their own benefit. Sadly, if they simply changed the beneficiary of their activity, they could find true happiness. The person who grants us these objects does not do so to punish. If everything around us is used for His favor, eternal felicity can be found. Moreover, the proper knowledgebase will be uncovered as well.
There are often debates as to what constitutes intelligence, i.e. how do we tell if someone is smart. There is really no need for any disagreement in this area, as the proper assessment is very easy to make. An intelligent person is one who can best use their knowledge to further their specific purpose. If one person knows a lot about quantum physics and the laws of mathematics, what does their knowledge gain them if their aim in life is to raise children and have a happy family life? Their intelligence may get them a good job which provides a high salary, but if they don’t know how to properly treat their family members and how to oversee their dependents, how smart can they really be?
In this respect, the most intelligent person is one who can use whatever they have around them to further life’s ultimate mission, that of becoming God conscious. Instead of creating theories denying the existence of God, if we simply do something sincerely in the right direction and show the Lord what we have done, the benefits are real and last beyond the present lifetime. A beloved child is one who interacts with their parents, almost annoying them in a sense. “Dad, look at this. I made this today. Mom, do you remember yesterday when I did that? Dad, green is my favorite color. Mom, look, I finished all my food.”
These are seemingly meaningless accomplishments and statements, but to the parents they provide tremendous pleasure. They warm the heart. The direct worship is there, as the interaction is genuine, with not even a hint of a desire to deny the authority of the parents. Direct interaction with God involves similar statements, except that we tell the Lord how much we have remembered Him. This is best done by regularly chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. We also show to the Lord that we have given up sinful behavior, that we try to think about Him as much as we can. These aren’t much in terms of accomplishments, but if the effort is sincere, the pleasure derived by the reservoir of pleasure is unmatched.
Since He knows His creation and the tendencies of its inhabitants very well, when Krishna chooses to personally interact with the purest devotees, He assumes roles that He knows will evoke tremendous pleasure all around. This was quite evident during His childhood in Vrindavana. Can God have a childhood? Can the person who is unborn, undying and formless ever appear anywhere? God is formless, but not in the way that we’d think. He has spiritual attributes, features which aren’t limited in the way that ours are. Krishna has hands that He can use to accept food offerings. Krishna’s ears can hear everything in this world, even though we can’t visibly see His ears. If He chooses, Krishna can come to earth in a seemingly human form and delight the purest souls, who have no desire for material attachment or temporary gains.
When He appeared on earth some five thousand years ago, Krishna spent His childhood years in Vrindavana. Mother Yashoda, who was actually Krishna’s foster mother, derived tremendous pleasure from having Krishna as her son. Sometimes she would ask Krishna to bring this item or that, to carry wooden shoes or a wooden measuring pot. With children, the simplest tasks can be performed with the greatest eagerness. The parents love to see this enthusiasm, as the most menial task performed with love gives them delight. The same God who is unattainable by mystic yoga, study of Vedanta, and steep penances and austerities was being asked to carry trivial items by Mother Yashoda. One can only imagine how happy she must have felt.
Sometimes Krishna would not be able to lift these items. Rather than reveal His apparent weakness, Krishna would just stand by the item and pound His chest, to show that He did have enough strength. Who in Vrindavana could ever be unhappy with Mother Yashoda’s darling around to please their eyes? Krishna would hatch elaborate plots with His friends to steal the butter supply safely hidden away in the neighbors’ homes. The cowherd women, the gopis, would complain to Mother Yashoda, but then they would ask her not to punish Krishna. This means that they really liked the attention Krishna gave them. They liked seeing His beautiful, sweet smiling face, His divine vision that chases away any hint of pride that could ever exist in anyone.
The cowherd women of Vrindavana were the most intelligent because they used whatever knowledge they had to interact with Krishna. Even though they didn’t know Krishna’s divinity, they got to directly worship the Supreme Lord. Not only did they derive pleasure from Shyamasundara’s association, but Krishna manipulated events in just the right way so that He could take great pleasure too. Whoever keeps that sweet vision of Krishna bringing objects to Mother Yashoda regularly in their mind will never have to repeat the cycle of birth and death again. Reincarnation is meant for those choosing indirect worship. The devotees following bhakti-yoga, devotional service, have their eyes well up with tears when they think of Shri Krishna’s kind mercy and His love for the inhabitants of Vrindavana.
God is worshiped in some way by everyone,
Either direct or indirect, service there is some.
Honor material nature to connect,
With Lord’s inferior energy, from Him does it reflect.
But theories in the world can never God touch,
He is the smartest, knowledge He has much.
The wise relish the transcendental taste,
Comes from chanting and seeing God’s face.
This was practice of Yashoda the mother,
Loved her son Krishna like no other.
Would order the Lord items to bring,
Make Him dance from songs they would sing.
It is that wonderful boy that we adore,
Brings us taste of direct worship we crave more and more.