“After this purificatory process, the gopis, headed by mother Yashoda and Rohini, chanted twelve names of Vishnu to give Krishna's body full protection from all evil influences. They washed their hands and feet and sipped water three times, as is the custom before chanting mantra.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 6)Download this episode (right click and save)
Why should there be compassion for God? Is He poor? There is the concept of daridra-narayana, that the Supreme has fallen into a lowly condition and thus should be served through helping the poor, but this has no validity when logic is applied. He is never poor. Narayana is with the goddess of fortune Lakshmi. If He wants, He can create innumerable universes. It is we who need the compassion. It is we who are struggling. Despite all of this, the gopis of Vrindavana have tremendous compassion for God. Their example shows another way in which bhakti-yoga stands above all other kinds of religion.
Can there be different kinds of religion? Is God not one? If I say that a single person created everything and everyone, it doesn’t really matter what I call them. They are still the same person worshiped, regardless of tradition. If it’s the same person, how can there be more than one religion?
The varieties arise due to desire and resulting relationships. We can take the high court judge as an example. They are one person, but they play different roles to different people. In the courtroom they are respected as the final arbiter to adjudicate disagreements. Prior to that they were a student in the classroom of a law college. When they go home from work, they are a husband to a wife. They are a father to children. In the town council meeting, they are a concerned citizen.
There are relationships specific to each of these roles. There are specific things desired as well. In the same way, though God is one, there are different ways to view and approach Him. Some consider Him an enemy.
“You have ruined my life. You gave me trouble right from the start. People say that you are a mine of politeness, but I beg to disagree. You are mean and vindictive. Otherwise, how could you allow so many bad things to happen? If you exist at all, you are not as intelligent as people say.”
Most commonly He is seen as an order supplier. We give payment in business transactions to exchange goods and services, and in a similar manner the method of payment for receiving things from God is prayer.
“O Lord, please help me. I’m in a lot of trouble. I don’t ask you for things too often. If you come through for me this time, I swear that I’ll be good from now on. I’ll stop doing so many bad things. Please give me a sign that you hear me.”
Despite the mood when initially approaching God, He is still the same person. There are different relationships, but this does not mean that God multiplies into different personalities. He is surely capable of this, but He is always one. He already expands into each heart as the Supersoul. As an individual soul, we remain localized to the body we accepted at the time of birth. Apart from the rare instance of mystic perfection we cannot spread our influence to other bodies. God already does, and He remains singular at the same time. This is His greatness.
Bhakti-yoga is unique in that it is the lone relationship with God where the Supreme gets viewed as a dependent. You can only have compassion on someone if you think they are capable of being in danger. You can only have this attitude towards the Supreme Lord if you are not always consciously aware of His stature, which is as the highest person in all the universes.
We can look to the example of the gopis. They see the Supreme Lord in His original form of Shri Krishna. This form is perpetually in bliss and it is all-attractive. If there is one thing to know about God, it is that every aspect to Him is attractive. Everyone follows Him to some degree, even the atheists. In the lowest stage of understanding, He is known as all-devouring death, and in the highest stage as the adorable child of mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja.
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
“All of them - as they surrender unto Me - I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
The gopis might see Krishna do amazing things from time to time. In Gokula Vrindavana some five thousand years ago, He thwarted the attacks of powerful enemies. Krishna was displaying the body of a small boy at the time. The gopis, the cowherd women of the community, knew that Krishna was special, but they did not keep conscious awareness of His divine nature. They worried for Him. They were so compassionate that they prayed to God for His welfare. Once when Krishna survived the attack of a powerful witch, the gopis chanted the names of Narayana for His protection. Krishna is the same Narayana, but they did not see this.
This relationship to God is considered a higher stage of worship since there is more enjoyment derived. When you look at the Supreme as only an order supplier, the relationship you have to Him is not bringing much enjoyment. After all, anything material must go away at some point. Therefore what you asked for from God brings you little satisfaction; you approached Him and didn’t get the full benefit of the exchange. The highest taste is bhakti-rasa, where you love the all-attractive one so much that your first inclination is to give to Him in compassion.
With different intentions to go,
So varying ways for God to know.
Bhakti-yoga to the all-attractive one,
The stage where asking for things none.
Compassion to Him giving,
So He with protection living.
Like after Putana the gopis in Vrindavana,
For Krishna chanted the names of Narayana.