“The form which you are seeing with your transcendental eyes cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. It is not by these means that one can see Me as I am.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 11.53)Download this episode (right click and save)
Shri Krishna had just shown Arjuna the virata-rupa, the universal form. This is the complete everything. Put all things that you can think of, existing in this world and in others, into a single image - that somewhat explains the universal form. The vision is not easy to get; Arjuna needed a special set of eyes granted to him prior to viewing.
Then Krishna showed His four-handed form of Narayana. This is the proof of Divinity for the personalists, those who understand that God is originally a distinct personality. Still, the Supreme Lord returned to His two-handed form and then declared that it was impossible to understand simply through study, penance, charity, and other such mechanical endeavors.
The reason is simple. God is understood by those who want to know and serve Him. Otherwise, He could be standing in front of a person and still not be properly recognized. This is His mercy granted to the non-devoted. Even the atheists are worshipers of God in a sense; they choose to be under the illusion of maya. Krishna keeps them bewildered, honoring their choice to remain in the material energy.
1. Getting punished by mother Yashoda
The origin of the universe, the birth-less one, the source of the amazing universal form - He roamed around the courtyard of mother Yashoda and Nanda Maharaja in Vrindavana. He got hungry like any other child and asked to be fed breast-milk. One time He got angry when Yashoda got up in the middle of feeding Him to tend to a pot of boiling milk in the kitchen.
How can this happen? How can God be someone’s child? For the devotees, the situation is endearing. It brings them closer to God. It brings deeper insight into His true nature. For the atheists, it is the perfect excuse to continue in their futile march towards supremacy in a temporary and miserable world. Krishna got punished by Yashoda for breaking a pot of yogurt in anger. She tied Him to a mortar as punishment. He cried tears when He saw her threatening whipping stick.
2. Tending to calves
What is Krishna doing in Vrindavana, the spiritual world? The answer is always the same. Enjoying. If you have to pin the issue of work down to something, you could say that Krishna tends to calves. But this is like saying a person who takes their beloved dog on a walk is working. Krishna loves the calves and they love Him.
“I cannot understand how you could have selected this cowherd boy, Krishna, and have left aside all these other great personalities. I think Krishna to be no better than a crow - how can He be fit to accept the first worship in this great sacrifice?” (Shishupala speaking to assembly, Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 2, Ch 19)
The atheists will argue that God cannot be reduced to such menial tasks. He should be standing supreme, in all His majesty. He shouldn’t be running around the fields with His friends, enjoying the pristine atmosphere. Later on in Krishna’s earthly pastimes, there were fights with rival kings. They used Krishna’s childhood and link to an agricultural community as a way to disparage Him. These bad characters saw God right in front of them but couldn’t recognize Him.
3. Flees Jarasandha; erects city of gates
One of the opulences in God is power. He must be the strongest if He is to be supreme. Why, then, during Krishna’s pastimes did He flee from a fight? In His adulthood, Krishna was the leader in Mathura. This was after He left Vrindavana. A rival king by the name of Jarasandha attacked one time and was humiliated in defeat. Undeterred, Jarasandha continued to attack, seventeen times in total.
Finally, Krishna and His brother Balarama decided to stop fighting. Jarasandha’s death was slated to come at a different time. This is the way karma works. The consequences don’t always arrive immediately. It is like planting a seed and waiting for the appropriate moment for the plant to rise and give fruits.
Krishna became known as Ranchor when He fled from the battle against Jarasandha. As a result, He had the city of gates erected. Known as Dvaraka, it was protected on all sides by walls, preventing any further attacks from Jarasandha and the like. The atheists will happily point to this incident as a way to put Krishna down. If He was truly God, He would stand His ground in battle. He wouldn’t flee.
4. Missing a spot when applying frumenty
A guest is as good as God. This is the teaching in Vedic culture. There is a story from the Mahabharata which illustrates to what level that principle should be followed. While Shri Krishna was living in Dvaraka with His chief queen Rukmini, Durvasa Muni came on a visit. He ended up being a real pain of a guest. He made one difficult request after another. Krishna and Rukmini did as the sage asked.
One of the requests was for Rukmini and Krishna to smear a payasam paste, something like frumenty, on their body. The couple obliged, but Durvasa noticed that Krishna failed to apply the paste on one spot on His foot. Durvasa explained that the paste protected them from death, but now Krishna was vulnerable in that spot.
Again, this is sufficient grounds for atheists to discount the divinity of Krishna. If He needs protection from a substance applied at the insistence of a sage, then the sage is superior. If Krishna failed to apply it to a certain area, He is imperfect. He became mortal, which goes against the concept of God.
5. The curse of Gandhari; shot by the hunter
Sure enough, the way Krishna left this world was through being shot in the foot by a hunter while lying underneath a tree. The Mahabharata clearly says that Krishna returned to the spiritual world as Narayana, the four-handed form living in Vaikuntha. This was not death; it was leaving the manifest world.
Still, the pastimes unfolded as they did to keep the faith in atheism for the non-devoted. The shot from the hunter arrived at the appropriate time, keeping the curse previously applied on Krishna by Gandhari. She was the grieving mother of the Kauravas, who lost the Bharata War. Seeing the massive carnage and the death of her hundred sons, Gandhari cursed Krishna and His entire dynasty to leave the world.
“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 Supreme Lord is so kind that He fulfills all desires. As He says in the Bhagavad-gita, everyone follows Him in all respects. He rewards each person accordingly. The atheists get to stay in the land of rebirth. The worshipers in awe and reverence get to stay with Narayana. Those desiring more in their relationship with God get to always enjoy different pastimes with the one full of sweetness, the embodiment of madhurya, Shri Krishna.
All to follow Him in one way,
Even atheists who never to pray.
Strength to them Krishna providing,
Like when from Yashoda’s punishment hiding.
And in the foot by hunter shot,
Fulfillment of curse Gandhari got.
A benefactor to everyone so kind,
Not another like Him ever to find.