Greater than God—an essay

Srila Prabhupada sometimes told stories about a king in Bengal and his court jester, Gopal Ban.

One morning, when Gopal arrived for the king’s daily amusement, the king asked him, “Gopal, what’s the difference between you and a jackass?”

Guessing the distance between him and the king, Gopal replied, “Sir, the difference is about three feet.”

The king laughed heartily, even though the joke was on him.

Srila Prabhupada told this story to show that although God receives the highest honor and respect, He enjoys taking the role of a subordinate. He’s more satisfied by intimate relationships than official ones.

In another story that illustrates the same point, Prabhupada told of a British prime minister who had once kept a guest waiting outside his office while he played “horsey” for his grandson.

Lord Chaitanya’s followers combed the Vedic scriptures to draw out the most comprehensive description of God. In other places we may learn about God’s omnipotence, but in the tradition of Krishna consciousness we learn about God’s personality, in striking detail. It’s like the difference between knowing a judge in court and knowing him at home.

God in His majesty is God at work; Krishna is God at home.

Lord Chaitanya taught us to aspire to be with Krishna in His eternal home, in the pure, relaxed atmosphere of Vrindavan. Whereas awe and reverence pervade other parts of the spiritual world, in Vrindavan love rules. Krishna’s devotees there don’t know, or care, that He is God. They love Him, that’s all. And they’re eager to serve Him.

We infinitesimal souls are all eternal servants of God. There’s no escaping our role; it’s our nature. We can serve God willingly, as devotees, or unwillingly, by serving His material energy, as we unwillingly grow old, get sick, die, and so on. In our rebellious spirit, the idea of servitude seems repulsive. But the pure souls in the spiritual world know service to be the source of unparalleled bliss. Why? Because, quite simply, the residents of Vrindavan serve Krishna by being His friends, His relatives, His respected elders, and so on. What could be better than that? They serve Him by their relationship with Him, because that’s what He wants.

Just as we like to enjoy a variety of relationships, so does God. A husband and wife may be happy in each other’s company, and may have relationships with friends, subordinates, and superiors, but still they choose to have children and so create new relationships.

Because Krishna is unlimited, He likes to enjoy an unlimited number of relationships, each unique. We each have a unique relationship with Krishna, revealed when our love for Him matures. The relationships between Krishna and His eternal associates are free of the hardships that plague the analogous relationships in the material world. In the spiritual world, all exchanges flow from pure love and are therefore perfect.

While impersonalists want to become one with God, devotees can attain the position of being greater than God. In the intimacy of pure love, they can tell God what do to, and He loves to hear it.

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