Is our love for Krishna just plain mechanical?


I don’t understand how our love for Krishna is not coerced or just plain mechanical. It seems that our two main choices are either to surrender to Krishna or suffer the miseries of the material world.

Yet, since no one wants to suffer, our only other option is to surrender to Krishna. So it seems like love for Krishna is forced by the lack of alternate choices that don’t lead to suffering. But by definition love cannot be forced upon anyone, it has to be purely volitional and free. So how can we love Krishna in the truest sense?

As I understand, our constitutional function is to serve and love Krishna and that by engaging in the devotional practice we reawaken that dormant love. So it can be said that our suffering is the result of the illusion of not knowing who we truly are. But if we are constitutionally molded to serve and love Krishna, then where is there room for free will? If I am like a hand whose function is to feed the mouth, then what choice do I have except to feed the mouth? If my  constitutional form is to serve Krishna, then how is it different from a mechanically hard wired process devoid of meaning? – like that of a spark plug whose function is to ignite fuel.

Answer :

Regarding your philosophical question, we find in the Bhagavad-gita that Krishna does not coerce the living beings. In fact, Krishna offers material happiness and wisdom to those who live in the mode of goodness, even if they don’t worship Him. We simply have to read in the Gita all the requirements and results of sattva-guna, and none of them involve Krishna. As you say, material life at any level is ultimately limited, but this does not seem to discourage most people.

You also raise the point that we are molded to ultimately love Krishna. However, we must keep in mind that Krishna possesses infinite beauty, intelligence, etc. He is absolutely attractive. Thus, to exist in such a way that one is ultimately attracted to Krishna is simply to exist in such a way that one can appreciate beauty, intelligence, strength, etc. Krishna is not only a particularly attractive being, He is absolutely attractive. Thus to reject Krishna is not merely to reject a specific person, but to reject beauty itself, reason itself, goodness itself, since Krishna embodies these and all other positive qualities infinitely.

Krishna is also infinitely liberal. He offers an endless variety of forms and relationships with Whom we can relate to the Godhead. And if we want  ‘spirituality’ without Him, He offers Brahman realization. If we want to enjoy this world, he offers heavenly realms- which are limited, as you say- but which also offer pleasure and longevity in fantastic amounts compared to this world.

One of Krishna’s opulences is His infinite detachment. He is not trying to subjugate us. He does not seek our love for His own pleasure. All that He does and mandates in relation to us is done 100% for our happiness, and 0% for His. Krishna loves us infinitely with absolute, pure unselfish love.

Those are a few points that occur to me on this topic.

With best wishes,
Hridayananda dasa Goswami.

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