Harmonize conceptions of the divine with revelation by the divine through surrender to the divine

Different traditions whose ranks incorporate not just lay people but also serious seekers and even saintly seers have varying conceptions of the divine. Why?

Because of the finitude and relativity of human perception.

The Absolute Truth is infinite, whereas we are finite. So no one can have complete understanding of the Absolute Truth. The erudite Gita commentator Bhaktivinoda Thakura illustrates the relativity of our vision with the analogy of a mountain peak: just as observers at different places see the peak differently, so do seekers coming from different cultural and psychological backgrounds see the one Absolute Truth differently.

All people are on the path to the divine, but how far they get on that path depends on their surrender and the proportionate divine revelation.

Acknowledging such diversity of perception, a celebrated Vedic aphorism states: ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti “Truth is one; sages know it by different names.” (Rig Veda 1.164.46). The Bhagavad-gita (04.11) stresses the commonality underlying the diversity when it declares that all people are on the path to Krishna, the fullest manifestation of the Absolute Truth.

Does the statement that everyone is on the path to Krishna sanction a spiritual laissez-faire, approving whatever people may do as per their conceptions of the divine?

No, because the same Gita verse also states that Krishna rewards revelation in proportion to the seeker’s surrender. Later, the Gita (18.55) emphasizes that Krishna can be known in truth only by devotion, because our desire to love and serve him pleases him the most and inspires him to grant the richest revelation of the Absolute Truth.

So the full verse conveys that all people are on the path to the divine, but how far they get on that path depends on their surrender and the proportionate divine revelation. Their conceptions will increasingly harmonize with revelation as their surrender increases. No wonder the Gita (18.66) concludes with an unambiguous call for wholehearted surrender.

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