Krishna is everything, but everything is not Krishna

The Bhagavad-gita (7.19) states that the wise surrender to Krishna, understanding him to be everything (vasudevah sarvam iti). Does this verse describe a naïve pantheism that sentimentally worships everything to be God? The negative answer is evident in the verse itself; it states explicitly that the wise surrender to Krishna, not to everything.

When the wise are clear that the object of their surrender is Krishna, not everything, then why do they consider Krishna to be everything? Because they have understood the subtle and sublime relationship between Krishna and his creation. 

The Gita reveals that Krishna doesn’t delight in majestic aloofness from everything else, considering it below his divine dignity to stoop down to contact anything.  Instead, he acts as the source, sustenance and summit of everything. By so doing, he provides us a facility to re-orient our heart towards him. Everything that exists is an extension of his grace, an expression of his merciful desire to help us love him again. Even the worldly beauty that often distracts us from him is ultimately meant to remind us of his supreme beauty. Even the harmful and dreadful things of this world are meant to redirect our love to him by serving as graphic reminders of the temporality of all other loves. Thus Krishna is everything in the sense that it is he who has manifested as his energy to help us remember him.

At the same time, everything is not Krishna; he resides separate from everything. He is the charming Supreme Person in the spiritual world eternally reciprocating love with his devotees.

Gita wisdom describes the process of devotional service that alone enables us to understand Krishna in truth. When we serve Krishna devotedly, wegradually realize the mysterious truth that Krishna is everything, but everything is not Krishna.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 07 Text 19

“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.”


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