Krishna is not just a solace from the world – he is the substance of the world

Many people come to God to gain relief from the wounds incurred while battling for the things of this world. What they find too difficult to attain by their own efforts, they hope to attain by petitioning the divine.

The Bhagavad-gita (07.16) acknowledges such solace-seekers as pious because they, despite their world-centeredness, seek the divine. But it also traces the trajectory of their further spiritual evolution till they see Krishna not as a solace, but as the substance of everything (07.19: vaasudevah sarvam iti). Does this statement, literally translatable as Krishna is everything, imply a simplistic pantheism that equates everything with God? No, because the same verse states that such enlightened seekers surrender to Krishna, not to everything.

Studying the Gita’s worldview reveals the statement’s subtle import – the sophisticated relationship between Krishna and everything can be understood at various levels. Firstly, everything is a manifestation of his energy and because he is in a sense non-different from his energy, in that sense he manifests as everything. Secondly, he through his pervasive immanent manifestation as the Supersoul underlies and upholds everything, thus he is the substance, the integrating principle, of everything. Thirdly, everything that attracts our heart does so because it manifests a spark of his supreme all-attractiveness, so he is the substance, the attractive principle, of everything.

When we thus understand Krishna as the all-attractive Lord of our heart, we realize that approaching him merely for solace is a colossal under-utilization, akin to using a gold slab as an umbrella to avoid sunburn. This realization inspires us to make Krishna our supreme goal, not a means to some worldly goal. Making him our life’s goal gradually enriches us with spiritual love that brings fulfillment far greater than that from the greatest worldly achievement.

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