What does it mean to know Krishna?

The Bhagavad-gita repeatedly talks about knowing Krishna — those who know him attain his abode (04.09). What does such knowing mean? 

To understand, let’s compare Krishna with gold. Suppose someone comes to know that their backyard has gold buried in it. What would they do? If they really understood the value of gold, they would immediately excavate it. If they just stayed passively doing nothing, it would probably imply they didn’t really know gold in terms of appreciating its value. Suppose they know gold is shining yellow, has the chemical symbol Au or has a melting point of 1,064 degree celsius. Though these are valid facts, knowing them isn’t as relevant as knowing gold’s capacity to enrich them. To know something means to know its most relevant characteristics. 

The same principle applies to knowing Krishna. Nowadays, we can learn so much information about Krishna from so many sources, including especially the Internet. Suppose we know various details about Krishna — the historical details of his life, the geographical details of his travels, the literary details of books that glorify him. Even if such details are valid, they alone won’t nourish our deepest longing: the longing to love and be loved. 

What will nourish that longing? Knowing Krishna to be our all-attractive Lord, the ultimate embodiment of everything we long for. The Bhagavad-gita states that those who know him become wholeheartedly devoted to him (10.08). Such knowledge is best learnt in the association of those who love Krishna or at least those who are striving earnestly to love him. Inspired by their association, we will redirect our love from other things to Krishna, thereby powering our journey from this temporary world to Krishna’s world of endless love. 

One-sentence summary:

To know Krishna means to know him as our supreme object of love and to wholeheartedly direct our love toward him

Think it over:

  • Why is knowing about Krishna not just an informational matter?
  • What does knowing about Krishna mean essentially?
  • How can we know Krishna in truth?


10.08: I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.

Author: Chaitanya Charan

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