Dhanurdhara Swami June 27th, 2016
One Christian Theologian was challenged: “Is God a person?” He coolly replied: “God is not less than a person!”
I loved his answer!
Śrīla Prabhupāda said the same thing in a different but equally powerful way: “Kṛṣṇa doesn’t have the defect of impersonality!”
I came to the same conviction in college after I got my first Kṛṣṇa Book.
In 1971, my former college roommate, now Akṣobhya dāsa, was visiting me again at my residence at the State University of New York at Binghamton. I first met devotees with him the year before while visiting him in California after he left college. On this visit to New York, he gifted me the newly published Kṛṣṇa Book. I remember sitting in my room devouring the book. When I got to Devakī’s prayers I read so many powerful verses that stated how Kṛṣṇa was all pervading, all-knowing, and all powerful. I was studying philosophy at the time and began to think back to the definition of God I just heard in one of the introductory courses: God is that being of which no greater can be conceived!
I read of Kṛṣṇa, a God of perfect love, a perfect child to his mother with intense loving exchanges with his friends, who is also not devoid of pure romance, who lives in Vṛndāvana, a world of pastoral beauty, the perfect setting for kṛṣṇa-līlā, which is the most intense exchange of affection. And now I was reading the perspective of Devakī, in prayer after prayer, perfectly delineating the majesty of Kṛṣṇa. Suddenly it hit me: Yes, this is a being of which no greater can be perceived! What can be greater than a being who has all the powers of God and all the sweetness of love? I can’t think of anything greater than the concept of Kṛṣṇa.
A few years later I heard about a debate between ISKCON’s young Hṛdayānanda dāsa Goswami and Professor Swāmī Agehānanda Bhāratī, a prominent Sanskritist at Syracuse University who was also a monk of the Advaita Vedānta order.
As I heard it (there was no internet those days to see it), Professor Bhāratī issued the first challenge: “You are a Vaiṣṇava, you believe God has form. You are limiting God!”
Fiery Hṛdayānanda responded: “You are an Advaita Vedāntist. You believe God has no form or attributes. Vaiṣṇavas believe God is pervading everything by His energies and also has attributes. Therefore by denying that God has form you are limiting Him!”
I thought Hṛdayānanda Mahārāja’s answer was brilliant and I still do.
Some years later I heard the very sharp ISKCON scientist Rasarāja speak on the same topic. He challenged his audience, “People say God has no form because He must be the opposite of what we see here. What is the opposite of poor? Is it no money or rich? So what is the opposite of material form? Is it no form, or rich form, spiritual form?”
His answer also stuck in my mind. Recently this same subject, about the denial of personality in God, came up in a question and answer period at the yearly Cali Yogafest at our Shyam Ashram in Colombia. An intelligent young man posed a question: “I think God must just be energy or a force. How can he be a person?”
I prefaced my answer with the story of my revelation in college after reading Kṛṣṇa Book and reflecting on the classical definition of God as that being of which no greater can be conceived. I then added, “I can think of something greater than God being just a force and that’s a force that can talk.”
I then expanded on what I said a little further. I think the person asking the question and the audience listening to the answer much appreciated this simple logic on the reasonability of God being a person.
So is God a person?
God is not less than a person!
What a perfect answer!