Monday Morning Greetings 2022 #46 – The Mind of God

November 14th, 2022

I always wanted to write an article called “The Mind of God”. It was inspired over thirty years ago by reading the story of the passing away of Bhīṣmadeva. The story begins directly after the battle of Kurukṣetra where Yudhiṣṭhira, the king of the victorious army and the grandson of Bhīṣma, is surveying the carnage of a fratricidal war fought to enthrone him as the emperor of the world. Even though he fought to protect his immediate family from an attempted genocide, much of his family lie dead before him on the other side. He feels responsible and becomes extremely distressed. A deep existential doubt arises: “My life has been sinless. Why do such calamities even strike such virtuous persons?”


Yudhiṣṭhira naturally begins an earnest inquiry to resolve his quandary. Not even Śrīla Vyāsa, the author of the Vedas, nor Śrī Krishna Himself could satisfy his doubts. How could that be? Isn’t Krishna, the Supreme Lord, all-knowing? The commentators reconcile the quandary by revealing Śrī Krishna’s mind: “I can answer his doubts but let him approach his grandfather to establish him as the greatest spiritual authority.” The mind of God is revealed, “I have an ardent desire to glorify my devotees!”


After reading the story of Bhīṣmadeva, I have always been intrigued by this concept of the mind of God, but now I understand something a bit deeper—how this concept is one of the keys to being transformed by hearing Krishna-līlā. Śrīla Prabhupada said we advance by appreciation, but appreciation for what? It’s the mind of those who are exalted, not only of Krishna, but especially of His devotees, for when we appreciate the inner qualities of someone, those qualities naturally come to our own heart.


For example, recently I have been reading the story of Uddhava visiting Vrindavan. Krishna takes Śrī Uddhava, his gentle (saumya), fully devoted (ekāntinam), and dearmost (preṣṭham) friend (bhaktam) by the hand (gṛhītvā pāṇinā) and asks him to go to Vrindavan to deliver a message to give pleasure to His parents and relieve the gopīs suffering in separation. One of the greatest inspirations to invoke heightened devotion (rasa) for one whose relationship with Krishna is as a servant (dāsya-rasa) is carrying out Krishna’s orders.[1] Reading this section, I therefore tried to look beyond just the visual of Krishna affectionately taking His servant by the hand. I began to meditate more on Uddhava’s mind by deeply praying to understand what Uddhava was thinking and feeling when the Lord of his life lovingly grasped his hand to call him for such an intimate and confidential service. And, just as importantly, I tried to feel more deeply what was on Krishna’s mind when He reached out to clasp Uddhava’s hand, for more than anything else it’s the heart and mind of God that draws us to Him in devotion.


There is a popular English idiom: “The face is the index of the mind”. If you think about it, a person normally sees beyond another’s actions and gestures to understand what they mean in terms of their thinking, so I assume when reading Krishna’s pastimes, one is also intuitively seeing the mind of Krishna and His devotees. My realization, however, is that it is helpful when hearing Krishna-līlā to give even deeper thought to what God (Krishna) and His devotees are thinking, for the sweetest glories of Śrī Krishna and the most relishable jewels of devotion in His devotees are hidden within their minds.


Although I never wrote a full book about the mind of God, I’m glad that after thirty years I finally got around to writing about it, even though it is just a short post. Why did I wait so long? The mind of God—what an intriguing subject!



[1] One of the anubhavas (actions of devotion), one of the five components of heighten devotion (rasa), for dāsya-rasa (devotion in servitude) is awaiting the order of one’s master. This is described in the second wave of the western division of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu.


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