Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 27 Aug 2019


When God is unimaginable, how can we say that God pervades only the awareness of the Incarnation and not the body?

Note: This article is meant for intellectuals only

Padanamaskaram Swami! I request You to please answer the following question. You have mentioned that God pervades the relative awareness of the Human Incarnation. In special cases like in Krishna, He even pervaded the whole body. God is unimaginable, while the awareness and the body of the Incarnation are imaginable. How can it then be said that God pervades only the awareness-part and not the body, in most general cases and that, in some special cases, He may even pervade the entire body? If God were a limited item, such a superimposition can have some meaning since one limited item can be superimposed on another limited item. When God is present in the Human Incarnation, why should we say that He is only pervading the awareness and not pervading in body or that He is pervading the whole body in addition to the awareness? At Your Lotus Feet, Anil.

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! When the God who pervades the awareness or the body of the Incarnation, is unimaginable, even the mechanism of His pervasion is unimaginable. We are only assuming a certain mechanism of pervasion as if God is a finite imaginable item. Such assumptions are made to explain deep philosophical concepts to people in a manner that is easy to understand. We are not actually sure whether God pervades the awareness (energy) or the body (matter) since we cannot directly perceive the unimaginable God. But, based on what we perceive, we are making inferences regarding the mechanism of pervasion, assuming the pervasion to be an imaginable process. When Krishna lifted the huge hill on His tender little finger, we infer that the unimaginable God must have pervaded all over His body, including His finger. Because of this pervasion, both the body and the finger become unimaginable and hence, Krishna was able to lift the hill. Otherwise, we know that the imaginable body and the imaginable finger cannot withstand the enormous weight of the hill. We are introducing the concept that God pervaded all over the body of Krishna in order to avoid confusion as much as possible. Actually, even without the unimaginable God pervading the body, the huge hill can be lifted up by the finger and body of Krishna by the unimaginable power of the unimaginable God existing in the awareness of Krishna. We are taking the statements of scripture and we are also adding some more assumed mechanisms, if necessary, to make the subject more clearly understandable. This is done since the brains of ordinary human beings are only accustomed to understanding imaginable phenomena of items in the world.

When we say that a crane lifted a heavy load, we can say that crane must be made of a strong material, which can withstand the weight of the load. Similarly, when we say that Krishna lifted the hill, we can say that body of Krishna attained unimaginable power since it was pervaded by the unimaginable God. There is scriptural support for this concept since it is said that God pervades the medium internally as well as externally (Antarbahiśca...—Veda). At the same time, if we stick only to this concept, we cannot explain another event. The finger of Krishna was injured by a blade of sugarcane while He was eating it. This means that the finger was not pervaded by the unimaginable God. To correlate both these observations, we assume that God either pervades the soul alone or the soul and the body of the Incarnation, as required in each situation.

Krishna used to eat food and drink milk due to hunger and thirst. This means that God was not pervading the body at all times and that God pervaded His body only in situations when it was necessary. This concept is only our assumption. There cannot be any perceivable proof of this assumption, at any stage, since the unimaginable God cannot be perceived. Since Krishna can give excellent spiritual knowledge at any time, we assume that God pervaded His soul at all times. Again, this assumption is only based on inference and cannot be proved through perception. The unimaginable God who pervades the medium and the mechanism by which He pervades it, are both unimaginable. So, even the scripture cannot report any instance when God or His mechanism of pervasion were perceived. Even the scripture reports mere inferences drawn from events. The aim of the scripture too, is to bring the knowledge about God down to the level of understanding of ordinary human beings. If you remove all these inferred assumptions related to the basic unimaginable nature of God, you will simply have to keep silent. You will have to express God and His actions only through silence—without speaking a single word. In that case, no word can even be the name of God because every word indicates only an imaginable item, whereas God is unimaginable.

Scripture says that God cannot be seen with one’s eyes (Na tatra cakṣuḥ...) and that only one blessed devotee can see God with his or her eyes (Kaścit...aikṣat). This ‘seeing’ of God must be properly interpreted. God cannot be seen with one’s eyes because the unimaginable God is obviously invisible. But when the unimaginable God merges with the imaginable-visible human devotee to become a Human Incarnation, a rare blessed devotee can realize (see) that God has incarnated in the form of that Incarnation. So, seeing God means identifying or recognizing the Human Incarnation. Of course, not all devotees who have seen the Incarnation, recognize Him to be an Incarnation due to their ego and jealousy towards fellow-human beings.

Note that we are only interpreting the scripture here and that even the scripture is only a collection of interpretations and inferences based on certain events. There is no perception of the unimaginable God at any stage and hence, the scripture too cannot describe God’s unimaginable nature. Actually, inference, as it is applied to imaginable items, is based on perception at some stage. You infer the unseen fire on the mountain from seeing the visible smoke. Your inference is based on the generalization (vyāpti) of the link between the visible fire and the visible smoke. It is the link between the cause and the effect. You have already seen this link between the fire and smoke in the kitchen. However, in the context of inferring the unimaginable God and His unimaginable actions from visible effects and events, this step of perception of the unimaginable God (cause) is always absent.

Antarbahishcha na tatra chakshuh Kashchit aikshat Vyaapti