Chapter 27 – Krishna and Jesus Christ
Many people often wonder what is the view of Lord Jesus Christ in the Krishna consciousness movement.
Srila Prabhupada, the foremost exponent of the Krishna consciousness movement explains that Jesus is Krishna’s representative, son of God, and spiritual master.
Below are excerpts from Srila Prabhupada’s books, lectures, and conversations about Jesus Christ and his relationship with Krsna.
“If one loves Krishna, he must love Lord Jesus also. And if one perfectly loves Jesus he must love Krishna too. If he says, “Why shall I love Krishna? I shall love Jesus,” then he has no knowledge. And if one says, “Why shall I love Jesus? I shall love Krishna”, then he has no knowledge either. If one understands Krishna, then he will understand Jesus. If one understands Jesus, you’ll understand Krishna too”
(Srila Prabhupada – Room conversation with Allen Ginsberg, May 12, 1969 / Columbus – Ohio)
“As Lord Jesus Christ said, we should hate the sin, not the sinner. That is a very nice statement, because the sinner is under illusion. He is mad. If we hate him, how can we deliver him? Therefore, those who are advanced devotees, who are really servants of God, do not hate anyone. When Lord Jesus Christ was being crucified, he said, “My God, forgive them. They know not what they do.” This is the proper attitude of an advanced devotee. He understands that the conditioned souls cannot be hated, because they have become mad due to their materialistic way of thinking. In this Krsna consciousness movement, there is no question of hating anyone. Everyone is welcomed to come and chant Hare Krsna, take krsna-prasada, (spiritualised food) listen to the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, and try to rectify material, conditioned life. This is the essential program of Krsna consciousness.
(Path of Perfection Chapter 3: Learning How to See God)
Christian, Muhammadan, Hindu-it doesn’t matter. If he is simply speaking on behalf of God, he is a guru. Lord Jesus Christ, for instance. He canvassed people, saying, “Just try to love God.” Anyone-it doesn’t matter who, be he Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, is a guru if he convinces people to love God. That is the test. The guru never says, “I am God,” or “I will make you God.” The real guru says, “I am a servant of God, and I will make you a servant of God also.” It doesn’t matter how the guru is dressed. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Whoever can impart knowledge about Krsna is a spiritual master.” A genuine spiritual master simply tries to get people to become devotees of Krsna, or God. He has no other business.
(Science of Self Realization Chapter 2: Choosing a Spiritual Master)
So Lord Jesus Christ said, “My Lord, hallowed be Thy name.” He wants to glorify the name of the Lord. And some people says that there is no name of God. How? If Lord Jesus Christ says “Hallowed by Thy name,” there must be name. The name is there, but he did not pronounce it because the people at that time was not be able to understand or maybe some reason, but he says there is name. So we are making this propaganda, Krsna consciousness movement, the “Hallowed by Thy name. My Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, let Your holy name be glorified.” This is our movement. It is not sectarian…(Lecture: Bhagavad Gita 3.27 Melbourne June 27, 1974)
Sometimes Sri Krsna descends Himself, and sometimes He sends His representative. The major religions of the world-Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim-believe in some supreme authority or personality coming down from the kingdom of God. In the Christian religion, Jesus Christ claimed to be the son of God and to be coming from the kingdom of God to reclaim conditioned souls. As followers of Bhagavad-gita, we admit this claim to be true. So basically there is no difference of opinion. In details there may be differences due to differences in culture, climate and people, but the basic principle remains the same-that is, God or His representatives come to reclaim conditioned souls.
(Raja Vidya Chapter 6 :Knowledge of Krsna’s Appearance and Activities)
Just like Lord Jesus Christ. He was so badly treated and still he was thinking, “Father, they do not know what they are doing. Please excuse.” This is suhrdah. He is praying to God This is sadhu, mahatma. Suhrdah prasanta. Not that… In India there are examples like Haridasa Thakura, Prahlada Maharaja. And the Western countries also, Lord Jesus Christ, he is saktyavesa-avatara, God’s son. And he tolerated so much. These are the examples of mahatma (great souls). Don’t misunderstand that we are preaching that mahatmas are only in India. No. By the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead there are mahatmas even amongst the birds, even amongst the beasts, even amongst the lower than animals. Because this Krsna consciousness movement is going on in different places, in different circumstances. (Srimad Bhagavatam 5.5.3 –vrndavana Oct 25, 1976)
Conversation with Father Emmanuel – In 1974, near ISKCON’s center in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, Srila Prabhupada and several of his disciples took a morning walk with father Emmanuel Jungclaussen, a Benedictine monk from Niederalteich Monastery. Noticing that Srila Prabhupada was carrying meditation beads similar to the rosary, Father Emmanuel explained that he also chanted a constant prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, be merciful unto us.” The following conversation ensued.
Conversation with Cardinal Danielou – “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder”?
At a monastic retreat near Paris, in July of 1973, Srila Prabhupada talked with Cardinal Jean Danielou: “… the Bible does not simply say, `Do not kill the human being.’ It says broadly, `Thou shalt not kill.’… why do you interpret this to suit your own convenience?”
From the book ‘Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers’ – Discussions between Peace Corps Worker Bob Cohen and His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Jesus Christ Was a Guru – The spiritual leader of the Hare Krsna movement here recognizes Lord Jesus Christ as “the son of God, the representative of God… our guru… our spiritual master,” yet he has some sharp words for those who currently claim to be Christ’s followers…
A devotee of Krsna is friendly to everyone. Therefore it is said here that he has no enemy (nirvairah). How is this? A devotee situated in Krsna consciousness knows that only devotional service to Krsna can relieve a person from all the problems of life. He has personal experience of this, and therefore he wants to introduce this system, Krsna consciousness, into human society. There are many examples in history of devotees of the Lord who risked their lives for the spreading of God consciousness. The favorite example is Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified by the nondevotees, but he sacrificed his life for spreading God consciousness. Of course, it would be superficial to understand that he was killed. Similarly, in India also there are many examples, such as Thakura Haridasa and Prahlada Maharaja. Why such risk? Because they wanted to spread Krsna consciousness, and it is difficult. A Krsna conscious person knows that if a man is suffering it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Krsna. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one’s neighbor from all material problems. In such a way, a pure devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord. Now, we can imagine how merciful Krsna is to those engaged in His service, risking everything for Him. Therefore it is certain that such persons must reach the supreme planet after leaving the body.
(Chapter 11 Bhagavad gita text 55 purport)
The five stages of spiritual development
It was Christ Jesus who first said “Love God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and love man as thy brother.”
This is an absolute truth indeed; but different men put different interpretations to this noble expression. The expressions of all great men are nice but somewhat mysterious—when understood they bring the truth nearest to the heart; otherwise they remain mere letters that “kill”.
The reason of the mystery is that men, advanced in their inward approach to the Deity, are in the habit of receiving revelations which are but mysteries to those that are behind them.
The stages of progress are very much the same as the circles of spiritualism which, though not true themselves, explain a great deal about the gradual development of the soul. We have understood some spiritualists to maintain that matter when sublimated converts itself to spirit.
This theory is indeed against any inward conviction. Matter is matter, and Spirit is spirit; one of them cannot form the other. Spirit is certainly of a superior existence; though we cannot fully understand in our present state of material imprisonment, what relation Spirit does exactly bear to matter, space and time. Metaphysics apart, we decide that the human soul rises higher and higher and can understand things of which we have no idea at present.
Subject to this important rule, Christ Jesus of Nazareth received and uttered the words quoted above. To readers who are a little above the scale of ordinary men, these expressions of Jesus teach that man should love God with all his heart (meaning the affections of the heart perceivable in all children as opposed to hate), with all his mind (meaning the intellect which knows as opposed to ignorance of good things), with all his soul (meaning that principle of the human constitution which worships the Almighty and feels its own immortality) and with all his strength (meaning all active work).
To the inspired, however, more things and better and sublimer meanings appear beneath these holy words of the Inspired Jesus. He teaches man to love God and not to know, infer, hate, or think of God. He tells us that man in his absolute state is not the intellect or the body but is the pure Soul itself. The essence of the soul is wisdom, and its action is love absolute. The absolute condition of man is his absolute relation to the Deity in pure love. Love then alone is the religion of the Soul and consequently of the whole man.
The purpil asks here, “What have I to do with the heart?—my heart loves to see the ’sun to smile’, ‘to eat the sweetest dish and to see a dance’.” Jesus profoundly replies, “Yes, you must love God with all thy heart. Your heart now runs to other things than God, but must (as you train a bad horse) make your feelings run to the loving God.” This is one of the four princples of worship or what they call in Vaishnava Literature, Shanta Rasa.
Then the pupil says, “My Lord, the intellect takes me elsewhere from God, i.e., it wants to take me to Positivism; please instruct me what am I to do?” “Yes”, replies Jesus, “you must love God with all your mind, i.e. when you perceive, conceive, remember, imagine, and reason, you must not allow yourself to be a dry thinker but must love. Love alone can soften the dryness of the intellect. You must develop the intellect on all good and holy things by means of love of truth, spiritual beauty and harmony.” This is the second phase of Vaishnava development which passes by the name of Dashya Rasa.
The pupil then enquires whether the development of the affections and the intellect is quite enough for him. Then says the Lord, “You must love God with thy soul also, i.e., you must perceive yourself in spiritual communication with the Deity and receive holy revelations in your sublimest hours of worship.” This is called the Sakhya Rasa of the Vaishnavas, the Soul approaching the Deity in holy and fearless service. The disciple apprehends that he will be lost in such a position and will be unable to act. Then the Saviour tells him these words: “You must love God with all thy strength or will—you are wrong in concluding that you will lose your active existence. You will get it the more. Work for God and work to God, proceeding from no interested views but from a holy free will (which is alone the strength of man) and identifying itself with pure love, will fully engross your attention.”
This description is of Bhakti in general. Then Jesus proceeds to tell us “You must love man as thy brother.” From this is inferred the fourth phase of love, which is a feeling that all men are brothers and God is their common Father. This is Vatsalya Rasa in its first stage of development.
Bhakti (love) is thus perceived in the very first development of the man in the shape of heart, then in the shape of mind, then in the shape of soul, and lastly in the shape of will. These shapes do not destroy each other but beautifully harmonize themselves into a pure construction of what we call the spiritual man, or the Ekanta of Vaishnava Literature.
But there is another sublimer truth behind this fact which is revealed to a few that are prepared for it. We mean the spiritual conversion of the Soul into a woman. It is in that sublime and lofty state in which the soul can taste the sweets of an indissoluble marriage with God of Love. The fifth or the highest stage of Vaishnava development is this, which we call Madhura Rasa, and on this alone the most beautiful portion of the Vaishnava Literature so ably expatiates. This phase of human life, mysterious as it is, is not attainable by all; nay, we should say, by any but “God’s own”. It is so very beyond the reach of common men that the rationalists and even the ordinary theists cannot understand it; nay, they go so far as to sneer at it as something unnatural.
Oh God! Reveal Thy most valuable truths to all, so that Your own may not be numbered with the fanatics and the crazed and that the whole of mankind may be admitted as “Your own”.
Recommended reading: The Bhagavad-Gita As It Is translated by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. This is the preliminary literature for understanding Who God is, in truth, spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, five thousand years ago.
Lord Jesus Christ lived for two years in the temple at Jagannatha Puri. He was thick and thin with the priests in that temple, and he took his spiritual training from Lord Jagannatha. It is because Lord Jesus loved Lord Jagannatha……and because Lord Jagannatha loved Lord Jesus…….that He, Lord Jagannatha, has come to your country”. (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami. Identical statement made during two separate Ratha Yatra lectures, 1972).
In those Ratha Yatra lectures, Srila Prabhupad built up to the above statement by first explaining the word “avatara” and then labeling Lord Jesus as an avatar. His explanation closely followed the explanation found in His “Raja Vidya”, Ch. 6:
“Of course, the message that Christ preached was just according to his particular time, place, and country, and just suited for a particular group of people. But certainly he is the representative of God. Therefore we adore Lord Jesus Christ and offer our obeisances to him”. (Science of Self Realization).”