“Krishna is the biggest cheater.”
I’m sorry, I think this statement is too ripe for misunderstanding to be very useful. Although it is an emotionally valid statement, and many persons who have developed emotional connection to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna will understand it on an intuitive level. My feeling, however, is that persons without the acumen of such a relationship to the divine will be completely baffled and misled by it.
First let me explain the situation objectively for the sake of us who are baffled by the concept that the Supreme Personality of Godhead might be a liar and a cheat.
The Srimad Bhagavatam is the Vedic book that is directly and explicitly a definition of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in his most intimate form as Sri Krishna. The very first shloka in this book is a crystal clear definition of what exactly “Supreme Personality of Godhead” means.
जन्माद्य् अस्य यतो ऽन्वयाद् इतरतश् चार्थेस्̣व् अभिज्ञह्̣ स्वरात्̣
तेने ब्रह्म ह्र्̣दा य आदि-कवये मुह्यन्ति यत् सूरयह्̣
तेजो-वारि-म्र्̣दाम्́ यथा विनिमयो यत्र त्रि-सर्गो ऽम्र्̣स्̣आ
धाम्ना स्वेन सदा निरस्त-कुहकम्́ सत्यम्́ परम्́ धीमहि
Let me call your attention to the words in the final line, सदा निरस्त-कुहकम्́ सत्यम्́ परम्́ (sadā nirasta-kuhakaḿ satyaḿ paraḿ ).
The word kuhaka means “cheating.” The words sada-nirasta mean “forever free”. So the phrase indicates that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna is forever free from cheating.
That is merely a negation of something undesirable. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is far more than the mere negation of negativity – he is the infinite abundance of positivity! Therefore these words follow directly after, satyam-param. The word satyam means “truth.” The word param means “paramount.” Godhead himself is the ultimate reality. Therefore Godhead is the ultimate manifestation of truth itself.
Now taking the entire line together, sadā nirasta-kuhakaḿ satyaḿ paraḿ means, “Sri Krishna is the paramount truth forever free from cheating.”
This is the context established in the first text of the Bhagavatam. Nothing thereafter in a Sanskrit text can violate the context set previous to it, particularly in the opening statement. Therefore nothing about Krsna could possibly be interpreted as being a cheat or a liar in any way.
Let me now call your attention to another word in this definitive shloka, at the end of the first line, the word स्वरात्̣ – svarāṭ. This word means, “autocratic” or “self-authorized.” There is no reality or authority or existence that is beyond that which we label as “God” therefore there is no way that Godhead could not be self-authorizing and “autocratic.” It is this autocratic nature which opens the subjective and emotional doorway to experiencing the so-called “cheating” or “trickery” of Sri Krishna, the absolute truth. To put it simply, he can do whatever he likes.
He is the supreme truth, forever free from cheating – but he can do whatever he likes.
This is surely confusing, which is why the text I have mentioned states, मुह्यन्ति यत् सूरयह्̣
तेजो-वारि-म्र्̣दाम्́ यथा विनिमयो यत्र त्रि-सर्गो ऽम्र्̣स्̣आ – “muhyanti yat sūrayaḥ tejo-vāri-mṛdāḿ yathā vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ‘mṛṣā.” This means that even the gods themselves are confused and bewildered about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But the text also states, तेने ब्रह्म ह्र्̣दा य आदि-कवये – “tene brahma hṛdā ya ādi-kavaye” and this means that Krishna remedies this confusion by personally giving accurate knowledge about himself to us in the form of Guru and Guru Parampara (headed by Lord Brahma). So we hold out hope of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead to a sufficient extent and coming to a solid rectification of this dilemma of the “Absolute Truth telling lies.”
The Upanishad describes Krishna as eko bahu syat – the one who wished to be many. And the reason for this desire is that he, being the highest form of life, is ananda-moya – full of bliss. For the sake of transforming this bliss into an even higher experience by sharing it with others and allowing it to be relished in an ecstatic condition called rasa – Krishna, who the Upanishad defines as raso vai sah – has effected the manifestation of all that be. In other words, everything exists for the sake of divine love.
The purpose of the existence itself is this ecstatic divine love. This ecstatic divine love is itself the param-satyam – the supreme truth, because it is non-different from Sri Krishna. In the service of this divine love many, many… infinite extremely inconceivable wondrous transcendental events and conditions unfold without end.
The events which transpire in the service of divine love are called “leelaa.” This word means “to play.” These divine events are all sportive, festive playful events expressing the supreme truth of divine love. In the service of divine love there is often concealment of facts. It is actually essential to conceal certain facts. For example, divine love comepletely robs the soul of conscious awareness that Krishna is the Absolute Truth – the supreme object of reverence, respect, worship, awe and fear. Such awareness interferes with the soul’s ability to really relish divine love at the highest, most intimate form with Krsna – therefore in the service of the absolute truth of divine love, the Supreme Autocrat manifests the divine illusion (“lie”) that he is not God, he is your dearmost lover. In fact the devoted soul is subconsciously always aware of the paramount position of Sri Krishna – but their understanding of it is due to love, not due to position. They love Krsna because he is so infinitely loveable, not because he is God and they are supposed to worship him. This covering of the Godhood of Krishna for the sake of divine love is one of the many so-called deceptions propagated by the Absolute Truth.
The divine couple, Sri Sri Radha Krishna create another lie, that they are not rightfully partners! There is the manifestation of a falsehood that Sri Radha is married to another man. This untruth is itself the highest truth because it is of extreme service to the ideal of divine love – the absolute truth. This illusion is itself the highest truth, because it facilitates the highest truth – no it is a part and parcel of the highest truth. What truth is that? That divine love for the supreme, experienced as rasa, is the ultimate point of existence and the ultimate delight of God and the soul. This love must break all rules and smash all obstacles to be fully relishable and strong – and that is why Sri Radha accepts the lie that she is married to someone else. In fact the spiritual world as a whole accepts this so called-lie and this it becomes a reality unto itself. Such is the inconceivable nature of “God’s lies.” The lies of the absolute truth are themselves a reality.
Can the human mind fully comprehend this. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But it certainly can be delighted by it, and attracted to it!
Krsna may sometimes speak a lie, “You are my favorite.” This is not a truth. The objective truth is that he is impartial to all beings. Or that Srimati Radharani is his favorite. But Krishna may one day whisper in your ear, “you are my favorite!” This is a lie, a deception. But is it not plain to see how it is in fact the highest of all truths? It is an aspect of divine love, the supreme truth. This lie is itself the supreme truth!
Thus in the course of love-play, the eternal truth of existence, some wonderful, amazing situations arise which appear deceptive. However none of this has anything remotely to do with untruth or deceit or cheating as we know it in our limited material experience!!!
Therefore to point towards Krishna’s so called deceptions as a way to feel better about our own very base and disgusting self-serving lies is reprehensible and serves no good purpose. We must become completely purified. Without becoming purified of all lies there is no hope of realizing the absolute truth, what to speak of realizing the absolute deceptions in the absolute truth.
That is why the next verse in Bhagavatam tells us:
धर्मह्̣ प्रोज्झित-कैतवो ऽत्र परमो निर्मत्सरान्̣आम्́ सताम्́
वेद्यम्́ वास्तवम् अत्र वस्तु शिवदम्́ ताप-त्रयोन्मूलनम्
श्रीमद्-भागवते महा-मुनि-क्र्̣ते किम्́ वा परैर् ईश्वरह्̣
सद्यो ह्र्̣द्य् अवरुध्यते ऽत्र क्र्̣तिभिह्̣ शुश्रूस्̣उभिस् तत्-क्स्̣अन्̣आत्
dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo – kick out all the cheating and deception in your heart! Even those that masquerade with costumes of religion.
paramo nirmatsarāṇāḿ satāḿ – become the paragon of truthfulness, freed from all the enviousness and duplicity which inspires cheating.
vedyaḿ vāstavam atra vastu śivadaḿ – you will be freed from suffering and obtain auspiciousness when you are thus able to distinguish lies from reality!
śrīmad-bhāgavate mahā-muni-kṛte kiḿ vā parair īśvaraḥ sadyo hṛdy avarudhyate \’tra kṛtibhiḥ śuśrūṣubhis tat-kṣaṇāt – Then, when you are so simple and pure, simply by listening to this Srimad Bhagavatam you will capture Krsna deep within your own heart!
Thank you for you attention. May the reader please bless me to understand what I have written.
Vraja Kishor das