Does Lord Krishna “need” us?
Gleanings from the prayers of Yamunacharya
By Rishabh Verma
Servant at ISKCON Gold Coast Australia
We often hear from devotees that the aim of one’s life is to attain Prema for Krsna so that one is eternally able to serve Him with enthusiasm. In doing so, one is often reminded of their constitutional position as a Jiva subservient to the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. From the aspect of the Jiva, there seems to be no question about their constitutional relationship with Krsna. However, to fully become Krsna conscious, one must be able to enter the mind of Krsna and understand his stance on his relationship with the Jiva. Commonly it is said that Krsna ‘wants’ us to return to Him so that we may enjoy loving pastimes in the spiritual world with Him. This is in keeping with Krsna’s position as the Supreme Personality of Godhead as defined in Srimad Bhagavatam (S.B 1.1.1). The idea that Krsna ‘needs’ us, although initially appears flattering and almost sacrilegious, on deeper reflection provides further insight into the relationship between the Jiva and the Supreme Lord.
The idea that Krsna needs us is expressed by Srila Yamunacharya in Sri Stotra Ratnam (verses 47 and 48) as follows:
‘Let us submit one piece of information before You, dear Lord. It is not at all false, but it is full of meaning. It is this: If You are not merciful upon us, then it will be very, very difficult to find more suitable candidates for Your mercy.’ Verse 47
‘Without You I have no master, and without me You have no suitable candidate for Your mercy. This is our eternal relationship, ordained by fate. O Lord, please protect me. Do not reject me.’ Verse 48
While these prayers are composed in a sweet and desperate mellow, they also contain some profound philosophical concepts.
If Krsna is the subject of mercy, he needs objects of mercy too
As the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna possesses unlimited mercy. However, this mercy cannot express itself if there are no objects of mercy. While it is not possible for Krsna as Bhagavan to express his mercy towards himself as he is himself the source of this mercy, it is equally not possible for him to express this mercy to anything despite himself as there exists nothing beyond himself. In resolving this conundrum, one concludes that Krsna’s objects of mercy must be the Jivas who are eternal parts and parcels of his spiritual potency and who can reciprocate with his mercy.
Therefore, for Krsna to be complete within himself, he must not only possess an infinite reservoir of mercy, but also objects (or Jivas) who are able to receive his mercy.
However, this may appear contradictory to some statements mentioned in the vedas for example in Isopanishad invocation where Krsna is described as being independently complete thus making Jivas seem completely contingent. Contingency and necessity are two concepts often cited in Western philosophy. Contingent existence is the state of existence out of chance or without any purpose, while necessary existence implies an impossible state of affairs otherwise. It is important to note that Srila Prabhupada mentions in the purport to this verse:
The Complete Whole, the Personality of Godhead, has immense potencies, all of which are as complete as He is.
Using this once can conclude that the nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna is not just limited to Bhagavan in the spiritual world, but also the Paramatma, impersonal Brahman, Jivas and Prakriti. Krsna is the complete whole and hence there is no harm in claiming that Jivas are not completely contingent. The existence of the Jivas provides meaning to Krsna’s quality of mercy and they are therefore necessary to an extent. The reason that Jivas are also not necessary beings is because Jivas ultimately have their source in Krsna who is the primordial necessary being. That the Jivas are not necessary beings is supported by the first verse of the Narayana Upanishad:
Aum adha purusho ha vai Narayano akaamayath
The Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana desired to create numerous living entities
Thus the Jivas occupy a marginal status in the nature of existence – they are not entirely contingent, however are not necessary beings either.
Thus, in praying to Krsna, Srila Yamunacharya understands the constitutional position of Krsna and the Jiva and sheds more light on the depth of their relationship. The view of Jivas being completely contingent as held by some materialist philosophers is refuted in these prayers. Jivas exist to serve as an object of Krsna’s mercy. At the same time, to consider the Jiva as necessary beings would also be incorrect as we understand that they ultimately have their source in the superior energy of Krsna.