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This lecture was given on Lord Varaha’s Appearance Day 2-13-03 about different conceptions of God in different religious traditions, lila, the difference between necessity and freedom, the term “causeless mercy” and reciprocation.


Listen or download here





SB 3.17.18



prajapatir nama tayor akarsid

yah prak sva-dehad yamayor ajayata

tam vai hiranyakasipum viduh praja

yam tam hiranyaksam asuta sagratah





Kasyapa, Prajapati, the creator of the living entities, gave his twin sons their names; the one who was born first he named Hiranyaksa, and the one who was first conceived by Diti he named Hiranyakasipu.




The notion that God can appear as a boar is called lila since He doesn’t have do that in order to lift the earth. He could simply will it. Lila is something one likes to do. karya is that to be done. Krsna has no karya, there is no doing that needs to be done for God. These activities are in sharp contrast to the biblical stories of the three world religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. God appear to be feared and revered. Paul is telling that he strictly followed all the rules before he was a Pharisee, similar to smarta. The old covenant (a mutual agreement between God and the people) had very strict rules which no one could follow any more, but if one didn’t follow one was condemned to death. Paul stated that now he believes in Jesus and because no one is able to follow the law it doesn’t work any more. The idea is that now you just believe that Jesus died for your sins and you don’t have to undergo punishment.


This concept of being condemned to death if you do one little thing wrong has significant problems. The Vaishnava conception of God (like Varaha) is very different. God is not easily outraged and quick to anger. God in His original form is Krsna - a young boy who is sometimes playing the role of God. He eternally expands into these forms which provoke awe and reference.


This leads to the difference between necessity and freedom: If you are forced to do something (necessity) it is different than doing it freely. Drinking water e.g. is a physical necessity, but not psychological: One could decide not to drink (and ultimately die). One the other hand, if I get dropped by a Cyclops I will fall. It is unavoidable. Things which one is forced to do one cannot do freely, but even in this situation I can still choose to react: I can love what is happening, close my eyes etc. Once you are falling you still have some freedom, but the act of falling it not free.


So if God has to do certain things (in regards to His creation) how can it be freely? This has been a hot topic in Europe over the issue of predestination which started with Augustine. The karma-mimamsa philosophy claims that if you do the right things you will get the right results. However, where is God’s freedom here?


The term “causeless mercy” has to be understood properly. People can argue that if it is really causeless, then it doesn’t matter what I do. However, Krsna says in Gita that He established a system of  reciprocation. “He freely agrees not to be an Idiot.”


As Lord Varaha He is not getting bored with the role of God and just sitting on a throne. Reverence causes distance. You cannot be simultaneously distant and intimate. It is appropriate to have distance when we might commit offense otherwise. For that reason also when we worship Radha-Krsna we do so in the mood of worshipping Laksmi-Narayan to protect us.


From Q & A: Devotees always seem to like playing the roles of demons. So the fall of Jaya and Vijaya could also be seen in that light as  a fulfilment of their budding theatrical propensities.