Are Jesus and Krishna One?

This idea, often suggested to us, is based on the statement taken from John: "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).

This latest of Gospels, John's, was written around AD 125, and is--short of a few sentences--widely questioned by scholars because of its exaggerated claims and Christological tendencies. The idea of Jesus being God incarnate appears much earlier, beginning with Paul's letter to the Romans (written around AD 55): "Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen" (Romans 9:5).

From this the idea begins to spread and is carried throughout the centuries, even into modern times.

It is remarkable that Plinius Caecilius Secundus (AD 61-114), the Proconsul of the province of Bithynia in AD 111, in his letters to the Emperor Trajan on the Christians noticed that "it was their habit on a fixed day to assemble before daylight and recite a hymn to Christ as a God ("Carmen Christo qasi deo decere secum invincem").

This is evidence that in time the Pauline concept of Jesus as God gained enthusiastic support among the Gentile Christians, heavily opposed by Ebionite Christians and other early Christian groups, who were consequently branded as heretics.

This God-concept was further greatly elaborated by Gregory of Nyassa (AD 335), who formulated the Trinitarian doctrine of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which then emerged as a clear, cogent answer to the Arian questioning. Finally, it found its ultimate dogmatic formulation in the so-called Athanasian Creed (c. AD 500), una substantia-tres personae ("one substance-three persons") which settled the Arian controversy once and for all.

However if we look into the Gospels themselves--at least into the synoptic Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke--we find no notion of Jesus as God incarnate. Rather, Mark 10:8 and Luke 18:19 say: "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone."

Contemporary scholars generally agree that Jesus himself never considered himself divine, God incarnate, or the second person of the Trinity. Even the Gospel of John, for all its Christological pronouncements, says: "My Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). Considering the statement: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes" (Luke 10:21); babes don't have the Trinity in mind when reading the Bible.

Rather, the concept of Jesus being God evolved over time. It has nothing to do with the Jesus of history, but rather with what Christians, beginning with Paul, in time came to believe about Jesus.

Burton L. Mack suggests that rather than being the view of the Jesus movement or the people of Q, this idea reflects the mindset of a North Syrian Christ cult, an assumed departure from the Jesus movement--Paul being it's notable exponent.

From Vedic evidence it is clear that Jesus is not Krishna. One only needs to contemplate Krishna's opulence as described in the Vedic version to come to this conclusion. Here are some examples:

Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus claim that he is omnipresent, as Krishna does:

sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
"I am in the heart of all beings" (Bhagavad-gita 15.15),

"Present in every atom"
andantara stha paramanu cayantara stham (Brahma Samhita 5.35),

and can be seen as such by one with perfect vision:
yo mam pasyati sarvatra sarvam ca mayi pasyati
"For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me" (Bhagavad-gita 6.30).

Nor does Jesus claim that he is omnipotent.

mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya
mayi sarvam idam protam sutre mani-gana iva

Here Krishna says: "There is no truth beyond Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread" (Bhagavad-gita 7.7),

He is the strength of the strong:
balam balavatam caham (Bhagavad-gita 7.11),

The intelligence of the intelligent:
buddhir buddhimatam asmi (Bhagavad-gita 7.10),

And the ability in man:
tejas tejasvinam aham (Bhagavad-gita 7.10).

Nor does Jesus says he is omniscient.

vedaham samatitani vartamanani carjuna
bhavisyani ca bhutani mam tu veda na kascana

"O Arjuna, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows" (Bhagavad-gita 7.26).

bahuni me vyatitani janmani tava carjuna
tany aham veda sarvani na tvam vettha parantapa

"Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot!" (Bhagavad-gita 4.5).

Further, Jesus does not proclaim himself the source of all beings.

bijam mam sarva bhutanam (Bhagavad-gita 7.10)
Krishna says that He is "the original seed"

And "the father of all":
aham bija-pradah pita (Bhagavad-gita 14.4).

Nor did Jesus teach that the creation rests on him, as Krishna teaches:

aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam budha bhava-samanvitah

"I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts" (Bhagavad-gita 10.8).

etad-yonini bhutani sarvanity upadharaya
aham krtsnasya jagatah prabhavah pralayas tatha

"Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and the dissolution" (Bhagavad-gita 7.6).

Jesus does not claim to be the supreme controller, but Krishna does.

isvarah paramah krsnah (Brahma Samhita 5.1),

The cause of all physical phenomena

tapamy aham aham varsam nigrhnamy utsrjami ca
"I give heat, and I withhold and send forth the rain" (Bhagavad-gita 9.19), or

"I am the cause of all causes, material and spiritual"
sarva karana karanam (Brahma Samhita 5.1).

Nor does Jesus claim to be "immortality and death personified," but Krishna did:

amrtam caiva mrtyus ca sad asac caham arjuna

Krishna says, "Both spirit and matter are in Me":

sad asac caham arjuna (Bhagavad-gita 9.19).

Jesus does not say that material nature is under his control;

mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram (Bhagavad-gita 9.1),

That all innumerable living entities are his parts and parcels;

yena bhutany asesani draksyasy atmany atho mayi (Bhagavad-gita 4.35),

That he is the cause of all creation;

yad yad vibhutimat sattvam srimad urjitam eva va, or

tat tad evavagaccha tvam mama tejo-'msa-sambhavam
"Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor" (Bhagavad-gita 10.41).

Nor does Jesus proclaim: "What need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe."

atha va bahunaitena kim jnatena tavarjuna
vistabhyaham idam krtsnam ekamsena sthito jagat
(Bhagavad-gita 10.42).

However, all this does not mean that Jesus is an ordinary being who ascended to perfection. It is quite clear from what scholars tell us that neither Jesus nor his original followers in Galilee or later Jerusalem, i.e. the members of the Jesus movement, considered Jesus "the Word made flesh living among us," God incarnate, the second person of the Trinity, the son of man who will be coming to us in the future on the clouds ("For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man") (Matthew 24:27).

Jesus as a perfect being, an empowered shaktyavesa avatara, an eternally perfect soul , descends, endowed with divine power, to save the fallen souls in this material world.

Such a body is not subject to the same laws governing us poor fellows. A person on that level is endowed with eight mystic opulences, some of them demonstrated in the Gospels:

anima siddhi-one can go through walls or closed doors (John 20:19,26),
laghima siddhi-one can walk on water (Matthew 14.25),
prapti siddhi-one can bring into three dimensional space and from a higher plane, things, like food, as when Jesus fed thousands (Matt.15:38, 16:10; Mark 8:9, 8:20),
isitva siddhi-to appear and disappear at will: "then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight" (Luke 4:29:30, 24:31).

As for a liberated soul like Jesus (jivan mukta), free from the inebriety of the material laws, it is stated:

iha yasya harer dasye karmana manasa gira
nikhilasv apy avasthasu jivan-muktah sa ucyate
(Bhakti-rasamita-sindhu 1.2.187).

"A person acting in Krishna consciousness (or, in other words, in the service of Krishna) with his body, mind, intelligence and words is a liberated person even within the material world, even if engaged in so-called material activities."

Srila Prabhupada explains: "[such a devotee] has no false ego, for he does not believe that he is this material body, or that he possesses the body. He knows that he is not this body and that this body does not belong to him. He himself belongs to Krishna, and the body too belongs to Krishna. When he applies everything produced of the body, mind, intelligence, words, life, wealth, etc.--whatever he may have within his possession--to Krishna's service, he is at once dovetailed with Krishna. He is one with Krishna and is devoid of the false ego that leads one to believe that he is the body, etc. This is the perfect stage of Krishna consciousness" (Bhagavad-gita 5.11 purport).

"Such a devotee of the Lord can withstand all onslaughts of material nature, and therefore he is known as gosvami. Only such gosvamis can penetrate the mysteries of the Lord's transcendental loving relationships" (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.4.31 purport).

Such a person is on the platform called vasudeva or suddha sattva, beyond material nature, one with Krishna, not in personality but in interest, in service and love, "in this world, but not of it."

mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan brahma-bhuyaya kalpate

"One who always engages in the spiritual activities of unalloyed devotional service at once transcends the modes of material nature and reaches the platform of Brahman (the transcendental platform)" (Bhagavad-gita 14.26).

The inconceivable state of consciousness of a liberated soul, jivan muktah, a person on the vasudeva platform, absorbed in God is described as such in Bhagavad-gita:

naiva kincit karomiti yukto manyeta tattva-vit
pasyan srnvan sprsan jighrann asnan gacchan svapan svasan
pralapan visrjan grhnann unmisan nimisann api
indriyanindriyarthesu vartanta iti dharayan

"A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, or opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them" (Bhagavad-gita 5.8-9).

Such devotees see in their heart of hearts in ecstatic vision--premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti-with eyes tinged with the salve of love syamasundaram acintya-guna-svarupam--the inconceivable transcendental form of Syamasundara, Krishna, at every moment.

Such a person on the platform of prasannatma-ecstasy--sees God everywhere:

yo mam pasyati sarvatra sarvam ca mayi pasyati
tasyaham na pranasyami sa ca me na pranasyati

"For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me" (Bhagavad-gita 6.30).

He is on the brahma bhuta platform, a liberated soul:

brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu mad-bhaktim labhate param

Free from lamentation-- na socati--even when facing intense tribulations like crucifixion: "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children" (Luke 23:28).

He has nothing left to desire-- na kanksati.
He the friend of all beings-- samah sarvesu bhutesu.
And his absorption in his pure devotional service to God is complete and perfect-- mad-bhaktim labhate param (Bhagavad-gita 18.54).

Being with Krishna (in Krishna consciousness), he is not afraid under any conditions:

narayana-parah sarve na kutascana bibhyati
svargapavarga-narakesv api tulyartha-darsinah

"Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the Lord" (Srimad Bhagavatam 6.17.28).

Nor are they subject to the law of karma or the laws of nature like ordinary human beings:

mahatmanas tu mam partha daivim prakrtim asritah
bhajanty ananya-manaso jnatva bhutadim avyayam

"O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible" (Bhagavad-gita 9.13).

Nor can they be killed, under ordinary circumstances:

kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati
"O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes" (Bhagavad-gita 9.31).

There is ample evidence from scriptures that perfect souls like Prahlada Maharaja survived all kinds of tortures and atrocities by his demonic father, such as being thrown into the dens of lions, into pits of snakes and thrown from the tops of mountains.

Even Bhisma, being pierced by a thousand arrows, was beyond the laws of nature and could not be killed, but left his body out of his own will, only after Sri Krishna arrived.

Similarly in the fifteenth century, neither Mira Bhai was killed after being administered poison, nor was Haridas Thakur killed when he was beaten in twenty-one marketplaces and thrown into the Ganges. He came back to life and walked around freely, as Jesus did after the crucifixion.

In the Old Testament we find the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who preferred to be thrown into a furnace rather than eat the meat of King Nebuchadnezzar, and they chanted in the fire and survived (Daniel 3:19-26). Mare krsna rakhe ke, rakhe krsna mare ke--if Krishna protects you, no one can kill you, and if Krishna wants to kill you, no one can save you.

While the circumstances of Jesus' disappearance are by no means clear, they are for His devotees less important, even irrelevant. As Srila Prabhupada pointed out: "Preaching is the essence." The teachings of Jesus are the most essential part of his mission and incarnation, rather than what happened to him thereafter.

By becoming preoccupied with the death of Jesus, the empty grave and thereafter--curiously called by theologians the 'after-Easter perspective'--the whole emphasis of Jesus' teachings--to leave things behind and to turn to God with heart, soul and mind--becomes clouded and ultimately lost.

Consequently, Srila Prabhupada, speaking on Vedic evidence, discounted the concept of Jesus dying for our sins as an unauthorized shift of paradigm: from the pure and perfect teachings of Jesus to salvation from the cross (Bombay, April 2, 1977).

The teachings of Jesus are universal, complete in themselves and perfectly salvific-they are sanatana dharma, the eternal religion of the soul in its loving relationship to the Supreme Being, unadulterated by the falsity of bodily designations, or upadhis, designations such as Indian, American, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and so on. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate (Narada-pancaratra, quoted in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.1.2.)-Service to God with one's purified senses is the actual purpose of life.

Simply by surrendering to the will of God one lives with Krishna, and all karma is destroyed.

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of dharma and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear" (Bhagavad-gita 18.66).

No one has to die for our sins.

Jesus taught by his personal life how to surrender to God under all conditions: "Thy will be done" (Matthew 26:42), "on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

To preach this message of love Jesus was so surrendered that he tolerated crucifixion. >> next >>

Keep on reading:

  1. Introduction
  2. Who was Jesus?
  3. Are Jesus and Krishna one?
  4. Is worshipping Jesus compatible with worshipping Krishna?
  5. The difference between Jesus and Krishna.

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© 2000 Klaus Peter Brinkmann