What is the difference between Jesus and Krishna?

Answer: Essentially there is no difference in the message of Krishna and the message of Jesus. Like father, like son.

If you find a conflict, then that is because a whole superficial theological structure was superimposed on the original teachings of Jesus. So you have to distinguish between the Christ of creed and dogma and the Jesus of history.

Jesus was preaching perfectly, and his universal message is nondifferent from the teachings of Krishna: Man has to change his heart, give up sense gratification and turn to God with complete determination--"Thou shalt love The Lord Thy God with all Thy heart, with all Thy soul, and with all Thy might."

This is the very essence of Jesus' teachings, and such bhakti, or pure devotion to the Supreme Being, was at the heart of his life. It is at the heart of any genuine spirituality.

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te pratijane priyo 'si me

"Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend" (Bhagavad-gita 18.65).

tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam yena mam upayanti te

"To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me" (Bhagavad-gita 10.10).

tesam evanukampartham aham ajnana-jam tamah
nasayamy atma-bhava-stho jnana-dipena bhasvata

"To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance" (Bhagavad-gita 10.11).

The great Spiritual master Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur teaches:

manasa deho geho jo kichu mor arpilun tuwa pade nanda-kisor

"My mind, my body, my home, whatever I have in my possession, I offer unto You, my Lord."

Srila Rupa Gosvami, the direct disciple of Sri Krishna Caitanya, says:

sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate

"When all one's senses are engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord, the master of all the senses, and the soul renders pure service unto the Supreme, he is freed from all material designations, and one's senses are purified" (Narada-pancaratra qtd. in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.12).

Such service to the Lord encompasses all of one's life, and it simply does not matter whether such truth is spoken by Jesus or by Sri Krishna. God the father and his son are one in spirit and one in love. The message is the same: Jesus was preaching intense spiritual life; to forsake, home, relatives and the rest and turn to God radically in pure devotion.

"…and if you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Matthew 19:21).

"…Do not worry about anything: look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than them?"

"…And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:26-33).

"Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him." (Matthew 7:7-11).

One disciple said to him: "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said: "Follow me. Let the dead bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:20-22). We cannot even conceive how radical a statement this was in an oriental society where the duty of the son to bury his father was peremptory. This is the 'Wanderradikalismus" (Gert Theissen) of the original Jesus movement. It is the voice of Jesus, and the message the Jesus movement of history stood for.

These words are music to our ears. Here we hear the same old voice that is speaking at the heart and root of any genuine tradition:

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

"Abandon all varieties of mundane religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bhagavad-gita 18:66).

Such transcendental knowledge is universal, never changing, and not subject to the speculation of theologians and philosophers. It is raja-vidya raja-guhyam, "the king of education, the most secret of all secrets"; pavitram idam uttamam, "the purest knowledge and the most perfect"; pratyashavagamam dharmyam, "it provides direct perception of the self by realization, and is the perfection of religion"; su-sukham kartum avyayam, "it is everlasting and joyfully performed" (Bhagavad-gita 9.2).

All it depends upon is the surrender of the soul and complete abandonment to the will of the Supreme Lord: "Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done…" (Matthew 26:42); "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10).

And as the result of such surrender, Sri Krishna reveals Himself to His devotee:

ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham

"As they surrender unto Me, I reveal myself" (Bhagavad-gita 4.11). Never mind religion, race or nation: samo 'ham sarva-bhutesu na me dvesyo 'sti na priyah - "I am not partial to anyone. I am equal to all" (Bhagavad-gita 9.29).

Spiritual life is a practical, verifiable experience. Performed under the guidance of great souls, its results can be experienced by anyone, everywhere, and at all times.

Unfortunately, most Christians are conditioned by the theological constructions that they have been taught. It's hard for them to open their minds to allow the original concept to enter. We must be understanding, and help those understand who want to.

We appreciate the sincere attempts and enormous courage of New Testament scholars in their 150 years of their quest for Jesus - from H.S. Raimarus to F. Strauss, from Albert Schweitzer to R. Bultmann and in recent times from J. Bornekamm to J. D. Crossan, John S. Cloppenborg, Burton L. Mack to Marcus J. Borg, just to name a few. These men have rendered tremendous contributions to freeing our minds from previous impositions, only to return to us the Jesus of History. >> 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