Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is an historical person who appeared on this earth in India 5,000 years ago. He stayed on this earth for 125 years and played exactly like a human being, but His activities were unparalleled.
In the Western countries, when someone sees the cover of a book like Krsna, he immediately asks, “Who is Krishna? Who is the girl with Krishna?” etc.
The immediate answer is that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. How is that? Because He conforms in exact detail to descriptions of the Supreme Being, the Godhead. In other words, Krishna is the Godhead because He is all-attractive. Outside the principle of all-attraction, there is no meaning to the word Godhead. How is it one can be all-attractive? First of all, if one is very wealthy, if he has great riches, he becomes attractive to the people in general. Similarly, if someone is very powerful, he also becomes attractive, and if someone is very famous, he also becomes attractive, and if someone is very beautiful or wise or unattached to all kinds of possessions, he also becomes attractive. So from practical experience we can observe that one is attractive due to 1) wealth, 2) power, 3) fame, 4) beauty, 5) wisdom, and 6) renunciation. One who is in possession of all six of these opulences at the same time, who possesses them to an unlimited degree, is understood to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These opulences of the Godhead are delineated by Parasara Muni, a great Vedic authority.
We have seen many rich persons, many powerful persons, many famous persons, many beautiful persons, many learned and scholarly persons, and persons in the renounced order of life unattached to material possessions. But we have never seen any one person who is unlimitedly and simultaneously wealthy, powerful, famous, beautiful, wise and unattached, like Krishna, in the history of humanity. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is an historical person who appeared on this earth 5,000 years ago. He stayed on this earth for 125 years and played exactly like a human being, but His activities were unparalleled. From the very moment of His appearance to the moment of His disappearance, every one of His activities is unparalleled in the history of the world, and therefore anyone who knows what we mean by Godhead will accept Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No one is equal to the Godhead, and no one is greater than Him. That is the import of the familiar saying, “God is great.”
In Vedic literatures we are given the histories of Krishna’s appearances and disappearances millions and billions of years ago. In the Fourth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita Krishna tells Arjuna that both He and Arjuna had had many births before and that He (Krishna) could remember all of them and that Arjuna could not. This illustrates the difference between the knowledge of Krishna and that of Arjuna. Arjuna might have been a very great warrior, a well-cultured member of the Kuru dynasty, but after all, he was an ordinary human being, whereas Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the possessor of unlimited knowledge. Because He possesses unlimited knowledge, Krishna has a memory that is boundless.
Krishna’s knowledge is so perfect that He remembers all the incidents of His appearances some millions and billions of years in the past, but Arjuna’s memory and knowledge are limited by time and space, for he is an ordinary human being. In the Fourth Chapter Krishna states that He can remember instructing the lessons of the Bhagavad-gita some millions of years ago to the sun-god, Vivasvan.
Nowadays it is the fashion of the atheistic class of men to try to become God by following some mystic process. Generally the atheists claim to be God by dint of their imagination or their meditational prowess. Krishna is not that kind of God. He does not become God by manufacturing some mystic process of meditation, nor does He become God by undergoing the severe austerities of the mystic yogic exercises. Properly speaking, He never becomes God because He is the Godhead in all circumstances.
Within the prison of His maternal uncle Kamsa, where His father and mother were confined, Krishna appeared outside His mother’s body as the four-handed Visnu-Narayana. Then He turned Himself into a baby and told His father to carry Him to the house of Nanda Maharaja and his wife Yasoda. When Krishna was just a small baby the gigantic demoness Putana attempted to kill Him, but when He sucked her breast He pulled out her life. That is the difference between the real Godhead and a God manufactured in the mystic factory. Krishna had no chance to practice the mystic yoga process, yet He manifested Himself as the Supreme Personality of Godhead at every step, from infancy to childhood, from childhood to boyhood, and from boyhood to young manhood. In the book Krsna, all of His activities as a human being are described. Although Krishna plays like a human being, He always maintains His identity as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Since Krishna is all-attractive, one should know that all his desires should be focused on Krishna. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that the individual person is the proprietor or master of the body but Krishna, who is the Supersoul present in everyone’s heart, is the supreme proprietor and supreme master of each and every individual body. As such, if we concentrate our loving propensities upon Krishna only, then immediately universal love, unity and tranquility will be automatically realized. When one waters the root of a tree, he automatically waters the branches, twigs, leaves and flowers; when one supplies food to the stomach through the mouth, he satisfies all the various parts of the body.
The art of focusing one’s attention on the Supreme and giving one’s love to Him is called Krishna consciousness. We have inaugurated the Krishna consciousness movement so that everyone can satisfy his propensity for loving others simply by directing his love towards Krishna. The whole world is very much anxious to satisfy the dormant propensity of love for others, but the inventions of various methods like socialism, communism, altruism, humanitarianism, nationalism, and whatever else may be manufactured for the peace and prosperity of the world, are all useless and frustrating because of our gross ignorance of the art of loving Krishna. Generally, people think that by advancing the cause of moral principles and religious rites, they will be happy. Others may think that happiness can be achieved by economic development, and yet others think that simply by sense gratification they will be happy. But the real fact is that people can only be happy by loving Krishna.
Krishna can perfectly reciprocate one’s loving propensities in different relationships called mellows or rasas. Basically there are twelve loving relationships. One can love Krishna as the supreme unknown, as the supreme master, the supreme friend, the supreme child, the supreme lover. These are the five basic love rasas. One can also love Krishna indirectly in seven different relationships, which are apparently different from the five primary relationships. All in all, however, if one simply reposes his dormant loving propensity in Krishna, then his life becomes successful. This is not a fiction but is a fact that can be realized by practical application. One can directly perceive the effects that love for Krishna has on his life.
(extracted from preface of “Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead”, by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, 1970)