A feature of the human ego is that it values those who provide value to itself. For example, people will vote for the politician who provides some narrow benefit to them, even though the politician may be harmful otherwise for society. It is not that the ego actually values the politician for who he or she is. That requires freedom from a personal or selfish motive.
This same quality of the ego can be observed in some modern sects of Caitanya Vaiṣṇavism toward Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself. These sects claim that Śrī Kṛṣṇa wants the jīvas, or ‘lost souls’, to return to Him. We are told how merciful Śrī Kṛṣṇa is, and how soft His heart is, because He is suffering ‘due to separation’ from the jīvas, even though the jīvas are insignificant ‘lost souls’.
This all sounds very nice, but unfortunately has no basis in śāstra. I see it as a manifestation of the above quality of the human ego – Śrī Kṛṣṇa is great because He has compassion for the jīvas. And He is greater than great, because after all, the jīvas are ‘lost’ souls, lower than the lowest. This is simply a subtle form of flattery of one’s own self. Worse, it is a type of ‘anthromorphization’ of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, that is, reducing Him down to emotions that ordinary human beings feel for others.
I remember a bhakta who would ‘preach’ how the jīvas were all hurting Śrī Kṛṣṇa because they were neglecting Him. Really? The jīvas have the power to hurt Śrī Kṛṣṇa? Actually, not at all. Others ‘preach’ how He is so merciful because He even goes in stool with the jīva if/when the jīva is born as a worm. First, Śrī Kṛṣṇa doesn’t go anywhere with the jīva- because in His form as Paramātmā, He is already present everywhere. Second, He cannot experience the smell of stool at all even if He tried. We are told that Paramātmā is ever-waiting and ever-patient for the jīvas to ‘turn toward Him’. He is ever-available. All this is supposed to be His greatness. No, Paramātmā is disinterested in suffering humanity, and has no interest in the jīvas ‘turning’ toward Him. He is not waiting for an ordinary jīva to ‘turn toward Him’. All these statements are likely written from an egocentric perspective, written to excite emotions in a similarly egocentric audience.
As Maharajji would say, people can have their own understanding, but they are still supposed to base their understanding in śāstra.
As we have seen in this article, Śrī Jīva explains that Śrī Kṛṣṇa has no agenda of ‘saving’ people in the world because He is fundamentally incapable of empathizing with their suffering. What then, can be said of the notion that He is suffering ‘due to separation’ from the jīvas! Śrī Jīva writes that Śrī Kṛṣṇa is fully self-satisfied- atmarama – being made purely of bliss. As such, He is incapable of experiencing suffering.
But isnt Śrī Kṛṣṇa compassionate? Isn’t that a fundamental property of Bhagavān? Śrī Jīva explains that His compassion is also aroused only by bhakti manifested as humility in a bhakta. He gives the example of Gajendra. Gajendra suffered because of the powerful grip on his leg of the crocodile for a very long time. But Bhagavān did not appear. It is only when Gajendra’s bhakti manifested itself as an expression of humility (dainya) did Bhagavān appear- moved by His bhakti. It is as if Śrī Kṛṣṇa lives in a ‘bhakti bubble’ – He is capable of understanding only the language of bhakti and nothing else. A bhakta, by definition, is already turned to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Those jīvas who are turned away from Him are of zero interest to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, because He cannot empathize with their condition. To say that these jīvas can hurt Him because of separation is opposed to Śrī Jīva’s extensive analysis.
Śrī Caitanya is not special because He ‘comes to save the lost souls’. He is special because He tastes the bliss of rāgānugā bhakti, and in doing so, the concomitant (lucky) effect is that the mood of rāgānugā bhakti has become available in Kaliyuga to sādhaka bhaktas through authentic paramparās.