Recent series of posts on prominent place of duality in modern civilization and its origin was actually a response to a question asked n one religious forum – which religion has two gods?
There were all kinds of answers, some were saying that Satan might be considered an opposing side to Christ and therefore technically Christianity has two deities, one of them rejected. Some were giving examples of actual religions with two equally powerful deities, like the Zoroastrianism, but again, they are not worshiped equally and one is considered good while the other is bad (that was the moment where I got interested in the good-bad origins, btw).
There are also Wiccas, who genuinely have two gods, the goddess and the horned one. At that point I myself had a question to our interfaith people – are we obliged to take Wiccans seriously? I mean it’s a weird pagan cult introduced to the world only half a century ago. “Introduced” is a PC term, “invented” is more like it.
Sure, the rituals might go back centuries but doesn’t it all look like a stupid game? Pardon me, but I fully expect that at some point these Wiccans would come out and say “Smile, you are on secret camera, it’s been a hoax from the start”.
They use big words like theology and divinity but they make these things up as they go along. They have no canon, no scriptures, no set rules, nothing, you are your own priest and you are free to practice it in any way you like, paying heed to other Wiccans’ concerns only in as much as you care.
I don’t know if Wiccans participate in interfaith events but if they did I’d be arguing that we should stay away from these charlatans and organizations that sponsor them or insist on their inclusion.
We might still participate for political reasons, to build connections and look nice to the public, but then this “interfaith” would have nothing to do with actual search for God. We surely have nothing to learn from them and they are not going to learn anything from us, and their association would bring nothing but pollution.
For the same reasons, we should stay away from any impersonalist “religions” too. Lord Caitanya conversed with Muslims, they believe in a single God and everyone being His servant. We can have similar conversations with Christians, but with impersonalists the tone and subject of our discussion should be completely different.
Lord Caitanya talked to impersonalists, too, but that was for the purpose of converting them, which is explicitly against interfaith rules. If we dig deep enough we can find some common ground even with māyāvādīs but I’m afraid it would become too deep to matter. With Indians we can talk about respect for Vedic scriptures and the need to preserve the tradition, serve one’s guru etc, but with western neo-māyāvādīs even that would be a no-go area. As spiritualists, they are absolutely useless.
I don’t know why some devotees still hang out with them. It’s a mystery to me. Meaning I don’t see *valid* reasons to accept their association.
Anyway, back to the question of two gods – we, the Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavas, have two gods – we worship Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Everyone one knows that our god is Kṛṣṇa but He is never alone on our altars, He is always with Śrī Rādhā.
As followers of Rūpa Gosvāmī we go even further – we consider Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī as our main worshipable deity. We are Her servants first and foremost, not directly Kṛṣṇa’s.
Ultimately, it’s all about pleasing Kṛṣṇa, of course, but that phrase has two words, “pleasing” and “Kṛṣṇa”, and “pleasing” part is our contribution, and it’s governed by Śrī Rādhā. For us there’s no service to Kṛṣṇa without Her.
Moreover, “Kṛṣṇa” without Her would also loose His meaning – it means all-attractive, but who is He going to attract without Śrī Rādhā?
Absolute Truth is understood in various aspects, we believe that its aspect of Bhagavan is superior and its aspect of Kṛṣṇa is superior to all others within that category, but without Rādhā it wouldn’t even exist!
So, we do have two gods, in a manner of speaking, but probably not in the way the original question was formed. Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are not Yin Yang, they do not complement each other the way opposites do. They are not equal, they are not opposing forces, they do not control the world by keeping the balance between their influences.
We cannot say that one is the absence of another, like darkness is absence of light, and they do not have separate domains.
Kṛṣṇa is always the Lord and Rādhā is always His energy. That’s their connection – not as two gods but as energy and energetic. One cannot exist and doesn’t have a meaning without the other. Energy cannot exist without source and source of energy cannot be a source if there’s no energy to produce.
I don’t see what impact this understanding could make on our everyday life and service, however. Maybe it would help us stop seeing the world as a battle between good and evil, but I don’t see direct connection here because we do not have direct connection to Them, we live under illusion that we are our bodies, and we shouldn’t try to imitate relationships we don’t have yet.
What about Trinity though? Isn’t it a Christian concept? Historically, yes, but I seriously doubt that your average, off the street Christian can explain this Trinity thing. This division into Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t sound like an internally consistent way to explain the nature of the Absolute Truth. If there’s a father and a son – where’s the mother, for example?
If they try to fit all possible aspects of the Absolute Truth into their Trinity they’d go further and further from their canon. If we try to translate their Trinity into our terms we’ll fail, too. We have too many expansions of Kṛṣṇa for that.
Maybe we can say that we have Trinity in the sense of three Viṣṇu incarnations in charge of the material world. Maybe Maha Viṣṇu is the Father, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the Son, and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, also known as the all pervading Paramātmā, is the Holy Spirit. Sounds good until we get to the problem of God sacrificing His own son – that’s not how our three Viṣṇu incarnations relate to each other.
We have our Trinity in another sense, though – we have Rādhā, we have Kṛṣṇa, and we also have Rāma!
Balarāma is absolutely essential in our model of the spiritual world. He is the first expansion of Kṛṣṇa and without Him Kṛṣṇa wouldn’t be God, because Balarāma provides energy that is meant to be engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service. There’s no meaning to God without servants, right?
Balarāma provides a place where Rādhā can serve Kṛṣṇa. In a sense, He provides the ingredients. Simplified to the absolute, Kṛṣṇa is God, Rādhā is the servant, and Balarāma is the engaged in service.
Unfortunately, this simplified understanding is too simple to be taken seriously. It might be okay for those who try to make sense of what Kṛṣṇa consciousness and need to wrap their heads around the basics but even for them it would be misleading.
To my knowledge, our ācāryas never mixed Rādhā and Balarāma this way. Both these personalities have lots of literature dedicated to them but they are never put together like pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, and I shouldn’t be the first to suggest how they actually fit. I don’t know anything.
What I do know is that we have three names in our mahāmantra – Hare, which is Rādhā in some translations, Kṛṣṇa, and Rāma.
Calling to Rādhā takes half of our chanting while the other half is split equally between Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. Draw your own conclusions.
And do not quote me on any of that, it’s all speculative