Parallels never cross, that’s why they are parallels, but do they exist? Is it even possible to draw straight lines that never ever intersect? Mathematically, yes, practically, certainly not, but what I mean is that everything eventually leads to Kṛṣṇa and so He would be the final intersecting point of all the lines in the world. Not only mathematical lines, lines of thought or lines of progress, too.
I don’t mean parallels as a strictly mathematical concept here but as generic development paths that do not come together. In this sense they have no other place to end but in Kṛṣṇa and so they cannot be true parallels. They might not intersect in our limited field of vision but if we knew Kṛṣṇa, if we could see Him as the ultimate shelter of everything, we would not be seeing parallels at all.
So, all parallels eventually cross.
That’s how we should look at fellow religioners, be they Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, or even Wiccas. They aren’t parallel to us even historically. Buddhism being a clear off-shot of Vedic culture and Abrahamic religions being off-shots of Zoroastrianism, which was still a Vedic kind of religion. They all sprang at around the same time, along with Jainism, when Kali Yuga corrupted the original Vedic society and people felt the need for alternatives.
Someone might say that Buddhism should not be grouped here because it’s not really a religion as they don’t have a concept of God but we should not deny that they are spiritualists on the search for the Absolute Truth. What aspect of that Absolute Truth they want to discover is not really that important – we all are too far removed from our goal to argue about finer points of our destinations.
So, it would appear that we are all moving along our parallel paths that eventually would end up in pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Neutral observers will certainly object at this point but I would answer that us calling our process Kṛṣṇa consciousness does not mean that we know what it really is, and that saying that everyone will eventually come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness does not mean that everyone will be wearing a dhoti.
God is all attractive but it attracts every soul in a unique way and He manifests His attractiveness differently, too. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is realizing that attractive aspect of the Absolute Truth and it happens regardless of external manifestations. When Christians talk about how they love Jesus they are displaying their Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they just don’t know how to call it properly.
Am I arrogant in claiming to know proper name of God’s different features? No, I am not. We are using the same names as they exist in the spiritual world. Jesus was the name given to a person who lived in Palestine two thousand years ago. Before that there was no Jesus, this name is not absolute.
There are names of God mentioned in old Hebrew texts but I’m not sure they have one that means “all-attractive”. They have their own version of “Viṣṇu Sahasra Nāma”, not as extensive, and God is described there are the most merciful, omnipotent, omnipresent etc but not all-attractive.
So, English word “attractive” can’t be God’s real name, there isn’t a Hebrew equivalent, so why not accept that it’s Kṛṣṇa?
Of course Kṛṣṇa conjures images of a blue boy with a flute and as such His attractiveness is limited but we simply don’t know what Kṛṣṇa really means. When He appears He will irresistible no matter what we think about flutes and blue skin.
Anyway, as we move along our seemingly parallel courses – are we moving at the same rate? Are we at the same distance from our destination? How can we judge those things?
Here it helps to know that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a scientific process. There are stages and there are external symptoms for each stage so that we can quickly locate one’s place on the ladder.
We can place Buddhists with their denial of God at the very bottom. After many lifetimes they will come to appreciating the personal aspect of the Absolute Truth but they are not there yet.
Muslims and Christians should be closer to us but Muslims deny personal manifestations of God, too. Here where it gets tricky – they say that materialistic depictions of the Absolute Truth do not serve God justice, that’s not the same as denying God lacks personal qualities. It’s perhaps taking His personality more seriously than those who doodle something on a piece of paper and call it non-different from God.
It’s an argument directed mostly against Christians but also against us. Originally, it was a big responsibility to draw or paint images of Kṛṣṇa in ISKCON, it was done only under the authority of Śrīla Prabhupāda, which legitimized our efforts. Now it seems open to everyone and people visually interpret Kṛṣṇa according to their understanding, which is not how it should be done.
I would argue that drawing Kṛṣṇa should be as responsible undertaking as sculpting and installing a deity, and our mental images should follow the same rules, too. We can’t just imagine Kṛṣṇa to look whatever we want Him to look.
When talking about God, “attractive” doesn’t mean “likable”. It does not mean “good enough to please me”. It does not mean judging Him like we judge ordinary sense objects and so we can’t draw Him, on paper or mentally, like we would draw beautiful little boys.
When we say Kṛṣṇa is all-attractive it means that we would be immediately swept off our feet and become completely consumed by His irresistible power. All-attractive means that He is incomparable, we wouldn’t be able to say that He is “better” than what we imagined or experienced before, our entire platform from which we judge things would cease to exist.
We can’t remain materialists in His presence. We can’t be anything else but His most dedicated, pure servants in his presence. We can’t have any selfish desires in His presence. We can’t have any self-interests in His presence either.
Where was I? Ah, yes, perhaps Muslims are just more serious about their God than Christians and they might be more serious about Him then we are. They certainly enter into relationships with Him, too. They might not talk about rasas but neither should we, not until we achieve liberation. For now our relationships are no different from those in any other religion – we abide by God’s laws and rely on Him in every situation. We see Him as a master and as our father. Even if we know about superior rasas we don’t relate to Kṛṣṇa through those, only as servants of the servant of the servant.
Christians, however, do one better – they also speak of Jesus as their friend. I don’t think it means being friendly with him, our equivalent would be seeing the Supersoul as our best well-wisher. “Friend” is also the word Śrīla Prabhupāda used when talking about two birds sitting in the same tree, one is the soul, another is the Supersoul (BG 2.22):
The Supersoul fulfills the desire of the atomic soul as one friend fulfills the desire of another. The Vedas, like the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad, as well as the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad, compare the soul and the Supersoul to two friendly birds sitting on the same tree. One of the birds (the individual atomic soul) is eating the fruit of the tree, and the other bird (Kṛṣṇa) is simply watching His friend. Of these two birds — although they are the same in quality — one is captivated by the fruits of the material tree, while the other is simply witnessing the activities of His friend. Kṛṣṇa is the witnessing bird, and Arjuna is the eating bird. Although they are friends, one is still the master and the other is the servant.
It’s not the same as serving the Lord in sakhyā rasa in Vṛndāvana but it sounds a bit higher than seeing the Lord only as a master.
I think it’s enough comparative religions for one day, there’s more to be said but I can’t go into that now.