San Jose, California — Wednesday, April 11th

Back to Godhead

Why do we say, "Back to Godhead"? Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad introduced this phrase to the West, and Srila Sridhar Maharaj and Srila Govinda Maharaj often use it, but what does it mean? Why not just say, "Back to God"? Why do they use the word "Godhead"?

The dictionary defines godhead as: "noun (usually the Godhead) God; divinity; the essential and divine nature of God, regarded abstractly" — but I had never seen or heard the word before reading Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad's Bhagavad Gita As It Is in 1981.

When I first read the phrase, "Back to home, back to Godhead," and saw that God, or Krishna, was referred to as "the Supreme Personality of Godhead" in the Bhagavad Gita and many of Srila Prabhupad's other books, I assumed that Godhead meant something like fountainhead: just as a fountainhead is "a spring that is the source or head of a stream; a chief and copious source, an originator, the original source of something," Godhead must mean that Krishna is the original source of whatever our conception of God or divinity might be...

There are so many (impersonal and personal) conceptions of God — Allah, Brahman, the Supreme Absolute Truth; Jehovah, Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna — but the Krishna conception of divinity asserts that the Supreme Absolute Truth is a Person: the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna is the fountainhead — the original source — of whatever conception of divinity (the Godhead) we might have.

When we read Srila Sanatan Goswami's Brihad-Bhagavatamritam, we are introduced to newer and more advanced conceptions of divinity as Sri Narada Muni travels higher and higher into the transcendental spiritual world — as he penetrates deeper and deeper into the conscious realm of reality — and ultimately we are shown that the Krishna conception of divinity, Krishna in Vrindavan, is the highest conception: the fountainhead or the prime source of all the different conceptions and diverse permutations of divinity or Godhead.

While most philosophies and religions struggle with an abstract concept of divinity ("God is Light" or "God is Love" or "The Supreme Absolute Truth," etc.), the Krishna conception of divinity shows us, definitively, that even within the personal conception of God as Krishna, there are subtle gradations and degrees of consciousness in the way that He is perceived by the devotees in Dwaraka, Mathura, and Vrindavan.

And even there, in Goloka Vrindavan, in Lord Krishna's eternal, blissful, personal residence — in the highest plane of consciousness in the transcendental spiritual realm! — we find a progressive hierarchy of consciousness in the Gopis who are serving Sri Krishna in the Vrindavan forest, on Govardhan Hill, and in Radha-Kunda!

So my understanding of "Godhead" — in the way that Srila Prabhupad, Srila Sridhar Maharaj and Srila Govinda Maharaj refer to it — is that it can only mean Krishna, because they have shown us that Krishna is the Original Source, the Primordial Lord, the fountainhead of whatever conception of God or divinity that we might have, whatever level of consciousness or stage of God realization we may be on in our dynamic search for Sri Krishna, the "Supreme Personality of Godhead" (God Himself, in Person), on our progressive path on the way "back to home, back to Godhead."

Tags: About Divinity

San Jose, California — Saturday, April 14th

God and "The Godhead"

A reader sent me this excerpt from an article by Srila Sridhar Maharaj called, A Wonderful Touch. In the section, God and "The Godhead," Srila Guru Maharaj explains:

To avoid the Christian conception of "God," our Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad, used the word, "Godhead." God is a particular conception of the Absolute, but Godhead represents the Bhagavat, or the background conception of God, which is Svayam Bhagavan: the Supreme Lord Himself. So, more than "back to God," is "back to Godhead."

Srimad Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj [Prabhupad] named his spiritual magazine after this idea in 1944, eight years after the disappearance of our Gurudev, Srila [Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati] Prabhupad, in appreciation of this conception. Back to Godhead: there is [our] home...

Tags: About Divinity

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Layout by iMonk — April 14th, 2007.