The highest or the ultimate truth according to Vedanta is Advaita, or non-dual reality, which is also variously called as Brahman, Atman, Consciousness, etc. But Brahman or Ultimate Truth is so mighty, vast and immeasurable that even an incarnation of God, who is the highest conception of man about God and is considered very powerful and extraordinary, looks very small or insignificant in comparison. But how does an incarnation is compared with the Ultimate in terms of power, lustre, glory, etc? To illustrate this idea, Sri Ramakrishna used to narrate an incident from Mahabharata, which also finds a mention in Bhagavad Gita.

Sri Krishna gave Arjuna a glimpse of his extraordinary nature by revealing to him his Vishwarupa. Arjuna, who himself was a great warrior, was so awestruck and terrified by that form that he was virtually trembling of fear. Again and again he bowed before Sri Krishna and acknowledged and praised him as an incarnation of God. Then Sri Krishna told him, “You speak of me as an incarnation of God. Let me show you something. Come with me.” So saying, Sri Krishna took him to a place a short distance away. Then he pointed to him a spot at quite a distance and asked him what he saw there. Arjuna replied that he saw a huge tree with blackberries in bunches hanging from its branches. Sri Krishna told him that he had not seen correctly and asked him to go nearer and have a look. Arjuna went nearer and saw that in reality they were innumerable Krishnas hanging in bunches. He was wonder-struck and realised that even incarnations of God can be very small and tiny if understood in terms of Ultimate Reality. The idea of Sri Krishna in enacting this display of numerous Krishnas before Arjuna was to make him understand that the Ultimate Reality or Truth cannot be understood or measured easily.

 Published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 16th Feb 2013