If Krishna is God, how could he have been killed by a hunter’s arrow?

By Chaitanya Charan - 13.1 2022

Question: If Krishna is God, then how could the arrow of a hunter have killed Him?

Answer:Whenever we look at the activities of the Lord we have to understand that he is performing pastimes. As a part of the Lila or past time he does certain thing which does not necessarily reflect his position as God in terms of his supremacy.  When Krishna becomes a charioteer and one asks if he is a charioteer, how is he God? What we need to understand here is that, he has accepted the position of charioteer out of love for His devotee.That expresses some other feature of God apart from His supremacy. It’s not that God is constantly doing everything to prove his supremacy. He has other principlesto demonstrate too and one of it is “How He subordinates Himself to the love of His devotees and becomes their servant”. To demonstrate his love for his devotees he becomes a charioteer. Now, in general, trying to examine every activity of the Lord with a vision of doubt will lead us astray. That’s the first principle with respect to understanding any pastime of the Lord.

Now let’s examine this from a logical point of view. The arrow which is being shot by a hunter;this pastime described in the Mahabharata and it is being referred to in the Bhagavatam also. Basically the arrow hit the foot. It did not evenhit the thigh. Any person even with basic knowledge knows that the arrow wound to a foot is not fatal. No one can be killed by an arrow wound to a foot unless that arrow is having some severe poison and the person is already weak. There are lot of other factors none of which were applying to Krishna.

Even from the purely logical point of view the arrow wound to a foot cannot kill. The scripturesdescribed this kind of pastime and they described it in such a way that the faithful can maintain their faith and the doubtful can maintain doubt. The choice is upto the individual. The Bhagavatam describes and it gives several reasoning’s too. First of all it is described that if we are going to accept Krishna’s pastimes as described in the scripture then we have to accept all His pastimes.  By “all his pastimes”it’s meant all his pastimes literally.  Krishna even went to the abode of Yamaraj and He brought back the son of Sandeepani muni. That person who could go to the abode of death and bring back aperson (the son of Sandeepanimuni who had been taken away by death) how can that person succumb to deathand that too by just anarrow wound to a foot. Krishna even went to Mahavishnu and brought back the Brahmana’s sons along with Arjuna.  If somebody can go to another world i.e. to the hell and if somebody can go to the spiritual world and come back then how can such a person be an ordinary person who gets killed by an arrow wound?  We can’t diverse this pastime from all the other pastimes of the Lord.

Now regarding the specifics of this pastime further, the Acharya’s explain that Krishna acts in ways by which He serves multiple purposes. For those who are faithless he gives them reasons to maintain their doubts. Some people may say Oh! Krishna actually left His body, the material body which means he had a material body which he had to leave. But all this is arranged by the Lord to createan illusion. In fact, no material body can demonstrate aViswaroopamasKrishna demonstrated. No material body can lift the Govardhan hill as Krishna did.  If one wants to give the argument of the material body, then again if we have to accept the scriptures. And if we have to accept the scriptures then we have to accept them in full. Therefore this Krishna’s apparel in which He left the material body was simply an illusion which is created both ways.  Just like when Krishna is becoming a charioteer some people may think he is just an ordinary person but the devotees get enhancedtaste in that rasa, by that act of Krishna.

Now with respect to the specific pastime of Krishna getting a woundactually Krishna was not even disturbed by the wound. Actually the person who shot the arrow, the hunter got very disturbed and He came and fell at the feet of Krishna. He said “Please forgive me. 

I thought this was an animal’s foot and that’s why I shot it. Please forgive me” and Krishna remained very tranquil and calm. And in histranquillity and calm, He pacified the hunter; then after that Krishna chose to enter into a trance and disappeared from the world.  In the whole pastime of the Moshana Lilawe see that all the Yadus fight.They mutually fight and die and then Krishna also apparently dies. This is primarily meant to demonstrate to the demoniac how they can maintain and they can continue with their demoniac conceptions.But from the devotee’s point of view the devotees understand that this is simply a Lila of the Lord.If someone wants to see from the logic point of view, we get several logics. This is simply not possible that an arrow wound to the foot can kill the person who can go to Yamaraj’s abode and can come back or who can go to Mahavishnu’s abode and come back. So this is simply a pastime which is done by the Lord to demonstrate a particular principle- what is that principle?  The principle is

Nityo nityanam chetanas chetana name kobahu namayo vidhidhati kamaan.

The Lord maintains different people and this maintenance is not just physical. He maintains all living beings. He maintains even the atheists in their atheism.When Krishna descended to this world, he performed spell-binding pastimes which captivated the hearts of the pious and even the open-minded for all of eternity.But for those who want to doubtKrishna allows them to doubt because Krishna respects the free will of all living beings. If somebody wants by free will doubt then as a part of respecting the free will Krishna also gives them room for doubt. 

We seethis in Mahabharata where Dhritarashtraand Duryodhana repeatedly sawthe demonstrations of Krishna’s power and the Pandavas power but still they would hang on to some points. Oh! If Krishna is God, how could Abhimanyu have been killed? Therefore Krishna is not God; therefore we can win. We should not let such pastimes create doubts within us. We need to recognize that the ultimate purpose of the all the pastimes is to attract us to Krishna. Ultimately all pastimes attract us to Krishna but certain pastimes, like say, Krishna’s butter stealing pastimes or His pastimes of becoming a charioteer, where the love is apparent, attract us very directly.But there are some other pastimeswhich attract us by testing our faith. Will we believe just based on our visual perception? Apparently it seems that Krishna left His body; that’s what we see with the eyes.Of course, we didn’t see; we heard from the scripturesand Krishna allowed the scriptures to convey such messages.Whether we will let our eyes mislead us – Oh! Krishna has a material body; he left His material body or will we learn to see through this pastime which apparently seems to be quite confusing. Sastra-cakshu (Eyes provided by scriptures) Krishna tells

Janma-karma ca me divyamevamyoyitamititattvatah – one who understands the tattvatah, the truth, and that truth we have to understand through scripture. So Krishna’s pastime of disappearing from this world is like the sunsetting. And when the sun sets, the sun continues to exist and similarly Krishna never gets killed; Krishna continues to exist eternally. He has to depart from this world and he arranges this pastime to depart from this world in a particular way so as to test the faith of the faithful and to leave room for the doubtful to continue doubting. In this way Krishna reciprocates with our desire. So if we want to have faith, then we will not just rely on here say or just rely on ourown interpretation on what has happened but we will seek out the faithful source. We will go to the acharyas and their representatives and learn from them the correct understanding and in this way we will not be disturbed but rather our faith will increase. Those who want to have doubts they will also be given facility to maintain their doubts.

Thank you. Hare Krishna.