God’s Taste and Moral Reasoning

About the nature of God, the question whether He imposes His personal taste upon His creation and the individuality of His devotees

SB 6.12.20

bhavan atarsin mayam vai
vaisnavim jana-mohinim
yad vihayasuram bhavam
maha-purusatam gatah


You have surmounted the illusory energy of Lord Visnu, and because of this liberation, you have given up the demoniac mentality and have attained the position of an exalted devotee.



The verse speaks about Indras conversation with Vritrasura.

Indra praises Vritrasura because he gave up his demonic nature to attain a higher nature. Vrtra crossed over the material nature which bewilders and seduces people. The symptom is that he achieved the position of a Mahapurusha. There is a logical connection between behavior and position of a person.

Krsna is talking about demoniac natures in BG in chapter 16.

There is a dialog written by Plato where Socrates asks whether certain activities are good because the gods love them or the gods love them because they are good. Srila Prabhupada says that Krsna acts according to His own free will. He is independent.  Does this freedom extent into the moral domain?  

If I whistle a tune it doesn’t morally affect other people.  A particular activity enters the moral dimension when it affects other people. Does it include the moral dimension when Krsna acts according to His own sweet will? Are there objective reasons for Krsna’s decision? When He sets up the moral law (dharma) is Krsna imposing His taste upon His creation or are there moral objective reasons outside His own taste? Krsna is a person, He has His personal preferences, but would He punish someone simply for not having the same taste? Are there objective moral distinctions?

Krsna prefers certain food because it is objectively, morally superior because it is pure, clean and not obtained through violence. Therefore it is in the mode of goodness.

To be a pure devotee doesn’t mean to be denatured, even at the level of taste. It doesn’t mean that an individual isn’t an individual. Pure devotees sometimes also fall in love with each other (like Arjuna and Subhadra). There is something impersonal about the conception that pure devotee means to have no nature and no taste.

When Krsna talks about demoniac natures it is not in cultural or ideological but in moral terms.

Jesus did that also. He said you are saved by behaving in a moral way. Interestingly, in Christianity there also has been a change from ethical to ideological (believing) which lead to an ideological war. The greatest sin was considered to not have the right believe.

There is a common philosophical mistake in ISKCON: I am here only by Krsna’s causeless mercy and there is nothing I did to deserve it. Krsna says that “I reciprocate with everyone” and also, “I am equal to all creatures”. The consequence of that is that other people who are equally qualified are sent to hell. That means God wouldn’t be equal to everyone. In early Christianity they also got into this hyper-piety.  It is a nice ecstatic mood to think that we are so fallen as long as it doesn’t encroach upon our philosophical understanding.

When Srila Prabhupada said he created our good fortune we have to understand that we allowed him to create it. The mercy is there for everyone. There is a healthy way to feel fallen: to be confident, strong and joyful about Krsna’s mercy. The opposite is unhealthy.