By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
So, what is God? He is the supreme eternal being amongst many other eternal beings (nityo nityānām cetanaś cetanānām). We, living entities, are all eternal beings. Our position is eternity. As it is described in the Bhagavad-gita (2.20), na jāyate na mriyate vā kadācit: “These living entities, they do not take birth or die at any time”… And what is God? He is also eternal. So nityo nityanānām.
We are eternal, we are many, and God is also eternal, but He is one. He is singular number. Not that all of us are Gods. That is nonsense. We are part and parcel of God, but we are not as powerful as God. Anyone can understand it very easily. They are claiming to have become God. So does he think that he is equal in power with God? No. That is foolishness. God is one, but we are many…
As in practical experience also, we have this understanding that we require a leader. In the present moment there are so many parties, so many nations, so many societies, but there is a leader. That you cannot deny. Just like in our Krishna consciousness society, I happen to be the leader. Similarly, there are other parties, political parties, and business parties. Everywhere there is a leader. You cannot avoid the leader. That is not possible.
I had put this question to Professor Kotovsky that “What is the difference between your philosophy and our philosophy? You are Leninist; you are following the leader Lenin, and we are following the leader Krishna. So where is the difference in philosophy?” You have to follow one leader. That you cannot avoid. Without leader you cannot be guided, you cannot form a party. Everywhere you go… Just like in our country we followed the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, so we became a nation. So everywhere you will find: there must be a leader. Without leader you cannot become a community or a nation. Similarly, who is the supreme leader? That is God, or Krishna. Therefore He is described in the Vedas, nityo nityānām cetanaś cetanānām. He is the leader.
So what is the difference between the plural number nityas and singular number? Eko yo bahūnām vidadhāti kāmān. That is the difference – that we are living entity and Krishna, or God, is also living entity, but Krishna maintains all other living entities; we cannot maintain even ourselves. We find difficulty, especially nowadays, to maintain even a family. That is the difference.
And still, as a rascal, I claim that “I am God. I am God.” Nobody can claim unnecessarily that one is God. First of all prove that you can maintain all the living entities. You cannot maintain yourself even. You beg from door to door. So how can you become God? Very simple question. Because in the Vedas (it is) said that eko yo bahūnām vidadhāti kāmān: “That one, singular number leader, He maintains all other living entities.” That we have got practical experience. He is maintaining so many crabs within the sand. He is maintaining so many ants in the hole of your room. He is maintaining millions of elephants in the African jungle.
[An excerpt from a lecture delivered on the Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya Lila 20.100-104, in Bombay on November 3, 1975]