To be in Krishna consciousness means to be aware of Krishna’s supreme position as the source of everything and to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to him. (Bhagavad-gita 10.08).
To be around Krishna consciousness means to let our consciousness get caught in peripheral issues associated with Krishna.
Explaining Krishna’s position, the Gita states that Krishna belongs to a higher, spiritual level of reality – and so do we, for we are at our core souls, eternal parts of Krishna. He descends to our material level of reality just to attract our consciousness to him and to thereby spiritualize it.
Krishna may appear at particular historical times, become well-known in particular cultures or through particular institutions. His purpose is served through such particularities – and yet his purpose transcends all such particularities. If we are to fulfill his universal purpose of spiritualizing our consciousness, we need to see beyond contextual particularities.
If we see Krishna as a cultural figure about whom we watched TV serials, we may reduce him to an entertaining mythological character or to a god in our religion’s pantheon.
If we see Krishna through the lens of history, we may get lost in debates about the historicity of Krishna and various Krishna-related texts.
If we see Krishna as a deity propagated by an institution, we may get sidetracked by institutional controversies that were caused by materially motivated people with a vested interest in misappropriating that institution’s resources.
Such cultural, historical or institutional perspectives can raise some valid concerns. And if it is our need or interest or service, we can address those concerns appropriately. But seeing Krishna through these perspectives doesn’t spiritualize our consciousness.
Only by seeing Krishna as the supreme spiritual reality and connecting with him by practicing bhakti-yoga can we relish the immortal taste of pure Krishna consciousness – of eternal ecstatic love for Krishna