Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Krishna, the Reservoir of All Pastimes

            For everything that exists in the material world, there is an immediate cause, as well as a remote one. The immediate causes may be many, but ultimately the remote cause is only one— Krishna. Therefore, in the Taittiriya Upanisad, 2.7.1, it is stated:


                                                    raso vai sah


“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the reservoir of all transcendental mellows.”


And this is also confirmed in the Vedanta Sutra, 1.1.12:


                                                anandamayo 'bhyasat


“By nature, the Supreme Lord is blissful”.


In this material world all activities are aimed towards rasa and ananda, and therefore are just a perverted reflection of those performed by Krishna, and to properly understand them, one has to know what His lilas are, what makes them different from our activities, what the process to obtain such knowledge is and wherefrom.


            The Sanskrit word ‘lila’ is a combination of two verbal roots: ‘li’, ‘to be devoted’, ‘to be attached’, ‘to be absorbed’, plus ‘la’, ‘to take’. Thus, ‘lila’ may be defined as “something that makes one to be absorbed or devoted.” When we speak about being devoted, three things are implied: he who devotes himself, the object of devotion, and devotion itself. Krishna and His lilas are of the same nature— sac-cid-ananda— and therefore to be absorbed in His lila is the same as being absorbed in Him. Here we find some of the purposes of the Lord’s advent:


ajasya janmotpatha-nasanaya

karmany akartur grahanaya pumsam

nanv anyatha ko 'rhati deha-yogam

paro gunanam uta karma-tantram


“The appearance of the Lord is manifested for the annihilation of the upstarts. His activities are transcendental and are enacted for the understanding of all persons. Otherwise, since the Lord is transcendental to all material modes, what purpose could He serve by coming to earth?”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.1.44


And this is further corroborated in the Caitanya Caritamrta:



sarvatra prakasa tanra -- bhakte sukha dite

jagatera adharma nasi' dharma sthapite


"The Lord is situated in all the universes in different forms just to please His devotees. Thus the Lord destroys irreligious principles and establishes religious principles.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Madhya 20.219


When the Lord comes, He is called avatara, or “one who descends.” Compared to the lilas of all avataras, Krishna-lila is particularly special because Krishna is not an avatara, but the avatari, the fountainhead of all avataras:


ete camsa-kalah pumsah

krsnas tu bhagavan svayam

indrari-vyakulam lokam

mrdayanti yuge yuge


“All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.3.28


When Lord Krishna appears, all His plenary portions also accompany Him (SB 3.2.15p) and to understand this point, Srila Prabhupada gives the following illustration:


“In grammar, when an adjective is taken away from the subject, the subject it modifies does not change. Similarly, when the Lord quits His virat-rupa, His eternal form does not change, although there is no material difference between Himself and any one of His innumerable forms.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.4.29, purport


Krishna is the original subject and the source of all adjectives, and He may adorn Himself with all different kinds of adjectives and again reject all of them, and even exist as the adjectiveless Brahman. Therefore in Krishna-lila we find the most exalted adjectives, just as in the Bhagavatam we find the most exalted alankaras, for they both are the Supreme. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam we see how anxious Vidura was to hear about Krishna and how pleased Uddhava was to narrate. They are living examples of the required qualification for Krishna consciousness: 1) one must be anxious to hear, 2) the speaker must be unaffected by the modes of material nature (SB 3.4.31 p).


            In SB 3.1.44, the basic distinction between the Lord and the conditioned soulsit is indicated: karmany akartuh, the Lord, even though acting, does not perform karma, as He Himself explained to Uddhava: paramam sthitim, His situation is transcendental. On the other hand, people in general are acting on the platform of karma-tantra, or in other words, they are completely entangled by the ropes of material nature, thus enjoying or suffering continually the reactions of their work.


            When the Lord displays His transcendental activities, the whole universe is benefited and attracted towards the ultimate reality, and even after His disappearance we still derive benefit through remembering, repeating and praising those pastimes. That acts in the consciousness of the conditioned soul as a therapy to recover our spiritual, original consciousness, just as a psychologist may cure a patient with lapse of memory by constantly telling him about his life.


            Unfortunately, the nitya-baddha-jivas are from time immemorial in this material environment, and for them to understand Krishna-lila is very difficult (SB 3.4.34) due to the cover spread by the modes of nature, particularly passion and ignorance. Indeed, only a devotee can understand:



daivadhinesu kamesu

daivadhinah svayam puman

ko visrambheta yogena

yogesvaram anuvratah


“Every living entity is controlled by a supernatural force, and thus his sense enjoyment is also under the control of that supernatural force. No one, therefore, can put his faith in Lord Krsna's transcendental sense activities but one who has become a devotee of the Lord by rendering devotional service.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.3.23


It so happened that even some of those who were in the presence of Krishna could not accept Him or His words (SB 3.1.9). Therefore, the Lord sends His touchstone devotees, such as Uddhava and Srila Prabhupada, who are even more merciful than the Lord Himself, so that through their touch even the most engrossed soul may be awakened to the spiritual dimension by chanting, hearing, taking prasada, etc. And once they are surrendered, they are beyond the reach of maya:


devasya mayaya sprsta

ye canyad asad-asritah

bhramyate dhir na tad-vakyair

atmany uptatmano harau


“Under no circumstances can the words of persons bewildered by the illusory energy of the Lord deviate the intelligence of those who are completely surrendered souls.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.2.10


In logic, the veracity of an axiomatic aphorism is verified when its antithesis also proves to be true, and this can be demonstrated by a simple calculation: two plus two equals four. Now to see if the result is correct, we use the opposite operation: four minus two equals two. So either way we can verify it. In the same way, we may experience the absoluteness of Bhagavatam. The antithesis of the above verse would be: “Those who are not surrendered souls have their intelligence deviated by the words of persons who are bewildered by the illusory energy of the Lord.” And this is also true. The difference between both views is that the previous ones (the surrendered) can see both sides of this process, while the latter ones (the non-surrendered) cannot even ascertain their own position. But the great advantage of taking shelter at the lotus feet of a completely surrendered soul like Srila Prabhupada is that even though we may be far from being completely surrendered souls, still by his mercy we may also be able to remain in the unbewildered platform and thus break all mundane logical rules and someway appreciate Krishna’s pastimes.


            To explain Bhagavata, one must be Bhagavata, and to explain lila, one must live lila. Just as the Lord’s lila is not different from Him, His devotees’ lives are also lilas and non-different from Him. Srila Prabhupada’s life is an actual Lilamrta. We can see how even at the age of five he was leading ratha-yatra and worshipping Radha-Krishna deities. Along his life, Srila Prabhupada proved that in all respects he was fully Krishna conscious, and thus we may see Krishna-lila through Prabhupada-lila, for just as the Lord sent Uddhava to Badarikasrama, so that devotees could see Krishna through him, He also sent Srila Prabhupada to us, so that we may see Krishna through his life and purports.



This essay was originally submitted for assessment during the second year of the Bhakti Vaibhava course at VIHE, third canto of Bhagavatam, on 15-07-03


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