Monday, June 27, 2011

Brahman’s inconceivable manifestations

Some may question Brahman’s capacity to be simultaneously the efficient and the material cause of creation on the basis of the diversity of attributes required to perform all the different creative functions and the display of all metamorphosis that the elements go through, while the spiritual nature is said to be immutable, constant, etc. Here relies one of the distinctive attributes of God: His capacity to remain eternality unchanged although manifesting unlimited spiritual and material creations, a feature that is absent in any material element, in any jiva, and in prakrti or pradhana. In other words, Lord Krsna is not subject to any of the material, logical limitations that condition everything in this world. The following quotations substantiate His supreme inconceivable powers. In the sruti it is said:

brhac ca tad divyam acintya-rupam suksmac ca tat suksmataram vibhati
durat sa-dure tad ihanti ke ca pasyatsv ihaiva nihitam guhayam
(Mundaka Upanisad, 3.1.7)

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the greatest. He is splendid and transcendental. His form is beyond the understanding of the material mind. He is more subtle than the most subtle. He stays far away from the impious. The devotees see Him in their hearts."

Lord Brahma explains:

tam ekam govindam sac-cid-ananda-vigraham panca-padam vrndavana-sura-bhuruha-talasinam satatam sa-marud-gano 'ham paramaya stutya tosayami.
(Gopala-tapani Upanisad, 1.38)

"With eloquent prayers I and the Maruts please Lord Govinda, Whose form is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss, Who stays under a desire tree in Vrndavana, and Who is this five-word mantra."

barhapidabhiramaya ramayakuntha-medhase
rama-manasa-hamsaya govindaya namo namah

“Obeisances to Lord Govinda, handsome with a peacock-feather crown, Who is identical with Balarama, Who is the swan in the Manasa lake of the goddess of fortune's thoughts, and Whose intelligence is unobstructed.”

This proves that the Lord’s body is divine and transcendental, distinct from that of any other living entity, therefore beyond all the physical laws.

eko vasi sarvagah krsna idya eko 'pi san bahudha yo 'vabhati
(Ib.,1.23; Govinda-bhasya, 2.3.38)

“Lord Krsna is the omnipotent, all-pervading worshipable Personality of Godhead. Although He is one, He is manifested in many forms."

amatro 'nanta-matrasca dvaitasyopasamah sivah
omkaro vidito yena sa munir netaro janah

(Mandukya-upanisad, 1.29)

“He who knows the Lord as devoid of parts and yet full of infinity parts, as blissful, the reconciliation of all dualities and the syllable Om personified, is indeed a sage, and no one else.”

This proves that the Lord although one and the same can manifest Himself in unlimited expansions and still remain the same undivided Supreme Spirit.
It is further stated:

asino duram vrajati sayano yati sarvatah
(Kathopanisad, 1.2.21)

“He walks though sitting, and though He reclines (upon His bedstead) He goes everywhere.”

That means, He can simultaneously be situated in a single place as well as in many places, be lying down and at the same time move. This proves that He can be specifically within the parameters of physical space and beyond it simultaneously, being measurable and immeasurable according to His supreme will.

visvatas-caksur uta visvato-mukho visvato-bahur uta visvatas-pat
sam bahubhyam dhamati sam patatrair dyav abhumi janayan deva ekah
(Svetasvatara Upanisad, 3.3)

“His eyes are everywhere. His faces are everywhere. His arms are everywhere. His feet are everywhere. He, the one Supreme Personality of Godhead, breathed life into those who have two arms on the land and those who have wings in the sky.”

esa devo visva-karma mahatma sada jananam hrdaye sannivistah
hrda manisa manasabhiklpto ya etad vidur amrtas te bhavanti
(Ib., 4.17)

“Those who know the Supreme Personality of Godhead become immortal, Who is the universes' creator, Who always stays in everyone's heart and is the object of the wise heart's meditation.”

sa visva-krd visva-vid atma-yonih jnah kalakaro guni sarva-vid yah
pradhana-ksetrajna-patir gunesah samsara-moksa-sthiti-bandha-hetuh
(Svetasvatara Upanisad, 6.16; Govinda-bhasya, Introduction)

“The Supreme Lord, the creator of this cosmic manifestation, knows every nook and corner of His creation. Although He is the cause of creation, there is no cause for His appearance. He is fully aware of everything. He is the Supersoul, the master of all transcendental qualities, and He is the master of this cosmic manifestation in regard to bondage to the conditional state of material existence and liberation from that bondage.”

niskalam niskriyam santam niravadyam niranjanam
amrtasya param setum dagdhendhanam ivanalam
“Let me surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is perfect, complete, free from material activities, peaceful, pure, and free from the touch of matter, Who is a bridge to immortality, and Who is a blazing fire greedily consuming fuel.”

All these statements corroborate Lord Govinda’s inconceivable potency with which He creates, maintains and destroys all the material universes while His Own nature remains totally unaffected. Therefore, the Kurma Purana establishes the principle to look through the Lord’s puzzling attributes:

nasthulas cananus caiva sthulo 'nus caiva sarvatah
avarnah sarvatah proktah syamo raktakta-locanah
aisvarya-yogad bhagavan viruddhartho 'bhidhiyate
tathapi dosah parame naivaharyah kathancana
guna viruddha apyete samaharyah samantatah
(Quoted by Rupa Gosvami in his Laghu-bhagavatamrtam, 1.97)

"He is neither great nor small. He is great and small. He is colorless. He is said to have red eyes. It is said that by the touch of His potencies the Supreme Lord has many mutually contradictory qualities. Though He has these attributes, no evil or falsehood should ever be attributed to Him. On the contrary, all these attributes should be reconciled with each other as far as possible."

God being one, it might be expected that when He manifests Himself, He does so in the same way. The Brahma-sutras (3.2.35), however, explain that God is free to manifest Himself in unlimited ways according to the situation and the devotee, just like the same light appears distinct when reflected in walls carved with gems. Baladeva also gives the example of sound, which even being of the same pitch has a different timber according to the instrument played, and that too might vary in speed and intensity. Similarly, Lord Krsna and His avataras display Their pastimes in a way just suitable to all the circumstances involved. For example, it would be incompatible for Him to appear in a form predominantly in the mood of the Vaikuntha opulence (aisvarya) for a devotee in the mood of the Vrajavasis’ spontaneous conjugal love (madhurya), as when He showed His Narayana form to the gopis when they were roaming through the forest looking for Govinda. It would also not be fair from Him to display a huge form like Kurma on this tiny earth planet or a form like Nrsimhadeva to devotees who feel parental loving devotion for Him.

The Brahma-sutras explain:

vyaptes ca samanjasam
(Brahma-sutras, 3.3.10)

“Because He is all-pervading, He always presents Himself in a harmonious form.”

The purport is that the Supreme Lord’s form can have infinite modalities, and each of them is unique. A devotee may choose any of them to worship or meditate, and there will never be any difference from the ontological point of view. Those forms vary according to His own will, never due to any material factor, and for this reason one should not think that when the Lord plays as a human being He is also going through the same influence of time and nature. For example, when Lord Krsna displays pastimes in different stages as childhood (kaumara), boyhood (pauganda), and youth (kaisora), He shifts His external appearance by the power of His mystic yoga, never by the regular process of aging to which all the living beings are subject.

An objection might be raised: if the Lord’s manifestations in His pastimes are eternal, then we have to imply that every one of those devotees that take part in each activity, and each activity as well, must also be eternal. In this case, we have an inconsistent picture, for we see a sequence of activities performed both by the Lord and His devotees, and each of them has a particular beginning and end, otherwise there would be no diversity of activities at all. But this contradicts the definition of eternal. Moreover, there is a constant change of devotees who take part in every pastime, therefore how can the Lord’s activities be called eternal at all? This is another example of improper material reasoning applied to God. Lord Krsna, His activities and His associates have nothing to do with the influence of kala, time, for in the transcendental platform there is another frame of time that is distinct from the one predominant in this world. The sastras also describe the Lord as comprising all frames of time within Himself:

yad bhutam bhavac ca bhavisyac ca
(Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad, 3.8.3)

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead exists in the past, present, and future."

Although there may be a continuous succession of events and interactions in the Lord’s pastimes, they are essentially all of the same spiritual nature, and therefore not subjected to the abovementioned arguments. Lord Krsna Himself qualifies His own activities in this way:

janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so 'rjuna
Bhagavad-gita, 4.9

“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.

This evinces how His pastimes are of a divine (divyam) nature, and by definition must be eternal. The non-eternal activities of the Lord are manifested through the agency of prakrti and kala, which produce all movable and non-movable things within the material universe. These are prone to be destroyed by those very agents, but the Lord’s pastimes are totally beyond their influence. By the agency of the Lord’s internal potency, His pastimes appear to be within a time frame and thus we can speak of His appearance and disappearance.

In this way, even in the minor details, every manifestation of God is a very detailed organized spiritual affair in which His yoga-maya potency makes all the arrangements so that He can apparently fit in the parameters of this relative world. Baladeva further points out that the motivator factor that impels the Lord to act in a particular way is essentially the feeling of His devotees towards Him, which surcharges the Lord of with the same mood. Thus the displays of God are a dynamic emotional exchange between Him and His devotees.