Mystery Behind Lord Krishna’s Disappearance

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In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi 16.20-21) it is stated: “Because the Lord was engaged in various ways in preaching work in East Bengal, His wife, Lakṣmīdevī, was very unhappy at home in separation from her husband. The snake of separation bit Lakṣmīdevī, and its poison caused her death. Thus she passed to the next world. She went back home, back to Godhead.”


The replica body and disappearance of Lakṣmīdevī are explained as follows: Śrī Lakṣmīpriyā-devī is the internal spiritual potency of Gaura-Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Mahā-Lakṣmī is described in the Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā(45) as follows: “She who previously appeared as Śrī Jānakī, Rukmiṇī, and Lakṣmī has now appeared as Lakṣmī in the pastimes of Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” In the Sanskrit book Caitanya-caritāmṛta-mahākāvya (3.7 and 13) it is stated: “This Lakṣmī [of Navadvīpa] is the incarnation of that Lakṣmī [of Vaikuṇṭha],” and “Lakṣmī has personally incarnated in this world.” While describing Mahā-Lakṣmī, Kṛṣṇa’s queens, and the gopīs of Vraja, Śrī Jīva Prabhupāda has stated in his Śrī Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha: “In the second (Bhāgavata) sandarbha it has been established that the Lord is the Supreme Absolute Truth and that He has two energies. Of the two, the first is related to the Lord as His internal potency and is as worshipable to the Vaiṣṇavas as the Lord Himself. The Supreme Lord’s supreme position is due to this svarūpa-śakti. The second, Māyā, is fit, like the material world, to be neglected by the Vaiṣṇavas; she is the transformation of the Lord’s energy. The manifestation of the world is due to this bahiraṅgā-māyā-śakti, or the illusory external energy. Of these two potencies, the word lakṣmī is used to indicate the former, the svarūpa-śakti, just as the word bhāgavata is used to indicate the person who possesses these two energies. This is also clearly shown in the Bhāgavata-sandarbha. In the two cities (Mathurā and Dvārakā) this svarūpa-śakti is known as śrī-mahiṣī, the queens of Kṛṣṇa. Since it is clearly stated in the Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad that in the Lord’s unmanifest pastimes Śrī Rukmiṇī eternally resides in Mathurā, all other queens must also reside there. It is also stated therein that the queens of Kṛṣṇa are also related to Him as belonging to the category of His svarūpa-śakti; therefore in their position as svarūpa-śakti they are necessarily of the same position as Lakṣmī. In this way the queens of Kṛṣṇa are naturally confirmed as belonging to the Lord’s svarūpa-śakti. In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (10.60.9) it is stated: ‘The Lord assumes various forms to enact His pastimes, and He was pleased that the form that the goddess of fortune Rukmiṇī had assumed was just suitable for her to serve as His consort.’ The meaning of this verse is very clear. Therefore, since Rukmiṇī assumed a form suitable to serve the Lord, she is certainly on the level of Lakṣmī. And since Lakṣmī, who is famous as the goddess of Vaikuṇṭha, is merged within Rukmiṇī, Mahā-Lakṣmī Rukmiṇī has the internal mood of Lakṣmī and is complete in every respect. Because the spiritual energy, or svarūpa-śakti, and the energetic, or śaktimān, are completely free of differences (or nondifferent), there cannot be any relationship between them as found between a subject and object of comparison. Therefore between them there is an absence of similarity (as in the difference between an actual object and its shadow or reflection), in other words, they are nondifferent or one. In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (10.60.44) Rukmiṇī personally speaks the following words: ‘O lotus-eyed one, though You are satisfied within Yourself and thus rarely turn Your attention toward me, please bless me with steady love for Your feet.’ (In this statement Rukmiṇī is removing Kṛṣṇa’s doubt or objection.) ‘If You say, “I am personally self-satisfied, so how can I have attachment for you?” In reply, I say that Your vision is indifferent, in other words, though You are omnipotent, You look at me, Your svarūpa-śakti, and Yourself as inseparable. The purport is that since the svarūpa-śakti and the śaktimān are inseparable (or nondifferent), or they are constitutionally nondifferent because their only distinction is their constitutional relationship as viṣaya and āśraya, the enjoyer and the enjoyed, therefore even though You are ātmārāma, Your attachment for Me is proper.'”


In the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.8.15) it is stated:

nityaiva sā jagan-mātā viṣṇoḥ śrīr anapāyinīo 

yathā sarva-gato viṣṇus tathaiveyaṁ dvijottamāḥ


“O best of brāhmaṇas, Lord Viṣṇu’s svarūpa-śakti is the eternal mother of the universe; she is never separated from Viṣṇu. Just as Lord Viṣṇu is present everywhere, His svarūpa-śakti, Mahā-Lakṣmī is also present everywhere.”


Also in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (1.9.143) it is said: BR>

devatve deva-deheyaṁ manuṣyatve ca mānuṣīviṣṇor 

dehānurūpāṁ vai karoty eṣātmanas tanum


“When the Lord appears as a demigod, she [the goddess of fortune] takes the form of a demigoddess, and when He appears as a human being, she takes a humanlike form. Thus she assumes a body corresponding to that accepted by Lord Viṣṇu in order to assist in His pastimes.”


In his commentary on Brahma-sūtra (2.3.10) Śrī Madhvācārya quotes the following verse from the Bhāgavata-tantra: BR>

śakti-śaktimatoś cāpi na vibhedaḥ kathañcanaavibhinnāpi svecchādi- bhedair api vibhāvyate


“There is no actual difference between the energy and the energetic, but sometimes out of His own sweet will they appear different.”


The Viṣṇu-saṁhitā says: śakti-śaktimatoś cāpi na bhedaḥ kaścid iṣyate—”There is certainly no difference between the energy and the energetic.” From such scriptural statements we can understand that the energetic Viṣṇu and His related svarūpa-śaktiare nondifferent.


The external illusory energy, or material nature, is the subordinate shadow of this svarūpa-śakti Lakṣmī. In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.7.23) Arjuna speaks to Kṛṣṇa as follows: “You have cast away the effects of the material energy by dint of Your spiritual potency [or svarūpa-śakti]. You are always situated in eternal bliss and transcendental knowledge.” Therefore creation, maintenance, and annihilation, which are transformations of the three modes of material nature—passion, goodness, and ignorance—can never attack Lord Viṣṇu, His related svarūpa-śakti, or His opulences such as His abode and associates, because there is no difference between their bodies and souls like there is in the living entities who are controlled by māyā and forced to enjoy the fruits of their karma. They are all transcendental, beyond the jurisdiction of māyā, untouched by the modes of material nature, eternally pure, and spiritual.


Śrī Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha (93) quotes Śrī Madhvācāryapāda’s Bhāgavata-tātparyacommentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.3.1) as follows: “The Tantra-bhāgavata states: BR>

agṛhnād vyasṛjac ceti kṛṣṇa rāmādikāṁ tanumpaṭhyate

bhagavān īśo mūḍha buddhi vyapekṣayā


‘The scriptural statements that the Supreme Lord has accepted and given up bodies in His incarnations such as Kṛṣṇa and Rāma are mentioned simply to satisfy the mentality of foolish people.’


In the Varāha Purāṇa it is stated: BR>

na tasya prākṛtā mūrtir māṁsa-medo ‘sthi-sambhavāna 

yogitvād īśvaratvāt satya-rūpo ‘cyuto vibhuḥ


‘The Supreme Lord and His svarūpa-śakti do not possess material forms made of flesh, bones, and marrow. His transcendental form, however, is not the result of mystic perfections, for since He is directly the Personality of Godhead, His form is eternal, infallible, and supreme.’


In the Mahā-Varāha Purāṇa it is stated: ‘Everything related to the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu, beginning with His body, is everlasting and eternal, devoid of both material purity and impurity, and never born of matter; in other words, they are not material. They are objects of fully uninterrupted bliss and completely spiritual, they are all full of transcendental qualities and nondifferent from one another. Due to possessing all qualities, they are fully devoid of superiority and inferiority in relationship with each other. There is never a difference between the body and soul of the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu, but when we hear statements that Lord Viṣṇu accepted a body it is like an actor taking on another hand to protect his body in a drama. Although Lord Viṣṇu, who is beyond material perception, appears and disappears, statements like ‘His form of Kṛṣṇa,’ ‘His form of Rāma,’ are applicable to Him alone, because He possesses unadulterated spiritual opulences.’ In the Kūrma Purāṇa it is stated: ‘Although the Supreme Lord is neither gigantic nor infinitesimal, He is completely gigantic and infinitesimal. Although the Lord appears contradictory due to possessing spiritual opulences, it is improper to attribute any type of mundane faults on the Supreme Lord. Yet even though apparent contradictory qualities are seen through material perception, one will have to understand that they are inconceivably reconciled in Him.’ In the Viṣṇu-dharmottara it is stated: ‘Because the Supreme Lord Puruṣottama possesses all opulences, all transcendental qualities are found in Him. But faults cannot in any way be applied on Him, because He is the supreme object. Some foolish persons conclude that both qualities and faults are received from or attributed by māyā. In answer to this, it is stated that since there is no māyā or connection with māyā in the Absolute Truth, how then can qualities related with māyā be present? Therefore the transcendental qualities of the Lord are not received from or attributed by māyā; they are born of His opulences. Because He is the faultless (nirasta kuhaka aprākṛta—”transcendental dissipater of illusion”) controller, learned scholars know Him as the supreme object.'”


The doubt raised by foolish materialists who are bewildered by māyā that Mahā-Lakṣmī Śrī Lakṣmīdevī, who is the svarūpa-śakti of Gaura-Nārāyaṇa, left her body due to being bitten by a snake like a conditioned soul is properly cleared by Śrīmad Bhāgavatam , the crest jewel of scriptures, and the ācāryas, who follow Śrīmad Bhāgavatam , in their descriptions of Kṛṣṇa’s disappearance.


In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.14.8) Yudhiṣṭhira speaks to Bhīmasena as follows: yadātmano ‘ṅgam ākrīḍaṁ bhagavān utsisṛkṣati—”Has the time come for the Supreme Personality of Godhead to quit His earthly pastimes?”


“The word aṅgaṁ in this verse means ‘earth.’ In the Brahma-tarka it is stated: BR>

yadā tyāgādir ucyeta pṛthivyādy-aṅga-kalpanātadā jñeyā na hi svāṅgaṁ kadācid viṣṇur utsṛjet


‘When the scriptures use words like “give up” in connection with the disappearance of the Lord it refers to the earth, because Lord Viṣṇu never gives up His own limb.'” (Śrī Madhvācārya’s Bhāgavata-tātparya)


“The word ākrīḍa refers to the place of pastimes, or in other words, this material world. The word aṅga means ‘His own land,’ because ‘the earth is His body’ and other scriptural statements are evidence of this fact.” (Śrī Vijayadhvaja)


Otherwise: “When will the Supreme Lord desire to give up His own pastimes, or in other words, give up the aṅga that assists in His pastimes, or in other words, give up the drama of a human (imitating the activities of a human being in the material world)—has that time arrived?” (Śrīdhara Svāmipāda)


“The word aṅga refers to the mundane universal form rejected while returning to His own abode.” (Krama-sandarbha)


In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (1.15.34-36) Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī speaks to the sages headed by Śaunaka as follows: BR>

yayāharad bhuvo bhāraṁ tāṁ tanuṁ vijahāv ajaḥkaṇṭakaṁ kaṇṭakeneva dvayaṁ cāpīśituḥ samamyathā matsyādi-rūpāṇi dhatte jahyād yathā naṭaḥbhū-bhāraḥ kṣapito yena jahau tac ca kalevaramyadā mukundo bhagavān imāṁ mahīṁjahau sva-tanvā śravaṇīya-sat-kathaḥtadāhar evāpratibuddha-cetasāmabhadra-hetuḥ kalir anvavartata


“The supreme unborn, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, caused the members of the Yadu dynasty to relinquish their bodies, and thus He relieved the burden of the world. This action was like picking out a thorn with a thorn, though both are the same to the controller. The Supreme Lord relinquished the body which He manifested to diminish the burden of the earth. Just like a magician, He relinquishes one body to accept different ones, like the fish incarnation and others. When the Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, left this earthly planet in His selfsame form.”


“Not understanding the distinction between the Supreme Lord and the Yādavas (those who were not eternal associates of the Lord but ordinary mortal beings) foolish materialistic persons consider them equal. Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī is clearly establishing a distinction between them in these two verses [the first two quoted above]. The word yayā indicates that the Lord diminished the burden of the earth (just as a thorn is taken out with another thorn) through the bodies of the Yādavas (equal to ordinary mortal beings who are bewildered by māyā). Since both the bodies of the Yādavas and the bodies of those who were burdening the earth were eligible for being destroyed by the Lord, both are equal, in other words, both are material.


“How the Lord accepts and gives up forms (bodies) such as Matsya is being described with the following example: Just as an actor, while remaining in his original form, accepts and gives up another form, similarly the Supreme Lord also gave up that form (visible to mundane eyes) and manifested His original transcendental form.


“Since the Lord returned to Vaikuṇṭha with His selfsame body, it is understood that He left this world with that same body.” (Śrīdhara Svāmipāda)


“In this place [in the three Śrīmad Bhāgavatam verses quoted above] the three words tanu, rūpa, and kalevara refer to the Lord’s two sentiments—His desire to diminish the burden of the earth and His desire to maintain the demigods (they do not refer to His body). Similarly, in other verses of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.20.28, 39, 41, 46, and 47) these words indicate Brahmā’s sentiments (not body). If one accepts this explanation regarding Lord Brahmā, then it is also proper to accept this in regard to the Supreme Lord. Since these sentiments of the Lord are (not His own or actual, but) ābhāsa-rūpa, or indications of His form, therefore the example of a thorn is appropriate (in other words, for a person who wishes to remove a thorn, both the imbedded thorn and the extricating thorn are the same; similarly, the bodies of those who were burdening the earth, or the gigantic universal form, and the bodies of the Yādavas, whose bodies were similar to those of ordinary mortal beings, were the same for the Supreme Lord). An elaborate description in this regard is found in the third Paramātmā sandarbha.


“In incarnations such as Matsya, the words matsyādi-rūpa refer to the sentiment of desiring to kill the demons. Just as actors, while remaining in their original dress, accept and give up sentiments as either hero or heroine, similarly, one should know that the same also applies to the Supreme Lord. Otherwise Bhagavad-gītā (7.25) states: ‘I am covered by Yogamāyā and not exposed to anyone and everyone;’ Padma Purāṇa, Uttara-khaṇḍa states: ‘The yogis see Lord Janārdana on the strength of their devotional service, He never appears before those on the nondevotional path. No one who is angry or envious can see Him;’ and Śrīmad Bhāgavatam states: ‘To the wrestlers, Kṛṣṇa appeared as a thunderbolt.’ These conclusive statements confirm that the form manifested by Supreme Lord before the demons is not His original form, but an illusory form. If one sees the original form of the Lord, his envious nature is destroyed. Therefore, in order to diminish the burden of the earth, the Supreme Lord gave up only that form by which He annihilated the demons. He did not appear again in that form. The form of the Lord that is seen through the medium of devotion is nitya-siddha, eternally perfect. That is why the word aja is used. Therefore as an actor or magician, dressed as a fish to kill a crane that eats fish, takes the form of a fish in order to create an impression in the minds of people that he is a fish, and as soon as the crane is killed, he immediately gives up the temporary form of fish; similarly although Lord Kṛṣṇacandra is aja (devoid of birth like ordinary living entities), He killed the demons to diminish the burden of the earth with His illusory form manifested before the mundane vision of the materialists. After killing these demons, He (the unborn Lord) also gave up His mundane illusory form. But the previously mentioned statement of Bhagavad-gītā (7.25), yogamāyā-samāvṛtaḥ, actually means ‘His body is covered by a reflection of the illusory energy just as a snake is covered by its skin.’


“In this place, the Lord’s pastime of leaving (earth) was performed by His own form (in other words, the word svatanva—”His body” has been used in the third, or instrumental, case), He did not leave earth with His own form (in other words, the third case of the word svatanva does not mean saha, or “with”). This is the proper explanation; for since the word saha is not found in the original verse, if one unnecessarily supplies ellipsis (which would destroy the consistent meaning), then a prominence will be given to the elliptical word. In particular, cases such as nominative, objective, and instrumental are more specific than when secondary words like saha are used to produce a compound word. This grammatical logic is also evidence in this regard.” (Krama-sandarbha 106)


“In order to solace the sages headed by Śaunaka, who were morose after hearing about the pathetic demise of the Yādavas and other kṣatriyas, Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī recited the confidential conclusions in these two verses. Just as a thorn is taken out with another thorn, in the same way the Lord gave up only the Yādava form by which He diminished the burden of the earth, which is part of His one-quarter opulences. Just as Devadatta gives up his own dress, the Lord separated His Yādava form from His own association. But the Lord did not give up the form with which He eternally enjoys pastimes. Therefore the demigods who had entered among the eternally liberated Yādavas when the Lord appeared in this world were separated from the Yādavas by the Lord and sent to Prabhāsa. Later on, by the strength of His illusory energy, the Lord orchestrated their deaths before the eyes of people and thereafter transformed them into demigods by giving them honey to drink and sent them to heaven. This explanation is found in the last part of the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam . The Yādavas who are eternal associates in Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes remained hidden from materialistic people and continued sporting with Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā as in their previous unmanifest pastimes. This conclusion should be known from Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta. ‘The bodies of those who were burdening the earth’ and ‘the bodies of the Yādavas’ mean the bodies of the demons who were burdening the earth and the bodies of those demigods who appeared as Yādavas and others—both of whom were equal to the Supreme Lord. But though in the present example of thorns, both are equal, the extricating thorn (by which the imbedded thorn is taken out) is kāraṇa-bhūta, or instrumental, and therefore is beneficial and known as ‘antaraṅga, or intimate (and comparatively more relishable), while the karma-bhūta, or active thorn (since it is imbedded, it is to be extricated) is unbeneficial and known as bahiraṅga, or inimical (and comparatively abominable).


“How Lord Kṛṣṇa, like a magician, created some conception by making a show of giving up His fake body is described in this verse. The purport is that the Supreme Lord accepts (manifests) a form and gives up (unmanifests) that form (in other words, He simply makes a show of giving up His body). But after accepting a form, He does not give it up—from this it should be understood that when the Lord gives up (unmanifests) His form, the same form remains present in the transcendental realm. If one asks, ‘How can this be understood?’ The answer is stated herein. Just as a magician creates an impression for people that he has given up his own body either by cutting it to pieces, burning it, or falling unconscious, though he actually remains in his body and does not die, similarly, the Supreme Lord accepts bodies like Matsya and also gives them up, in other words, He accepts them and simply makes a show of giving them up. Therefore, just as a magician possessing his own body is a reality, his giving up that body is illusory. Similarly, that the Lord accepts bodies like Matsya is actually true, and that He gives up such bodies is actually illusory. This is the purport. Just as the Lord gives up His other own incidental bodies like Matsya, He simply gave up the mundane form by which He diminished the burden of the earth. Therefore since the entire incident of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s giving up forms is illusory and false, being the Supreme Brahman in the form of a human being, He simply imitates giving up bodies like ordinary human beings. Yet actually He does not do so, for since His form is transcendental (beyond the material elements) there is no possibility of His body being destroyed. As stated in the Mahābhārata: ‘The five gross material elements are not present in the body of Kṛṣṇa, the Supersoul.’ The Bṛhat-Viṣṇu Purāṇa also says: ‘According to the injunctions of the Vedas and smṛtis, one who considers that Kṛṣṇa’s body is made of material elements should be rejected. If one sees such a person, he should take bath with his clothes on.’ In the Viṣṇu-sahasra-nāma spoken by sage Vaiśampāyana, it is said: ‘Amṛta, or immortality, is only a part of Him, for He is the personification of immortality.’ Śaṅkarācārya’s commentary on this—’He whose body is amṛta (deathless)’—indicating a difference between the Lord’s body and soul, is not popular. The implication of this verse [Bhāg. 1.15.34] is that the verb ha of the word jahyāt is used to indicate ‘giving up,’ and the act of giving up is used for the purpose of awarding. In order to nourish the devotees from Vaikuṇṭha, Lord Kṛṣṇa awarded them His form of Nārāyaṇa, who was already merged within Him. This will be elaborately described at the end of the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam .


“This verse is quoted in order to describe the unreality of Kṛṣṇa’s giving up His body, in other words, to clearly explain its falsity. In this regard one should discuss the commentary of Śrīdhara Svāmī and the sandarbha commentary of Śrī Jīvapāda.” (Śrī Viśvanātha)


The commentaries on Śrī Uddhava’s words to Vidura in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.2.11): ādāyāntar adhād yas tu sva-bimbaṁ loka-locanam—”He performed His disappearance by removing His form from the sight of public vision,” are as follows.


“After exhibiting His own form till this point, the Lord disappeared by covering the eyes of the public, because there was no other worthy object of vision.” (Śrīdhara Svāmī)


“According to the Vedic statement, ‘He is the vision of the eyes,’ the Lord left the vision of people with His sva-bimbam—His own form. It is also described in the Mahābhārata, Mauṣala-parva: BR>

kṛtvā bhārāvataraṇaṁ pṛthivyāḥ pṛthu-locanaḥmocayitvā

tanuṁ kṛṣṇaḥ prāptaḥ svasthānam uttamam


‘To the eyes of people, after diminishing the burden of the earth, Kṛṣṇa gave up His form and returned to His supreme abode.’ In this verse the word mocayitvā, or ‘having given up,’ indicate that He disassociated His form from the activities of diminishing the burden of the earth, in other words, He allowed His form a respite from such engagement. This word is not used to indicate complete freedom from the activities of diminishing the burden of the earth.” (Krama-sandarbha)


“The word sva-bimbam refers to the sac-cid-ānanda form of the Lord and His replica. The word tu corroborates the Vedic statement dve bāba brahmaṇo rūpe—’The Supreme Brahman has two forms.'” (Śrī Vijayadhvaja)


“This verse says that the Lord manifested His own form before the eyes of people and again disappeared with that same form. By this statement, persons who advocate that the Supreme Lord gives up His body with adverse objections like ‘Lord Kṛṣṇa left His own body and disappeared’ are defeated. Since the adjectives used in the next few verses describe the body of the Lord after He left His human form and went to Yudhiṣṭhira’s Rājasūya sacrifice in a divine godly form, those who are opposed to the fact that Kṛṣṇa possesses a human form are also defeated. Moreover, from the statement ‘He manifests His own form and disappears with the same form,’ it is understood that His pastimes of appearance and disappearance are the result of His supreme will. Therefore those who advocate that the Supreme Lord is under the control of karma (those who consider that the Supreme Lord is under the control of birth and activities such as dying like ordinary living entities) are also defeated.” (Śrī Viśvanātha)


In his Bhāgavata-tātparya commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.2.13), Śrī Madhvācārya quotes the following verse from Skanda Purāṇa: “Alas, how illusioned by the bewilderment of māyā are those persons who see the sac-cid-ānanda form of Viṣṇu as material!”


In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.4.28-29) Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī speaks to Mahārāja Parīkṣit as follows: harir api tatyaja ākṛtiṁ tryadhīśaḥ—”Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Lord of the three worlds, completed His pastimes on earth,” and tyakṣyan deham acintayat—”He thought to Himself about disappearing from the face of the earth.” These verses are explained as follows.


“The word ākṛti means ‘the earth,’ because according to the dictionaries the words śarīra, ākṛti, deha, ku, pṛthvī, and mahī all have similar meanings. The Skanda Purāṇasays that the phrase ‘Lord Hari gave up His body’ means ‘He left the earth.’ Since He is the personification of eternal bliss, there cannot be any other meaning. Although the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu is the personification of knowledge, like an actor He exhibits a dead form or dead body resembling Himself in order to bewilder the materialists.” (Śrī Madhvācārya’s Bhāgavata-tātparya)


“The word ākṛti means ‘the earth,’ and the word deha also means ‘the earth.’ Because the Vedic statement yasya pṛthivī śarīram—’whose body is the earth’ is the evidence.” (Śrī Vijayadhvaja)


“The word ākṛti means ‘like a human form.'” (Śrīdhara Svāmipāda)


“The word nidhana refers to Kṛṣṇa’s eternal abode, which is the greatest wealth. According to the two statements: martya-lokaṁ jihāsatā—’By the Lord, who desired to quit the mortal world,’ in the previous verse 26, and asmāl lokād uparate—’When the Lord leaves the vision of this mundane world,’ of verse 30, the word ākṛti refers to the universal form of the Lord. If one is particularly inquisitive regarding this subject, he should study Śrī Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha, verse 93.” (Krama-sandarbha)


“The purport of this verse is that Lord Hari gave up, ā (completely)+kṛti (activities or pastimes in the material world); in other words, ‘He finished.’ The word tyakṣyan (since the verb tyaj is used to mean ‘give’) indicates that Lord Kṛṣṇa desired to give sustenance to the devotees headed by Brahmā by sending His plenary portion, Nārāyaṇa, to Vaikuṇṭha. In his Sandarbhas, Śrī Jīvapāda says that the word deharefers to the earth, which is the Lord’s universal form.” (Śrī Viśvanātha)


In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.30.2) Śrī Parīkṣit speaks to Śrī Śukadeva as follows: tanuṁ sa katham atyajat—”How could He give up His body?” In Śrī Madhvācārya’s explanation on this portion of the verse, he says that the Lord made His form completely disappear, because the verb aj in this verse is used to mean “take away.” In other words, the Lord took away His form or made it disappear from the earth to heaven (Goloka-dhāma).


In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.30.40) Śrī Śukadeva speaks to Śrī Parīkṣit as follows: ity ādiṣṭo bhagavatā kṛṣṇenecchā-śarīriṇā—”[The hunter was] thus instructed by the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa, who assumes His transcendental body by His own will.” Commentaries on this portion of the verse are as follows.


“The Lord made His own form, which is the personification of pure goodness, disappear and simply imitated mortal beings by leaving behind a replica of His form. The act of imitation by the Lord will be clearly seen later on in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.31.8), wherein Śukadeva Gosvāmī speaks to Parīkṣit Mahārāja as follows: ‘Most of the demigods and other higher beings led by Brahmā could not see Lord Kṛṣṇa as He was entering His own abode, since He did not reveal His movements. But some of them did catch sight of Him, and they were extremely amazed.'” (Śrīdhara Svāmipāda)


“The phrase icchā-śarīriṇā means ‘by He whose body is manifested simply by His own will,’ in other words, His appearance (and disappearance) are manifested by His inconceivable supreme will. There is no need to think of any other reason in this regard.” (Krama-sandarbha)


“The phrase icchā-śarīriṇā means ‘by He who out of His own will accepts a transcendental body, which is glorified by everyone.'” (Śrī Viśvanātha)


In the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.30.49) the Supreme Lord speaks to His chariot driver, Dāruka, as follows: man-māyā-racitām etāṁ vijñayopaśamaṁ vraja—”Understanding these pastimes to be a display of My illusory potency, you should remain peaceful.” This verse is explained as follows.


“In order to solace Dāruka, the Lord explains in this verse that His pastime of giving up His body is like a magic act created by the power of His illusory energy. ‘Know that My recent activities like the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty and the giving up of My body, which were manifest before the eyes of ordinary people, are like a magic show created by My illusory energy; thus you should remain indifferent.’ The word tu [in the first half of the above verse] means ‘let ordinary people who are averse to Me be bewildered, but it is not reasonable for you to be bewildered.'” (Krama-sandarbha)


Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī speaks to Parīkṣit Mahārāja in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.31.6) as follows: BR>

lokābhirāmāṁ sva-tanuṁ dhāraṇā-dhyāna-maṅgalamyoga

-dhāraṇayāgneyyā- dagdhvā dhāmāviśat svakam


“Without employing the mystic āgneyī meditation to burn up His transcendental body, which is the all-attractive resting place of all the worlds and the object of all contemplation and meditation, Lord Kṛṣṇa entered into His own abode.” Commentaries on this verse are as follows.


“The Lord entered His own abode without burning His own body with fire. In the Tantra-bhāgavata it is stated: ‘All other demigods reach their supreme destination by burning their own bodies through āgneyī meditation, but the Supreme Lord Hari, who has various forms headed by Kṛṣṇa and Nṛsiṁha, is eternally blissful, therefore He enters His abode without burning His body. He destroys the demigods’ subtle bodies, and dances in the midst of them at the time of annihilation.'” (Śrī Madhvācārya’s Bhāgavata-tātparya)


“The yogis who (possess the quality to) ‘die at will’ burn their own body with the fire of āgneyī yoga meditation and enter other planets, but this is not the case with the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa. He entered His own abode, Vaikuṇṭha, with the same form, without burning it. The reason is that all planets are fully present in His limbs, so if His body, which is the shelter worlds, is burned, the worlds will also be burned. Till now it has been seen that meeting and achieving the fruits of meeting the Lord by the worshipers of the Lord is simply attained through the process of meditation. Had the Supreme Lord burned His form, then adjectives for His form like lokābhirāmāṁ—’attractive to all the worlds’ would become meaningless, therefore He disappeared without burning His form. This is the appropriate meaning.” (Śrīdhara Svāmī)


“If a word from a statement has another meaning, then according to the logic from the Brahma-sūtra (1.1.22), ākāśas tal-liṅgāt—’the Supreme Brahman 11 is the collective ingredient of all living entities and the five gross material elements,” only the principle instructive meaning of the statement is accepted. Therefore the meaning that is derived from the word dagdhvā, or “burning,” is subdued by words like lokābhirāmāṁ, which reveal the meaning adagdhvā, or “not burning. 22” The word lokābhirāmāṁindicates that the Lord’s form is the shelter of the entire world. From the word loka, the eternal associates and devotees from Mahā-Vaikuṇṭha and all animate living entities beginning from those of the ātmārāma-jñānīs, self-satisfied transcendentalists, are indicated. Moreover, the words dhāraṇā-dhyāna-maṅgalam indicate that the form of the Lord is the shelter of those engaged in spiritual practices. How can that which is auspicious for persons engaged in meditation be otherwise (abominable due to being destroyed through burning)? By the word sva-tanuṁ, which is a karma-dhāraya-samāsa, an appositional compound, conformity with the constitutional qualities in the form of the Lord (the blueness of the blue lotus) has been firmly established.


“Thereafter, to refute the yogis’ misconceptions, it has been said that though it is true that the Lord engaged in āgneyī meditation, He nevertheless entered His own abode without burning His form by āgneyī meditation. So in order to teach yogis how to give up one’s body, the Lord first engaged in āgneyī meditation and then made His own form disappear. This is the purport of this verse; no other meaning is suitable. Therefore the statement ‘without burning His own form’ yields the meaning ‘He burned a form that was created by His independent illusory energy.’ That is why in the previously cited verse from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.30.40) it has been stated that the Supreme Lord manifests His form out of His supreme will. An object that independently manifests must also independently disappear. Therefore His engaging in āgneyī meditation is also illusory. In Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha, the phrase icchā-śarīrī, ‘who takes a body according to His desire,’ has been explained as svecchā-prakāśa, ‘manifested by His own will,’ or ‘the body of one’s desire,’ by which He acts as He likes. This explanation is also possible. In that case it is to be understood that simply by His supreme will He was the instigator of that illusion. This explanation is also proper.” (Krama-sandarbha)


“The Lord, unlike the yogis who are capable of controlling their death, entered His own abode, Vaikuṇṭha, without burning His own form through āgneyī meditation. And the word adagdhvā, ‘without burning,’ indicates that His form is very pleasing to the eyes of people, in other words, it is the object of meditation. Both explanations have been described in this verse.” (Śrīdhara Svāmipāda)


“Some scholars interpret the phrase dhāraṇā-dhyāna-maṅgala to mean ‘the Lord burned His own form and emerged from that fire with a more effulgent form like that of the pure Jambū River and then entered His own abode.’ The purport is that the Lord showed those who are doubtful and opposed to the concept that His form is spiritual that His form is unburnable by the fire of His own form.” (Śrī Viśvanātha)


Commentaries on Śrī Śukadeva’s statement to Śrī Parīkṣit in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.31.11-13) are as follows:


“You should understand that the appearance and disappearance manifested among mortal beings by the Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the cause of all causes, are shows enacted by His illusory energy, just like the performance of an actor. After He creates this universe, He enters into it as the Supersoul, and after detaching Himself from the pastimes of this material world, He winds it up. By the influence of His own transcendental glory, the Lord remains situated in His eternal unmanifested kingdom. Apart from this, one need not accept another meaning, because various opulences have been exhibited in His present incarnation. If one asks, ‘If the Lord was able to protect Himself then why didn’t He remain within His own form for even for a moment longer?’ In answer to this, it is said: Though the Lord is unlimitedly powerful and the only cause of creation, maintenance, and destruction of innumerable universes, thinking that His mundane mortal body would not be effective any more and exhibiting the supreme destination of the self-realized souls, He did not wish to keep His form after the killing of the mortal Yādavas, rather He took it to His own abode. Otherwise, the above-mentioned self-realized souls would disregard achieving the supreme destination and endeavor to remain in this material world by achieving yogic perfections—so that this calamity may not happen, in other words, to check this, the Lord enacts His disappearance pastimes.” (Śrīdhara Svāmipāda)


“The phrase tanu-bhṛj-jananāpyayehā [in Bhāg. 11.31.11] means ‘resembling the birth and death of embodied living beings.’ The Vedas state: ‘Viṣṇu, the Lord of all living entities, wanders within the universe. Though He does not take birth like conditioned souls, He appears in various forms.’ In the Brahma Purāṇa it is said: ‘In order to bewilder foolish people by His illusory energy, Lord Viṣṇu manifests Himself as a born living entity though unborn and as a dead living entity though deathless.’ Elsewhere it is stated: ‘Lord Puruṣottama exhibits His humanlike endeavors in order to bewilder the people of this world. Moreover, though the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu does not personally accept a material body, in order to bewilder sinful people He manifests Himself like a mortal being and through His illusory energy He creates a dead body for display. Actually the Supersoul, Lord Hari, is immortal, so how can there be a dead body?’ It is stated in the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa: ‘Various Vedic statements that apparently describe the nondifference of the living entities from the Supreme Lord, Lord Viṣṇu’s accepting and giving up bodies like an ordinary living entity, His miseries, the cutting and piercing of His body by the arrows of His enemies, His defeat, and His dependence, in other words, His remaining under the control of others, have all been stated to bewilder the sinful demons. First Rukmiṇī, the daughter of Bhīṣmaka, and then Satyabhāmā disappeared in the forest. Both of them possess pure spiritual bodies, so they did not give up their bodies like ordinary living entities.'” (Śrī Madhvācārya Bhāgavata-tātparya)


“The Yādavas were not products of this material world, so what to speak of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa.—In order to establish this conclusion, it is being said that the activities of appearance and disappearance by the Yādavas, who are eternal associates of the Lord and possess pure forms equal to that of the Lord, are also illusory like those of Kṛṣṇa. Such activities are exactly like those of a magician who can kill or burn his or others’ bodies and then display them alive again. The inconceivable omnipotent Lord is the cause of universal creation—for Him such an exhibition of prowess is not very wonderful. In this way: BR>

sītayārādhito vahniś chāyā-sītām ajījanattāṁ jahāra daśa-grīvaḥ sītā vahni-puraṁ gatāparīkṣā-samaye vahniṁ chāyā-sītā viveśa sāvahniḥ sītāṁ samānīya tat-purastād anīnaya 


‘When he was petitioned by mother Sītā, the fire-god, Agni, brought forth an illusory form of Sītā, and Rāvaṇa, who had ten heads, kidnapped the false Sītā. The original Sītā then went to the abode of the fire-god. When Lord Rāmacandra tested the body of Sītā, it was the false, illusory Sītā that entered the fire. At that time the fire-god brought the original Sītā from his abode and delivered her to Lord Rāmacandra.’ According to this statement from the Bṛhad-agni Purāṇa, materialists have misinterpreted the example of the illusory or false pastimes of Rāvaṇa kidnapping Sītā, the transcendental goddess of fortune, and the foolish persons’ misconceptions about personalities like Śrī Saṅkarṣaṇa.


“What to speak of the Yādavas who possess transcendental spiritual bodies, various other persons who are maintained by Kṛṣṇa are also not subjected to death. Was Kṛṣṇa unable to protect His own associates, the Yādavas? Therefore the Yādavas’ activities (such as giving up their bodies) are not real pastimes, rather it is most reasonable to accept that they returned to Goloka in their same bodies.


“If one argues that the Yādavas went back to Godhead in their own bodies, but since the Lord was present, they had no distress of separation from Him; but if the Lord was able to protect His own men, why didn’t He have other associates advent like the Yādavas and remain for some time with them in this world for the benefit of the living entities? The conclusive answer stated in this verse is that both the Lord and the Yādavas have uninterrupted affection for each other. Although the Lord is unlimitedly powerful, after causing the disappearance of the Yādavas, He thought, ‘What is the necessity for Me to remain in this world without the Yādavas?’ With this in mind, the Lord disclosed that His destination was the same as that attained by the Yādavas, who had returned to the Lord’s abode, and thus He no longer wished to keep His form in this world for even a moment, so He took it to His own abode.” (Krama-sandarbha)


“Śrī Śukadeva solaces Parīkṣit Mahārāja, who was distressed on hearing about the disappearance of the Lord and His associates from the eyes of the world, by describing the conclusive truths regarding the Lord’s pastimes. One should know that the Lord’s activities of birth and death like ordinary embodied souls are simply acts of illusion. They are neither factual nor real. Both the birth and death of living entities who possess bodies made of semen and blood are full of happiness and distress, but both the appearance and disappearance of the Supreme Lord, who possesses a spiritual body, are completely full of spiritual happiness. In the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa it is stated: ‘The form of Lord Hari is devoid of mundane abomination and delight, but words like “acceptance” and “rejection,” which are found in His activities, are to be understood as His appearance and disappearance.’ They are just like the exhibition of a magician, who (while remaining in his living state) manifests his and others’ false birth and death. Due to the curse of the sages, the Lord first personally created the great disturbance, the interfamily quarrel, and the interfamily fighting with weapons, and He thereafter joined the mortal Yādavas, took up a cane stalk weapon, and, after sporting with them for some time, killed them, all the while remaining aloof on the strength of His illusory energy.


“Although the Lord is supremely opulent and unlimitedly powerful, after sending the demigods who had merged among the Yādavas back to heaven, He did not personally desire to keep His body or His associate Yādavas’ bodies in this world; rather, He desired to make them disappear, because there was no need for them to remain in this world. In other words, the Lord had no need of the material world, but He had need of His own abode, Goloka. Since the Lord appeared in this world due to the prayers of Brahmā and the other demigods of heaven, again, simply by their prayers, the Lord exhibited to Brahmā and the other demigods of heaven His return to Vaikuṇṭha. This is clearly being explained in this verse. If one gives a contrary explanation to this, then it would contradict Uddhava’s statement in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.2.11), and it will be unacceptable to the pure devotees. That such an explanation is demoniac and unacceptable to the devotees was personally declared by Uddhava in the previous verse of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.2.10) as follows: ‘Being bewildered by the illusory energy of the Lord, those who were mortal Yādavas and those who were averse and inimical to the Lord, like Śiśupāla, criticized the Lord. My heart is surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, so let my intelligence never be bewildered by such criticism. In other words, those whose intelligence is bewildered by such criticism are certainly fooled by māyā.'” (Śrī Viśvanātha)


In his commentary on Mahābhārata (2.79-83) Śrī Madhvācārya has stated: “Nowhere is it mentioned that Lord Viṣṇu takes birth like an ordinary living entity, so where is the question of His death? He is not to be killed or bewildered by anyone. Where is the question of misery for the independent Supreme Lord, who is full of eternal bliss? Although the Supreme Lord Hari has mastery over the entire universe, He nevertheless exhibits Himself as weak as an ordinary farmer in the course of His eternal pastimes. But even though in the course of His pastimes He sometimes forgets His own identity, He sometimes searches for Sītā while suffering the distress of separation like a hen-pecked husband, and sometimes He is bound by the ropes of Indrajit, it should be known that these pastimes are simply meant for bewildering the demons. His pastimes like being bewildered by the arrows of the demons, wiping the blood from His open wound, inquiring from others like an ignorant person, and giving up His body and going to heaven are performed like the drama of an actor simply to bewilder the demons. The devotees, however, know these pastimes as illusory, in other words, they know that these pastimes are simply false deceit. The appearance and disappearance pastimes of Lord Śrī Hari are not like those of ordinary embodied living entities, rather they are all completely faultless. Apart from this, whatever reverses we see bewilder even simple, ignorant, pious persons and what to speak of the miscreants. It is to be understood that these pastimes of the Supersoul, Lord Hari, are to award fruits to the living entities according to their respective mentalities.”


From the same commentary on Mahābhārata (32.33-34) it is stated: “Although the Supreme Lord and master of all living entities, Acyuta, is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha, in His disappearance pastimes of incarnations in which He does not exhibit illusion or māyā during His appearance, He imitates an ordinary living entity giving up his body in order to bewilder the demons and send them to the darkest regions of hell by creating a material body that resembles a rejected dead body and, after leaving it lying on the ground, He personally goes to Vaikuṇṭha.”


One should refer to verses 18-36 of the Śudhi-saurabha section of the Yukti-mallikā, which was written by the lionlike logician, Śrī Vādarāja Svāmī, who is celebrated as the second Madhvācārya in the Śrī Mādhva-sampradāya. In verses 37-39 it is said: “If one sees sandalwood with his eyes, then knowledge about the fragrance of that sandalwood is obtained. In this process the eyes take the help of the nose, otherwise if one had not previously smelled the fragrance of sandalwood he could not obtain knowledge of its fragrance by seeing it with his eyes. Similarly, other evidence takes help from the Vedas to establish the meaning of knowledge acquired by hearing. Because the evidence of the Vedas is prominent in realization of transcendental subject matters, other evidence like pratyakṣa (direct perception) and anumāna(hypothesis), which are dependent on the Vedas, are unable to serve the purpose of understanding transcendental subject matters due to their conflicting nature. Therefore in considering the Absolute Truth, the faulty vision of ignorant people cannot be considered evidence.”


Apart from all this, one should carefully discuss Bhagavad-gītā, Chapter 4, verses 6, 9, and 14, Chapter 7, verses 6-7 and 24-25, Chapter 9, verses 8-9 and 11-13, Chapter 10, verses 3 and 8, and Chapter 16, verses 19 and 20.


The word ati-alakṣite is explained in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.31.8-9), wherein Śrī Śukadeva speaks to Śrī Parīkṣit as follows: “Most of the demigods and other higher beings led by Brahmā could not see Lord Kṛṣṇa as He was entering His own abode, since He did not reveal His movements. But some of them did catch sight of Him, and they were extremely amazed. Just as ordinary men cannot ascertain the path of a lightning bolt as it leaves a cloud, the demigods could not trace out the movements of Lord Kṛṣṇa as He returned to His abode. [Only His associates could see.]”


Mystery Behind Lord Krishna’s Disappearance




Jul 26, 2016 — VRINDAVAN DHAM (SUN) — An essay adapted from a commentary by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura on the disappearance of Laksmipriya Devi, the wife of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.



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