1.3: Krsna Is the Source of All Incarnations
jagrhe paurusam rupam
sutah uvaca — Suta said; jagrhe — accepted; paurusam — plenary portion as the purusa incarnation; rupam — form; bhagavan — the Personality of Godhead; mahat-adibhih — with the ingredients of the material world; sambhutam — thus there was the creation of; sodasa-kalam — sixteen primary principles; adau — in the beginning; loka — the universes; sisrksaya — on the intention of creating.
Suta said: In the beginning of the creation, the Lord first expanded Himself in the universal form of the purusa incarnation and manifested all the ingredients for the material creation.
And thus at first there was the creation of the sixteen principles of material action.
This was for the purpose of creating the material universe.
The Bhagavad-gita states that the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna maintains these material universes by extending His plenary expansions. So this purusa form is the confirmation of the same principle. The original Personality of Godhead Vasudeva, or Lord Krsna, who is famous as the son of King Vasudeva or King Nanda, is full with all opulences, all potencies, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation. Part of His opulences are manifested as impersonal Brahman, and part of His opulences are manifested as Paramatma. This purusa feature of the same Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna is the original Paramatma manifestation of the Lord. There are three purusa features in the material creation, and this form, who is known as the Karanodakasayi Visnu, is the first of the three. The others are known as the Garbhodakasayi Visnu and the Ksirodakasayi Visnu, which we shall know one after another. The innumerable universes are generated from the skin holes of this Karanodakasayi Visnu, and in each one of the universes the Lord enters as Garbhodakasayi Visnu.
In the Bhagavad-gita it is also mentioned that the material world is created at certain intervals and then again destroyed. This creation and destruction is done by the supreme will because of the conditioned souls, or the nitya-baddha living beings. The nitya-baddha, or the eternally conditioned souls, have the sense of individuality or ahankara, which dictates them sense enjoyment, which they are unable to have constitutionally. The Lord is the only enjoyer, and all others are enjoyed. The living beings are predominated enjoyers. But the eternally conditioned souls, forgetful of this constitutional position, have strong aspirations to enjoy. The chance to enjoy matter is given to the conditioned souls in the material world, and side by side they are given the chance to understand their real constitutional position. Those fortunate living entities who catch the truth and surrender unto the lotus feet of Vasudeva after many, many births in the material world join the eternally liberated souls and thus are allowed to enter into the kingdom of Godhead. After this, such fortunate living entities need not come again within the occasional material creation. But those who cannot catch the constitutional truth are again merged into the mahat-tattva at the time of the annihilation of the material creation. When the creation is again set up, this mahat-tattva is again let loose.
This mahat-tattva contains all the ingredients of the material manifestations, including the conditioned souls. Primarily this mahat-tattva is divided into sixteen parts, namely the five gross material elements and the eleven working instruments or senses. It is like the cloud in the clear sky. In the spiritual sky, the effulgence of Brahman is spread all around, and the whole system is dazzling in spiritual light. The mahat-tattva is assembled in some corner of the vast, unlimited spiritual sky, and the part which is thus covered by the mahat-tattva is called the material sky. This part of the spiritual sky, called the mahat-tattva, is only an insignificant portion of the whole spiritual sky, and within this mahat-tattva there are innumerable universes. All these universes are collectively produced by the Karanodakasayi Visnu, called also the Maha-Visnu, who simply throws His glance to impregnate the material sky.
brahma visva-srjam patih
yasya — whose; ambhasi — in the water; sayanasya — lying down; yoga-nidram — sleeping in meditation; vitanvatah — ministering; nabhi — navel; hrada — out of the lake; ambujat — from the lotus; asit — was manifested; brahma — the grandfather of the living beings; visva — the universe; srjam — the engineers; patih — master.
A part of the purusa lies down within the water of the universe, from the navel lake of His body sprouts a lotus stem, and from the lotus flower atop this stem, Brahma, the master of all engineers in the universe, becomes manifest.
The first purusa is the Karanodakasayi Visnu. From His skin holes innumerable universes have sprung up. In each and every universe, the purusa enters as the Garbhodakasayi Visnu. He is lying within the half of the universe which is full with the water of His body. And from the navel of Garbhodakasayi Visnu has sprung the stem of the lotus flower, the birthplace of Brahma, who is the father of all living beings and the master of all the demigod engineers engaged in the perfect design and working of the universal order. Within the stem of the lotus there are fourteen divisions of planetary systems, and the earthly planets are situated in the middle. Upwards there are other, better planetary systems, and the topmost system is called Brahmaloka or Satyaloka. Downwards from the earthly planetary system there are seven lower planetary systems inhabited by the asuras and similar other materialistic living beings.
From Garbhodakasayi Visnu there is expansion of the Ksirodakasayi Visnu, who is the collective Paramatma of all living beings. He is called Hari, and from Him all incarnations within the universe are expanded.
Therefore, the conclusion is that the purusa-avatara is manifested in three features — first the Karanodakasayi who creates aggregate material ingredients in the mahat-tattva, second the Garbhodakasayi who enters in each and every universe, and third the Ksirodakasayi Visnu who is the Paramatma of every material object, organic or inorganic. One who knows these plenary features of the Personality of Godhead knows Godhead properly, and thus the knower becomes freed from the material conditions of birth, death, old age and disease, as it is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita, In this sloka the subject matter of Maha-Visnu is summarized. The Maha-Visnu lies down in some part of the spiritual sky by His own free will. Thus He lies on the ocean of karana, from where He glances over His material nature, and the mahat-tattva is at once created. Thus electrified by the power of the Lord, the material nature at once creates innumerable universes, just as in due course a tree decorates itself with innumerable grown fruits. The seed of the tree is sown by the cultivator, and the tree or creeper in due course becomes manifested with so many fruits. Nothing can take place without a cause. The Karana Ocean is therefore called the Causal Ocean. Karana means “causal.” We should not foolishly accept the atheistic theory of creation. The description of the atheists is given in the Bhagavad-gita. The atheist does not believe in the creator, but he cannot give a good theory to explain the creation. Material nature has no power to create without the power of the purusa, just as a prakrti, or woman, cannot produce a child without the connection of a purusa, or man. The purusa impregnates, and the prakrti delivers. We should not expect milk from the fleshy bags on the neck of a goat, although they look like breastly nipples. Similarly, we should not expect any creative power from the material ingredients; we must believe in the power of the purusa, who impregnates prakrti, or nature. Because the Lord wished to lie down in meditation, the material energy created innumerable universes at once, in each of them the Lord lay down, and thus all the planets and the different paraphernalia were created at once by the will of the Lord. The Lord has unlimited potencies, and thus He can act as He likes by perfect planning, although personally He has nothing to do. No one is greater than or equal to Him. That is the verdict of the Vedas.
tad vai bhagavato rupam
visuddham sattvam urjitam
yasya — whose; avayava — bodily expansion; samsthanaih — situated in; kalpitah — is imagined; loka — planets of inhabitants; vistarah — various; tat vai — but that is; bhagavatah — of the Personality of Godhead; rupam — form; visuddham — purely; sattvam — existence; urjitam — excellence.
It is believed that all the universal planetary systems are situated on the extensive body of the purusa, but He has nothing to do with the created material ingredients.
His body is eternally in spiritual existence par excellence.
The conception of the virat-rupa or visva-rupa of the Supreme Absolute Truth is especially meant for the neophyte who can hardly think of the transcendental form of the Personality of Godhead. To him a form means something of this material world, and therefore an opposite conception of the Absolute is necessary in the beginning to concentrate the mind on the power extension of the Lord. As stated above, the Lord extends His potency in the form of the mahat-tattva, which includes all material ingredients. The extension of power by the Lord and the Lord Himself personally are one in one sense, but at the same time the mahat-tattva is different from the Lord. Therefore the potency of the Lord and the Lord are simultaneously different and nondifferent. The conception of the virat-rupa, especially for the impersonalist, is thus nondifferent from the eternal form of the Lord. This eternal form of the Lord exists prior to the creation of the mahat-tattva, and it is stressed here that the eternal form of the Lord is par excellence spiritual or transcendental to the modes of material nature. The very same transcendental form of the Lord is manifested by His internal potency, and the formation of His multifarious manifestations of incarnations is always of the same transcendental quality, without any touch of the mahat-tattva.
pasyanty ado rupam adabhra-caksusa
pasyanti — see; adah — the form of the purusa; rupam — form; adabhra — perfect; caksusa — by the eyes; sahasra-pada — thousands of legs; uru — thighs; bhuja-anana — hands and faces; adbhutam — wonderful; sahasra — thousands of; murdha — heads; sravana — ears; aksi — eyes; nasikam — noses; sahasra — thousands; mauli — garlands; ambara — dresses; kundala — earrings; ullasat — all glowing.
The devotees, with their perfect eyes, see the transcendental form of the purusa who has thousands of legs, thighs, arms and faces-all extraordinary. In that body there are thousands of heads, ears, eyes and noses. They are decorated with thousands of helmets and glowing earrings and are adorned with garlands.
With our present materialized senses we cannot perceive anything of the transcendental Lord. Our present senses are to be rectified by the process of devotional service, and then the Lord Himself becomes revealed to us. In the Bhagavad-gita it is confirmed that the transcendental Lord can be perceived only by pure devotional service. So it is confirmed in the Vedas that only devotional service can lead one to the side of the Lord and that only devotional service can reveal Him. In the Brahma-samhita also it is said that the Lord is always visible to the devotees whose eyes have been anointed with the tinge of devotional service. So we have to take information of the transcendental form of the Lord from persons who have actually seen Him with perfect eyes smeared with devotional service. In the material world also we do not always see things with our own eyes; we sometimes see through the experience of those who have actually seen or done things. If that is the process for experiencing a mundane object, it is more perfectly applicable in matters transcendental. So only with patience and perseverance can we realize the transcendental subject matter regarding the Absolute Truth and His different forms. He is formless to the neophytes, but He is in transcendental form to the expert servitor.
nidhanam bijam avyayam
etat — this (form); nana — multifarious; avataranam — of the incarnations; nidhanam — source; bijam — seed; avyayam — indestructible; yasya — whose; amsa — plenary portion; amsena — part of the plenary portion; srjyante — create; deva — demigods; tiryak — animals; nara-adayah — human beings and others.
This form [the second manifestation of the purusa] is the source and indestructible seed of multifarious incarnations within the universe. From the particles and portions of this form, different living entities, like demigods, men and others, are created.
The purusa, after creating innumerable universes in the mahat-tattva, entered in each of them as the second purusa, Garbhodakasayi Visnu. When He saw that within the universe there was only darkness and space, without a resting place, He filled half of the universe with water from His own perspiration and laid Himself down on the same water. This water is called Garbhodaka. Then from His navel the stem of the lotus flower sprouted, and on the flower petals the birth of Brahma, or the master engineer of the universal plan, took place. Brahma became the engineer of the universe, and the Lord Himself took charge of the maintenance of the universe as Visnu. Brahma was generated from rajo-guna of prakrti, or the mode of passion in nature, and Visnu became the Lord of the mode of goodness. Visnu, being transcendental to all the modes, is always aloof from materialistic affection. This has already been explained. From Brahma there is Rudra (Siva), who is in charge of the mode of ignorance or darkness. He destroys the whole creation by the will of the Lord. Therefore all three, namely Brahma, Visnu and Siva, are incarnations of the Garbhodakasayi Visnu. From Brahma the other demigods like Daksa, Marici, Manu and many others become incarnated to generate living entities within the universe. This Garbhodakasayi Visnu is glorified in the Vedas in the hymns of Garbha-stuti, which begin with the description of the Lord as having thousands of heads, etc. The Garbhodakasayi Visnu is the Lord of the universe, and although He appears to be lying within the universe, He is always transcendental. This also has already been explained. The Visnu who is the plenary portion of the Garbhodakasayi Visnu is the Supersoul of the universal life, and He is known as the maintainer of the universe or Ksirodakasayi Visnu. So the three features of the original purusa are thus understood. And all the incarnations within the universe are emanations from this Ksirodakasayi Visnu.
In different millennia there are different incarnations, and they are innumerable, although some of them are very prominent, such as Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Rama, Nrsimha, Vamana and many others. These incarnations are called lila incarnations.
Then there are qualitative incarnations such as Brahma, Visnu, and Siva (or Rudra) who take charge of the different modes of material nature.
Lord Visnu is nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead. Lord Siva is in the marginal position between the Personality of Godhead and the living entities, or jivas.
Brahma is always a jiva-tattva. The highest pious living being, or the greatest devotee of the Lord, is empowered with the potency of the Lord for creation, and he is called Brahma. His power is like the power of the sun reflected in valuable stones and jewels. When there is no such living being to take charge of the post of Brahma, the Lord Himself becomes a Brahma and takes charge of the post.
Lord Siva is not an ordinary living being. He is the plenary portion of the Lord, but because Lord Siva is in direct touch with material nature, he is not exactly in the same transcendental position as Lord Visnu. The difference is like that between milk and curd. Curd is nothing but milk, and yet it cannot be used in place of milk.
The next incarnations are the Manus. Within one day’s duration of the life of Brahma (which is calculated by our solar year as 4,300,000 x 1,000 years) there are fourteen Manus. Therefore there are 420 Manus in one month of Brahma and 5,040 Manus in one year of Brahma. Brahma lives for one hundred years of his age, and therefore there are 5,040 x 100 or 504,000 Manus in the duration of Brahma’s life. There are innumerable universes, with one Brahma in each of them, and all of them are created and annihilated during the breathing time of the purusa. Therefore one can simply imagine how many millions of Manus there are during one breath of the purusa.
The Manus who are prominent within this universe are as follows: Yajna as Svayambhuva Manu, Vibhu as Svarocisa Manu, Satyasena as Uttama Manu, Hari as Tamasa Manu, Vaikuntha as Raivata Manu, Ajita as Caksusa Manu, Vamana as Vaivasvata Manu (the present age is under the Vaivasvata Manu), Sarvabhauma as Savarni Manu, Rsabha as Daksasavarni Manu, Visvaksena as Brahma-savarni Manu, Dharmasetu as Dharma-savarni Manu, Sudhama as Rudra-savarni Manu, Yogesvara as Deva-savarni Manu, and Brhadbhanu as Indra-savarni Manu. These are the names of one set of fourteen Manus covering 4,300,000,000 solar years as described above.
Then there are the yugavataras, or the incarnations of the millennia. The yugas are known as Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga and Kali-yuga. The incarnations of each yuga are of different color. The colors are white, red, black and yellow. In the Dvapara-yuga, Lord Krsna in black color appeared, and in the Kali-yuga Lord Caitanya in yellow color appeared.
So all the incarnations of the Lord are mentioned in the revealed scriptures. There is no scope for an imposter to become an incarnation, for an incarnation must be mentioned in the sastras. An incarnation does not declare Himself to be an incarnation of the Lord, but great sages agree by the symptoms mentioned in the revealed scriptures. The features of the incarnation and the particular type of mission which He has to execute are mentioned in the revealed scriptures.
Apart from the direct incarnations, there are innumerable empowered incarnations. They are also mentioned in the revealed scriptures. Such incarnations are directly as well as indirectly empowered. When they are directly empowered they are called incarnations, but when they are indirectly empowered they are called vibhutis. Directly empowered incarnations are the Kumaras, Narada, Prthu, Sesa, Ananta, etc.
As far as vibhutis are concerned, they are very explicitly described in the Bhagavad-gita in the Vibhuti-yoga chapter. And for all these different types of incarnations, the fountainhead is the Garbhodakasayi Visnu.
sa eva prathamam devah
kaumaram sargam asritah
cacara duscaram brahma
sah — that; eva — certainly; prathamam — first; devah — Supreme Lord; kaumaram — named the Kumaras (unmarried); sargam — creation; asritah — under; cacara — performed; duscaram — very difficult to do; brahma — in the order of Brahman; brahmacaryam — under discipline to realize the Absolute (Brahman); akhanditam — unbroken.
First of all, in the beginning of creation, there were the four unmarried sons of Brahma [the Kumaras], who, being situated in a vow of celibacy, underwent severe austerities for realization of the Absolute Truth.
The creation of the material world is effected, maintained and then again annihilated at certain intervals. So there are different names of the creations in terms of the particular types of Brahma, the father of the living beings in the creation. The Kumaras, as above mentioned, appeared in the Kaumara creation of the material world, and to teach us the process of Brahman realization, they underwent a severe type of disciplinary action as bachelors. These Kumaras are empowered incarnations. And before executing the severe type of disciplinary actions, all of them became qualified brahmanas. This example suggests that one must first acquire the qualifications of a brahmana, not simply by birth but also by quality, and then one can undergo the process of Brahman realization.
dvitiyam tu bhavayasya
yajnesah saukaram vapuh
dvitiyam — the second; tu — but; bhavaya — for the welfare; asya — of this earth; rasatala — of the lowest region; gatam — having gone; mahim — the earth; uddharisyan — lifting; upadatta — established; yajnesah — the proprietor or the supreme enjoyer; saukaram — hoggish; vapuh — incarnation.
The supreme enjoyer of all sacrifices accepted the incarnation of a boar [the second incarnation], and for the welfare of the earth He lifted the earth from the nether regions of the universe.
The indication is that for each and every incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, the particular function executed is also mentioned. There cannot be any incarnation without a particular function, and such functions are always extraordinary. They are impossible for any living being to perform. The incarnation of the boar was to take the earth out of Pluto’s region of filthy matter. Picking up something from a filthy place is done by a boar, and the all-powerful Personality of Godhead displayed this wonder to the asuras, who had hidden the earth in such a filthy place. There is nothing impossible for the Personality of Godhead, and although He played the part of a boar, by the devotees He is worshiped, staying always in transcendence.
trtiyam rsi-sargam vai
devarsitvam upetya sah
tantram satvatam acasta
naiskarmyam karmanam yatah
trtiyam — the third one; rsi-sargam — the millennium of the rsis; vai — certainly; devarsitvam — incarnation of the rsi amongst the demigods; upetya — having accepted; sah — he; tantram — exposition of the Vedas; satvatam — which is especially meant for devotional service; acasta — collected; naiskarmyam — nonfruitive; karmanam — of work; yatah — from which.
In the millennium of the rsis, the Personality of Godhead accepted the third empowered incarnation in the form of Devarsi Narada, who is a great sage among the demigods. He collected expositions of the Vedas which deal with devotional service and which inspire nonfruitive action.
The great Rsi Narada, who is an empowered incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, propagates devotional service all over the universe. All great devotees of the Lord all over the universe and in different planets and species of life are his disciples. Srila Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, is also one of his disciples. Narada is the author of Narada-pancaratra, which is the exposition of the Vedas particularly for the devotional service of the Lord. This Narada-pancaratra trains the karmis, or the fruitive workers, to achieve liberation from the bondage of fruitive work. The conditioned souls are mostly attracted by fruitive work because they want to enjoy life by the sweat of their own brows. The whole universe is full of fruitive workers in all species of life. The fruitive works include all kinds of economic development plans. But the law of nature provides that every action has its resultant reaction, and the performer of the work is bound up by such reactions, good or bad. The reaction of good work is comparative material prosperity, whereas the reaction of bad work is comparative material distress. But material conditions, either in so-called happiness or in so-called distress, are all meant ultimately for distress only. Foolish materialists have no information of how to obtain eternal happiness in the unconditional state. Sri Narada informs these foolish fruitive workers how to realize the reality of happiness. He gives direction to the diseased men of the world how one’s present engagement can lead one to the path of spiritual emancipation. The physician directs the patient to take treated milk in the form of curd for his sufferings from indigestion due to his taking another milk preparation. So the cause of the disease and the remedy of the disease may be the same, but it must be treated by an expert physician like Narada. The Bhagavad-gita also gives the same solution of serving the Lord by the fruits of one’s labor. That will lead one to the path of naiskarmya, or liberation.
akarod duscaram tapah
turye — in the fourth of the line; dharma-kala — wife of Dharmaraja; sarge — being born of; nara-narayanau — named Nara and Narayana; rsi — sages; bhutva — becoming; atma-upasama — controlling the senses; upetam — for achievement of; akarot — undertook; duscaram — very strenuous; tapah — penance.
In the fourth incarnation, the Lord became Nara and Narayana, the twin sons of the wife of King Dharma. Thus He undertook severe and exemplary penances to control the senses.
As King Rsabha advised His sons, tapasya, or voluntary acceptance of penance for realization of the Transcendence, is the only duty of the human being; it was so done by the Lord Himself in an exemplary manner to teach us. The Lord is very kind to the forgetful souls. He therefore comes Himself and leaves behind necessary instructions and also sends His good sons as representatives to call all the conditioned souls back to Godhead. Recently, within the memory of everyone, Lord Caitanya also appeared for the same purpose: to show special favor to fallen souls of this age of iron industry. The incarnation of Narayana is worshiped still at Badari-narayana, on the range of the Himalayas.
pancamah kapilo nama
pancamah — the fifth one; kapilah — Kapila; nama — of the name; siddhesah — the foremost amongst the perfect; kala — time; viplutam — lost; provaca — said; asuraye — unto the brahmana named Asuri; sankhyam — metaphysics; tattva-grama — the sum total of the creative elements; vinirnayam — exposition.
The fifth incarnation, named Lord Kapila, is foremost among perfected beings. He gave an exposition of the creative elements and metaphysics to Asuri Brahmana, for in course of time this knowledge had been lost.
The sum total of the creative elements is twenty-four in all. Each and every one of them is explicitly explained in the system of Sankhya philosophy. Sankhya philosophy is generally called metaphysics by the European scholars. The etymological meaning of sankhya is “that which explains very lucidly by analysis of the material elements.” This was done for the first time by Lord Kapila, who is said herein to be the fifth in the line of incarnations.
sastham atrer apatyatvam
vrtah prapto ‘nasuyaya
sastham — the sixth one; atreh — of Atri; apatyatvam — sonship; vrtah — being prayed for; praptah — obtained; anasuyaya — by Anasuya; anviksikim — on the subject of transcendence; alarkaya — unto Alarka; prahlada-adibhyah — unto Prahlada and others; ucivan — spoke.
The sixth incarnation of the purusa was the son of the sage Atri. He was born from the womb of Anasuya, who prayed for an incarnation. He spoke on the subject of transcendence to Alarka, Prahlada and others [Yadu, Haihaya, etc.].
The Lord incarnated Himself as Dattatreya, the son of Rsi Atri and Anasuya. The history of the birth of Dattatreya as an incarnation of the Lord is mentioned in the Brahmanda Purana in connection with the story of the devoted wife. It is said there that Anasuya, the wife of Rsi Atri, prayed before the Lords Brahma, Visnu and Siva as follows:
“My lords, if you are pleased with me, and if you desire me to ask from you some sort of blessings, then I pray that you combine together to become my son.”
This was accepted by the lords, and as Dattatreya the Lord expounded the philosophy of the spirit soul and especially instructed Alarka, Prahlada, Yadu, Haihaya, etc.
tatah saptama akutyam
rucer yajno ‘bhyajayata
sa yamadyaih sura-ganair
tatah — after that; saptame — the seventh in the line; akutyam — in the womb of Akuti; ruceh — by Prajapati Ruci; yajnah — the Lord’s incarnation as Yajna; abhyajayata — advented; sah — He; yama-adyaih — with Yama and others; sura-ganaih — with demigods; apat — ruled; svayambhuva-antaram — the change of the period of Svayambhuva Manu.
The seventh incarnation was Yajna, the son of Prajapati Ruci and his wife Akuti. He controlled the period during the change of the Svayambhuva Manu and was assisted by demigods such as His son Yama.
The administrative posts occupied by the demigods for maintaining the regulations of the material world are offered to the highly elevated pious living beings. When there is a scarcity of such pious living beings, the Lord incarnates Himself as Brahma, Prajapati, Indra, etc., and takes up the charge. During the period of Svayambhuva Manu (the present period is of Vaivasvata Manu) there was no suitable living being who could occupy the post of Indra, the King of the Indraloka (heaven) planet. The Lord Himself at that time became Indra. Assisted by His own sons like Yama and other demigods, Lord Yajna ruled the administration of the universal affairs.
astame merudevyam tu
nabher jata urukramah
darsayan vartma dhiranam
astame — the eighth of the incarnations; merudevyam tu — in the womb of Merudevi, the wife of; nabheh — King Nabhi; jatah — took birth; urukramah — the all-powerful Lord; darsayan — by showing; vartma — the way; dhiranam — of the perfect beings; sarva — all; asrama — orders of life; namaskrtam — honored by.
The eighth incarnation was King Rsabha, son of King Nabhi and his wife Merudevi. In this incarnation the Lord showed the path of perfection, which is followed by those who have fully controlled their senses and who are honored by all orders of life.
The society of human being is naturally divided into eight by orders and statuses of life — the four divisions of occupation and four divisions of cultural advancement. The intelligent class, the administrative class, the productive class and the laborer class are the four divisions of occupation. And the student life, the householder’s life, retired life and renounced life are the four statuses of cultural advancement towards the path of spiritual realization. Out of these, the renounced order of life, or the order of sannyasa, is considered the highest of all, and a sannyasi is constitutionally the spiritual master for all the orders and divisions. In the sannyasa order also there are four stages of upliftment toward perfection. These stages are called kuticaka, bahudaka, parivrajakacarya, and paramahamsa. The paramahamsa stage of life is the highest stage of perfection. This order of life is respected by all others. Maharaja Rsabha, the son of King Nabhi and Merudevi, was an incarnation of the Lord, and He instructed His sons to follow the path of perfection by tapasya, which sanctifies one’s existence and enables one to attain the stage of spiritual happiness which is eternal and ever increasing. Every living being is searching after happiness, but no one knows where eternal and unlimited happiness is obtainable. Foolish men seek after material sense pleasure as a substitute for real happiness, but such foolish men forget that temporary so-called happiness derived from sense pleasures is also enjoyed by the dogs and hogs. No animal, bird or beast is bereft of this sense pleasure. In every species of life, including the human form of life, such happiness is immensely obtainable. The human form of life, however, is not meant for such cheap happiness. The human life is meant for attaining eternal and unlimited happiness by spiritual realization. This spiritual realization is obtained by tapasya, or undergoing voluntarily the path of penance and abstinence from material pleasure. Those who have been trained for abstinence in material pleasures are called dhira, or men undisturbed by the senses. Only these dhiras can accept the orders of sannyasa, and they can gradually rise to the status of the paramahamsa, which is adored by all members of society. King Rsabha propagated this mission, and at the last stage He became completely aloof from the material bodily needs, which is a rare stage not to be imitated by foolish men, but to be worshiped by all.
rsibhir yacito bheje
navamam parthivam vapuh
dugdhemam osadhir vipras
tenayam sa usattamah
rsibhih — by the sages; yacitah — being prayed for; bheje — accepted; navamam — the ninth one; parthivam — the ruler of the earth; vapuh — body; dugdha — milking; imam — all these; osadhih — products of the earth; viprah — O brahmanas; tena — by; ayam — this; sah — he; usattamah — beautifully attractive.
O brahmanas, in the ninth incarnation, the Lord, prayed for by sages, accepted the body of a king [Prthu] who cultivated the land to yield various produces, and for that reason the earth was beautiful and attractive.
Before the advent of King Prthu, there was great havoc of maladministration due to the vicious life of the previous king, the father of Maharaja Prthu. The intelligent class of men (namely the sages and the brahmanas) not only prayed for the Lord to come down, but also dethroned the previous king. It is the duty of the king to be pious and thus look after the all-around welfare of the citizens. Whenever there is some negligence on the part of the king in discharging his duty, the intelligent class of men must dethrone him. The intelligent class of men, however, do not occupy the royal throne, because they have much more important duties for the welfare of the public. Instead of occupying the royal throne, they prayed for the incarnation of the Lord, and the Lord came as Maharaja Prthu. Real intelligent men, or qualified brahmanas, never aspire for political posts. Maharaja Prthu excavated many produces from the earth, and thus not only did the citizens become happy to have such a good king, but the complete sight of the earth also became beautiful and attractive.
rupam sa jagrhe matsyam
navy aropya mahi-mayyam
apad vaivasvatam manum
rupam — form; sah — He; jagrhe — accepted; matsyam — of a fish; caksusa — Caksusa; udadhi — water; samplave — inundation; navi — on the boat; aropya — keeping on; mahi — the earth; mayyam — drowned in; apat — protected; vaivasvatam — Vaivasvata; manum — Manu, the father of man.
When there was a complete inundation after the period of the Caksusa Manu and the whole world was deep within water, the Lord accepted the form of a fish and protected Vaivasvata Manu, keeping him up on a boat.
According to Sripada Sridhara Svami, the original commentator on the Bhagavatam, there is not always a devastation after the change of every Manu. And yet this inundation after the period of Caksusa Manu took place in order to show some wonders to Satyavrata. But Sri Jiva Gosvami has given definite proofs from authoritative scriptures (like Visnu-dharmottara, Markandeya Purana, Harivamsa, etc.) that there is always a devastation after the end of each and every Manu. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti has also supported Srila Jiva Gosvami, and he (Sri Cakravarti) has also quoted from Bhagavatamrta about this inundation after each Manu.
Apart from this, the Lord, in order to show special favor to Satyavrata, a devotee of the Lord, in this particular period, incarnated Himself.
prstha ekadase vibhuh
sura — the theists; asuranam — of the atheists; udadhim — in the ocean; mathnatam — churning; mandaracalam — the Mandaracala Hill; dadhre — sustained; kamatha — tortoise; rupena — in the form of; prsthe — shell; ekadase — the eleventh in the line; vibhuh — the great.
The eleventh incarnation of the Lord took the form of a tortoise whose shell served as a pivot for the Mandaracala Hill, which was being used as a churning rod by the theists and atheists of the universe.
Once both the atheists and the theists were engaged in producing nectar from the sea so that all of them could become deathless by drinking it. At that time the Mandaracala Hill was used as the churning rod, and the shell of Lord Tortoise, the incarnation of Godhead, became the resting place (pivot) of the hill in the seawater.
trayodasamam eva ca
apayayat suran anyan
mohinya mohayan striya
dhanvantaram — the incarnation of Godhead named Dhanvantari; dvadasamam — the twelfth in the line; trayodasamam — the thirteenth in the line; eva — certainly; ca — and; apayayat — gave to drink; suran — the demigods; anyan — others; mohinya — by charming beauty; mohayan — alluring; striya — in the form of a woman.
In the twelfth incarnation, the Lord appeared as Dhanvantari, and in the thirteenth He allured the atheists by the charming beauty of a woman and gave nectar to the demigods to drink.
bibhrad daityendram urjitam
dadara karajair urav
erakam kata-krd yatha
caturdasam — the fourteenth in the line; nara-simham — the incarnation of the Lord as half-man and half-lion; bibhrat — advented; daitya-indram — the king of the atheists; urjitam — strongly built; dadara — bifurcated; karajaih — by the nails; urau — on the lap; erakam — canes; kata-krt — carpenter; yatha — just like.
In the fourteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as Nrsimha and bifurcated the strong body of the atheist Hiranyakasipu with His nails, just as a carpenter pierces cane.
krtvagad adhvaram baleh
pancadasam — the fifteenth in the line; vamanakam — the dwarf brahmana; krtva — by assumption of; agat — went; adhvaram — arena of sacrifice; baleh — of King Bali; pada-trayam — three steps only; yacamanah — begging; pratyaditsuh — willing at heart to return; tri-pistapam — the kingdom of the three planetary systems.
In the fifteenth incarnation, the Lord assumed the form of a dwarf-brahmana [Vamana] and visited the arena of sacrifice arranged by Maharaja Bali. Although at heart He was willing to regain the kingdom of the three planetary systems, He simply asked for a donation of three steps of land.
The Almighty God can bestow upon anyone the kingdom of the universe from a very small beginning, and similarly, He can take away the kingdom of the universe on the plea of begging a small piece of land.
pasyan brahma-druho nrpan
nih-ksatram akaron mahim
avatare — in the incarnation of the Lord; sodasame — the sixteenth; pasyan — seeing; brahma-druhah — disobedient to the orders of the brahmanas; nrpan — the kingly order; trih-sapta — thrice seven times; krtvah — had done; kupitah — being engaged; nih — negation; ksatram — the administrative class; akarot — did perform; mahim — the earth.
In the sixteenth incarnation of the Godhead, the Lord [as Bhrgupati] annihilated the administrative class [ksatriyas] twenty-one times, being angry with them because of their rebellion against the brahmanas [the intelligent class].
The ksatriyas, or the administrative class of men, are expected to rule the planet by the direction of the intelligent class of men, who give direction to the rulers in terms of the standard sastras, or the books of revealed knowledge. The rulers carry on the administration according to that direction. Whenever there is disobedience on the part of the ksatriyas, or the administrative class, against the orders of the learned and intelligent brahmanas, the administrators are removed by force from the posts, and arrangement is made for better administration.
tatah saptadase jatah
cakre veda-taroh sakha
drstva pumso ‘lpa-medhasah
tatah — thereafter; saptadase — in the seventeenth incarnation; jatah — advented; satyavatyam — in the womb of Satyavati; parasarat — by Parasara Muni; cakre — prepared; veda-taroh — of the desire tree of the Vedas; sakhah — branches; drstva — be seeing; pumsah — the people in general; alpa-medhasah — less intelligent.
Thereafter, in the seventeenth incarnation of Godhead, Sri Vyasadeva appeared in the womb of Satyavati through Parasara Muni, and he divided the one Veda into several branches and subbranches, seeing that the people in general were less intelligent.
Originally the Veda is one. But Srila Vyasadeva divided the original Veda into four, namely Sama, Yajur, Rg, Atharva, and then again they were explained in different branches like the Puranas and the Mahabharata. Vedic language and the subject matter are very difficult for ordinary men. They are understood by the highly intelligent and self-realized brahmanas. But the present age of Kali is full of ignorant men. Even those who are born by a brahmana father are, in the present age, no better than the sudras or the women. The twice-born men, namely the brahmanas, ksatriyas and vaisyas, are expected to undergo a cultural purificatory process known as samskaras, but because of the bad influence of the present age the so-called members of the brahmana and other high-order families are no longer highly cultured. They are called the dvija-bandhus, or the friends and family members of the twice-born. But these dvija-bandhus are classified amongst the sudras and the women. Srila Vyasadeva divided the Vedas into various branches and subbranches for the sake of the less intelligent classes like the dvija-bandhus, sudras and women.
cakre viryany atah param
nara — human being; devatvam — divinity; apannah — having assumed the form of; sura — the demigods; karya — activities; cikirsaya — for the purpose of performing; samudra — the Indian Ocean; nigraha-adini — controlling, etc.; cakre — did perform; viryani — superhuman prowess; atah param — thereafter.
In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King Rama. In order to perform some pleasing work for the demigods, He exhibited superhuman powers by controlling the Indian Ocean and then killing the atheist King Ravana, who was on the other side of the sea.
The Personality of Godhead Sri Rama assumed the form of a human being and appeared on the earth for the purpose of doing some pleasing work for the demigods or the administrative personalities to maintain the order of the universe. Sometimes great demons and atheists like Ravana and Hiranyakasipu and many others become very famous due to advancing material civilization by the help of material science and other activities with a spirit of challenging the established order of the Lord. For example, the attempt to fly to other planets by material means is a challenge to the established order. The conditions of each and every planet are different, and different classes of human beings are accommodated there for particular purposes mentioned in the codes of the Lord. But, puffed up by tiny success in material advancement, sometimes the godless materialists challenge the existence of God. Ravana was one of them, and he wanted to deport ordinary men to the planet of Indra (heaven) by material means without consideration of the necessary qualifications. He wanted a staircase to be built up directly reaching the heavenly planet so that people might not be required to undergo the routine of pious work necessary to enter that planet. He also wanted to perform other acts against the established rule of the Lord. He even challenged the authority of Sri Rama, the Personality of Godhead, and kidnapped His wife, Sita. Of course Lord Rama came to chastise this atheist, answering the prayer and desire of the demigods. He therefore took up the challenge of Ravana, and the complete activity is the subject matter of the Ramayana. Because Lord Ramacandra was the Personality of Godhead, He exhibited superhuman activities which no human being, including the materially advanced Ravana, could perform. Lord Ramacandra prepared a royal road on the Indian Ocean with stones that floated on the water. The modern scientists have done research in the area of weightlessness, but it is not possible to bring in weightlessness anywhere and everywhere. But because weightlessness is the creation of the Lord by which He can make the gigantic planets fly and float in the air, He made the stones even within this earth to be weightless and prepared a stone bridge on the sea without any supporting pillar. That is the display of the power of God.
vrsnisu prapya janmani
rama-krsnav iti bhuvo
bhagavan aharad bharam
ekonavimse — in the nineteenth; vimsatime — in the twentieth also; vrsnisu — in the Vrsni dynasty; prapya — having obtained; janmani — births; rama — Balarama; krsnau — Sri Krsna; iti — thus; bhuvah — of the world; bhagavan — the Personality of Godhead; aharat — removed; bharam — burden.
In the nineteenth and twentieth incarnations, the Lord advented Himself as Lord Balarama and Lord Krsna in the family of Vrsni [the Yadu dynasty], and by so doing He removed the burden of the world.
The specific mention of the word bhagavan in this text indicates that Balarama and Krsna are original forms of the Lord. This will be further explained later. Lord Krsna is not an incarnation of the purusa, as we learned from the beginning of this chapter. He is directly the original Personality of Godhead, and Balarama is the first plenary manifestation of the Lord. From Baladeva the first phalanx of plenary expansions, Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Aniruddha and Pradyumna, expands. Lord Sri Krsna is Vasudeva, and Baladeva is Sankarsana.
tatah kalau sampravrtte
tatah — thereafter; kalau — the age of Kali; sampravrtte — having ensued; sammohaya — for the purpose of deluding; sura — the theists; dvisam — those who are envious; buddhah — Lord Buddha; namna — of the name; anjana-sutah — whose mother was Anjana; kikatesu — in the province of Gaya (Bihar); bhavisyati — will take place.
Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist.
Lord Buddha, a powerful incarnation of the Personality of Godhead, appeared in the province of Gaya (Bihar) as the son of Anjana, and he preached his own conception of nonviolence and deprecated even the animal sacrifices sanctioned in the Vedas. At the time when Lord Buddha appeared, the people in general were atheistic and preferred animal flesh to anything else. On the plea of Vedic sacrifice, every place was practically turned into a slaughterhouse, and animal-killing was indulged in unrestrictedly. Lord Buddha preached nonviolence, taking pity on the poor animals. He preached that he did not believe in the tenets of the Vedas and stressed the adverse psychological effects incurred by animal-killing. Less intelligent men of the age of Kali, who had no faith in God, followed his principle, and for the time being they were trained in moral discipline and nonviolence, the preliminary steps for proceeding further on the path of God realization. He deluded the atheists because such atheists who followed his principles did not believe in God, but they kept their absolute faith in Lord Buddha, who himself was the incarnation of God. Thus the faithless people were made to believe in God in the form of Lord Buddha. That was the mercy of Lord Buddha: he made the faithless faithful to him.
Killing of animals before the advent of Lord Buddha was the most prominent feature of the society. People claimed that these were Vedic sacrifices. When the Vedas are not accepted through the authoritative disciplic succession, the casual readers of the Vedas are misled by the flowery language of that system of knowledge. In the Bhagavad-gita a comment has been made on such foolish scholars (avipascitah). The foolish scholars of Vedic literature who do not care to receive the transcendental message through the transcendental realized sources of disciplic succession are sure to be bewildered. To them, the ritualistic ceremonies are considered to be all in all. They have no depth of knowledge. According to the Bhagavad-gita (15.15), vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: the whole system of the Vedas is to lead one gradually to the path of the Supreme Lord. The whole theme of Vedic literature is to know the Supreme Lord, the individual soul, the cosmic situation and the relation between all these items. When the relation is known, the relative function begins, and as a result of such a function the ultimate goal of life or going back to Godhead takes place in the easiest manner. Unfortunately, unauthorized scholars of the Vedas become captivated by the purificatory ceremonies only, and natural progress is thereby checked.
To such bewildered persons of atheistic propensity, Lord Buddha is the emblem of theism. He therefore first of all wanted to check the habit of animal-killing. The animal-killers are dangerous elements on the path going back to Godhead. There are two types of animal-killers. The soul is also sometimes called the “animal” or the living being. Therefore, both the slaughterer of animals and those who have lost their identity of soul are animal-killers.
Maharaja Pariksit said that only the animal-killer cannot relish the transcendental message of the Supreme Lord. Therefore if people are to be educated to the path of Godhead, they must be taught first and foremost to stop the process of animal-killing as above mentioned. It is nonsensical to say that animal-killing has nothing to do with spiritual realization. By this dangerous theory many so-called sannyasis have sprung up by the grace of Kali-yuga who preach animal-killing under the garb of the Vedas. The subject matter has already been discussed in the conversation between Lord Caitanya and Maulana Chand Kazi Shaheb. The animal sacrifice as stated in the Vedas is different from the unrestricted animal-killing in the slaughterhouse. Because the asuras or the so-called scholars of Vedic literatures put forward the evidence of animal-killing in the Vedas, Lord Buddha superficially denied the authority of the Vedas. This rejection of the Vedas by Lord Buddha was adopted in order to save people from the vice of animal-killing as well as to save the poor animals from the slaughtering process of their big brothers who clamor for universal brotherhood, peace, justice and equity. There is no justice when there is animal-killing. Lord Buddha wanted to stop it completely, and therefore his cult of ahimsa was propagated not only in India but also outside the country.
Technically Lord Buddha’s philosophy is called atheistic because there is no acceptance of the Supreme Lord and because that system of philosophy denied the authority of the Vedas. But that is an act of camouflage by the Lord. Lord Buddha is the incarnation of Godhead. As such, he is the original propounder of Vedic knowledge. He therefore cannot reject Vedic philosophy. But he rejected it outwardly because the sura-dvisa, or the demons who are always envious of the devotees of Godhead, try to support cow-killing or animal-killing from the pages of the Vedas, and this is now being done by the modernized sannyasis. Lord Buddha had to reject the authority of the Vedas altogether. This is simply technical, and had it not been so he would not have been so accepted as the incarnation of Godhead. Nor would he have been worshiped in the transcendental songs of the poet Jayadeva, who is a Vaisnava acarya. Lord Buddha preached the preliminary principles of the Vedas in a manner suitable for the time being (and so also did Sankaracarya) to establish the authority of the Vedas. Therefore both Lord Buddha and Acarya Sankara paved the path of theism, and Vaisnava acaryas, specifically Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, led the people on the path towards a realization of going back to Godhead.
We are glad that people are taking interest in the nonviolent movement of Lord Buddha. But will they take the matter very seriously and close the animal slaughterhouses altogether? If not, there is no meaning to the ahimsa cult.
Srimad-Bhagavatam was composed just prior to the beginning of the age of Kali (about five thousand years ago), and Lord Buddha appeared about twenty-six hundred years ago. Therefore in the Srimad-Bhagavatam Lord Buddha is foretold. Such is the authority of this clear scripture. There are many such prophecies, and they are being fulfilled one after another. They will indicate the positive standing of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is without trace of mistake, illusion, cheating and imperfection, which are the four flaws of all conditioned souls. The liberated souls are above these flaws; therefore they can see and foretell things which are to take place on distant future dates.
namna kalkir jagat-patih
atha — thereafter; asau — the same Lord; yuga-sandhyayam — at the conjunction of the yugas; dasyu — plunderers; prayesu — almost all; rajasu — the governing personalities; janita — will take His birth; visnu — named Visnu; yasasah — surnamed Yasa; namna — in the name of; kalkih — the incarnation of the Lord; jagat-patih — the Lord of the creation.
Thereafter, at the conjunction of two yugas, the Lord of the creation will take His birth as the Kalki incarnation and become the son of Visnu Yasa. At this time the rulers of the earth will have degenerated into plunderers.
Here is another foretelling of the advent of Lord Kalki, the incarnation of Godhead. He is to appear at the conjunction of the two yugas, namely at the end of Kali-yuga and the beginning of Satya-yuga. The cycle of the four yugas, namely Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali, rotates like the calendar months. The present Kali-yuga lasts 432,000 years, out of which we have passed only 5,000 years after the Battle of Kuruksetra and the end of the regime of King Pariksit. So there are 427,000 years balance yet to be finished. Therefore at the end of this period, the incarnation of Kalki will take place, as foretold in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The name of His father, Visnu Yasa, a learned brahmana, and the village Sambhala are also mentioned. As above mentioned, all these foretellings will prove to be factual in chronological order. That is the authority of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
avatara hy asankhyeya
hareh sattva-nidher dvijah
sarasah syuh sahasrasah
avatarah — incarnations; hi — certainly; asankhyeyah — innumerable; hareh — of Hari, the Lord; sattva-nidheh — of the ocean of goodness; dvijah — the brahmanas; yatha — as it is; avidasinah — inexhaustible; kulyah — rivulets; sarasah — of vast lakes; syuh — are; sahasrasah — thousands of.
O brahmanas, the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water.
The list of incarnations of the Personality of Godhead given herein is not complete. It is only a partial view of all the incarnations. There are many others, such as Sri Hayagriva, Hari, Hamsa, Prsnigarbha, Vibhu, Satyasena, Vaikuntha, Sarvabhauma, Visvaksena, Dharmasetu, Sudhama, Yogesvara, Brhadbhanu and others of the bygone ages. Sri Prahlada Maharaja said in his prayer, “My Lord, You manifest as many incarnations as there are species of life, namely the aquatics, the vegetables, the reptiles, the birds, the beasts, the men, the demigods, etc., just for the maintenance of the faithful and the annihilation of the unfaithful. You advent Yourself in this way in accordance with the necessity of the different yugas. In the Kali-yuga You have incarnated garbed as a devotee.” This incarnation of the Lord in the Kali-yuga is Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. There are many other places, both in the Bhagavatam and in other scriptures, in which the incarnation of the Lord as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is explicitly mentioned. In the Brahma-samhita also it is said indirectly that although there are many incarnations of the Lord, such as Rama, Nrsimha, Varaha, Matsya, Kurma and many others, the Lord Himself sometimes incarnates in person. Lord Krsna and Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are not, therefore, incarnations, but the original source of all other incarnations. This will be clearly explained in the next sloka. So the Lord is the inexhaustible source for innumerable incarnations which are not always mentioned. But such incarnations are distinguished by specific extraordinary feats which are impossible to be performed by any living being. That is the general test to identify an incarnation of the Lord, directly and indirectly empowered. Some incarnations mentioned above are almost plenary portions. For instance, the Kumaras are empowered with transcendental knowledge. Sri Narada is empowered with devotional service. Maharaja Prthu is an empowered incarnation with executive function. The Matsya incarnation is directly a plenary portion. So the innumerable incarnations of the Lord are manifested all over the universes constantly, without cessation, as water flows constantly from waterfalls.
rsayo manavo deva
kalah sarve harer eva
rsayah — all the sages; manavah — all the Manus; devah — all the demigods; manu-putrah — all the descendants of Manu; maha-ojasah — very powerful; kalah — portion of the plenary portion; sarve — all collectively; hareh — of the Lord; eva — certainly; sa-prajapatayah — along with the Prajapatis; smrtah — are known.
All the rsis, Manus, demigods and descendants of Manu, who are especially powerful, are plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord. This also includes the Prajapatis.
Those who are comparatively less powerful are called vibhuti, and those who are comparatively more powerful are called avesa incarnations.
ete camsa-kalah pumsah
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
mrdayanti yuge yuge
ete — all these; ca — and; amsa — plenary portions; kalah — portions of the plenary portions; pumsah — of the Supreme; krsnah — Lord Krsna; tu — but; bhagavan — the Personality of Godhead; svayam — in person; indra-ari — the enemies of Indra; vyakulam — disturbed; lokam — all the planets; mrdayanti — gives protection; yuge yuge — in different ages.
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.
In this particular stanza Lord Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, is distinguished from other incarnations. He is counted amongst the avataras (incarnations) because out of His causeless mercy the Lord descends from His transcendental abode. Avatara means “one who descends.” All the incarnations of the Lord, including the Lord Himself, descend on the different planets of the material world as also in different species of life to fulfill particular missions. Sometimes He comes Himself, and sometimes His different plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, or His differentiated portions directly or indirectly empowered by Him, descend on this material world to execute certain specific functions. Originally the Lord is full of all opulences, all prowess, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation. When they are partly manifested through the plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, it should be noted that certain manifestations of His different powers are required for those particular functions. When in the room small electric bulbs are displayed, it does not mean that the electric powerhouse is limited by the small bulbs. The same powerhouse can supply power to operate large-scale industrial dynamos with greater volts. Similarly, the incarnations of the Lord display limited powers because so much power is needed at that particular time.
For example, Lord Parasurama and Lord Nrsimha displayed unusual opulence by killing the disobedient ksatriyas twenty-one times and killing the greatly powerful atheist Hiranyakasipu. Hiranyakasipu was so powerful that even the demigods in other planets would tremble simply by the unfavorable raising of his eyebrow. The demigods in the higher level of material existence many, many times excel the most well-to-do human beings, in duration of life, beauty, wealth, paraphernalia, and in all other respects. Still they were afraid of Hiranyakasipu. Thus we can simply imagine how powerful Hiranyakasipu was in this material world. But even Hiranyakasipu was cut into small pieces by the nails of Lord Nrsimha. This means that anyone materially powerful cannot stand the strength of the Lord’s nails. Similarly, Jamadagnya displayed the Lord’s power to kill all the disobedient kings powerfully situated in their respective states. The Lord’s empowered incarnation Narada and plenary incarnation Varaha, as well as indirectly empowered Lord Buddha, created faith in the mass of people. The incarnations of Rama and Dhanvantari displayed His fame, and Balarama, Mohini and Vamana exhibited His beauty. Dattatreya, Matsya, Kumara and Kapila exhibited His transcendental knowledge. Nara and Narayana Rsis exhibited His renunciation. So all the different incarnations of the Lord indirectly or directly manifested different features, but Lord Krsna, the primeval Lord, exhibited the complete features of Godhead, and thus it is confirmed that He is the source of all other incarnations. And the most extraordinary feature exhibited by Lord Sri Krsna was His internal energetic manifestation of His pastimes with the cowherd girls. His pastimes with the gopis are all displays of transcendental existence, bliss and knowledge, although these are manifested apparently as sex love. The specific attraction of His pastimes with the gopis should never be misunderstood. The Bhagavatam relates these transcendental pastimes in the Tenth Canto. And in order to reach the position to understand the transcendental nature of Lord Krsna’s pastimes with the gopis, the Bhagavatam promotes the student gradually in nine other cantos.
According to Srila Jiva Gosvami’s statement, in accordance with authoritative sources, Lord Krsna is the source of all other incarnations. It is not that Lord Krsna has any source of incarnation. All the symptoms of the Supreme Truth in full are present in the person of Lord Sri Krsna, and in the Bhagavad-gita the Lord emphatically declares that there is no truth greater than or equal to Himself. In this stanza the word svayam is particularly mentioned to confirm that Lord Krsna has no other source than Himself. Although in other places the incarnations are described as bhagavan because of their specific functions, nowhere are they declared to be the Supreme Personality. In this stanza the word svayam signifies the supremacy as the summum bonum.
The summum bonum Krsna is one without a second. He Himself has expanded Himself in various parts, portions and particles as svayam-rupa, svayam-prakasa, tad-ekatma, prabhava, vaibhava, vilasa, avatara, avesa, and jivas, all provided with innumerable energies just suitable to the respective persons and personalities. Learned scholars in transcendental subjects have carefully analyzed the summum bonum Krsna to have sixty-four principal attributes. All the expansions or categories of the Lord possess only some percentages of these attributes. But Sri Krsna is the possessor of the attributes cent percent. And His personal expansions such as svayam-prakasa, tad-ekatma up to the categories of the avataras who are all visnu-tattva, possess up to ninety-three percent of these transcendental attributes. Lord Siva, who is neither avatara nor avesa nor in between them, possesses almost eighty-four percent of the attributes. But the jivas, or the individual living beings in different statuses of life, possess up to the limit of seventy-eight percent of the attributes. In the conditioned state of material existence, the living being possesses these attributes in very minute quantity, varying in terms of the pious life of the living being. The most perfect of living beings is Brahma, the supreme administrator of one universe. He possesses seventy-eight percent of the attributes in full. All other demigods have the same attributes in less quantity, whereas human beings possess the attributes in very minute quantity. The standard of perfection for a human being is to develop the attributes up to seventy-eight percent in full. The living being can never possess attributes like Siva, Visnu or Lord Krsna. A living being can become godly by developing the seventy-eight-percent transcendental attributes in fullness, but he can never become a God like Siva, Visnu or Krsna. He can become a Brahma in due course. The godly living beings who are all residents of the planets in the spiritual sky are eternal associates of God in different spiritual planets called Hari-dhama and Mahesa-dhama. The abode of Lord Krsna above all spiritual planets is called Krsnaloka or Goloka Vrndavana, and the perfected living being, by developing seventy-eight percent of the above attributes in fullness, can enter the planet of Krsnaloka after leaving the present material body.
janma guhyam bhagavato
ya etat prayato narah
sayam pratar grnan bhaktya
janma — birth; guhyam — mysterious; bhagavatah — of the Lord; yah — one; etat — all these; prayatah — carefully; narah — man; sayam — evening; pratah — morning; grnan — recites; bhaktya — with devotion; duhkha-gramat — from all miseries; vimucyate — gets relief from.
Whoever carefully recites the mysterious appearances of the Lord, with devotion in the morning and in the evening, gets relief from all miseries of life.
In the Bhagavad-gita the Personality of Godhead has declared that anyone who knows the principles of the transcendental birth and activities of the Lord will go back to Godhead after being relieved from this material tabernacle. So simply knowing factually the mysterious way of the Lord’s incarnation in this material world can liberate one from material bondage. Therefore the birth and activities of the Lord, as manifested by Him for the welfare of the people in general, are not ordinary. They are mysterious, and only by those who carefully try to go deep into the matter by spiritual devotion is the mystery discovered. Thus one gets liberation from material bondage. It is advised therefore that one who simply recites this chapter of Bhagavatam, describing the appearance of the Lord in different incarnations, in sincerity and devotion, can have insight into the birth and activities of the Lord. The very word vimukti, or liberation, indicates that the Lord’s birth and activities are all transcendental; otherwise simply by reciting them one could not attain liberation. They are therefore mysterious, and those who do not follow the prescribed regulations of devotional service are not entitled to enter into the mysteries of His births and activities.
etad rupam bhagavato
hy arupasya cid-atmanah
etat — all these; rupam — forms; bhagavatah — of the Lord; hi — certainly; arupasya — of one who has no material form; cit-atmanah — of the Transcendence; maya — material energy; gunaih — by the qualities; viracitam — manufactured; mahat-adibhih — with the ingredients of matter; atmani — in the self.
The conception of the virat universal form of the Lord, as appearing in the material world, is imaginary. It is to enable the less intelligent [and neophytes] to adjust to the idea of the Lord’s having form. But factually the Lord has no material form.
The conception of the Lord known as the visva-rupa or the virat-rupa is particularly not mentioned along with the various incarnations of the Lord because all the incarnations of the Lord mentioned above are transcendental and there is not a tinge of materialism in their bodies. There is no difference between the body and self as there is in the conditioned soul. The virat-rupa is conceived for those who are just neophyte worshipers. For them the material virat-rupa is presented, and it will be explained in the Second Canto. In the virat-rupa the material manifestations of different planets have been conceived as His legs, hands, etc. Actually all such descriptions are for the neophytes. The neophytes cannot conceive of anything beyond matter. The material conception of the Lord is not counted in the list of His factual forms. As Paramatma, or Supersoul, the Lord is within each and every material form, even within the atoms, but the outward material form is but an imagination, both for the Lord and for the living being. The present forms of the conditioned souls are also not factual. The conclusion is that the material conception of the body of the Lord as virat is imaginary. Both the Lord and the living beings are living spirits and have original spiritual bodies.
yatha nabhasi meghaugho
renur va parthivo ‘nile
evam drastari drsyatvam
yatha — as it is; nabhasi — in the sky; megha-oghah — a mass of clouds; renuh — dust; va — as well as; parthivah — muddiness; anile — in the air; evam — thus; drastari — to the seer; drsyatvam — for the purpose of seeing; aropitam — is implied; abuddhibhih — by the less intelligent persons.
Clouds and dust are carried by the air, but less intelligent persons say that the sky is cloudy and the air is dirty. Similarly, they also implant material bodily conceptions on the spirit self.
It is further confirmed herein that with our material eyes and senses we cannot see the Lord, who is all spirit. We cannot even detect the spiritual spark which exists within the material body of the living being. We look to the outward covering of the body or subtle mind of the living being, but we cannot see the spiritual spark within the body. So we have to accept the living being’s presence by the presence of his gross body. Similarly, those who want to see the Lord with their present material eyes or with the material senses are advised to meditate on the gigantic external feature called the virat-rupa. For instance, when a particular gentleman goes in his car, which can be seen very easily, we identify the car with the man within the car. When the President goes out in his particular car, we say, “There is the President.” For the time being we identify the car with the President. Similarly, less intelligent men who want to see God immediately without necessary qualification are shown first the gigantic material cosmos as the form of the Lord, although the Lord is within and without. The clouds in the sky and the blue of the sky are better appreciated in this connection. Although the bluish tint of the sky and the sky itself are different, we conceive of the color of the sky as blue. But that is a general conception for the laymen only.
atah param yad avyaktam
sa jivo yat punar-bhavah
atah — this; param — beyond; yat — which; avyaktam — unmanifested; avyudha — without formal shape; guna-brmhitam — affected by the qualities; adrsta — unseen; asruta — unheard; vastutvat — being like that; sah — that; jivah — living being; yat — that which; punah-bhavah — takes birth repeatedly.
Beyond this gross conception of form is another, subtle conception of form which is without formal shape and is unseen, unheard and unmanifest. The living being has his form beyond this subtlety, otherwise he could not have repeated births.
As the gross cosmic manifestation is conceived as the gigantic body of the Lord, so also there is the conception of His subtle form, which is simply realized without being seen, heard or manifested. But in fact all these gross or subtle conceptions of the body are in relation with the living beings. The living being has his spiritual form beyond this gross material or subtle psychic existence. The gross body and psychic functions cease to act as soon as the living being leaves the visible gross body. In fact, we say that the living being has gone away because he is unseen and unheard. Even when the gross body is not acting when the living being is in sound sleep, we know that he is within the body by his breathing. So the living being’s passing away from the body does not mean that there is no existence of the living soul. It is there, otherwise how can he repeat his births again and again?
The conclusion is that the Lord is eternally existent in His transcendental form, which is neither gross nor subtle like that of the living being; His body is never to be compared to the gross and subtle bodies of the living being. All such conceptions of God’s body are imaginary. The living being has his eternal spiritual form, which is conditioned only by his material contamination.
iti tad brahma-darsanam
yatra — whenever; ime — in all these; sat-asat — gross and subtle; rupe — in the forms of; pratisiddhe — on being nullified; sva-samvida — by self-realization; avidyaya — by ignorance; atmani — in the self; krte — having been imposed; iti — thus; tat — that is; brahma-darsanam — the process of seeing the Absolute.
Whenever a person experiences, by self-realization, that both the gross and subtle bodies have nothing to do with the pure self, at that time he sees himself as well as the Lord.
The difference between self-realization and material illusion is to know that the temporary or illusory impositions of material energy in the shape of gross and subtle bodies are superficial coverings of the self. The coverings take place due to ignorance. Such coverings are never effective in the person of the Personality of Godhead. Knowing this convincingly is called liberation, or seeing the Absolute. This means that perfect self-realization is made possible by adoption of godly or spiritual life. Self-realization means becoming indifferent to the needs of the gross and subtle bodies and becoming serious about the activities of the self. The impetus for activities is generated from the self, but such activities become illusory due to ignorance of the real position of the self. By ignorance, self-interest is calculated in terms of the gross and subtle bodies, and therefore a whole set of activities is spoiled, life after life. When, however, one meets the self by proper culture, the activities of the self begin. Therefore a man who is engaged in the activities of the self is called jivan-mukta, or a liberated person even in the conditional existence.
This perfect stage of self-realization is attained not by artificial means, but under the lotus feet of the Lord, who is always transcendental. In the Bhagavad-gita the Lord says that He is present in everyone’s heart, and from Him only all knowledge, remembrance or forgetfulness take place. When the living being desires to be an enjoyer of material energy (illusory phenomena), the Lord covers the living being in the mystery of forgetfulness, and thus the living being misinterprets the gross body and subtle mind to be his own self. And by culture of transcendental knowledge, when the living being prays to the Lord for deliverance from the clutches of forgetfulness, the Lord, by His causeless mercy, removes the living being’s illusory curtain, and thus he realizes his own self. He then engages himself in the service of the Lord in his eternal constitutional position, becoming liberated from the conditioned life. All this is executed by the Lord either through His external potency or directly by the internal potency.
yady esoparata devi
maya vaisaradi matih
sampanna eveti vidur
mahimni sve mahiyate
yadi — if, however; esa — they; uparata — subsided; devi maya — illusory energy; vaisaradi — full of knowledge; matih — enlightenment; sampannah — enriched with; eva — certainly; iti — thus; viduh — being cognizant of; mahimni — in the glories; sve — of the self; mahiyate — being situated in.
If the illusory energy subsides and the living entity becomes fully enriched with knowledge by the grace of the Lord, then he becomes at once enlightened with self-realization and thus becomes situated in his own glory.
Because the Lord is the absolute Transcendence, all of His forms, names, pastimes, attributes, associates and energies are identical with Him. His transcendental energy acts according to His omnipotency. The same energy acts as His external, internal and marginal energies, and by His omnipotency He can perform anything and everything through the agency of any of the above energies. He can turn the external energy into internal by His will. Therefore by His grace the external energy, which is employed in illusioning those living beings who want to have it, subsides by the will of the Lord in terms of repentance and penance for the conditioned soul. And the very same energy then acts to help the purified living being make progress on the path of self-realization. The example of electrical energy is very appropriate in this connection. The expert electrician can utilize the electrical energy for both heating and cooling by adjustment only. Similarly, the external energy, which now bewilders the living being into continuation of birth and death, is turned into internal potency by the will of the Lord to lead the living being to eternal life. When a living being is thus graced by the Lord, he is placed in his proper constitutional position to enjoy eternal spiritual life.
evam janmani karmani
hy akartur ajanasya ca
varnayanti sma kavayo
evam — thus; janmani — birth; karmani — activities; hi — certainly; akartuh — of the inactive; ajanasya — of the unborn; ca — and; varnayanti — describe; sma — in the past; kavayah — the learned; veda-guhyani — undiscoverable by the Vedas; hrt-pateh — of the Lord of the heart.
Thus learned men describe the births and activities of the unborn and inactive, which is undiscoverable even in the Vedic literatures. He is the Lord of the heart.
Both the Lord and the living entities are essentially all spiritual. Therefore both of them are eternal, and neither of them has birth and death. The difference is that the so-called births and disappearances of the Lord are unlike those of the living beings. The living beings who take birth and then again accept death are bound by the laws of material nature. But the so-called appearance and disappearance of the Lord are not actions of material nature, but are demonstrations of the internal potency of the Lord. They are described by the great sages for the purpose of self-realization. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita by the Lord that His so-called birth in the material world and His activities are all transcendental. And simply by meditation on such activities one can attain realization of Brahman and thus become liberated from material bondage. In the srutis it is said that the birthless appears to take birth. The Supreme has nothing to do, but because He is omnipotent, everything is performed by Him naturally, as if done automatically. As a matter of fact, the appearance and disappearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His different activities are all confidential, even to the Vedic literatures. Yet they are displayed by the Lord to bestow mercy upon the conditioned souls. We should always take advantage of the narrations of the activities of the Lord, which are meditations on Brahman in the most convenient and palatable form.
sa va idam visvam amogha-lilah
srjaty avaty atti na sajjate ‘smin
bhutesu cantarhita atma-tantrah
sad-vargikam jighrati sad-gunesah
sah — the Supreme Lord; va — alternately; idam — this; visvam — manifested universes; amogha-lilah — one whose activities are spotless; srjati — creates; avati atti — maintains and annihilates; na — not; sajjate — is affected by; asmin — in them; bhutesu — in all living beings; ca — also; antarhitah — living within; atma-tantrah — self-independent; sat-vargikam — endowed with all the potencies of His opulences; jighrati — superficially attached, like smelling the fragrance; sat-guna-isah — master of the six senses.
The Lord, whose activities are always spotless, is the master of the six senses and is fully omnipotent with six opulences. He creates the manifested universes, maintains them and annihilates them without being in the least affected. He is within every living being and is always independent.
The prime difference between the Lord and the living entities is that the Lord is the creator and the living entities are the created. Here He is called the amogha-lilah, which indicates that there is nothing lamentable in His creation. Those who create disturbance in His creation are themselves disturbed. He is transcendental to all material afflictions because He is full with all six opulences, namely wealth, power, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation, and thus He is the master of the senses. He creates these manifested universes in order to reclaim the living beings who are within them suffering threefold miseries, maintains them, and in due course annihilates them without being the least affected by such actions. He is connected with this material creation very superficially, as one smells odor without being connected with the odorous article. Nongodly elements, therefore, can never approach Him, despite all endeavors.
na casya kascin nipunena dhatur
avaiti jantuh kumanisa utih
namani rupani mano-vacobhih
santanvato nata-caryam ivajnah
na — not; ca — and; asya — of Him; kascit — anyone; nipunena — by dexterity; dhatuh — of the creator; avaiti — can know; jantuh — the living being; kumanisah — with a poor fund of knowledge; utih — activities of the Lord; namani — His names; rupani — His forms; manah-vacobhih — by dint of mental speculation or deliverance of speeches; santanvatah — displaying; nata-caryam — a dramatic action; iva — like; ajnah — the foolish.
The foolish with a poor fund of knowledge cannot know the transcendental nature of the forms, names and activities of the Lord, who is playing like an actor in a drama. Nor can they express such things, neither in their speculations nor in their words.
No one can properly describe the transcendental nature of the Absolute Truth. Therefore it is said that He is beyond the expression of mind and speech. And yet there are some men, with a poor fund of knowledge, who desire to understand the Absolute Truth by imperfect mental speculation and faulty description of His activities. To the layman His activities, appearance and disappearance, His names, His forms, His paraphernalia, His personalities and all things in relation with Him are mysterious. There are two classes of materialists, namely the fruitive workers and the empiric philosophers. The fruitive workers have practically no information of the Absolute Truth, and the mental speculators, after being frustrated in fruitive activities, turn their faces towards the Absolute Truth and try to know Him by mental speculation. And for all these men, the Absolute Truth is a mystery, as the jugglery of the magician is a mystery to children. Being deceived by the jugglery of the Supreme Being, the nondevotees, who may be very dexterous in fruitive work and mental speculation, are always in ignorance. With such limited knowledge, they are unable to penetrate into the mysterious region of transcendence. The mental speculators are a little more progressive than the gross materialists or the fruitive workers, but because they are also within the grip of illusion, they take it for granted that anything which has form, a name and activities is but a product of material energy. For them the Supreme Spirit is formless, nameless and inactive. And because such mental speculators equalize the transcendental name and form of the Lord with mundane names and form, they are in fact in ignorance. With such a poor fund of knowledge, there is no access to the real nature of the Supreme Being. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, the Lord is always in a transcendental position, even when He is within the material world. But ignorant men consider the Lord one of the great personalities of the world, and thus they are misled by the illusory energy.
sa veda dhatuh padavim parasya
yo ‘mayaya santatayanuvrttya
sah — He alone; veda — can know; dhatuh — of the creator; padavim — glories; parasya — of the transcendence; duranta-viryasya — of the greatly powerful; ratha-anga-paneh — of Lord Krsna, who bears in His hand the wheel of a chariot; yah — one who; amayaya — without reservation; santataya — without any gap; anuvrttya — favorably; bhajeta — renders service; tat-pada — of His feet; saroja-gandham — fragrance of the lotus.
Only those who render unreserved, uninterrupted, favorable service unto the lotus feet of Lord Krsna, who carries the wheel of the chariot in His hand, can know the creator of the universe in His full glory, power and transcendence.
Only the pure devotees can know the transcendental name, form and activities of Lord Krsna due to their being completely freed from the reactions of fruitive work and mental speculation. The pure devotees have nothing to derive as personal profit from their unalloyed service to the Lord. They render incessant service to the Lord spontaneously, without any reservation. Everyone within the creation of the Lord is rendering service to the Lord indirectly or directly. No one is an exception to this law of the Lord. Those who are rendering service indirectly, being forced by the illusory agent of the Lord, are rendering service unto Him unfavorably. But those who are rendering service unto Him directly under the direction of His beloved agent are rendering service unto Him favorably. Such favorable servitors are devotees of the Lord, and by the grace of the Lord they can enter into the mysterious region of transcendence by the mercy of the Lord. But the mental speculators remain in darkness all the time. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, the Lord Himself guides the pure devotees toward the path of realization due to their constant engagement in the loving service of the Lord in spontaneous affection. That is the secret of entering into the kingdom of God. Fruitive activities and speculation are no qualifications for entering.
atheha dhanya bhagavanta ittham
yad vasudeve ‘khila-loka-nathe
kurvanti sarvatmakam atma-bhavam
na yatra bhuyah parivarta ugrah
atha — thus; iha — in this world; dhanyah — successful; bhagavantah — perfectly cognizant; ittham — such; yat — what; vasudeve — unto the Personality of Godhead; akhila — all-embracing; loka-nathe — unto the proprietor of all the universes; kurvanti — inspires; sarva-atmakam — one hundred percent; atma — spirit; bhavam — ecstasy; na — never; yatra — wherein; bhuyah — again; parivartah — repetition; ugrah — dreadful.
Only by making such inquiries in this world can one be successful and perfectly cognizant, for such inquiries invoke transcendental ecstatic love unto the Personality of Godhead, who is the proprietor of all the universes, and guarantee cent-percent immunity from the dreadful repetition of birth and death.
The inquiries of the sages headed by Saunaka are herewith praised by Suta Gosvami on the merit of their transcendental nature. As already concluded, only the devotees of the Lord can know Him to a considerable extent, and no one else can know Him at all, so the devotees are perfectly cognizant of all spiritual knowledge. The Personality of Godhead is the last word in Absolute Truth. Impersonal Brahman and localized Paramatma (Supersoul) are included in the knowledge of the Personality of Godhead. So one who knows the Personality of Godhead can automatically know all about Him, His multipotencies and His expansions. So the devotees are congratulated as being all-successful. A cent-percent devotee of the Lord is immune to the dreadful material miseries of repeated birth and death.
idam bhagavatam nama
cakara bhagavan rsih
dhanyam svasty-ayanam mahat
idam — this; bhagavatam — book containing the narration of the Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees; nama — of the name; puranam — supplementary to the Vedas; brahma-sammitam — incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna; uttama-sloka — of the Personality of Godhead; caritam — activities; cakara — compiled; bhagavan — incarnation of the Personality of Godhead; rsih — Sri Vyasadeva; nihsreyasaya — for the ultimate good; lokasya — of all people; dhanyam — fully successful; svasti-ayanam — all-blissful; mahat — all-perfect.
This Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of God, and it is compiled by Srila Vyasadeva, the incarnation of God. It is meant for the ultimate good of all people, and it is all-successful, all-blissful and all-perfect.
Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared that Srimad-Bhagavatam is the spotless sound representation of all Vedic knowledge and history. There are selected histories of great devotees who are in direct contact with the Personality of Godhead. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the literary incarnation of Lord Sri Krsna and is therefore nondifferent from Him. Srimad-Bhagavatam should be worshiped as respectfully as we worship the Lord. Thereby we can derive the ultimate blessings of the Lord through its careful and patient study. As God is all light, all bliss and all perfection, so also is Srimad-Bhagavatam. We can have all the transcendental light of the Supreme Brahman, Sri Krsna, from the recitation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, provided it is received through the medium of the transparent spiritual master. Lord Caitanya’s private secretary Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami advised all intending visitors who came to see the Lord at Puri to make a study of the Bhagavatam from the person Bhagavatam Person Bhagavatam is the self-realized bona fide spiritual master, and through him only can one understand the lessons of Bhagavatam in order to receive the desired result. One can derive from the study of the Bhagavatam all benefits that are possible to be derived from the personal presence of the Lord. It carries with it all the transcendental blessings of Lord Sri Krsna that we can expect from His personal contact.
tad idam grahayam asa
sutam atmavatam varam
saram saram samuddhrtam
tat — that; idam — this; grahayam asa — made to accept; sutam — unto his son; atmavatam — of the self-realized; varam — most respectful; sarva — all; veda — Vedic literatures (books of knowledge); itihasanam — of all the histories; saram — cream; saram — cream; samuddhrtam — taken out.
Sri Vyasadeva delivered it to his son, who is the most respected among the self-realized, after extracting the cream of all Vedic literatures and histories of the universe.
Men with a poor fund of knowledge only accept the history of the world from the time of Buddha, or since 600 B.C., and prior to this period all histories mentioned in the scriptures are calculated by them to be only imaginary stories. That is not a fact. All the stories mentioned in the Puranas and Mahabharata, etc., are actual histories, not only of this planet but also of millions of other planets within the universe. Sometimes the history of planets beyond this world appear to such men to be unbelievable. But they do not know that different planets are not equal in all respects and that therefore some of the historical facts derived from other planets do not correspond with the experience of this planet. Considering the different situation of different planets and also time and circumstances, there is nothing wonderful in the stories of the Puranas, nor are they imaginary. We should always remember the maxim that one man’s food is another man’s poison. We should not, therefore, reject the stories and histories of the Puranas as imaginary. The great rsis like Vyasa had no business putting some imaginary stories in their literatures.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam historical facts selected from the histories of different planets have been depicted. It is therefore accepted by all the spiritual authorities as the Maha-Purana. The special significance of these histories is that they are all connected with activities of the Lord in a different time and atmosphere. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami is the topmost personality of all the self-realized souls, and he accepted this as the subject of studies from his father, Vyasadeva. Srila Vyasadeva is the great authority, and the subject matter of Srimad-Bhagavatam being so important, he delivered the message first to his great son Srila Sukadeva Gosvami. It is compared to the cream of the milk. Vedic literature is like the milk ocean of knowledge. Cream or butter is the most palatable essence of milk, and so also is Srimad-Bhagavatam, for it contains all palatable, instructive and authentic versions of different activities of the Lord and His devotees. There is no gain, however, in accepting the message of Bhagavatam from the unbelievers, atheists and professional reciters who make a trade of Bhagavatam for the laymen. It was delivered to Srila Sukadeva Gosvami, and he had nothing to do with the Bhagavata business. He did not have to maintain family expenses by such trade. Srimad-Bhagavatam should therefore be received from the representative of Sukadeva, who must be in the renounced order of life without family encumbrance. Milk is undoubtedly very good and nourishing, but when it is touched by the mouth of a snake it is no longer nourishing; rather, it becomes a source of death. Similarly, those who are not strictly in the Vaisnava discipline should not make a business of this Bhagavatam and become a cause of spiritual death for so many hearers. In the Bhagavad-gita the Lord says that the purpose of all the Vedas is to know Him (Lord Krsna), and Srimad-Bhagavatam is Lord Sri Krsna Himself in the form of recorded knowledge. Therefore, it is the cream of all the Vedas, and it contains all historical facts of all times in relation with Sri Krsna. It is factually the essence of all histories.
sa tu samsravayam asa
sah — the son of Vyasadeva; tu — again; samsravayam asa — make them audible; maha-rajam — unto the emperor; pariksitam — of the name Pariksit; praya-upavistam — who sat until death without food or drink; gangayam — on the bank of the Ganges; paritam — being surrounded; parama-rsibhih — by great sages.
Sukadeva Gosvami, the son of Vyasadeva, in his turn delivered the Bhagavatam to the great Emperor Pariksit, who sat surrounded by sages on the bank of the Ganges, awaiting death without taking food or drink.
All transcendental messages are received properly in the chain of disciplic succession. This disciplic succession is called parampara. Unless therefore Bhagavatam or any other Vedic literatures are received through the parampara system, the reception of knowledge is not bona fide. Vyasadeva delivered the message to Sukadeva Gosvami, and from Sukadeva Gosvami, Suta Gosvami received the message. One should therefore receive the message of Bhagavatam from Suta Gosvami or from his representative and not from any irrelevant interpreter.
Emperor Pariksit received the information of his death in time, and he at once left his kingdom and family and sat down on the bank of the Ganges to fast till death. All great sages, rsis, philosophers, mystics, etc., went there due to his imperial position. They offered many suggestions about his immediate duty, and at last it was settled that he would hear from Sukadeva Gosvami about Lord Krsna. Thus the Bhagavatam was spoken to him.
Sripada Sankaracarya, who preached Mayavada philosophy and stressed the impersonal feature of the Absolute, also recommended that one must take shelter at the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krsna, for there is no hope of gain from debating. Indirectly Sripada Sankaracarya admitted that what he had preached in the flowery grammatical interpretations of the Vedanta-sutra cannot help one at the time of death. At the critical hour of death one must recite the name of Govinda. This is the recommendation of all great transcendentalists. Sukadeva Gosvami had long ago stated the same truth, that at the end one must remember Narayana. That is the essence of all spiritual activities. In pursuance of this eternal truth, Srimad-Bhagavatam was heard by Emperor Pariksit, and it was recited by the able Sukadeva Gosvami. And both the speaker and the receiver of the messages of Bhagavatam were duly delivered by the same medium.
kalau nasta-drsam esa
krsne — in Krsna’s; sva-dhama — own abode; upagate — having returned; dharma — religion; jnana — knowledge; adibhih — combined together; saha — along with; kalau — in the Kali-yuga; nasta-drsam — of persons who have lost their sight; esah — all these; purana-arkah — the Purana which is brilliant like the sun; adhuna — just now; uditah — has arisen.
This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krsna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana.
Lord Sri Krsna has His eternal dhama, or abode, where He eternally enjoys Himself with His eternal associates and paraphernalia. And His eternal abode is a manifestation of His internal energy, whereas the material world is a manifestation of His external energy. When He descends on the material world, He displays Himself with all paraphernalia in His internal potency, which is called atma-maya. In the Bhagavad-gita the Lord says that He descends by His own potency (atma-maya). His form, name, fame, paraphernalia, abode, etc., are not, therefore, creations of matter. He descends to reclaim the fallen souls and to reestablish codes of religion which are directly enacted by Him. Except for God, no one can establish the principles of religion. Either He or a suitable person empowered by Him can dictate the codes of religion. Real religion means to know God, our relation with Him and our duties in relation with Him and to know ultimately our destination after leaving this material body. The conditioned souls, who are entrapped by the material energy, hardly know all these principles of life. Most of them are like animals engaged in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. They are mostly engaged in sense enjoyment under the pretension of religiosity, knowledge or salvation. They are still more blind in the present age of quarrel, or Kali-yuga. In the Kali-yuga the population is just a royal edition of the animals. They have nothing to do with spiritual knowledge or godly religious life. They are so blind that they cannot see anything beyond the jurisdiction of the subtle mind, intelligence or ego, but they are very much proud of their advancement in knowledge, science and material prosperity. They can risk their lives to become a dog or hog just after leaving the present body, for they have completely lost sight of the ultimate aim of life. The Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna appeared before us just a little prior to the beginning of Kali-yuga, and He returned to His eternal home practically at the commencement of Kali-yuga. While He was present, He exhibited everything by His different activities. He spoke the Bhagavad-gita specifically and eradicated all pretentious principles of religiosity. And prior to His departure from this material world, He empowered Sri Vyasadeva through Narada to compile the messages of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and thus both the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam are like torchbearers for the blind people of this age. In other words, if men in this age of Kali want to see the real light of life, they must take to these two books only, and their aim of life will be fulfilled. Bhagavad-gita is the preliminary study of the Bhagavatam. And Srimad-Bhagavatam is the summum bonum of life, Lord Sri Krsna personified. We must therefore accept Srimad-Bhagavatam as the direct representation of Lord Krsna. One who can see Srimad-Bhagavatam can see also Lord Sri Krsna in person. They are identical.
tatra kirtayato vipra
aham cadhyagamam tatra
so ‘ham vah sravayisyami
tatra — there; kirtayatah — while reciting; viprah — O brahmanas; vipra-rseh — from the great brahmana-rsi; bhuri — greatly; tejasah — powerful; aham — I; ca — also; adhyagamam — could understand; tatra — in that meeting; nivistah — being perfectly attentive; tat-anugrahat — by his mercy; sah — that very thing; aham — I; vah — unto you; sravayisyami — shall let you hear; yatha-adhitam yatha-mati — as far as my realization.
O learned brahmanas, when Sukadeva Gosvami recited Bhagavatam there [in the presence of Emperor Pariksit], I heard him with rapt attention, and thus, by his mercy, I learned the Bhagavatam from that great and powerful sage. Now I shall try to make you hear the very same thing as I learned it from him and as I have realized it.
One can certainly see directly the presence of Lord Sri Krsna in the pages of Bhagavatam if one has heard it from a self-realized great soul like Sukadeva Gosvami. One cannot, however, learn Bhagavatam from a bogus hired reciter whose aim of life is to earn some money out of such recitation and employ the earning in sex indulgence. No one can learn Srimad-Bhagavatam who is associated with persons engaged in sex life. That is the secret of learning Bhagavatam. Nor can one learn Bhagavatam from one who interprets the text by his mundane scholarship. One has to learn Bhagavatam from the representative of Sukadeva Gosvami, and no one else, if one at all wants to see Lord Sri Krsna in the pages. That is the process, and there is no alternative.
Suta Gosvami is a bona fide representative of Sukadeva Gosvami because he wants to present the message which he received from the great learned brahmana. Sukadeva Gosvami presented Bhagavatam as he heard it from his great father, and so also Suta Gosvami is presenting Bhagavatam as he had heard it from Sukadeva Gosvami. Simple hearing is not all; one must realize the text with proper attention. The word nivista means that Suta Gosvami drank the juice of Bhagavatam through his ears. That is the real process of receiving Bhagavatam. One should hear with rapt attention from the real person, and then he can at once realize the presence of Lord Krsna in every page. The secret of knowing Bhagavatam is mentioned here. No one can give rapt attention who is not pure in mind. No one can be pure in mind who is not pure in action. No one can be pure in action who is not pure in eating, sleeping, fearing and mating. But somehow or other if someone hears with rapt attention from the right person, at the very beginning one can assuredly see Lord Sri Krsna in person in the pages of Bhagavatam.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the First Canto, Third Chapter, of the # Srimad-Bhagavatam, entitled “Krsna Is the Source of All Incarnations.”
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