HH Bhanu Swami: (invocation prayers)
bhavita visrutah putro
‘navamo brahmano gunaih
ya etam atma-viryena
Translation: You will have a nice son, who will be in no way inferior to Lord Brahma. Consequently, he will be very famous all over the universe, and the sons and grandsons generated by him will fill the three worlds.
Srila Prabhupadas Purport: As explained in the next verse, the Pracetas will marry the daughter of the great sage Kandu. It is suggested that the son’s name will be Visruta and that he will glorify both his father and mother because of his good character. In fact, he would be greater than Lord Brahma. The great politician Canakya said that if there is a good tree within a garden or forest, its flowers will fill the forest with their fragrance. Similarly, a good son within a family makes the whole family famous all over the world. Krsna took birth in the family of the Yadus, and consequently the Yadu dynasty is famous all over the world.
HH Bhanu Swami: So this whole section of the fourth canto is concerning the population of the universe. How the fallen living entities get there. Here of course we see that the Pracetas will get a nice son and generations will follow which will be of very good character. So of course this is ok for grhastas, not so nice for brahmacaries and sannyasis. So why we have all these discussions about population and increase in progeny and such things, when we also know that the whole purpose of the Bhagavatam is complete renunciation of the world and complete attraction to Krsna? So what has this got to do with Lord Krsna? Populating the earth with sons and grandsons etc? Genealogy etc? So our acaryas of course have said that though the 10th canto is actually the essence of the Bhagavatam, it’s about Krsna directly, and His pastimes and His qualities and therefore it’s ultimately the most attractive thing, still we cannot reject the subject matter of the other cantos. Canto one, canto two, canto three etc. Now of course some people will do that, they will think, let us just concentrate on the 10th canto and we’ll neglect all these other cantos and some will argue, well look the 1 st canto is not even spoken by Sukadev, so how can we consider this the Bhagavatam? Or the last part of the 12 th canto again is not by Sukadev, so how can this be the Bhagavatam? However, our acaryas have said the whole thing is Bhagavatam. It is all Krsna. Bhagavatam is non different from Krsna, and therefore everything here is actually representing Krsna, whether it’s 4th canto or 3rd canto or 8th canto or 9th canto or 11th canto or 12th canto, whatever, it’s all Krsna, it’s absolute.
So we’ll have many subject matters here and sometimes we may wonder what has this got to do with Krsna and Svayam Bhagavan and attraction to Him? So, we have to examine very carefully what IS Bhagavatam. Of course we go further back then that, then we say what is scripture? That subject matter comes up in the 10 th canto where there is the, very philosophical, one of the most philosophical sections of the Bhagavatam, there is the ‘Prayers of the Personified Vedas’.
The question is asked, how is it possible to describe the Supreme Lord, whether it is Krsna or even Brahman, impersonal Brahman? Because what is spiritual is beyond words, words are material sounds with certain conceptions like we get with context in the material world, like a tree, we understand a material tree or whatever. How is it possible to express God or even impersonal Brahman by words? Which is a good question actually. Even the scripture itself says the Supreme is beyond words and beyond mind, can’t even think of the Supreme or any conception of material mind. So of course if we say well it’s not possible, then Bhagavatam is useless, all scripture is useless, Veda are useless, everything is useless and we can never approach the Supreme Lord, if that’s so, then we can’t speak about the Lord or describe Him in anyway. But the answer given throughout these verses, although it maybe difficult to understand the whole purport of the Prayers of the Personified Vedas, the ultimate answer is that the Supreme Lord is describable, by words even though we may think they are material words. The reason is that the Lord is not impersonal. He has qualities, He has shaktis, He has compassion for the living entities in the material world and therefore by His will power and by His shakti, words that to us may look material actually can describe the Lord because they are spiritual. Because the Lord wants them to be spiritual, they become spiritual. For the Lord there is no distinction between material and spiritual and by His will we have expressions and descriptions of the Supreme Lord which are authorised. So this we call scripture. These are the authorised descriptions of the Supreme Lord and they are capable of conveying who that Supreme Lord is to us. So therefore we accept scripture. So that’s the first step. At least we can describe the Supreme Lord in some way or another.
So of course the next question is, what is scripture? What do we accept? Do we accept the Bible, the Koran, or the Vedas, or the Puranas. What is scripture? Ultimately it is a matter of faith, we accept one scripture and follow it. The other is we use our intelligence and find out what is most complete. What gives us the most consistent description of what is Supreme. That Supreme Lord, That Supreme entity. So some people they prefer other scriptures but we have chosen Vedic scriptures. So of course Vedic scriptures also has a limitation. It’s not that anything in India is a Vedic scripture. There’s some which are called scripture and some are rejected even though they come from India and they maybe ancient also. So the scriptures themselves, starting with the Vedas begin to enumerate what is authorised scripture, that we can read these and we can understand who is the Supreme Lord, communicate properly.
We have the Vedas, of course the Vedas means Sruti, which is a special category, eternal, never created, though it appears from the mouth of Hayagriva or it appears from Brahma’s mouth, actually it has no creation. It’s not even created by the Lord because it’s eternal, but is non different from the Lord. That is one definition of Sruti, that is the Vedas. Unfortunately if you look at the Vedas you’ll get a little confused, because it’s supposed to describe the Absolute Truth, the Highest Entity, Supreme Lord, Bhagavan etc, but we find a whole section is dedicated to doing sacrifices to go to svargaloka which is not the Supreme, it’s in the material world. That’s the Karma Kanda section of the Vedas, Purva Mimamsa.
Then we’ll find another section dedicated to worshipping devatas, Indra etc, Upasana Kanda. The verses praising the different devatas, get a little confused how’s that Supreme? Because the devatas are also material. Then we come to Jnana Kanda. Of course Jnana Kanda is the same(?) because it talks about Brahman. But what is Brahman? No qualities, no form, no activities. Well we are worshipping Krsna, He has a form, He has qualities, activities. Upanishads, the Jnana Kanda is speaking about Brahman with no qualities, that is impersonal aspect of the Lord.
So we got the Vedas which is supposed to be so wonderful, they’re talking about all the wrong things. They’re talking about going to svargaloka, worshipping devatas, worshipping impersonal Brahman at best. But if we look very closely at the Jnana Kanda it is not so that Jnana Kanda, the Upanishads only speak of an impersonal Brahman, they also speak of the Lord with a form, Lord with qualities, Lord with activities. We’ll find it even in the major Upanishads where Shankara Acarya takes to interpret impersonalism, so in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chandogya Upanishad and Svetasvatara Upanishad you’ll find descriptions of the Supreme Lord with form, qualities and activities. So not true that Jnana Kanda only represents impersonal Brahman, it also represents Bhagavan. So He is there.
However, as I said when we look through all the Vedas we get a little puzzled. Why have we got all these different things there, we got material things there. Even in our daily sadhana we recite what are the offenses to the Vedas, one offense is Sruti ninda, don’t criticise the Vedas despite of the fact they’re talking about going to svargaloka, living for thousands of years and drinking soma rasa etc, so what is all of this? Why we worship the Vedas when they are talking about material things? So there is some confusion there about the Vedas which are absolute, and they’re talking about all these things. That is why we cannot take the Vedas by themselves, we need explanations. Which very nicely have been arranged for us. One of the great explainers or commentators is Veda Vyasa Himself, who compiled the Vedas and divided then up for the people of Kali Yuga so they can understand them to some degree. So it is through Him that we get the 4 different Vedas with all their different sections and sub-sections etc.
But Veda Vyasa Himself knew that all of this is a little confusing for people, especially the Jnana Kanda, so He made a special effort to explain the Upanishads, these are not impersonal, they are actually talking about Bhagavan, Krsna. Therefore He wrote the Brahama Sutras. Which talk about the Supreme Lord, our relationship with Him, which is Bhakti and the ultimate goal which is Prema. Unfortunately it’s in sutra form. Sutra means a very concise expression, so concise that it’s only a few words in most cases, for each sutra. Each sutra is difficult to understand. Also difficult to understand the reference of the sutra. What is it referring to? Which Upanishad? Which statement in which Upanishad is it referring to? What is the relationship between this sutra and the next sutra and the next sutra? So it becomes a big controversy. Therefore we have many different commentators giving many different opinions on what these sutras mean. So although Veda Vyasa’s intension was to clarify the meaning of the Vedas, the people of Kali Yuga get more confused, and come up with all sorts of different conclusions. So Brahma Sutra is not so satisfying.
So, as well as that, Veda Vyasa then wrote Mahabharat for the people of Kali Yuga. Lets not get into all the Vedic language and all these weird contradictions about personal and impersonal etc, let us tell everyone some stories and give them very simple teachings. So if we look at Bhagavad Gita, which is in the Mahabharata, then we will find that actually it’s referring to the Vedas all the time. You find the very famous verses which are there about the eternal nature of the soul etc, they have there origins in the Upanishads actually. We can trace them all back there. So Bhagavad Gita is not some isolated literature spoken by Krsna, no it is referring to the Upanishads, which are the essence of the Sruti, the Vedas. So there in Bhagavad Gita we’ll find a summary of the Vedas, a very convenient summary. Of course even then we’ll find various interpretations of that. We’ll have impersonal interpretation of the
Bhagavad Gita and personal interpretations. Of course, all the Vaisnavas agree that finally the meaning is that we should worship the Supreme Lord Krsna, which is stated in the final section of the Bhagavad Gita. So not so difficult to understand.
Still Veda Vyasa, not satisfied with the Mahabharat, because it’s such a big work and there are stories in there which would look a little bit strange to us, there is worship of devatas, Durga and Lord Siva etc and also glorification of devatas etc. So people can get confused by that also. He wrote the Puranas, in fact 18 Puranas He wrote, for the people of Kali Yuga. Unfortunately His strategy was not very correct. He wrote Puranas for people in Tama guna and therefore he advised them to worship Siva and He glorified Siva as Bhagavan in these Puranas. He wrote Puranas for people in Raja guna, glorification of Lord Brahma and then He wrote Puranas for people in Sattva guna that is worship of Vishnu. So we got three types of glorification, three types of worship for different types of people. Which is permissible. Just as we have Karma Kanda for people worshipping devatas, Jnana Kanda for people who are above that and are going for liberation from the material world. So according to qualification of people we can have different types of scripture.
After He had written all these things, 18 Puranas, Mahabharat, Brahma Sutras, compiled the Vedas, gave the Vedas to His disciples to disseminate and start some Parampara systems, after all this, the 1 st canto of Bhagavatam, its very purpose is to show that all of this was not sufficient, even though Veda Vyasa is the Supreme Lord, He is avatar of the Lord, what He had done was not sufficient yet.
Vyasadev also understood this so therefore near the end of the 1st canto we have the story of how Narada Muni came, and he approached Veda Vyasa, He was feeling dissatisfied in His heart, something is not here, complete. Then Narada chastised Him, he said all of this that you have written is not going to be effective in Kali yuga. People are unintelligent; they can’t read everything and come to the final conclusion using their intelligence. They will read one little section, worship Siva, Siva is Bhagavan, they’ll do that, finished. They are lazy. Or they’ll do one thing and don’t want to learn another thing. So they get stuck in one type of worship, the lower worship, in Tama guna or Raja guna, they’ll not get to Sattva guna even, what to speak of getting out of the material world and come to the conclusion that Krsna is Svayam Bhagavan, they’ll never understand this. Because you’ve written so many different words for so many different paths for different people. Kali Yuga you can not do that, people are unintelligent, short lived, lazy, confused. You write one work, one object of worship, one method only. So who is the object of worship? Krsna. He is the one you should glorify. Tell everybody in Kali Yuga worship only Krsna. Of course we’ll find that it’s not just a fanatical statement because in the Bhagavatam itself, from 1st canto onwards we’ll find a justification for worshipping Krsna because He is different from all the other forms of Godhead. Of course we have to distinguish Supreme Lord from Siva and from devatas. Then we have to distinguish Supreme Lord in all of His different forms, avatar forms etc from Krsna. So that is accomplished in the 1st canto itself where it is said;
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
Krsna is different from every other form of Bhagavan even though there are many forms of Bhagavan like Rama, Nrsimha and Hayagriva, Matsya, Kurma and Varaha, Vamana etc, many forms because the Lord is full of all shaktis, so He can expand His form into many different forms.
Still, best form, most attractive form is Krsna. He is that form which manifests all qualities into the fullest extent. Because of that He is most attractive. That’s why we call Him Krsna, most attractive. That is suitable for the people of Kali Yuga because they are most attracted to Maya, so we’ve got to get them attracted to the Supreme Lord, so we get the most attractive form of the Lord, that is Krsna. So Krsna is the suitable object of worship, no one else, not even the other forms of Bhagavan, the Vishnu forms, the other avatar forms, only Krsna. So this is the advice that Narada Muni gave to Veda Vyasa.
Now the good fortune, of course is that Krsna had just appeared. So His pastimes were in every ones mind at that time. So that is the good fortune of the people of this particular Kali Yuga. They get Veda Vyasa who has recorded the pastimes, the Lila, the qualities, the form of Krsna, in the form of Bhagavatam. So Veda Vyasa took the words of Narada Muni and he revised one of the Puranas and becomes what we know as the Bhagavatam today, which Krsna is the object of worship.
Now of course what I’m talking about here is that, why do we get all these other things in here? Now we got a whole genealogy study here of producing offspring and populating the earth with progeny, what does this got to do with Krsna? So the idea is that the Bhagavatam follows a format of a Purana and this is described in the 2 nd canto and the last part of the Bhagavatam also. There are different topics that a Purana should discuss so we have Sarga and Visarga and (??? Stuti) etc, we have different topic so a Purana should cover these things. At the same time Bhagavatam also has to fulfill the order of Narada Muni to Veda Vyasa, and that is to show Krsna as the only object of worship. So Veda Vyasa very intelligently did this. He’s done both things. So we’ll see in the different cantos of Bhagavatam, he goes through all the Puranic subjects.
So we have Sarga, that is primary creation, that is Maha Vishnu glazes and prakriti becomes active and transforms into mahat tattva, ahankara and all the elements and mind etc they combine into universes, infinite number of universes and then the Lord enters. Maha Vishnu expands into Garbhodaksyi Vishnu enters there and then He sprouts a lotus from His navel and we get Brahma appearing and what does Brahma do? He begins the creation within the universe, that is the next topic, Visarga.
So what is that Visarga? That’s described here in the 4th canto. 3rd canto or 4th canto actually. 3rd canto describes the Sarga with Maha Vishnu glancing. 4th canto describes this Visarga how Brahma began to create the different living entities in all these different forms and then began to populate, of course he created the different lokas, 14 lokas and the Bhur mandala and the lower planetary systems for different living entities in different gunas. Then he began to populate the whole universe, so this whole section is describing how the universe got populated, of course he concentrates on the human forms not the animals and planets, they’re also there, but he concentrates on the human forms. So the 4th canto basically expands from Lord Brahma onwards, starting at the beginning of his day and Svayambhuva-manvantara.
We also of course have the other topics that have to be discussed so we’ll find sthiti, which means basically where the living entities get to live. The living entities with material bodies they got to support those bodies so they got to eat and breathe and whatever and do their activities and try to enjoy material objects, and they got to do it somewhere. So according to qualification the living entities are stuck in different places within the universe, that is sthiti. So that is described in the 5th canto where we have the description of the universe, all the different lokas, upper and lower and middle and all the living entities according to their karmas and desires etc get stuck in different bodies in these places and they try to enjoy. So that’s the geography of the universe. So the Supreme Lord, ultimately all this traces back to the Supreme Lord, and Brahma as the secondary creator of all of this. But the Lord even though He creates all of this for the enjoyment of the living entities because that is their desire to enjoy material objects, therefore He does this, the Lord doesn’t forget the living entities here and He tries to elevate them in different ways.
So of course we know that there are avatars coming into the material world and They help to protect the devotees, maintain the system, kill the demons who obstruct Dharma etc and He has His process which is Bhakti, embedded within the material world in the form of His name etc. So for instance in the 6 th canto we’ll find one of the topics of the story of Ajamil, how he was saved by the accidental chanting of the name of Narayan, which is astonishing because he wasn’t even a devotee but he destroyed all of his karma simply by accidentally chanting the name of Narayan. Of course he was a very sinful person and he should have got the greatest punishment from Yamaraj but because he chanted the name accidentally all karma has disappeared. That’s the mercy of the Supreme Lord, so that’s posana, the protection, how the Lord nourishes and protects the living entities. Not just the devotees, even people like Ajamil who wasn’t a devotee, he was a materialist trying to enjoy. But He tries to nourish everyone and elevate them to the process of Bhakti. That’s Posana.
The 7th canto there is the famous story there is that of Hiranyakasipu and Prahlad. Conflict between the devotees and the demons, there’s a big conflict, that is the two opposing elements within the universe that fight all the time, the demons and the devotee, which has been going on since the beginning of the day of Brahma when he created the demons and the rakshasas and he also created the devas, so there’s this continual conflict going on within the universe, they battle on all sorts of levels, upper planets, middle planets, lower planets, they’re always having these conflicts. So one of these conflicts is graphically described in the 7th canto where we have Hiranyakasipu, big demon and we have Prahlad there and Nrsimhadev coming to intervene and help His devotee. So that’s what we call uti two tendencies in the universe who are good and bad, the Lord verses the demons.
Then we have of course the continuation after Lord Brahma creates the universe and goes on like that and populates the universe, throughout the whole day he has to maintain the system of population and population control, in the sense of Dharma, maintaining the system of Dharma within the universe, he does that through Kings, lines of Kings, so we have the Manvantaras from the begin of the day of Brahma, you’ll find in the 4th canto how Svayambhuva-manu was there and he produced progeny, a whole line of Kings starts. So this is basically what is happening here, description of this line from Svayambhuva-manu coming out and after 71 Yugas cycles that’s finished, another Manu comes. So we get 71 Yuga cycles, 71 Yuga cycles throughout the day of Brahma we have 14 Manus appearing and starting lines of Kings to protect the devotees, to establish Dharma, the rules, conduct for people and even if people are in tama guna or whatever, stick them in the system and gradually elevate them upwards. So this is one of the Lords plans to accommodate all the human species and try to elevate them in the universe. So the Manvantaras, this is one discussion how throughout the day of Brahma the Manus & their decedents try to raise people from tama guna upwards until they come to sattva and then practice Bhakti.
We have of course isanukatha another, that means the stories of the Lord and His devotees within the material world, 9th canto. Then finally we have things to get out of the material world, mukti, is another topic of the Bhagavatam 11 th canto, largely discusses this, of course even impersonal mukti, some chapters are dedicated to merging in Brahmana, that’s 11th canto. Of course we have not only merging in Brahman we also have Bhagavan there also worshiping the Lord of Bhakti.
Then the 9th topic is Nirodha, destruction. The Lord creates the universe, Brahma starts the whole thing and then throughout the day of Brahma has the Manus working and they are establishing Dharma etc the people are supposed to gradually elevate themselves, then gradually take to the process of Jnana and Yoga and then Bhakti and get out of the universe and go to the spiritual world. Through out the day of Brahma and this happens everyday of Brahma for a 100 years and then finally everything disappears. That’s called nirodha, the big nirodha, the big Pralaya. Of course this is temporary the ones at the end of the day of Brahma then other things also, the final one is the big destruction at the end. So that is the 9th topic which is described in the 12th canto, four types of destruction.
Then the 10th topic is Ashraya, shelter. That which gives shelter to everything, that which is the cause of everything. So in general we can say that is the Supreme Lord, Bhagavan etc. In Bhagavatam it is not just the Supreme Lord it is Krsna. Svayam Bhagavan Krsna, He is the Supreme Ashraya. Now the problem comes how do you relate, that Krsna who is described in the 10th canto, with all these other topics here? Here we have the producing progeny etc, populating the universes, whatever which is all kind of material, whatever. We have descriptions of universes and there are planetary systems and all the creation through Maha Vishnu, how does this all relate to Krsna? Krsna is the source of everything. He has all powers, of course we talk about the sweetness of Krsna, that’s His prime quality. We see in the Nectar of Devotion there are 64 qualities of Krsna, Vishnu has 60, Krsna has 64 qualities. The 4 qualities that are special are all sweet qualities. Sweet pastime, sweet devotee, sweet form, Madhurya Rupa, sweet flute, it’s all sweetness. But when we can say that, well how can Krsna be complete because He’s sweet and all that but Vishnu’s got power, Vishnu creates universes, all this. So Vishnu is powerful, Krsna’s sweet so Krsna’s not so complete after all, Vishnu’s got all the powers.
So we may think like that but the purpose of the Bhagavatam is to show that, no, Krsna has the sweetness which nobody has, He also has power that no form of God has, not even the greatest form of Vishnu or anyone else, Krsna has the greater power. Of course it is said in the Bhagavatam itself and in other places also that when Krsna appears, because He is Svayam Bhagavan, all the other forms of the Lord merge into to Him at that time when He appears in the material world, They partake of His pastimes because He is the Supreme. So He brings everybody with Him. They are inside Him when He is performing His pastimes.
So Krsna in other words is very special. He has sweetness definitely which no other form has, sweeter form, sweeter pastimes, sweeter rasas etc but He has more power also. So we should understand that when we have the descriptions of the universe, Sarga and Visarga, and all of this ultimately we are not pointing up to Vishnu etc we are pointing up to Krsna as the ultimately powerful person within the universe, He is the one.
That is displayed very nicely in the 10th canto. For instance we have stories of Krsna in all of His sweetness especially in Vrndavan that’s where it’s most sweet. When He’s in Mathura & Dwarka then maybe He gets to show His powers. Vasudev and Devaki and the Yadavas they understand that this is the Supreme Lord, yes He is very sweet but He is also the Supreme Lord so it’s a little bit diluted there because they see He’s also got powers evidently displayed. But in Vrndavan even though He does display the powers the remarkable thing is that the sweetness covers it all up. But the powers He shows there are also highest powers.
So for instance when He was a child with Mother Yasoda, the boys, cow herd boys and Balaram and Krsna were playing but they liked to get Krsna into trouble, so they complained to Mother Yasoda that Krsna is eating dirt so now you got to chastise him, punish Him. So Mother Yasoda of course understood that yes Krsna is very uncontrolled and undisciplined and does all sorts of strange things, He gets into trouble all the time, she more or less believed the cowherd boys and Balaram, that Yes He probably is eating dirt after all. Krsna of course was in a little bit of quandary at this time, what should I do? She sees dirt in my mouth she’s going to punish me. What to do? Open my mouth, she’s going to see dirt. But because Krsna is who He is He didn’t have to do anything. Mother Yasoda said, ‘open your mouth’ and so Krsna opened His mouth. What did she see? She didn’t see dirt, she saw the whole universe, not just a little bit of dirt. Just the whole universe inside Krsna, which is completely bewildering. She was holding Krsna within her arms, one foot, two foot like this. But then she looked inside His mouth and there she saw the whole universe which is billions of miles across. She became completely bewildered, what she was seeing there. She saw the planetary system, she saw Lord Brahma there sitting on the lotus, she saw Vishnu there, everything there, all the devatas, all the rakshasas, all the planetary systems, she even saw Vrndavan there and she saw herself, looking in Krsnas mouth even. Most bewildering!
She was looking inside His mouth there and inside there she could see the universe again etc. It was completely bewildering to her. So by the inconceivable power of Krsna, without effort, He didn’t have to think, well I have to show Universal form to Mother Yasoda, He just opened His mouth and His isvarya shakti which is His servant automatically began to do things along with the lila shakti to bewilder Mother Yasoda. The idea is that within Vrndavan, within that baby Krsna we have the highest manifestation of all His powers. That He can manifest within Himself the whole universe without any effort, including Vishnu and Brahma, Siva and everybody else. The greater thing then that was that Mother Yasoda saw this, she looked at Krsna and couldn’t quite figure out what’s happening.
We know that Arjuna also saw the Universal form. When he saw the Universal form then he began to apologies to Krsna. ‘Oh please forgive me because I’ve been too friendly with You, I’ve been joking with You, eating with You, sitting on the same seat, but I understand You’re the Supreme Lord.’ Mother Yasoda didn’t do anything like that. She forgot everything, she thought this must be some sort of illusion, maybe the demons are causing some trick or something like that but definitely it’s got nothing to do with Krsna because Krsna’s my son. So the power of her love eclipsed that vision completely, made her forget it, that it had anything to do with Krsnas powers. But Krsna was able to display all of His powers. Simultaneously Mother Yasoda and everyone never believed it. So in this way the sweetness is maintained at the same time Krsna showed His power.
Even more fantastically in the Brahma-vimohana lila, there Krsna expanded Himself as all the cowherd boys because Brahma was thinking, ‘Oh this Krsna’. He understood yes Krsna’s the Supreme Lord because originally the devatas came they prayed, Kamsa was causing problems and stopping sacrifices, so you have to appear in the material world and Lord said yes I’ll appear and Krsna appeared in the prison house of Kamsa etc. So they knew, Krsna is the Supreme Lord and He has come to help the devatas etc and Brahma knew this. But when he came after Krsna had killed Agasura and Agasura got liberation and everyone was praising Him including the devatas, Brahma got a little curious, all of a sudden all this commotion, all the devatas and sages are praising Krsna. So he came down and He found Krsna out in the forest with all the cowherd boys and what were they doing? They were simply sitting down in the grass, eating. Eating lunch. Krsna had food in His right hand, food in His left hand, food in His mouth, food all over His body. He was throwing food here to the cowherd boys etc and Brahma thought how could this be the Supreme Lord? He’s not even clean. He’s just a little boy running around with food all over His body and food all over His hands, how can this be the Supreme Lord? So he wanted to test Krsna and stole all the cowherd boys and calves, apparently stuck them in a cave, he actually didn’t do that but he thought he did.
After one year he came back and then he saw Krsna was still with the cowherd boys, still playing with them and the calves are all there and he thought how can this be? He went to the cave and saw the cowherd boys and calves were all there sleeping in the cave and he looked up and saw they are playing with Krsna and he thought well who are the real ones? He got bewildered. Then Krsna showed him each calf and cowherd boy which numbered in the millions or billions. It is said that when Krsna goes out with the calves, like billions of calves and billions of cowherd boys, how to accommodate them all in Vrndavan is Krsnas power, anyway billions of them were there and Brahma looked at them and suddenly they all became Vishnu forms and each Vishnu form was in charge of a universe and in that universe all the devatas were there, planetary systems were there etc. All the rakshashas and the trees, the planets and the rivers everything, and there were million and millions of these forms of Vishnu who were creators of universe and suddenly they all disappeared and only Krsna was there. Krsna with food in His hand. So in this way Brahma understood this little boy who is so innocent and doesn’t look like He’s the Supreme Lord actually is the source of billions of Vishnu forms who create billions of universes.
So Krsna’s all powerful. He is more powerful then all the Vishnu forms and all the avatar forms etc and at the same time He is simply walking in the fields of Vrndavan, eating His curd rice and joking with the cowherd boys etc. The rasa with the cowherd boys and others go on as if He’s not God and at the same time to Lord Brahma He can display how He is the source of everything Svayam Bhagavan.
So therefore Krsna has all powers, all the powers of all the other forms of the Lord are within Krsna and instantaneously without any effort He can show these forms if He wants to, as He did to Brahma and He can make them disappear immediately.
But of course greater than all this power is that sweetness, so therefore the 4 qualities are the outstanding feature of Krsna so those are mentioned in the Nectar of Devotion. These sweet things are the highest attraction. So therefore in Vrndavan though He can show and does show His great powers, greater than any of the other forms, the people of Vrndavan are not interested in these things at all, they are completely attached to Krsna because Mother Yasoda, Nanda say Krsna is my son, cowherd boys say Krsna’s my friend, and the Gopis of course say Krsna is my lover. So they are completely attached to Krsna in all of its sweetness therefore all of this greatness become eclipsed. But never the less we should never forget that Krsna also has all greatness, all isvarya, all powers within Him at the same time. So He is more complete in manifestation of powers then any other form but more attractive to the people of Vrndavan is His great sweetness and the other forms of the Supreme Lord don’t manifest that sweetness to a high degree at all. So for that reason Krsna is Svayam Bhagavan. That of course is very concisely described in the 10 th canto of Bhagavatam where we have Krsnas qualities, powers, sweetness manifest through the expert descriptions of Veda Vyasa as recited by Sukadev Goswami and the sweetness of his recitation, through his poetry etc, describing His lilas.
Therefore Krsna is the ultimate form of the Supreme Lord and that’s represented in the 10 th canto which is the Ashraya. All these other topics, the other 9 topics of the Bhagavatam, all the other cantos out of the 12 cantos, those other 11 cantos are actually pointing towards Svayam Bhagavan ultimately. So that’s how we should understand all these different stories and things in the Bhagavatam as all ultimately connected directly or indirectly back to glorification of Krsna as the sweetest, the most powerful form of the Lord and the one that the people of Kali Yuga should worship, through the process of Bhakti.
So that is the message that Veda Vyasa was commanded to put into the Bhagavatam by Narada Muni.
The only other point I want to mention here is that, yes we have the Bhagavatam and it points to Krsna, unfortunately, maybe fortunately or unfortunately, scripture is such that everything is not stated directly and even if you read the Bhagavatam you can get bewildered. In fact Visvanath Cakravarti says that Bhagavatam is like Mohini avatar. Mohini of course means bewildering, so She is a special avatar who bewildered the demons. How did She bewilder them? She came and She stole the nectar from them. They were so enamored by Her beauty that they thought we will give Her the nectar and She will give it back to us. Mohini said give me the nectar and they said yes, yes, yes She is so wonderful, She likes us so much, we’ll please Her and give Her the nectar and they got bewildered, Mohini took the nectar and gave it to the devatas to their great disappointment. So Bhagavatam is like Mohini. It hides the nectar from the demons and the materialists and it gives it to the devotees.
So what this means is that the Bhagavatam sometimes will have stories which may look materialistic or whatever, in glorification of Karma Kanda, Dharma or Jnana or Yoga etc.
For instance in the story of when Uddhava comes back with a message to the Gopis, they were feeling such separation Krsna thought I’ll send Uddhava back as he’s non different from Me, so He sent Him back with a message and the Gopis heard the message, if you look closely at the message what is Krsnas message? Mediate on Paramatma like a yogi. So yogis can feel very good, look higher then Bhakti is Yoga.
When later on the Gopis and Krsna met at Kuruksetra, Krsna met them and He gave them personal instruction and what does He say there? ‘We have to separate again because I have to kill some demons so you go to Vrndavan, don’t be worried because actually I’m everywhere as Brahman, just like ether is spread everywhere so I’m spread everywhere throughout the whole universe, so meditate like that and you’ll be satisfied’. The brahmavadis, the mayavadis say, see Jnana is higher than Bhakti, the Gopis are advised by Krsna to do Jnana and merge into Brahmana.
So yes it looks like that, but it’s not true because it contradicts the whole thesis of the Bhagavatam, that you can only understand Krsna by Bhakti, not by Jnana or Yoga. So why is it like this? Why is it said like this? Mohini! Bhagavatam hides itself from the demons and they can think anything they want. It’s for the devotees. The devotee will understand, that this is contradictory, Krsna cannot mean this become a yogi or a brahmavadi to the Gopis. Sure enough our acaryas will explain this is not true, and therefore there is another meaning behind this, so they explain in terms of prakat, aprakat pastimes the visible pastimes and invisible pastimes. Ultimately the Gopis are eternally united with Krsna in the spiritual world in the aprakat pastimes and therefore they shouldn’t worry that they are temporarily separated from Him.
In other words there are places where one can become confused and therefore to help us the acaryas have explained very nicely, this is a contradiction it cannot be so. How they do that? Because they go through the Bhagavatam and they see what is the may purpose of the Bhagavatam. What is the main statement at the beginning of Bhagavatam. What is the ending statement of the Bhagavatam. What is the principle and then there is contradictions solve them somehow or other, so that’s what they do. So therefore we take the Bhagavatam but we also have to take the meaning according to the acaryas. We can’t just take Bhagavatam because we’ll become completely bewildered also even though it’s the highest literature and meant for the people of Kali yuga. Still we go through our Parampara. We take the commentaries, the explanations of our acaryas so we don’t become bewildered like the other people. So therefore we have that mercy of the acaryas to explain to us the proper meaning of Bhagavatam so there is no contradiction, contradiction is not contradiction. That is one point.
The other point is that, even with that we also understand that it is said that if we take Hari katha which is amrita from the mouth of an avaisnava it’s no longer amrita, it’s poison. So even Bhagavatam become poison when it comes out of the wrong mouth. Has to come from the devotees. So we have the Bhagavatam, we have the commentaries, let it come from the mouth of devotees, those who really understand the purport of the Bhagavatam, what Vyasa, Suka and the acaryas are saying. Those people who have conviction that Krsna is Svayam Bhagavan and the process is Bhakti and the goal is Prema. Those persons should recite the Bhagavatam, then it become nectar. When a person without that faith does it, it becomes poison, same scripture.
So therefore we have the Parampara, we have the scripture and then we have the devotees to communicate the message intact, so this is how the Parampara goes on, it is not an abstract system it’s made of people, devotees, one after the other who pass it on throughout history, up to the present and into the future. So it is the responsibility of the devotees to get the proper understanding according to our commentaries of the acaryas and also communicate that to the people with great devotion, that’s the responsibility. Then we have the successful communication of the message of scripture.
So in this way the Supreme Lord is capable of being described by words but ultimately not the Vedas, not the Puranas other works but Bhagavatam becomes the main source of Tattva for us, for the Gaudiya. Because it indicates Krsna as that Supreme Entity of worship, it indicates the process of Bhakti, it indicates the goal for us that’s Krsna Prema.
That’s why we study Bhagavatam everyday, not Vedas, or Upanishads or any other work. So everyday we have to study Bhagavatam to get that understanding of who is Krsna. So though these stories may look a little indirect ultimately that’s kind of the point to relate everything in the material world to Krsna. In the 10 th chapter of Bhagavad Gita we have the vibhutis of the Lord, a description of how you can see the Lord in the material world, the Himalayas or the Ganga or the makara or the lion are all representing Krsna in this material world. So for people who are less advanced they start with the material world and gradually work there way up to understand who is Krsna. Therefore we have for people a whole creation and all the descriptions of all these different things but through that we are trying to understand the will of Krsna and how Krsna is that Supreme, sweet, most attractive form of the Supreme Lord.
It’s over time.
(1) Sarga: the first creation by Visnu, the bringing forth of the five gross material elements, the five objects of sense perception, the ten senses, the mind, the intelligence, the false ego and the total material energy, or universal form.
(2) Visarga: the secondary creation, or the work of Brahma in producing the moving and unmoving bodies in the universe (brahmanda).
(3) Sthana: the maintenance of the universe by the Personality of Godhead, Visnu. Visnu's function is more important and His glory greater than Brahma's and Lord Siva's, for although Brahma is the creator and Lord Siva the destroyer, Visnu is the maintainer.
(4) Posana: special care and protection for devotees by the Lord. As a king maintains his kingdom and subjects but nevertheless gives special attention to the members of his family, so the Personality of Godhead gives special care to His devotees who are souls completely surrendered to Him.
(5) Uti: the urge for creation, or initiative power, that is the cause of all inventions, according to the necessities of time, space and objects.
(6) Manv-antara: The periods controlled by the Manus, who teach regulative principles for living beings who desire to achieve perfection in human life. The rules of Manu, as described in the Manu-samhita, guide the way to such perfection.
(7) Isanukatha: scriptural information regarding the Personality of Godhead, His incarnations on earth and the activities of His devotees. Scriptures dealing with these subjects are essential for progressive human life.
(8) Nirodha: the winding up of all energies employed in creation. Such potencies are emanations from the Personality of Godhead who eternally lies in the Karana Ocean. The cosmic creations, manifested with His breath, are again dissolved in due course.
(9) Mukti: liberation of the conditioned souls encaged by the gross and subtle coverings of body and mind. When freed from all material affection, the soul, giving up the gross and subtle material bodies, can attain the spiritual sky in his original spiritual body and engage in transcendental loving service to the Lord in Vaikunthaloka or Krsnaloka. When the soul is situated in his original constitutional position of existence, he is said to be liberated. It is possible to engage in transcendental loving service to the Lord and become jivan-mukta, a liberated soul, even while in the material body.
(10) Asraya: The Transcendence, the summum bonum, from whom everything emanates, upon whom everything rests, and in whom everything merges after annihilation. He is the source and support of all. The asraya is also called the Supreme Brahman, as in the Vedanta-sutra (athato brahma jijnasa, janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1]). Srimad-Bhagavatam especially describes this Supreme Brahman as the asraya. Sri Krsna is this asraya, and therefore the greatest necessity of life is to study the science of Krsna.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Adi 2.91–92
Listen Srimad Bhagavatam Audio Lecture of Bhanu Swami
- Transcribed by Varsana Mataji, UK