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Re: krushNAstu bhagavAn swayam

From: S. HariKrishna (
Date: Wed Apr 19 2000 - 21:53:17 PDT

From: Anand Karalapakkam <>

>  Please note that the person nArAyaNa is not the form of
>  nArAyaNa. Lord's divine body is made of the tattva named
>  "Suddha Sattva". It has its own characteristics. Lord as
>  such is a chEtana, different from Suddha-sattva. Whenever
>  God/ParamAtma/BhagavAn etc is referred, it refers to the
>  DivyAtma Swaroopa which as a chEtana has all other things
>  like divine form etc as its attributes.

I would like to see explicit shaastric pramaanams giving the distinction
between the Lord and His suddha-sattva body as mentioned here.

Thus, Lord nArAyaNa
>  is not someone who is restricted to 4 hands. adiyEn will
>  post an article on this issue soon.

What question is there of the Lord being "restricted" if His body is made of
suddha-sattva? There are many statements in the Upanishads to the effect
that everywhere are the Lord's hands, eyes, etc. Bhaagavatam 10.2.18 also
describes that wherever Krishna is, He is accompanied by His

It would seem to me that the idea that the Lord must be still superior to
His body is based on the fallacious reasoning based on experience of
baddha-jiivas that having form implies restriction.

> Qtn 1: By the above Srimad BhAgavatham (SB) verse can one
> come to the conclusion that KrishNa is the actual God and
> nArAyaNa is secondary ( "expansion ?" ) to Him ?

>  This verse doesn't even mention about nArAyaNa. Usage

That is true. But the verse very clearly states that Krishna is the svayam
bhagavaan, or Bhagavaan in person. This is in contrast to the other
avataaras (such as Raama, Narasimha, Varaaha, Vaamana) listed previously in
the same adhyaaya who are "amsha kalaaH pumsaH." That there is a contrast
between these other forms of the Lord and Krishna is very clear from the
Sanskrit. Also, the beginning of this list includes the purusha form of the
Lord - see 1.3.1. Hence even this form of the Lord is "amsha kalaaH"
compared to Krishna, if we take this literally.

>  The verse simply says that in comparison with the
>  above mentioned avatArams , KrishNa is actually
>  bhagavAn (bhagavAn svayam) whereas others are amsAs of Him .
>  This doesn't (even in the remotest sense ) imply that
>  nArAyaNa( either as a person or as a form) is an amsA of
>  KrishNa or something like that .

However, there are other statements in the Bhaagavatam in which Naaraayana
is again taken as a form of Krishna. For example, when Bhiishma is lying on
his bed of arrows, he says:

eSha vai bhagavaan saakShaadaadyo naaraayaNaH pumaan |
mohayanmaayayaa loka.m guuDhashcharati vR^iShNiShu || bhaa 1.9.18 ||

Here Krishna is described as the original (saakShaat), the first Naaraayana
(aadyaH naaraayaNaH).

A similar remark is made by Lord Brahmaa in the 10th skandha, 14th adhyaaya.
This is the chapter in which Lord Brahmaa stole the gopas and placed them in
seclusion, only to see that Krishna Himself had expanded to reproduce all
the gopas, thus "bewildering" Lord Brahmaa. When asking for forgiveness for
his mistake, Brahmaa says:

naaraayaNastva.m na hi sarvadehinaam aatmaasyadhiishaakhilalokasaakShii |
naaraayaNo'.nga.m narabhuujalaayanaat tachchaapi satya.m na tavaiva maayaa
|| bhaa 10.14.14 ||

Are You not actually Naaraayana, since You are (the life and) soul of all
embodied beings? (Nay,) You are their Prompter as well as the Witness of all
creatures. (The celebrated) Lord Naaraayana, so-called because He has His
abode in things produced out of Nara (God) as well as in the waters evolved
out of Him, *constitutes a form of Yours* (bhaagvata puraaNa 10.14.14).

Here, the words "naaraayaNo'.nga.m" or "expanded portion of Naaraayana"
again drive home the idea that Naaraayana is a form of Krishna.

So it seems that the Bhaagavatam supports this idea very clearly.

>  Even if one makes the extrapolation of the greatest order &
>  gives an interpretation which cannot be derived from this
>  verse like "nArAyaNa is also an amsA (someone inferior) of
>  KrishNA" it contradicts many pramAnams from VedAs
>  (including Upanishads), IthihAsa-purANas, pAncarAtrA etc.

What Vedas and Upanishads would those be?

>  For instance, MahOpanishad (1.1) says " yekO ha vai nArAyaNa
>  aasIt" { "Only nArAyaNA existed (in the beginning ie. during
>  praLayam) }". This means that, the "person" nArAyaNA ( who has
>  _inseparable_ attributes viz. chit <which is eternal ie. can't
>  be destructed > and achit <which is eternal>, which were in
>  their sookshma state during the praLayam, was the only one
>  existing).

But Naaraayana and Krishna are the same person! I don't see how this can be
used to support the view you are advocating. If the "only Naaraayana
existed" part is taken to mean that Krishna did not exist at that time, then
that is tantamount to saying that the form of Krishna is not eternal.

Anyway, using this pramaana to prove what you say would be like me quoting
Bhagavad-Giitaa where Krishna says, "aha.m sarvasya prabhavo mattaH sarva.m
pravartate / etc" ("I am the source of all creation and everything in the
world moves because of Me; knowing thus the wise, full of devotion,
constantly worship Me."). Using your logic, if Krishna is the source of
everything, then Naaraayana is not. Therefore Krishna is even the source of
Naaraayana. Would you accept this? I don't think so. Hence, I think your
interpretation of Mahopanishad cannot be used to contradict the statements
in the Bhaagavatam in which Naaraayana is seen as another form of Krishna.

There are many statements which name a specific form of Vishnu as being the
source of everything. If we interpret them so literally then they would all
contradict each other.

> Qtn 2 : What does the "above mentioned avatArams" ( "ete" )
>          stand for ?
>   The whole issue of understanding this verse lies in the
>   interpretation given to the word "ete" (ie. "above mentioned").
>   In the previous two verses (1.3.26-27), sUtar says that the
>   number of incarnations of Sriman nArAyaNa (Hari) are
>   innumerable like thousands of rivulets flowing from a
>   river & goes on to say that RishIs & devas (demigods),
>   Manus & prajApatis are all amsAs of Lord Hari.
>   Now the question arises as to whether, all these incarnations
>   ( rishis, manus and others) are actually "svayam bhagavAn" ie.
>   nArAyaNa Himself. To clarify that, sUtar is telling in the verse
>   1.3.28 that rishIs, anya dEvatAs (dEvAs), manus and others ( "
>   above mentioned avatArams") are not "svayam bhagavAn" ( not
>   " nArAyaNA Himself), but KrishNa is bhagavAn Himself. So,
>   obviously, SUtar wants to reiterate that rishis and others
>   are only amsAvatArAs (ie. They are not same as nArAyaNa) and
>   are different from PerumAL's svayam avatArams (like KrishNa).

But anyone can see that this interpretation is very roundabout. There are
three main flaws in the argument that the "ete chaamsha kalaaH pumsaH" verse
is simply attempting to contrast entities in the jiiva category (anya
devatas, Manus, rishis, etc) with Naaraayana:

First of all, why would Krishna be specifically named? Of all the avataaras
of the Lord who appear and act in human-like ways, there are certainly
others who could have been referred to. There would have been no need to
name Krishna. Instead, Suuta could have said, "the Manus, Rishis, and anya
devatas are all amshas of the Lord, but the other avataaras like Raama,
Narasimha, Vaamana, Krishna, and so on are svayam bhagavaan or Naaraayana

Secondly, there are other "avataaras" mentioned in the chapter who are
devotees of Vishnu, not Naaraayana Himself. These include the Kumaaras,
Naarada, and others. It is not only in verse 1.3.27 where "avataaras" are
mentioned who are not Naaraayana. Why would the verse *only* contrast
Manus/rishis/anya-devatas with Naaraayana? That implies then that even
Naarada, Kumaaras and so on are also Naaraayana, since they were not
included in the contrast.

Third, verse 1.3.27 *already* says that the Manus, rishis, and so on are
"kalaH sarve harer..." or amshas of Lord Hari. If verse 1.3.28 were merely
contrasting Naaraayana with these amshas, then it would be redundant.

>   In svayam avatArams like nrusimha, rAma, krishNa, it is the
>   same person(nArAyaNA) who is taking different forms. But, in
>   amsAvatArams, nArAyaNa simply bestows extrordinary powers to
>   a jIvAtma to achieve certain things (but, this is also counted
>   as a type of "avatAram", though it is not PerumAL who is directly
>   taking the avatAram, as in the case of svayam avatArams).

This definition of amsha seems to preclude the possibility that other forms
of Naaraayana can be referred to as amshas. But in Bhaagavatam 10.2.18
referred to earlier, Krishna is said to be accompanied by His "Achyuta

>  Please note that, previously , KrishNA was also listed
>  as one of the incarnation of Hari (nArAyaNa) by Sage
>  SUtar. Actually the sages request Sage sUtar to describe
>  various incarnations of Lord Hari ( SB 1.1.13 & 1.1.18 ).
>  So, the _best extrapolation_ from this verse that one can obtain
>  is that, of all the incarnations (avatArams) that so far
>  has been listed by Sage sUtar , KrishNa is the perfect
>  avatAram ( ie. Poorna avatAram ie. Svayam ) of nArAyaNa &
>  all other avatArams are only amsAs of nArAyaNa, ie. KrishNa
>  is non-different from nArAyaNA since KrishNA is svayam
>  bhagavAn & all other avatArams are not same as nArAyaNa
>  since they are only His amsAs.

But "perfect avataaram of Naaraayana" is *nowhere* stated in the Sanskrit of
the verse in question. And in fact other pramaanas I have provided from the
Bhaagavatam show Naaraayana as a form of Krishna.

>  This leads to the following question :
>  Qtn 3: If the word "ete" ("above mentioned") is interpreted to
>  mean _all_ the incarnations that has been enlisted so far from
>  the beginning by Sage SUtar( instead of referring it to only the
>  avatArams like manus, rishis and others enlisted in the previous
>  verse 1.3.27) it leads to a conclusion that KrishNa is the _only_
>  poorna avatAram of nArAyaNa & all other avatArams like nrusimha ,
>  rAma ( which were also listed previously to verse 1.3.28) are only
>  His amsAvatArAs.

The specific language used by the Bhaagavatam in verse 1.3.28 is that
Krishna is "svayam bhagavaan." I'm not sure of the possible shades of
meaning you might assign to the term "poorna avataaram," but "svayam
bhagavaan" means literally Bhagavaan Himself. Description of the other
avataaras of Naaraayana as amshas makes sense if They are not thought of as
amshas in the sense that the Manus, rishis, and anya-devatas are amshas.
Bhaagavatam 10.2.18 makes reference to "Achyutaamshas" who accompany Lord
Krishna. Surely if the Bhaagavatam says it, then it cannot be wrong. Hence,
the statement that other avataaras of the Lord are "amshas" should not be
taken to mean they are like jiivas, who are also described in different
context as amshas.

> Lets see how "chatri nyAyam" is employed in this verse (1.3.28).
> All avatArams of the type Nrusimha , RAma are Poorna avatArams
> only, since they are taken by the same person nArAyaNa.
> Eventhough all the poorna avatArms ( no umbrella) seems to be
> grouped with that of many other avatArams (anupravesa / amsAvatAra
> etc; with umbrellA ) by the word "ete", its actual import from the
> application of "chatri nyAyam" is that the word "ete" refers only
> to the amsa avatArams (with umbrella). So, the comparison of
> KrishNAvatAram is strictly not with _all_ the avatArams that has
> been listed before, but only with other amsa avatArams. The word
> "ete", though addresses the whole group of avatArams that has been
> listed so far, the intention is to refer to only those avatArams
> that are amsAvatArams (with umbrella). If one fails to recognize
> the "chatri nyAyam " employed, it leads him/her into a
> contradiction .

Believe it if you want, but this is a very hard pill to swallow. Even if the
"ete" refers to the whole group, and yet only to the "amshaavataaras" or
empowered avataaras, my original objections still apply. Also, the "chaatri
nyaayam" concept would seem to imply that the group of persons being
referred to all share something in common (such as all requiring the
umbrella for cover, though in fact only a few are carrying umbrella). But
the amshaavataaras and poornaavataaras (as you have defined them) are as
different as night and day - one group are jiivas while the other consists
of different forms of the omnipotent, omniscient, all-pervading Lord. It
seems unlikely that "ete" would refer to the whole group consisting of two
categories of *very,* *different* avataaras when only one of the groups is
actually intended.

>  SUtar chose "KrishNa" because all the sages were very much eager
>  to know a lot about KrishNA ie. the focus of their questions was
>  with that avatAram. Also, KrishNA is well known for the shadguna
>  paripoornam. Also, the sages being KrishNA's ardent devotees (ie.
>  who wishes to relish the pastimes KrishNA ; pretty obvious from
>  their questions to sUtar), should be doubly assured that their
>  darling KrishNa is neverthless "svayam bhagavAn" Sriman nArAyaNa
>  and is not a amsAvatAra (namba krishnan svayam bhagavAn; manu,
>  rishi, pruthu ...avAlalAm pOla amsAvatAram illai ). So, Suta
>  pourAnikar chose to use "Krishna" in the verse 1.3.28 instead of
>  other svayam avatArams like rAmA and nrusimha.

First of all, if they were already devotees of Lord Krishna, then there
would be no doubt in their minds that Krishna was "amshaavataaram."
Secondly, the sages who posed the questions to Suuta ask their questions in
a general way (i.e. what is the greatest good for all men, what is the
essence of all scriptures, etc) but refer to Krishnaavataaram in passing
(such as for example, by referring to Suuta as he who knows the purpose of
Krishnaavataaram in verse 1.1.12,). They never came forth and actually asked
to be told about Krishna, though their words seemed to indicate that they
thought this was where the answers would be. And Suuta *confirms* that their
questions are specifically related to Krishna  (verse 1.2.5), a specific
response to a series of very general questions. Was Suuta just buttering
them up? Were the sages of  Naimisharanya, despite all their knowledge of
Vedas, so enamored of one particular avataara that they could not hear the
truth objectively? Highly unlikely. Even in the very first verse of the
Bhaagavatam, Vyaasa Himself offers obeisances to Krishna as son of Vasudeva
(om namo bhagavate vaasudevaaya). And surely the realizations of Vyaasa, who
is the celebrated compiler of the Vedas, cannot be so subjective!

It's beyond the scope of this post to show it, but the Bhaagavatam clearly
makes itself out to be the essence of the Vedas, and that scripture meant to
explain the truth of the Vedaanta-suutra. With such high expectations in
mind, I find it unlikely that Vyaasa would have written in such a way as to
let His most precious work be subjected to the arbitrary sentiments of
individual devotees. If Krishna is said to be svayam bhagavaan, then I would
take it to mean that He is svayam bhagavaan, period, and not that the
statement was meant for a specific group of devotees with specific
expectations. Bhaagavatam has all the characteristics of a saattvik puraana
which means, according to A.S. Raghavan (author of _Vishishtaadvaita_) that
it is a specific response to very general questions and hence is devoid of
sectarianism. Besides which, it was the last of the Puraanas to be
written/compiled, and it was done so after Vyaasa compiled Vedaanta-suutra.
This is all described in 1st skandha. Vyaasa was feeling despondent in spite
of compiling so many other scriptures including Vedaanta-suutra and
Mahaabhaarata, and realized that He needed to specifically elaborate on the
glories and qualities of the Lord. The result was Shriimad Bhaagavatam,
which even Vyaasa writes is the essence of the shrutis (1.4.7)!



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