by Nisikanta Sanyal | 1933 | 274,022 words | ISBN-10: 818919500X
The present work is an attempt to offer a theistic account in the English language of the career and teachings of Sri Chaitanya (representing the Absolute Truth in His full manifestation). Sri Chaitanya came into this world to make all people understand that in reference to their eternal existence they should have nothing to do with non-Godhead. A...
This term ‘Avatara, means ‘coming down’ of the Divinity, Whose Nature is purely spiritual, into this material world, retaining fully. His own transcendental Nature. Therefore, the English word ‘Incarnation,’ which means putting on of the material coil, is wholly inapplicable to the process. When Godhead actually chooses to come down into this world He appears to the view of bound jivas as an animate being possessed of a physical body not essentially different from that of other bound jivas. But Godhead although He appears to them to belong to this world, does not really belong to this world at all. The deluding Energy of Godhead, who is instrumental in the creation of this world of limitations as the dwelling-place of individual souls that are averse to Godhead and who stunts their vision, has no power over Godhead Himself. Godhead is the Lord of the deluding Energy who is different from His spiritual Power. The deluding Energy herself is subordinate to God’s own spiritual Power. The Form and everything pertaining to the personality of Godhead, belong eternally to the category of the spirit and are located above and beyond the jurisdiction of His illusory power. But in spite of the existence of eternal demarcation between Him and the realm of His deluding power, Godhead chooses to come down occasionally into the realm of physical Nature in the plenitude of His spiritual Power with all His eternal Paraphernalia and becomes actually visible to bound jivas in whose sight He seems to appear not as spirit, because the spiritual essence transcends their power of vision, but in the likeness of a mundane phenomenon. The eternal servitors of Godhead who also appear in this world in His company, may alone have the sight of Him and His Activities as They really are. These manifestations of the Absolute, as Absolute, in the domain of this relative existence, are designated by the term Avatara,.
In the Gita Sri Krishna says to Arjuna that He comes down repeatedly into this world and in this respect resembles the bound jiva who is caught in the cycle of physical birth and rebirth. But there is a very great difference between the two processes. Sri Krishna is the Lord of all, has no physical birth and as regards His proper Nature He is absolutely unchangeable. He appears in this world through the medium of His spiritual Power. But the jivas are born in this world being endowed with physical bodies for the purpose by the power of the deluding Energy (maya sakti) as the result of their active aversion to Godhead. The Appearance of Godhead in this world in various forms, such as those of gods, reptiles, etc., is brought about by His Own Will. When He chooses to come down into this world His pure spiritual Body does not become enveloped in a double encasement of matter in the gross and subtle forms as in the case of the bound jiva. Godhead is simply pleased to make manifest in this world His own eternal spiritual Body that exists eternally in the Absolute Realm of Vaikuntha. If this appears incomprehensible to the limited reason of the bound jiva it is so for the reason that the Power of the Divinity is inconceivable and above all controversy. Therefore, the real nature of the Activities of Godhead are not at all ascertainable by the reason of the jiva. What the jiva can understand, if he chooses not to be perversely inclined, is that Godhead, Who is possessed of inconceivable Power, never becomes subject to the laws of physical Nature. The deluding power by which the bound jiva is controlled is also Divine. But the Divine power that belongs to Godhead is nevertheless always spiritual and is categorically different from material Energy. The Power of Godhead is one. As spiritual Power alone She is eligible to directly serve Godhead. As material Energy She has no access to the presence of Her Lord. The material Energy is subordinate to the spiritual Power, as shadow is subordinate to substance or as darkness to light. It is the function of the nonsubstantial deluding material energy to provide souls that are averse to Godhead with a shadowy world for their deluded existence.
The only law that governs the Descent (Avatara) of Godhead into this world is the Divine Will. Godhead appears in this world when He wills. He chooses to appear in this world whenever there is any unbearable decline of religion leading to the prevalence of irreligion. The laws that govern the course of this material world, as they proceed from the Will of Godhead, are irresistible. But in course of time when for some undefinable reason those laws suffer a change for the worse, due to defects bred by time, irreligion waxes strong. No one except Godhead Himself is able to set right those defects. Therefore, appearing in this world with His spiritual paraphernalia, the Supreme Lord puts down all such abnormal deterioration in religion.
Godhead manifests Himself in a twofold way. The creation of the spiritual and non-spiritual worlds and the regulation of them by inviolable laws, is one of these. The Activities of Godhead, as distinct from His creations, in these created worlds, constitute the second kind of His manifestations. Individual souls (jivas) are associates of the activities of Godhead. The successive manifestations of Godhead that appear to the view of the jiva in the material world, correspond respectively to those states that he happens to be in as the result of his meddling with matter, such activity itself being due to his falling away from his own proper spiritual nature by the prevalence of his desire for selfish enjoyment. His Infinite Kindness towards the fallen soul, is the only cause of the manifestations of Godhead in this world. These manifestations are called Divine Descents (Avataras). From the stage that is anterior to the appearance of the spine in organisms to the appearance of the fully-developed man several great Rishis have recorded their observation of eight successive Descents of the Divinity, others have noticed eighteen, and a third group have observed twenty-four, Divine Avataras. The well-known view of the Ten Avataras is the one that is held by most Rishis who were versed in Divine science. Those Rishis postulate ten particular states through which the soul passes successively from the beginning to the end of each stage of his bondage. These are indicated by (1) absence of the spinal column, (2) appearance of the circular spine, (3) the elongated spine, (4) the vertical spine or the man-animal state, (5) the man of dwarfish stature, (6) man in the savage state, (7) civilized man, (8) intellectual man, (9) ultra-intellectual state, and (10) complete destruction of the unspiritual state. In accordance with these successively appearing historical states in the evolution of the bound state of the jiva, the ten Avataras, viz., Fish, Tortoise, Boar, Man-Lion, Dwarf, Parasu Rama, Rama, Balarama, Buddha and Kalki are observed as the corresponding Forms of the Divine Appearance. The narrative of Their Supernatural Activities is recorded in the Puranas and specially in Srimad Bhagavatam. Those specialists of the science of devotion, who have understood the nature of these Divine manifestations by means of intensive concentrated investigation, have, by the grace of Sri Krishna Chaitanya, been enabled to realize the Truth regarding Krishna and specially the unique exquisiteness of His Braja-pastimes. ‘Of all the pastimes of Krishna His human activities are the highest and His proper nature and His proper Form is the Human.’
The Descent of Divine Spiritual Power into the realm of the material energy, or, in other words, the manifestation of Godhead’s own spiritual Power in the apparent form of the manifestation of material Energy, is known as Divine Descent (Avatara). By means of such Descent the association of the novice, on the path of spiritual life in this world, with the realm of the spirit, is effected and such association is the only way by which the person practicing spiritual endeavour (sadhaka) is enabled to attain spiritual realization.
It will be observed that the account of the ten Avataras that correspond to the respective stages of the human mind in the course of the development of its spiritual consciousness, has been explained by means of terms that have recently been employed in the domain of physical science in connection with the evolution of the human physique from the first beginning of animal life in the amoebae. From this apparent analogy the modern reader may scent, in the explanation recorded in the Scriptures, an unacknowledged and crude misapplication, to an irrelevant subject, of the truly scientific theory of the evolution of the physical form of animal life. Or, if he is at all inclined to recognize the priority of the Scriptures, he may be also led by a foregone conclusion to suppose that the Myth of the, Avataras might be connected with those periods that correspond to the respective stages in the evolution of the animal form, and are of value as a piece of antiquarian curiosity as a vague anticipation of the modern theory, that might have served its purpose in the past. Or, again, the doctrine of the tenfold Descent may lead the reader to suppose that it refers in some way to the progress of material civilization culminating in the elimination of all unspiritual elements in an ideal future ensured by the progress of physical scientific knowledge.
In reply to such speculations we refer to the principles that have already been discussed at some length, viz., that the Descents (Avataras) of Vishnu are neither physical phenomena nor have They any reference to the progress of material civilization. But although the spiritual is eternally and categorically different from the material it can be described to those who are totally unacquainted with its nature only by analogy with, and by means of terms that actually-refer exclusively to, the mundane. This analogy is however not wholly inapplicable only if it be clearly and constantly remembered as an analogy and not as the spiritual entity itself that is analogically described. The individual soul in the bound state has to pass through forms of deluded existence that correspond analogically to the physical bodies with which he is successively endowed for the purpose. Those forms themselves are, however, material, and signify a progressive development of the functions of the incipient principle of the adventitious life of the false-ego of the bound jiva There is a regular chain of physical and mental progress (?) on the mundane plane for the bound jiva. This progress, however, derives what deceptive appearance of reality it seems to possess, from its being really the perverted reflection of the Absolute. But in as much as it happens to be a deluding reflection of the Reality it reproduces in an unwholesome and distorted form the features of its corresponding spiritual condition, which latter is the subject-matter of the history of the ten.Avataras. Godhead exists in all the forms in the realm of the Absolute that are reproduced in the distorted material phenomena of this universe. In the region of the Absolute there really exist eternally all varieties of jivas; and Godhead Himself is there eternally manifest in all those Forms. The adventitious physical form of the jiva in this world is material and limited; but the corresponding spiritual forms of the transcendental world, are eternal, unlimited, self-conscious and free from all defects. The varieties of the forms of this world owe their relative existence, being related as shadow to substance or as darkness to light, to the real entities of the transcendental plane. The ordinary fish of the transcendental plane is not merely superior to the Darwins of this world but His nature is realizable by a process that is only obscured by those very notions with which the physical form of the fish has been endowed by the mental speculations of the Darwinian science, however applicable these speculations may appear to us to be in respect of the evolution of the principle of life of this world. Man as fully evolved animal in the Darwinian sense, is too perverted a creature to be reclaimable by the Form of Vishnu as Fish and hence the necessity of progressively fuller manifestation of the Divinity for curing the evils of a progressively retrograding world.
These Descents, or manifestations of the Divinity in this world, take place in all Ages in accordance with the spiritual aptitude of the particular forms of material animation to whom They choose to appear. India has been the chosen land where in all the Ages the Descents (Avataras) of the Divinity have taken place. Indians have been fitted by the Will of Godhead, by their spiritual varnasrama institution to deserve this special favour.
Sri Krishna is the Own Self of the Absolute Reality, Godhead Himself. If Godhead simultaneously manifests Himself in many places and if those manifested Forms happen to be equal to their source in respect of their Qualities, Activities, etc., those Forms are designated as prakasha (manifest) murtis (Forms) of Godhead. There is usually no qualitative difference as between these manifest Forms and the Form That is their Source. As for example, on the occasion of His marriage Sri Krishna at one and the same time married, in qualitatively same but numerically different manifest forms, sixteen thousand consorts; and, on the occasion of the Rasa-pastime, He appeared simultaneously in the company of every one of the gopees as His partner in the dance. On the Rasa Site of Braja the manifest Forms of the fullest Source-Form made their appearance and in the city of Dwaraka, on the occasion of His marriage with His Consorts, the Forms that manifested themselves were Those identical with the full Source-Form. No difference was observed to exist between those manifest Forms and the Source-Form. But we also hear of particular Forms of direct manifestation for special purposes and in those manifestations there are also observed differences as regards the Form. As for instance, in the Son of Devaki we find the four-armed Form. In this instance in spite of this difference in the Form the principle of direct manifestation is admitted. This also holds true in other similar instances. All these are PrakasaMurtis of Sri Krishna or Godhead Himself.
Next to the above are Tadekatmarupas. These are Divine Forms that are essentially identical with that of Godhead Himself. These may accordingly be called Forms that are included in the nucleus of the Divine Form but are slightly different as regards Their figures from Godhead’s Own Form. These constituent Forms are of two kinds according as They happen to be either (l) Forms for expanded Activity (bilasa), or (2) constituent fractional Forms (svangsa). Of These He Who possesses powers that are nearly equal to those of Godhead Himself, is called Form for extended Activity (bilasa), e.g., Sri Baladeva and Sri Vaikuntha-Narayana. He Whose powers are less than those of the form for extended Activity, is called the constituent fractional Form of the Divinity, e.g., the Forms of Fish, Tortoise, etc.
Next comes the manifestation of Divine Descent in the form of inspiration. He is called Divinely inspired into whom any one of the powers of the Divinity is transfused. Such inspiration occurs only in the case of the highest individual souls (jivas). Divine inspiration is of two kinds according as the inspiration proceeds from Godhead Himself or from the Power of Godhead. The individual soul (jiva) who is inspired by Godhead regards himself as the Divinity. He who is inspired by Divine Power considers himself as the servant of Godhead. Vyasadeva and Rishabhadeva, etc., are inspired Avataras.
Next come those Avataras who are mainly of three kinds, viz.,
- Purushavatara, i.e., Descent of Godhead as Master,
- Gunavatara, i.e., Descent of Godhead as the Manifestation of any Divine Quality, and
- Lilavatara, i.e., Descent for the manifestation of Transcendental Activities.
Of these the Avatara of Godhead in exercise of His Supremacy is of three kinds, viz.,
(l) the Person who watches and guides the inmost purpose of primordial physical Nature, creates the material principle itself and reposes in the liquid of the Causal Ocean without directly interfering in any phenomenal occurrences. Samkarsana and Maha-Vishnu are other Names of this first of the Purushavataras. He is a constituent Plenary Subjective Portion of Samkarsana Who is the second of the constituent enveloping Forms of Sri Narayana, Lord of Vaikuntha.
(2) The second Purushavatara controls from within the aggregate universe in its subtle stage, is the Creator of Brahma and reposes in the spiritual liquid in the womb of physical Nature. He is subjective plenary Portion of Pradyumna, the third constituent enveloping Form of the Lord of Vaikuntha.
(3) The third Purusha guides the material universe in its constituent parts, that is to say, is the Controller from inside of individual jivas, as the Supreme Soul and reposes in the Ocean of Milk. He is the Plenary Subjective Portion of Aniruddha, the fourth of the constituent enveloping Forms of Sri Narayana.
There are three Gunavataras, viz., Vishnu, Brahma and Siva. The third of the purushas mentioned above is the same as Vishnu Who is the Maintainer of this world by exercise of the quality of cognitive manifestation (sattva). Brahma, sprung from the navel-lotus of Vishnu, is the creator by means of the active (rajas) quality and is only another aspect of Vishnu. In certain Kalpas (i.e., regime of Brahma) jivas, as the result of their previous performance of pious deeds that make them fit for such distinction, may hold the high office of Brahma, the creator. Brahma of this type, by reason of the fact that the Divine Power is infused into a jiva, is also called inspired Descent (Avatara). Such a Brahma should not be regarded as the equal of Vishnu. In those Kelps in which, due to the absence of jivas of requisite fitness, Vishnu Himself plays the role of Brahma, it is only then that Brahma should be viewed as the equal of Vishnu.
This principle holds in the case of all the gods who exercise any authority over Nature, such as Indra, etc. They are sometimes jivas, possessed of special fitness, invested with the Divine power, and sometimes they are Vishnu Himself. From the lowest to the highest region of the universe the aggregate of all material objects forms the gross body of Brahma. This also is called Brahma. The second Purusha who guides the inner workings of this aggregate is their Lord or Isvara. Siva is the destroyer by means of the tamas (stupefying) quality. Brahma, who is sprung from the navel-lotus Vishnu, effects the destruction of the world by assuming the form of Siva. In certain Kalpas pious jivas also hold the office of Siva, the destroyer. In certain KaIpas again Vishnu Himself performs the act of destruction in the Form of Siva. These destroyers are all called Gunavataras. But He Who exists in the realm of Siva (SivaIoka) inside Vaikuntha as Sadasiva, is not Gunavatara. He is devoid of worldly qualities and, like Narayana, is a Manifestation, constituent Form, or Plenary Subjective Portion of Sri Krishna Himself. Sadasiva stands to Siva in the relation of the whole to the derivative portion, is higher than Brahma and is equal to Vishnu. He is differentiated from jiva by the fact that the latter is engrossed in worldly qualities.
Next in order are the Lilavataras. These are twenty-five, viz.,
- Buddha and
These appear in every successive Kalpa.
The Manvantaravataras are all of them also Lilavataras but are so called as they rule over their respective manvantaras, i.e., intervals between the appearance of one Manu and his next successor. There are fourteen such Avataras, e.g., Yajna, Bibhu, Satyasena, Habi, Vaikuntha, Ajita, Vamana, Sarbabhauma, Rishabha, Bisvaksena, Dharmasetu, Sudama, Yogeswara, and Brihadbhanu. The Manvantaravatara becomes the Yugavatara in a particular Yuga (constituent Age) of his Manvantara for the promulgation of particular forms of worship. There are four Yugavataras corresponding to the four Yugas. The Avatara of Satya Yuga is white, of Treta red, of Dvapara green, and of Kali usually, dark colour. In the KaIi Yuga there is also mentioned, rarely, a yellow Yugavatara. Of these Yugavataras some are inspired, some are prabhava (master), some baibhava (expansion) and some parabastha. Among these He Who possesses the full power of the Divinity is parabastha. In baibhava the power is less than in parabastha and in prabhava the power is less than in baibhava. In abesha or inspired, Avatara there is manifestation of only a single potency. Chatuhsana, Narada and Prithu, etc., are inspired Avataras. Matsya (Fish), Kurma (Tortoise), Narayana, Varaha (Boar), Hayasirsha (Horse-headed), Prisnigarbha, Balabhadra, Yajna, etc., are baibhava, and Nrisingha (Man-Lion), Ramachandra and Sri Krishna are parabastha, in the inverse order of superiority. Of These again Sri Krishna is Godhead Himself. There is no one greater than He. Sri Krishna has four Abodes, viz., Braja, Madhupur, Dwaraka and Goloka, each superior to the next in the order of enumeration. Sri Krishna is Fullest, sporting in Braja with His own and with Baladeva. The same Krishna is Fuller in Mathura and Full in Dwaraka with His family and with Pradyumna and Aniruddha. In Goloka although Sri Krishna is conceived as Full, His Goloka Activities being the same as those of Brindabana, belong to the same category as the Fullest. In these Abodes (dhamas), on account of the difference of the degree of predominance of the mellow quality there is corresponding difference in the extent of the abeyance of the intensity of Divine Power as controlling Force. That is to say in proportion to the prevalence of mellowness there is corresponding obscuration of Power as compelling Force. In the nether worlds, due to lesser degree of mellowness, the aspect of Authority becomes more and more manifest.
Prithivi is the first envelope of the universe constituted of the fourteen worlds beginning with Patala at one end and extending to Satyaloka on the other. This Prithivi as cause is the ingredient and support of the phenomenal universe as effect. The phenomenal universe is successively encased by the six outer envelopes of water, heat, air, sky, the ego and mahat. Outside these seven the eighth case is Nature (prakriti). This last is full of profound darkness and is the support of the whole universe. Time in the form of the power of activity of the Divinity is, in turn, the support of Nature. Time is upheld by the Will of Godhead. Beyond this is the stream of the Biraja so named from the fact that its water washes off all mundane qualities. This stream is situated between the chit (spiritual) and the achit (material) worlds. The Ocean of Cause (karanarnava) is the alternative name of Biraja. In the liquid causal current of the Biraja billions of worlds adorn the cavities of hair of Maha-Vishnu. Biraja is like the moat of Maha-Vaikuntha and the boundary of the luminous region of Brahman which forms the outer limit of Sri Vaikuntha. Sri Golokadhama is in the upper region of Sri Vaikuntha. The holy realm of Goloka is located in the centre of all mundane and spiritual manifestations of the Divine Power. In Goloka Sri Krishna abides with all His Family as Lord of Goloka, acting as a god. Dwaraka, Mathura and Braja are the successive inner tracts of Goloka. In the Abodes of Krishna bearing the names of Dwaraka, Mathura and Brindabana there is progressive increase in the proportion of mellowness due to the increasing preponderance of human activity. This lila is of two kinds according as it happens to be, (l) manifest, or (2) non-manifest. The nonmanifest lila is the name of that eternal pastime in which Krishna engages simultaneously as Boy, Adolescent and approaching Youth, in the company of His own mother, father, servants, friends, sweethearts, etc., in the infinite manifestation unperceivable by this world. The successive lilas as Boy, Adolescent and dawning Youth that He performs in the company of His kin and entourage in this world, in course of one and the same manifestation, are called His manifest lila. The manifest lila visible to this world has as its sole object the free bestowal of His mercy on the jivas. It is eternal. No sooner does it end in one universe than it rises in another like the rays of the sun lighting up the successive points of the zodiac in its progress; so that the manifest lila is always enacted simultaneously in different worlds but in its due order of successive appearance. All the manifest leeas of Sri Krishna in their perennial flow, are eternal and are all existence, all-consciousness and all-bliss, with the exception of the mausala 1ee1a and the lila of the abduction of His consorts, which are illusory and intended to mask the eternal nature of the series of His transcendental pastimes.
The devotees appear next in the order of Descent. The Vaishnavas, as Markandeya, Ambarish, Vasu, Vyasa, Bivishana, Pundarik, Bali, Sambhu, Prahlada, Bidur, Uddhaba, Daliya Parasara, Bhishma, Narada, etc., are the devotees of Godhead. It is our duty to serve all these devotees in the same way as we serve Sri Hari. Otherwise offense is committed. Among the devotees the order of superiority is as follows: Prahlada; the Pandavas who are superior to Prahlada; the Yadavas of whom Uddhava is superior to the rest; the Braja-devis superior to Uddhava; Sri Radhika is the highest among the damsels of Braja.
The four Yugas, viz., Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali are called divya-yugas. A thousand four-yugas form one kalpa. There are fourteen manvantaras in each kalpa. One day of Brahma is equivalent to one kalpa. The pralaya or complete absorption that takes place at the end of every kalpa is known as the night of Brahma. This is the daily praIaya. Thirty kalpas make one month of Brahma, twelve months of Brahma make one year; and fifty years of Brahma make one parardha. The duration of the life of Brahma is that of two parardhas. At the end of the period of two parardhas there is dissolution of phenomenal Nature and the attainment of the highest state by Brahma. Thereupon the phenomenal world is re-absorbed into the primordial principle (prakriti). The first of the series of the thirty Kalpas bears the name of Sveta Varaha or Brahma Kalpa and the last of the series as Pitri or Padma Kalpa. Thousands of the series of Kalpas from Brahma to Padma have passed away thousands of times.
Theism has a long history which may be summed up in one word as the Descent of Godhead into this mundane world. Such Descent accomplishes two Divine Purposes, viz., (l) it is intended to gladden those devotees who may happen to be at the time in this world, and (2) to destroy Godhead’s opponents who oppress His devotees and obstruct their devotional activities. These opponents of Godhead are also deputed by Godhead Himself to serve Him by the method of opposition. There is and can be no real independent rival of Godhead, such as a so-called Satan, to be the captain-general of the sinners. The asuras, who disturb the devotees and are in consequence destroyed by Vishnu, appear to sinful jivas to undergo chastisement that they deserve by reason of their un-godliness. But those who are privileged to be chastised by Godhead are no sinners. Such chastisement is the appropriate reward of their real service of Godhead, although of an indirect nature. They are servitors of Godhead who appear in the world being deputed by Him for serving Him, in that way. By their opposition they serve to bring out most brilliantly the glory of Godhead. Ordinary jivas are not to follow their example; and, if they do so, they are not so easily delivered by direct Divine intervention. The fallen jivas are only delivered when their aversion to Godhead is eliminated. Their aversion to Godhead is due to ignorance of their own proper nature as eternal servants of Godhead. The Descent of Godhead into this world serves also to destroy the root of this ignorance of fallen jivas. This is His causeless mercy towards willful offenders. But all this is still only His secondary purpose. The main purpose of Divine Descent is to make the devotees happy. The secondary purposes are accomplished periodically by the various secondary Avataras who are endowed with the requisite measure of the Divine Power for that purpose. But the main purpose, viz., that of making His devotees happy, is effected only by the Descent of Godhead Himself. Sri Baladeva is the ultimate Source of all the secondary Avataras. He may be regarded as occupying the position of Viceroy for the performance of all official work of the Sovereign. Sri Baladeva destroys the asuras and protects the devotees and re-establishes the rule of righteousness.
Krishna Himself comes into this world in the Sveta Varaha Kalpa (the cycle of the White Boar) of the Vaivasvata manvantara of the twenty-eighth aggregate of four-Yugas, appearing as Son of Yasoda, in His own eternal human Form in His fullest charm and power. The Son of Yasoda, is Godhead Himself, in His private, domestic, informal role, enjoying Himself unreservedly in the company of His own most beloved ones.
The process of the Advent of Sri Krishna is thus described in the Scriptures. As the different gods prepare to descend into this world through the medium of the series of their respective subjective portions (amsas), the heavenly plenary portions of Vasudeva, etc., such as Kasyapa, etc., merging with their original sources (amsis), viz., Vasudeva, etc., who belong to the eternal Divine Lila, appear in Mathura as Sura, etc. The Highest Personality of the Divine Lila, viz., Sri Krishna, Whose manifest Form is Sri Narayana, Lord of MahaLakshmi, desiring to appear in Mathura, causes, first of all, the manifestation of His constituent Form, Samkarsana. Thereupon the Lord, having decided to make visible two other Forms that are Plenary Facsimiles of Himself and Who bear the Names of Pradyumna and Aniruddha, manifests Himself in the heart of Anakadundubhi. After this, in response to the prayer of the gods for the purpose of relieving the hard-pressed mundane world, towards the close of the Dvapara Age of the twenty-eighth aggregate of four-Yugas of the Vaivasvata manvantara, Aniruddha, the Same Who lies in Kshiroda, merging with the Form of Sri Krishna in the heart of Vasudeva, becomes manifest in the heart of Devaki moving thither from the heart of Anakadundubhi. Being nourished in the heart of Devaki by the nectar of loving bliss in the form of motherly affection, Sri Krishna, like the waxing Moon, manifests the gradual development of His Form in the heart of Devaki. Thereafter in the great night of the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadra Sri Krishna, disappearing from the heart of Devaki, appears in her couch in the lying-in chamber in the prison of Kamsa. The mother and the other people think that the Baby is born by the ordinary worldly process with the greatest ease. Thereupon Vasudeva entering the apartment of Yasoda in the Great Forest and leaving there his own Son Sri Krishna and taking away the daughter of Yasoda, hurries back to his prison. Some ancient Bhagavatas also hold that the first of Sri Krishna’s own Facsimiles, Who bears the Name of Vasudeva, appears in the apartment of Vasudeva and that in Gokula Sri Krishna, the Highest Personality of the Divine Lila, makes His Appearance in company of Yoga-maya. But Vasudeva sees only a daughter in the lying-in chamber of Yasoda. On Vasudeva’s return to Mathura with Yasoda’s baby-daughter Vasudeva merges into Sri Krishna.
This is corroborated by such statements as the following,
“Krishna born in the Yadava family is different.”
“He Who is full Divinity is higher than He, that is to say, is His original Source.”
“Divinity in His Plenitude, or Godhead Himself, never leaves Brindabana, nor goes elsewhere.”
“He is always two-armed and is never four-armed.”
“He always sports in Brindabana in the company of only one of the Gopees.”
In the Padma Purana it is stated that the cowherds of Brindabana, such as Nanda, etc., with all families and birds, beasts, deer, etc., all of them, by the grace of Vasudeva assuming the heavenly form and mounted in chariots, attained the region of the highest Vaikuntha. This is explained as follows. Those constituent parts of the Lord of Braja, etc., viz., Drona, etc., who had come down into this world, were sent by Sri Krishna to Vaikuntha. But Sri Krishna is always sporting in Brindabana in the company of His most beloved devotees, viz., the denizens of Braja.
The subject of the Avataras of Vishnu is vast and intricate and we have attempted merely to touch its outermost fringe in the above short account. But before we leave the subject it will be useful to deal briefly with a few of the controversial issues that are ordinarily associated with this subject.
A distinction has been made between different, Avataras of Vishnu on the basis of partial and complete manifestation, and the partial manifestations have also been graded one under another in different groups, so that we have also part of a part, and so on. These distinctions do not mean that Godhead is a divisible entity. In fact in all these manifestations it is the indivisible and undivided Divinity Who appears. The difference is due either to the degree of manifestation or the greater or lesser presentation or reservation of any particular face or faces of the Divinity. Godhead is One but His powers are many and various and He can exercise all those powers in the way that He likes. This distinction between the Will of Godhead and the Power of Godhead, should be clearly grasped. The Will of Godhead constitutes His distinctive and specific personality. It is not delegated. But the Power Who is subordinate to the Will, is capable of delegation by the Will of Godhead. Godhead alone possesses an absolutely independent Will to Whom everything is subordinate. The wills with which other beings are endowed, are more or less limited in their effectiveness; that is to say, they are controlled, as regards their effective exercise in the shape of exerting power, by the Will of Godhead. The freedom of will of the jiva does not mean that the jiva can actually act as he likes, but that he is free to like or not like to act. The jiva has freedom to choose his course of action but such choice can result in effective action only by the Will of Godhead. The tendency is free but its issue is strictly controlled. There is no such gap between the Will and the Power to act, in Godhead. In Him alone the two are identical but yet not the same. The Power of Godhead is capable of delegation but the Will is not. Therefore it is the Will that constitutes the specific character of Divinity.
The Divine Power is manifold although she is one in essence being the expression of the one and indivisible Divine Will. The gradation, that is noticed in the case of the different,Avataras, is in respect of distinction of power. Godhead chooses to manifest His powers partially or fully, directly or indirectly. This is what is meant by the gradation of the Avataras of Vishnu. The partial manifestation is regarded as the plenary subjective portion, or amsa, of His proximate whole to Whom He is immediately integrated.
The relation between will and power is this that the latter always acts under the direction of the former. Power does not regulate herself. Will is the active principle of Whom power is the actively obedient associate. Power has no initiative of her own. But Will is not effective unless He is associated with power. Such dissociation is never possible in the Absolute in Whom the two are eternally associated and in this sense they may be regarded as being only complementary aspects of one and the same entity. Godhead’s Power is, therefore, not external or separable from Godhead Himself although she is always subordinate to His will.
Godhead is the Possessor of infinite powers. Of these, according to the Scriptures, three only are realizable by the jiva viz.,
- (l) the chit (cognitive energy),
- (2) jiva (differentiated souls), and
- (3) maya (limiting energy)
There are also three functions that belong to each one of these three powers, viz., (1) sandhini (uniting), (2) sambit (enlightening), and (3) hladini (harmonising). These three functions are eternally operative in their pure and unmodifiable fullness in chit power. In differentiated souls they are also manifest but in an infinitesimally small measure. In maya the presence of only their dim reflection in a perverted form, is noticeable. To the individual soul the functions of the limiting energy are unwholesome. The functions of the individual soul himself, due to littleness of power, are inadequate although salutary. The jiva cannot attain perfect happiness except in conjunction with the Hladini Function of the Power of Enlightenment. This conjunction is possible only through the mercy of Krishna and His devotees.
The coming down of the Absolute into this limited world, effects the deliverance of fallen jivas by bringing about this conjunction between the bound-jiva and the higher world. The difference of degree in the manifestation of the Divine Power represented by the different Avataras, is in accordance with the spiritual condition of the jiva at the time of such manifestation. The manifestation by way of Descent attains its perfection in Krishna. The other, Avataras dispel the ignorance of the fallen jiva and arouse in him, in varying degrees, the desire to worship Godhead with awe and reverence. Krishna, Who is the Source of all the Avataras, reserves to Himself the right of bestowing love for Godhead. This constitutes the supreme excellence of the Activities of Krishna when They appear in this world. In no Avatara, except in a small measure in those of Nrisingha and Ramachandra, is to be found the extreme deliciousness of the relationship of jiva with Godhead characterized by confidence and intimacy, that attains to freedom from all restraint in the case of the Braja-gopees, that is to be found in the Krishna Lila. Therefore, the mercy of Godhead reaches its climax in Krishna Who appears before the bound-jiva in the most intimate relationship, free from all reservation. The mercy of Krishna, in as much as He happens to be Godhead Himself, is thus superior to that of all other avataras. This fact is at the root of the broad differences that constitute the dividing line between the various religions. Such difference is due to the degree of intimacy of relationship that it offers between the jiva and Godhead.
But the mercy of Godhead, which is so continuously, copiously and causelessly manifested, cannot be realized by the bound jiva due to his ignorance of its real nature. Sri Chaitanya came into this world to supply the knowledge of our natural relationship with Godhead which alone can enable us to realize the greatness of Divine mercy. Sri Chaitanya taught us that the highest service of Godhead, viz., that of unreserved loving devotion embodied in the Braja-devis, is spontaneously attainable to all of us as soon as we fully realize our true relationship with Godhead. That relationship may be briefly described as that of serving Sri Krishna under the lead of the Hladini Function of the Divine Power. This is not an abstraction of the human brain. On the highest spiritual plane such service is realized as a part and parcel of the amorous pastimes of the damsels of Braja under the lead of Sri Radhika with the youthful son of the Lord of Braja. This is the highest significance of Krishna Lila and is exemplified in the Career and Teaching of Sri Chaitanya.
With these insufficient preliminary observations of a general character towards the elucidation of a number of current misconceptions on the subject of Religion, I shall venture to proceed to narrate the Transcendental Career of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna-Chaitanya in course of the following chapters.
The Narrative seeks to present the Absolute as He is in His Supreme Magnaminity. The Career of Sri Krishna-Chaitanya is identical with the Divine Personality in the Form of His Own Loving Service. It is not possible for individual souls, who are detached infinitesimal particles of the Marginal Potency of the Divinity, to realize the Nature of the Loving Service of the Divinity by His Own Integrated Power and his own proper function within the same, except by the Eternal Support of Divine Love Himself. The Magnanimous Activity of Sri Krishna-Chaitanya is identical with His Co-ordinate Absolute Activity as the Amorous Lover of Sri Radhika in Sri Brindavana. The individual soul has, therefore, no access to the Realm of the Amorous Pastimes of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda except by the realization of this identity of relationship between the Two distinct Lilas.