I am God: Autobiographical Fragments from the Bhagavad Gita

Article of the Month - Dec 2005

This article by Nitin Kumar

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The Bhagavad Gita consists of seven hundred verses. Out of these, a massive 574 have been uttered by Krishna himself, giving us an unparalleled insight into the true nature of divinity. The title of the poem too suggests this, meaning the song (Gita) of God (Bhagavat).

Seshashyai Vishnu (With Chromatic Aberration)

For example, at one point Krishna says:

'Amongst the great sages (maharishis) I am present as Bhrigu.' (10.25)

Now this sage named Bhrigu has an interesting history. Once, in order to test Vishnu's greatness, he charged up to the latter's abode and found him resting (as usual), on the coils of a venomous snake, with his wife Lakshmi lovingly massaging his feet.

Incensed that the Lord did not get up to welcome him, the saint mounted the serpent and planted a strong kick on Vishnu's chest. Bhrigu's temerity in doing so is however eclipsed by Vishnu's own reaction: He immediately got up and softly rubbed the aggressor's heels, saying: "O dear sir, my chest is hard and your legs soft.

I hope I did not hurt you. I am blessed to have been so honored by your lotus feet whose imprint will always remain on my body." To this day, Vishnu carries on his chest this mark, known in popular parlance as the Shrivatsa. (Bhagavata Purana 10.89)

It is well established that Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu; in fact, in many instances, they are indistinguishable. As for Bhrigu, he is venerated in ancient texts as a guru who exposes his disciples to torment and suffering, making them resilient and amenable to the inevitable ups and downs of life.

Thus does God inspire us to maintain equanimity in the face of adversity, saying:

"The calm man is completely composed in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, honor and dishonor." (6.7)

"One who deals equally with friend and foe, who is free from attachment, he who takes praise and reproach alike, is silent and content with his lot (santushta), without a sense of ownership (for his house etc), and of a steady mind, such a devotee (bhaktiman) is dear to Me." (12.18-19)

"He who regards a clod of earth, a stone and gold as being of equal worth, is wise and views censure and praise as alike.." (14.24)

Why does Krishna have to subject himself to this apparent insult? To set an example, because:

"Whatever the best one does, that others also do. Whatever standards he sets, the world follows. For me, in all the three worlds, there is nothing that I lack. Yet I am ever engaged in action (karma). For if I did not continue to work with alertness, humans would in every way follow my example. If I did not perform karma, these worlds would be ruined.." (3.21-24)

Here it needs to be observed that in the above narrative, God is both the tormentor (Bhrigu) and the tormented (Vishnu).

The God of Suffering

Krishna's autobiographical intent is not restricted to a specific humiliating circumstance. His wish is to encompass the entire spectrum of human suffering:

"Among the Rudras, I am Shankara." (10.23)

Bhairava Wall Hanging Mask

Shankara is a synonym for Shiva, who is the God of destruction in the Hindu pantheon. Rudras are the class of deities responsible for making humanity grieve (rud: weep). Shankara is their leader and his name literally means one who grants welfare (sham). This verse is illustrative of the Hindu penchant for glorifying the enriching potential of suffering and indicates that adverse circumstances in life are as much a gift of God as are favorable ones.

In fact, the philosophers of yore stated that it was only those who were his favorite did God thus bless, much like a mother who knows when it is best to shower her child with affection and when to yield the stick, both of which are necessary for the potential flowering of the infant's character.

Only she knows when to apply which principle. She may distribute sweets equally to all children playing in a group; but will not chastise them in equal measure when they misbehave. Only her own beloved child has a right over her rod. Thus does Krishna also ensure our lasting welfare (Shankara), by exposing us to the rudras of life.

Significantly, Vishnu (Krishna) here identifies himself with Shiva. This seems a contradiction in terms since the former is credited with the creation of the world and the latter with its destruction (death). However, God clarifies matters:

"I am immortality (amrita) as well as death (mrityu)." (9.19)

"I am the all-depriving death and also the source of all future beings." (10.34)

In Indian philosophy, death is not the opposite of life but its timely fulfillment. Destruction is not the end of creation, but the beginning of a fresh cycle.

Dorje (Vajra)

Later, Krishna identifies himself with another, slightly different instrument of destruction:

"Of weapons I am the thunderbolt (vajra)." (10.28)

The vajra is no ordinary weapon, having being created when all other means failed to restrain the forces of evil wreaking havoc on the world. It was carved out of the bones of the celebrated saint Dadhichi, who readily gave up his mortal form for the divine cause. As the king of the positive forces in the world, it was the privilege of Indra to wield the thunderbolt.

Samudra Manthan (Churning of the Ocean)

In fact, God also says:

Amongst the demigods "I am Indra" (10.22) and "amongst the finest of elephants (gajendera) I am Airavata" (10.27). The latter was recovered when the demons and gods churned the ocean together to retrieve the nectar of immortality. It was later handed over to Indra as his mount.

Not surprisingly, there is a marked preference for Indra, whose name literally means 'one who has conquered the sense organs (indriya)', an attribute which God immensely appreciates:
"One who has controlled the sensory organs is superior." (3.7)

The God of Evil

What however, about the question of evil? Krishna states: "Everything is God" (Vaasudev Sarvam 7.19).

Hence, whatever is present in this world is charged with God's own dynamism and the latter has no qualms about declaring:

"Of the demons (rakshasas) and yakshas I am Kuvera (Vittesh)." (10.23)

वासुदेव सर्वम्: God is Everything

A rakshasa is someone who protects (raksha: protection). Here, Krishna is referring to those of us who lord over our wealth, jealously guarding it with our lives, inhibiting its circulation. A yaksha is one who is not of a clenched fist, but nevertheless uses money solely for his or her own consumption, without any intention of sharing it.

In the latter case, though there is a flow of prosperity, since one man's expense is another's gain, nevertheless, because of the absence of altruistic intentions it lacks in spiritual merit (punya). Indeed, money can have only one of the following three kinds of mobility (it cannot remain immobile):

1). Charity (daana)

2). Selfish pleasure (bhoga), or

3). Dissolution (naash).

It would have been hardly surprising if Krishna had identified himself with the first characteristic. He however, speaks otherwise, saying that he is present in those individuals who consume money selfishly and also those of us who do not let a penny escape, thus affecting the dynamics of nature adversely, ultimately leading to the annihilation of wealth.

Kuvera Kushana  period, 2nd century AD
Sandstone, 96 X 45 X 35 cm

The name Kuvera literally means one who has an ugly (ku) body (vera). Legend has it that he was born extremely poor but by extreme penance managed to please Lord Shiva who made him the guardian of the world's wealth. Our prosperity too is a boon of God and we may justify our conduct taking cue from Krishna above.

It must be remembered however that the result is obvious for all of us to see. True to their names, Kuvera (and the yakshas), have been given grotesque horrifying forms in the Indian art tradition.

The God of Deception

"Among deceitful practices I am dicing (gambling)." (10.36)

The Bhagavad Gita is presented in the form of a dialogue between Krishna and his friend cum disciple Arjuna. The latter had suffered lifelong due to his elder brother's irresistible urge to indulge the dice. Thus Krishna here has a chosen a particularly potent metaphor, lightening the serious mood of philosophical discourse with the warmth of human interaction.

This was one evil element Arjuna could easily relate to. Though he and his brothers lost their kingdom because of the deception of the group playing opposite, the end result was the destruction of the villains, the establishment of dharma, and the icing on the cake - a pertinent opportunity for God to deliver the discourse of the Gita.

Truly God is present in all that is good and bad. The choice however remains ours. Being subject to the inexorable laws of karma, we will reap what we choose to sow. That is the reason he points out to us various specific and temporal manifestations of his otherwise endless and eternal glory.

By following their biographical narratives to their logical conclusions, expressed through an autobiographical discourse in God's own voice, we gain a clearer roadmap for identifying, and making the correct choices in our own lives.

The Female God

"In women, I am virtuous reputation (kirti), fortune (Shri), speech (vak), memory (smriti), ability to imbibe things (medha), constancy (dhrti) and forgiveness (kshama)." (10.34)

A well-known piece of humor has it that we can get a taste of heaven on earth if we have the following:

1). An American salary to take home.

2). Chinese food to eat.

3). A British home to live in, and

4). An Indian wife to go home to.

It is perhaps this fame of the virtuous Indian woman that Krishna is talking about. The reasons are not far to seek. When the Gita itself says that God resides in the steadfast woman, who lets only one man live in her memory (smriti), much like the goddess Shri (Lakshmi), the prosperity of one who has her for a consort is assured.

Indeed, it is a belief in India that when a man and woman are bound in holy matrimony, it is a conjoining of their fortunes, and all sin (paap) and merit (punya) acquired by either is shared equally between the two. The lips of such a woman speak (vak) of no other than the one she has chosen to give herself up completely to.

Since her very childhood it has been imbibed in her to remain committed to one only, till this chaste ideal becomes as integral a part of her character as much as her breath is to her physical existence. It is her infinite capacity to forgive and the forbearance inherent in womanhood that lets such a divine relationship blossom on earth.

I am Me, You are also Me

In the tenth chapter God says:

"In the tribe called Vrishni, I am Krishna and amongst the five Pandava brothers, I am Arjuna." (37)

Meaning, the one narrating the Bhagavad Gita (Krishna), is also the one listening to it, namely Arjuna.

Gita Upadesha

God in The Philosophy of Language

"Amongst alphabets, I am the letter A, and of the different kinds of compounds in grammar, I am the copulative compound." (10.33)

'A', pronounced as the first sound in the word 'amuse', is the immediate sound that springs from the mouth as soon as it is opened, even though it comes from the deepest levels in the throat. It is hence naturally the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet and is a grammatical reminder that God is the origin of all.

The second part of the statement refers to the fondness of the Sanskrit writer to make new, bigger words, by fusing together two or more of them. These combinations are of four types:

1). Avyayibhava (Adverbial compounds): In this fusion, the first word retains its primary importance, while the latter may be reduced to a prefix. For example: vanasya (forest) samipam (near) becomes upvanam.


2). Bahuvrihi (Possessive): None of the original words remain important, but a new one emerges, meaning something other than the constituents: neelam (blue) kanttham (throat) yasya (one who possesses) becomes Neelkanth (Lord Shiva)

3). Tatpurusha (Determinative): The second word retains primacy: rashtrasya (of nation) pati (lord) becomes rashtrapati

4). Dvandva (Copulative): Both the constituents retain equal primacy. Ram and Lakshman becomes Ramlakshmanau (au denotes duality).

Evidently, the copulative compound in Sanskrit is also the most democratic, giving equal weightage to both its constituents, knitting them together in one 'advaita' identity, without destroying their individuality.

The Fire in the Belly

"I am fire" (9.16)

"Know the fieriness of fire to be mine." (15.12)

"Abiding in all living beings as the fire of life, conjoined with the two kinds of breaths (inhalation and exhalation), I digest the four kinds of food." (15.14)

Ancient philosophy divides food (anna), into four categories; namely that one can chew, drink, swallow or lick. In all cases it is God, existing in our body as the warmth of life, generating the metabolic heat digesting it. He carries out this task not only in humans, but in every being (praninam).

All fire needs air for ignition. Likewise, inflamed by the incoming breath (apana), and the other, which is expelled (prana), flushing out the residue from the furnace, the fire of life continues to pulsate in us.

Truly, we have to be very careful with what we eat. It is not ourselves but God we are feeding, who consumes what we intake, much as the fire in the Vedic sacrifice devours the sacred fuel nourishing it.

The Topsy-Turvy World of God

"Of all trees I am the banyan (peepal)." (10.26).

Krishna mentions the banyan tree again:

The Inverted Tree

"The wise speak of the imperishable banyan tree (ashvattha), which has its roots above and branches below. Its leaves are the Vedas and he who knows this is the knower of the Vedas.

Its branches extend all about; nourished by the three attributes of nature (luminescence, mobility and lethargy), the sensory objects are its shoots and below, in the world of men, its secondary roots stretch forth, binding them in karma. Its real form (rupa) is not perceived here, nor its end nor beginning nor its foundation.

Let man first hew down this firm rooted banyan tree with the strong weapon of detachment." (15.1-3)

The Banyan Tree with Secondary (Aerial) Roots

The Banyan Tree with Secondary (Aerial) Roots

The banyan tree is unusual in that it can send forth from its branches secondary roots, often reaching down to the ground.

This is a daring, almost surrealistic metaphor - a tree with roots above and branches below. At the top of such a tree resides God and in the trunk is Brahma, responsible for the creation of all manifested existence. We are however accustomed to a very different kind of tree, exactly the opposite of the one thus described.

Hence are appearances deceptive. Things are not what they seem at first sight. The richest are the poorest inside. Those who are seen smiling outside, feel terrible within, and the one successful is only sitting over his mound of failures. Once we gain this discriminating vision, what Krishna calls the "divya chakshuh" (11.8), only then can we see through appearances and perceive the root cause common to all - God.

The farther we move (evolve) away from the top of the cosmic tree, the more distant we are from God himself and what we normally feel to be progression is in spiritual terms regression. Nevertheless, even though the branches and leaves may spread out far and wide, they are always joined to their root cause (mula), and therefore never separated from God, although perhaps at a remote distance from him.

What we are able to see in the world is in truth the exact opposite of how things actually are. Conforming to this flawed vision our priorities too have become inverted. For example, spiritual activity is thought to be the opposite of worldliness.

For those of us who have understood the true nature of the tree of life, living life inside out is the correct way to progress on the spiritual path. God acknowledges this when He says:

"What is night for all beings is the time of waking for the disciplined soul; and what is the time of waking for all is night for the sage with vision." (2.69)

How can we gain this vision? By standing detached from the world, very much like a person on the moon, who would perceive all the trees of the world to be hanging upside down, as they actually are, only because he stands apart from it all.

Somewhat like Archimedes, when he said: "Give me a firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth." The eagerly sought spot is however not a geographical location separate from where we already are. It is the mental condition of unattached (asanga) equanimity, with which we need to cleave the flawed tree of our distorted perception.

The Silent, Secret God

"In things mysterious, I am silence." (10.38)

"The silent one (mauni) is dear to me." (12.19)

"Silence is the penance of mind." (17.16)

A typical malady of the modern era is mankind's inner turmoil, the offshoot of an unnaturally fast pace of life. Silence (maun), means quietening this turbulence by withdrawing from activity and turning all effort inwards. The internal dialogue quietens gradually; and then, when the silence becomes profound, the voice of God speaks.

Thus, the more we come near to hearing God's own voice, entering the ultimate of mysteries, our own need to speak becomes lesser. Shri Ramakrishna compared this to the honeybee, which hums only while hovering over a flower. No sooner than it lands and begins to suck the nectar, all humming ceases.

The Serpentine God

"Among snakes (sarpas), I am Vasuki." (10.28).

"Among serpents (nagas), I am Ananta." (10.29)

In consecutive verses, Krishna identifies himself with two different serpents. There is a fine distinction between them. While the sarpas are single-hooded and live on land, the multi-headed nagas dwell in water.

Specifically, Vasuki adorns Lord Shiva's finger as a ring and served as a rope during the churning of the ocean. Ananta is the serpent on whom Vishnu reclines during his yoga-nidra (sleep).

Metaphysically, Ananta represents the infinite potential energy lying dormant in us (Kundalini); and Vasuki, with one head, its singular uncoiling.

Yoga-Nidra (Yogic Trance Theory, Practice and Applications)
Yoga-Nidra (Yogic Trance Theory, Practice and Applications) 


The Bhagavad Gita is in many ways God's picture album filled with self-portraits. However, his voice is different from ours, and identification with one is not the negation of the other. When he says, "In the rivers I am Ganga" or "amongst birds I am Garuda", it is the underlying qualities making these manifestations special that he is calling to attention.

The Great Teacher knows that human intellect is but naturally attracted to what it perceives to be extraordinary. This is made explicit when he defines himself to be "the brilliance of all that is brilliant and the splendor of all that is splendid." He is the invisible infinite, whose essence permeates all finite things, much as "gems beaded on a string" (7.7), poetically revealed as "the flavor (rasa) of water" (7.8).

श्रीमद्भगवद् गीता (साधक हिन्दी टीका) Shrimad Bhagawad Gita (With Sadhaka Sanjeevani Commentary by Swami Ramsukhdas)

(This article is dedicated to the memory of Swami Ramsukhdas, who was never photographed and whom the author never met. He died early this year.)

References and Further Reading:

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  • I have often wondered about the Bhagavad Gita, but have never read it. I may give it a shot now! I have read “The Wisdom of Laotse” which was edtied by Lin Yutang. It sets forth the Taoteching, along with his own comments and reflections. It’s been a very long time since I read it, but it really stayed with me, and did much to help me in my own life. One of the concepts sounds very similar to what you mentioned, namely, “doing by not doing.”
    COLOGENGKING April 02, 2012
  • This is a wonderful article. I enjoyed it a lot . thank you very much..
    shradha February 05, 2012
  • Does it really matter Krishna be Vishnu.. This is a wonderful story that describes what actually unfolds in life. I have come to know what I think to be Bad or Good concerning my life should not be relied upon because my conclusions have been completely wrong , with many times completely calling bad what was good and good what turned out to be harmful. Very humbling along with freeing me to be able to wait and see , look and learn what it is I need ..Finding more and more how much I don\'t know but I wish to learn so I can give. This is the way I apsire to be in all things.. I love ancient scriptures of all kinds
    7towers July 19, 2011
  • Krishna is an incarnation of Visnu not true ========================== As it is a very common notion among the Hindus that Krishna is an incarnation of Visnu. It is a sad history. Over the years there have been hundreds and thousands of translations and commentaries on Krishna’s Bhagavad-gita both in India and in the West. Unfortunately most of them were prepared with some motive other than simply presenting the discussion between Krishna and Arjuna that occurred five thousand years ago on the battlefield of Kurusettra. Unfortunately people who read these motivated commentaries do not understand Krishna or the message of Kirshna’s book, Bhagavad-gita. For more information on this you can read the preface to Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This phenomenon was dramatically illustrated in the Western countries. For more than the last two hundred years Krishna’s Bhagavad-gita has been very popular in the West among philosophers, religionists and scholars and the general public also. There have been hundreds of translations in the English language and the Gita had been read by millions of people in the West before the Founder-Acarya of the Hare Krishna movement, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, came to America in 1965. The amazing thing is, although the message of Krishna’s Gita is so clear if read “As It Is,” before 1965 not a single person in the Western world had became a devotee of Krishna. Before Srila Prabhupada presented his translation, “Bhagavad-gita As It Is” the Gita was accepted as a brilliant book of philosophy. But the thought of surrendering to Krishna never entered into anyone’s mind until they read Srila Prabhupada’s translation, Bhagavad-gita AS IT IS. Srila Prabhupada’s translation of the Gita has created a revolution unlike any before it. It has inspired tens of thousands of wealthy, materially comfortable Westerners [and many Indians now also] to give up the materialistic way of life and take on a completely different life dedicated to serving Krishna. Why? Because Srila Prabhupada has not, like almost all the other translators of the Gita, tried to minimize Krishna’s position or twist some meaning other than surrender to Krishna out of the book. Srila Prabhupada has let Krishna speak to the world by presenting His book, AS IT IS and the results have been wonderful. Our general tendency in the material world is to be envious of others. We envy anyone who has a position greater than our own, that is the materialistic way. So when Krishna comes and says He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that we should all surrender to Him, such instructions are not liked by materialistic persons. So they write commentaries on the Gita to cover up all the clear instructions Krishna has given with their mental speculation and word jugglery and the poor reader is left totally confused and certainly does not understand the Bhagavad-gita at all. In my experience that is generally the position of the Hindus at present. Totally confused. Even in India. Before I joined the Hare Krishna movement I went on a student exchange program to India [Rajhastan and Gujrat] and I stayed with may wealthy Indian families and they were all pious families, almost all devotees of Krishna. I asked them so many questions, but even though they were going to the temple every day, they did not know why and could not explain what they believed at all. So I was very pleased when I discovered the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He has so perfectly and completely explained the philosophy of India that even we can understand it… As for your specific question in regard to Krishna and Visnu. Visnu is an incarnation of Krishna, Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, syam bhagavan. It is true that all the Visnu-tattva incarnations including Maha-Visnu are non-different from Krishna, but still Krishna is the origin of them all. This point is confirmed in so many places in the Bhagavad-gita and in so many other Vedic texts also. Where are your quotes from the Bhagavad-gita to say Maha-Visnu is the origin of Krishna? There is no such quote at all. So where have you got the idea from? It is not in the Bhagavad-gita at all. It is Krishna who is speaking the Bhagavad-gita and all the way through the book He is using the word aham meaning “I”. He says aham sarvasya prabhavo, “I am the source of all the material and spiritual worlds…” Bhagavad-gita 10.41 The Opulence of the Absolute yad yad vibhutimat sattvam srimad urjitam eva va tat tad evavagaccha tvam mama tejo-’msa-sambhavam Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My [KRISHNA'S] splendor. Bhagavad-gita 14.3 The Three Modes Of Material Nature mama yonir mahad brahma tasmin garbham dadhamy aham sambhavah sarva-bhutanam tato bhavati bharata The total material substance, called Brahman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahman that I [KRISHNA] impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata. Bhagavad-gita 14.4 The Three Modes Of Material Nature sarva-yonisu kaunteya murtayah sambhavanti yah tasam brahma mahad yonir aham bija-pradah pita It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I [KRISHNA] am the seed-giving father. In this verse it is clearly explained that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is the original father of all living entities. The living entities are combinations of the material nature and the spiritual nature. Such living entities are seen not only on this planet, but in every planet, even in the highest, where Brahma is situated. Everywhere there are living entities; within the earth there are living entities, even within water and within fire. All these appearances are due to the mother, material nature, and Krsna’s seed-giving process. The purport is that the living entities, being impregnated in the material world, come out and form at the time of creation according to their past deeds. Bhagavad-gita 4.7 Transcendental Knowledge yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I {KRISHNA] descend Myself. Bhagavad-gita 7.7 Knowledge of the Absolute mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya mayi sarvam idam protam sutre mani-gana iva O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me {KRISHNA]. Everything rests upon Me [KRISHNA], as pearls are strung on a thread. Bhagavad-gita 9.7 The Most Confidential Knowledge sarva-bhutani kaunteya prakrtim yanti mamikam kalpa-ksaye punas tani kalpadau visrjamy aham O son of Kunti, at the end of the millennium every material manifestation enters into My [KRISHNA'S] nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by [KRISHNA'S] My potency I again create. Bhagavad-gita 9.10 The Most Confidential Knowledge mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivartate This material nature is working under [KRISHNA'S] My direction, O son of Kunti, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again. I have just included a few quotes for your reading, there are hundreds more. But where are the quotes saying Maha-Visnu is the origin of Krishna? Bhagavad-gita 10.8 The Opulence of the Absolute aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate iti matva bhajante mam budha bhava-samanvitah I [KRISHNA] am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me [KRISHNA]. The wise who know this perfectly engage in [KRISHNA'S] My devotional service and worship [KRISHNA] Me with all their hearts. A learned scholar who has studied the Vedas perfectly and has information from authorities like Lord Caitanya and who knows how to apply these teachings can understand that Krsna is the origin of everything in both the material and spiritual worlds, and because he knows this perfectly he becomes firmly fixed in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord. He can never be deviated by any amount of nonsensical commentaries or by fools. All Vedic literature agrees that Krsna is the source of Brahma, Siva and all other demigods. In the Atharva Veda it is said, “yo brahmanam vidadhati: purvam yo vai vedams ca gapayati sma krsnah.” “It was Krsna who in the beginning instructed Brahma in Vedic knowledge and who disseminated Vedic knowledge in the past.” Then again it is said, “atha puruso ha vai narayano ‘kamayata prajah srjeya ity upakramya.” “Then the Supreme Personality Narayana desired to create living entities.” Again it is said: narayanad brahma jayate, narayanad prajapatih prajayate, narayanad indro jayate, narayanad astau vasavo jayante, narayanad ekadasa rudra jayante, narayanad dvadasadityah. “From Narayana, Brahma is born, and from Narayana, the patriarchs are also born. From Narayana, Indra is born, from Narayana the eight Vasus are born, from Narayana the eleven Rudras are born, from Narayana the twelve Adityas are born.” It is said in the same Vedas, brahmanyo devaki-putrah: “The son of Devaki, Krsna, is the Supreme Personality.” Then it is said: eko vai narayana asin na brahma na isano napo nagni samau neme dyav-aprthivi na naksatrani na suryah sa ekaki na ramate tasya dhyanantah sthasya yatra chandogaih kriyamanastakadi-samjnaka stuti-stomah stomam ucyate. “In the beginning of the creation there was only the Supreme Personality Narayana. There was no Brahma, no Siva, no fire, no moon, no stars in the sky, no sun. There was only Krsna, who creates all and enjoys all” In the many Puranas it is said that Lord Siva was born from the highest, the Supreme Lord Krsna, and the Vedas say that it is the Supreme Lord, the creator of Brahma and Siva, who is to be worshiped. In the Moksa-dharma Krsna also says, prajapatim ca rudram capy aham eva srjami vai tau hi mam na vijanito mama maya-vimohitau. “The patriarchs, Siva and others are created by Me, though they do not know that they are created by Me because they are deluded by My illusory energy.” In the Varaha Purana it is also said, narayanah paro devas tasmaj jatas caturmukhah tasmad rudro ‘bhavad devah sa ca sarva-jnatam gatah. “Narayana is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and from Him Brahma was born, from whom Siva was born.” Lord Krsna is the source of all generations, and He is called the most efficient cause of everything. He says that because “everything is born of Me, I am the original source of all. Everything is under Me; no one is above Me.” There is no supreme controller other than Krsna. One who understands Krsna in such a way from a bona fide spiritual master and from Vedic literature, who engages all his energy in Krsna consciousness, becomes a truly learned man. In comparison to him, all others, who do not know Krsna properly, are but fools. Only a fool would consider Krsna to be an ordinary man. A Krsna conscious person should not be bewildered by fools; he should avoid all unauthorized commentaries and interpretations on Bhagavad-gita and proceed in Krsna consciousness with determination and firmness. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.28 Krsna Is the Source of All Incarnations ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam indrari-vyakulam lokam mrdayanti yuge yuge All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists. In this particular stanza Lord Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, is distinguished from other incarnations. He is counted amongst the avataras (incarnations) because out of His causeless mercy the Lord descends from His transcendental abode. Avatara means “one who descends.” All the incarnations of the Lord, including the Lord Himself, descend on the different planets of the material world as also in different species of life to fulfill particular missions. Sometimes He comes Himself, and sometimes His different plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, or His differentiated portions directly or indirectly empowered by Him, descend on this material world to execute certain specific functions. Originally the Lord is full of all opulences, all prowess, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation. When they are partly manifested through the plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, it should be noted that certain manifestations of His different powers are required for those particular functions. When in the room small electric bulbs are displayed, it does not mean that the electric powerhouse is limited by the small bulbs. The same powerhouse can supply power to operate large-scale industrial dynamos with greater volts. Similarly, the incarnations of the Lord display limited powers because so much power is needed at that particular time. According to Srila Jiva Gosvami’s statement, in accordance with authoritative sources, Lord Krsna is the source of all other incarnations. It is not that Lord Krsna has any source of incarnation. All the symptoms of the Supreme Truth in full are present in the person of Lord Sri Krsna, and in the Bhagavad-gita the Lord emphatically declares that there is no truth greater than or equal to Himself. In this stanza the word svayam is particularly mentioned to confirm that Lord Krsna has no other source than Himself. Although in other places the incarnations are described as bhagavan because of their specific functions, nowhere are they declared to be the Supreme Personality. In this stanza the word svayam signifies the supremacy as the summum bonum. The summum bonum Krsna is one without a second. He Himself has expanded Himself in various parts, portions and particles as svayam-rupa, svayam-prakasa, tad-ekatma, prabhava, vaibhava, vilasa, avatara, avesa, and jivas, all provided with innumerable energies just suitable to the respective persons and personalities. Learned scholars in transcendental subjects have carefully analyzed the summum bonum Krsna to have sixty-four principal attributes. All the expansions or categories of the Lord possess only some percentages of these attributes. But Sri Krsna is the possessor of the attributes cent percent. And His personal expansions such as svayam-prakasa, tad-ekatma up to the categories of the avataras who are all visnu-tattva, possess up to ninety-three percent of these transcendental attributes. Lord Siva, who is neither avatara nor avesa nor in between them, possesses almost eighty-four percent of the attributes. But the jivas, or the individual living beings in different statuses of life, possess up to the limit of seventy-eight percent of the attributes. In the conditioned state of material existence, the living being possesses these attributes in very minute quantity, varying in terms of the pious life of the living being. The most perfect of living beings is Brahma, the supreme administrator of one universe. He possesses seventy-eight percent of the attributes in full. All other demigods have the same attributes in less quantity, whereas human beings possess the attributes in very minute quantity. The standard of perfection for a human being is to develop the attributes up to seventy-eight percent in full. The living being can never possess attributes like Siva, Visnu or Lord Krsna. A living being can become godly by developing the seventy-eight-percent transcendental attributes in fullness, but he can never become a God like Siva, Visnu or Krsna. He can become a Brahma in due course. The godly living beings who are all residents of the planets in the spiritual sky are eternal associates of God in different spiritual planets called Hari-dhama and Mahesa-dhama. The abode of Lord Krsna above all spiritual planets is called Krsnaloka or Goloka Vrndavana, and the perfected living being, by developing seventy-eight percent of the above attributes in fullness, can enter the planet of Krsnaloka after leaving the present material body. Bhagavad-gita 10.12-13 The Opulence of the Absolute arjuna uvaca param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan purusam sasvatam divyam adi-devam ajam vibhum ahus tvam rsayah sarve devarsir naradas tatha asito devalo vyasah svayam caiva bravisi me Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original, and You are the unborn and all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me. In these two verses the Supreme Lord gives a chance to the modern philosopher, for here it is clear that the Supreme is different from the individual soul. Arjuna, after hearing the essential four verses of Bhagavad-gita in this chapter, became completely free from all doubts and accepted Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He at once boldly declares, “You are Parambrahma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” And previously Krsna states that He is the originator of everything and everyone. Every demigod and every human being is dependent on Him. Men and demigods, out of ignorance, think that they are absolute and independent of the Supreme Lord Krsna. That ignorance is removed perfectly by the discharge of devotional service. This is already explained in the previous verse by the Lord. Now by His grace, Arjuna is accepting Him as the Supreme Truth, in concordance with the Vedic injunction. It is not because Krsna is an intimate friend of Arjuna that he is flattering Him by calling Him the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth. Whatever Arjuna says in these two verses is confirmed by Vedic truth. Vedic injunctions affirm that only one who takes to devotional service to the Supreme Lord can understand Him, whereas others cannot. Each and every word of this verse spoken by Arjuna is confirmed by Vedic injunction. Here Arjuna expresses himself through the grace of Krsna. If we want to understand Bhagavad-gita, we should accept the statements in these two verses. This is called the parampara system, acceptance of the disciplic succession. Unless one is in the disciplic succession, he cannot understand Bhagavad-gita. It is not possible by so-called academic education. Unfortunately those proud of their academic education, despite so much evidence in Vedic literatures, stick to their obstinate conviction that Krsna is an ordinary person. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.1 Questions by the Sages om namo bhagavate vasudevaya janmady asya yato ‘nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ‘mrsa dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi O my Lord, Sri Krsna, son of Vasudeva, O all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. I meditate upon Lord Sri Krsna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmaji, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Sri Krsna, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth. Obeisances unto the Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva, directly indicate Lord Sri Krsna, who is the divine son of Vasudeva and Devaki. This fact will be more explicitly explained in the text of this work. Sri Vyasadeva asserts herein that Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead, and all others are His direct or indirect plenary portions or portions of the portion. Srila Jiva Gosvami has even more explicitly explained the subject matter in his Krsna-sandarbha. And Brahma, the original living being, has explained the subject of Sri Krsna substantially in his treatise named Brahma-samhita. In the Sama-veda Upanisad, it is also stated that Lord Sri Krsna is the divine son of Devaki. Therefore, in this prayer, the first proposition holds that Lord Sri Krsna is the primeval Lord, and if any transcendental nomenclature is to be understood as belonging to the Absolute Personality of Godhead, it must be the name indicated by the word Krsna, which means the all-attractive. In Bhagavad-gita, in many places, the Lord asserts Himself to be the original Personality of Godhead, and this is confirmed by Arjuna, and also by great sages like Narada, Vyasa, and many others. In the Padma Purana, it is also stated that out of the innumerable names of the Lord, the name of Krsna is the principal one. Vasudeva indicates the plenary portion of the Personality of Godhead, and all the different forms of the Lord, being identical with Vasudeva, are indicated in this text. The name Vasudeva particularly indicates the divine son of Vasudeva and Devaki. Sri Krsna is always meditated upon by the paramahamsas, who are the perfected ones among those in the renounced order of life. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.28-29 Divinity and Divine Service vasudeva-para veda vasudeva-para makhah vasudeva-para yoga vasudeva-parah kriyah vasudeva-param jnanam vasudeva-param tapah vasudeva-paro dharmo vasudeva-para gatih In the revealed scriptures, the ultimate object of knowledge is Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead. The purpose of performing sacrifice is to please Him. Yoga is for realizing Him. All fruitive activities are ultimately rewarded by Him only. He is supreme knowledge, and all severe austerities are performed to know Him. Religion [dharma] is rendering loving service unto Him. He is the supreme goal of life. That Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, is the only object of worship is confirmed in these two slokas. In the Vedic literature there is the same objective: establishing one’s relationship and ultimately reviving our lost loving service unto Him. That is the sum and substance of the Vedas. In the Bhagavad-gita the same theory is confirmed by the Lord in His own words: the ultimate purpose of the Vedas is to know Him only. All the revealed scriptures are prepared by the Lord through His incarnation in the body of Srila Vyasadeva just to remind the fallen souls, conditioned by material nature, of Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead. No demigod can award freedom from material bondage. That is the verdict of all the Vedic literatures. Impersonalists who have no information of the Personality of Godhead minimize the omnipotency of the Supreme Lord and put Him on equal footing with all other living beings, and for this act such impersonalists get freedom from material bondage only with great difficulty. They can surrender unto Him only after many, many births in the culture of transcendental knowledge. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.18 The Passing Away of Bhismadeva in the Presence of Lord Krsna esa vai bhagavan saksad adyo narayanah puman mohayan mayaya lokam gudhas carati vrsnisu This Sri Krsna is no other than the inconceivable, original Personality of Godhead. He is the first Narayana, the supreme enjoyer. But He is moving amongst the descendants of King Vrsni just like one of us and He is bewildering us with His self-created energy. Here is an authority speaking about Sri Krsna as the original Personality of Godhead and the first Narayana. Even such an impersonalist as Acarya Sankara has said in the beginning of his commentation on the Bhagavad-gita that Narayana, the Personality of Godhead, is beyond the material creation. The universe is one of the material creations, but Narayana is transcendental to such material paraphernalia. Bhismadeva is one of the twelve mahajanas who know the principles of transcendental knowledge. His confirmation of Lord Sri Krsna’s being the original Personality of Godhead is also corroborated by the impersonalist Sankara. All other acaryas have also confirmed this statement, and thus there is no chance of not accepting Lord Sri Krsna as the original Personality of Godhead. Bhismadeva says that He is the first Narayana. This is also confirmed by Brahmaji in the Bhagavatam (10.14.14). Krsna is the first Narayana. In the spiritual world (Vaikuntha) there are unlimited numbers of Narayanas, who are all the same Personality of Godhead and are considered to be the plenary expansions of the original Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. The first form of the Lord Sri Krsna first expands Himself as the form of Baladeva, and Baladeva expands in so many other forms, such as Sankarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Vasudeva, Narayana, Purusa, Rama and Nrsimha. All these expansions are one and the same visnu-tattva, and Sri Krsna is the original source of all the plenary expansions. He is therefore the direct Personality of Godhead. He is the creator of the material world, and He is the predominating Deity known as Narayana in all the Vaikuntha planets. Therefore, His movements amongst human beings is another sort of bewilderment. The Lord therefore says in the Bhagavad-gita that foolish persons consider Him to be one of the human beings without knowing the intricacies of His movements. The bewilderment regarding Sri Krsna is due to the action of His twofold internal and external energies upon the third one, called marginal energy. The living entities are expansions of His marginal energy, and thus they are sometimes bewildered by the internal energy and sometimes by the external energy. By internal energetic bewilderment, Sri Krsna expands Himself into unlimited numbers of Narayanas and exchanges or accepts transcendental loving service from the living entities in the transcendental world. And by His external energetic expansions, He incarnates Himself in the material world amongst the men, animals or demigods to reestablish His forgotten relation with the living entities in different species of life. Great authorities like Bhisma, however, escape His bewilderment by the mercy of the Lord. Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.1.19 The Supreme Lord Is Equal to Everyone sapator asakrd visnum yad brahma param avyayam svitro na jato jihvayam nandham vivisatus tamah Although these two men–Sisupala and Dantavakra–repeatedly blasphemed the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu [Krsna], the Supreme Brahman, they were quite healthy. Indeed, their tongues were not attacked by white leprosy, nor did they enter the darkest region of hellish life. We are certainly most surprised by this. Krsna is described by Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita (10.12) as follows: param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan. “You are the Supreme Brahman, the supreme abode and purifier.” Herein this is confirmed. Visnum yad brahma param avyayam. The Supreme Visnu is Krsna. Krsna is the cause of Visnu, not vice versa. Similarly, Brahman is not the cause of Krsna; Krsna is the cause of Brahman. Therefore Krsna is the Parabrahman (yad brahma param avyayam). Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.21.5 P Bali Maharaja Arrested by the Lord Vamanadeva first expanded Himself to the universal form and then reduced Himself to the original Vamana-rupa. Thus He acted exactly like Lord Krsna, who, at the request of Arjuna, first showed His universal form and later resumed His original form as Krsna. The Lord can assume any form He likes, but His original form is that of Krsna (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). According to the capacity of the devotee, the Lord assumes various forms so that the devotee can handle Him. This is His causeless mercy. When Lord Vamanadeva resumed His original form, Lord Brahma and his associates collected various paraphernalia for worship with which to please Him. Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.24.53-55 Krsna the Supreme Personality of Godhead astamas tu tayor asit svayam eva harih kila subhadra ca mahabhaga tava rajan pitamahi The eight sons born of Sahadeva such as Pravara and Sruta, were exact incarnations of the eight Vasus in the heavenly planets. Vasudeva also begot eight highly qualified sons through the womb of Devaki. These included Kirtiman, Susena, Bhadrasena, Rju, Sammardana, Bhadra and Sankarsana, the controller and serpent incarnation. The eighth son was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself–Krsna. The highly fortunate Subhadra, the one daughter, was your grandmother. The fifty-fifth verse says, svayam eva harih kila, indicating that Krsna, the eighth son of Devaki, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krsna is not an incarnation. Although there is no difference between the Supreme Personality of Godhead Hari and His incarnation, Krsna is the original Supreme Person, the complete Godhead. Incarnations exhibit only a certain percentage of the potencies of Godhead; the complete Godhead is Krsna Himself, who appeared as the eighth son of Devaki. Srimad-Bhagavatam 9.24.56 P Krsna the Supreme Personality of Godhead In the present age, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has appeared as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to inaugurate the Hare Krsna movement. At the present time, in Kali-yuga, people are extremely sinful and bad (manda). They have no idea of spiritual life and are misusing the benefits of the human form to live like cats and dogs. Under these circumstances Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has inaugurated the Hare Krsna movement, which is not different from Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one associates with this movement, he directly associates with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. People should take advantage of the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra and thus gain relief from all the problems created in this age of Kali. Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.8.13 Lord Krsna Shows the Universal Form Within His Mouth asan varnas trayo hy asya grhnato ‘nuyugam tanuh suklo raktas tatha pita idanim krsnatam gatah Your son Krsna appears as an incarnation in every millennium. In the past, He assumed three different colors–white, red and yellow–and now He has appeared in a blackish color. [In another Dvapara-yuga, He appeared (as Lord Ramacandra) in the color of suka, a parrot. All such incarnations have now assembled in Krsna.] It may be noted that Srila Jiva Gosvami, in his book Krama-sandarbha, has enunciated the purport of this verse. In every millennium, Krsna appears in a different form, either as white, red or yellow, but this time He personally appeared in His original, blackish form and, as predicted by Gargamuni, exhibited the power of Narayana. Because in this form the Supreme personality of Godhead exhibits Himself fully, His name is Sri Krsna, the all-attractive. Factually, Krsna is the source of all avataras, and therefore all the different features of the different avataras are present in Krsna. When Krsna incarnates, all the features of other incarnations are already present within Him. Other incarnations are partial representations of Krsna, who is the full-fledged incarnation of the Supreme Being. It is to be understood that the Supreme Being, whether appearing as sukla, rakta or pita (white, red or yellow), is the same person. When He appears in different incarnations, He appears in different colors, just like the sunshine, which contains seven colors. Sometimes the colors of sunshine are represented separately; otherwise the sunshine is observed mainly as bright light. The different avataras, such as the manvantara-avataras, lila-avataras and dasa-avataras, are all included in the krsna-avatara. When Krsna appears, all the avataras appear with Him. As described in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.26): avatara hy asankhyeya hareh sattva-nidher dvijah yathavidasinah kulyah sarasah syuh sahasrasah The avataras incessantly appear, like incessantly flowing water. No one can count how many waves there are in flowing water, and similarly there is no limitation of the avataras. And Krsna is the full representation of all avataras because He is the source of all avataras. Krsna is amsi, whereas others are amsa, part of Krsna. All living entities, including us, are amsas (mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah). These amsas are of different magnitude. Human beings (who are minute amsas) and the demigods, visnu-tattva and all other living beings are all part of the Supreme. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam (Katha Upanisad 2.2.13). Krsna is the full representation of all living entities, and when Krsna is present, all avataras are included in Him. The Eleventh Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the incarnations for each yuga in chronological order. The Bhagavatam says, krte suklas catur-bahuh, tretayam rakta-varno’sau, dvapare bhagavan syamah and krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam. We actually see that in Kali-yuga, Bhagavan has appeared in pita-varna, or a yellow color, as Gaurasundara, although the Bhagavatam speaks of krsna-varnam. To adjust all these statements, one should understand that although in some yugas some of the colors are prominent, in every yuga, whenever Krsna appears, all the colors are present. Krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam: although Caitanya Mahaprabhu appears without krsna, or a blackish color, He is understood to be Krsna Himself. Idanim krsnatam gatah. The same original Krsna who appears in different varnas has now appeared. The word asan indicates that He is always present. Whenever the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears in His full feature, He is understood to be krsna-varnam, although He appears in different colors. Prahlada Maharaja states that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is channa; that is, although He is Krsna, He is covered by a yellow color. Thus the Gaudiya Vaisnavas accept the conclusion that although Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in pita color, He is Krsna. krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam sangopangastra-parsadam yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah (Bhag. 11.5.32) Bs 5.1 T isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam Krsna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
    Shyam Bhagat July 17, 2009
  • Excellent article. This one is equivalent to "Divya Chakshu". That which oe would see if we had it.
    Piyush February 16, 2009
  • Exceptionally well written article! Engaging and coherent.
    Seeker September 10, 2008
  • I stumbled upon this, Thank you for your interpitation, It has helped me on my path, I needed help to quite my restless mind; the fire has simmered and the journey continues. May Love be are destiny
    John J. Lesniewski November 28, 2006
  • First of all its a fantastic article & i really do appreciate the peoples behind it.The points were all defined ina simple manner so that everybody can uderestand the meaning.
    RAKESH M.V May 10, 2006
  • Could you please explain to me what a "person" is? and speaking more clearly how could God be a person?
    Dipak April 22, 2006
  • "Among the mantras, I am Gayatri" Om Namah Shivay http://satyamshivamsundaram.blogspot.com/
    souvik January 31, 2006