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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Lord Kṛṣṇa Is the Supreme Personality of Godhead

It is strange but true that political leaders can never understand that the Absolute Truth cannot be impersonal or formless but must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The scriptures are filled with passages that describe incarnations such as the gigantic form of Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu lying on the Causal Ocean, but Lord Kṛṣṇa is the source of Mahā-Viṣṇu. Still the demented political leaders cannot comprehend the truth. But if out of His mercy Lord Kṛṣṇa wishes to bless such atheists, then their rocklike hearts will soften and they will see the two-handed form of Kṛṣṇa playing His flute in Vṛndāvana.

Those who try to understand Lord Kṛṣṇa without receiving His mercy, like Dr. Radhakrishnan, will certainly be deluded even if they are scholar - philosophers like him. The Brahma-saṁhitā says that Kṛṣṇa is easily manifest to the devotees but is beyond the reach of Vedic scholars. Śrīla Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya has proved this point by participating in a pastime of Lord Caitanya's in which the Bhaṭṭācārya exhibited his Vedic learning. In recent times, paṇḍitas such as Śrī Bankim Chattopadhyaya and Dr. Bhandarkar became equally deluded trying to approach this subject.

One who really wants to know Kṛṣṇa must follow the path He prescribes in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.55): bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ. "One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service." Except for devotional service, there is no way to understand Kṛṣṇa. When Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared in the form of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He gave the same instruction about attaining Kṛṣṇa through devotional service, so it is certain that Kṛṣṇa can be approached only in this manner. Following in the disciplic line of Lord Caitanya, the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana have written extensive literature with detailed explanations of Lord Kṛṣṇa. These confidential revelations are yet to be properly broadcast in the world. The Gosvāmīs' esoteric logic and profound analytical philosophy have not yet caught the attention of modern thinkers, and the burden of guilt for this discrepancy must indeed fall on us. The Gauḍīya Maṭha mission was founded to propagate the words of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī.

The gigantic universal form that Lord Kṛṣṇa exhibited to Arjuna is certainly not the quintessence of the Lord's divine mood. In fact, the two-handed human form of Kṛṣṇa playing the flute is the superexcellent manifestation of the Lord. But one must not make the mistake of thinking that because Lord Kṛṣṇa appears as a human, He is human. His form is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss, unlike an ordinary mortal's. He is not even an extraordinary human being. The human form may be a facsimile of the Supreme Lord's transcendental form, but that does not make God a man, or vice versa. The Bible and other scriptures state that man was made according to the form of God, but that does not imply that God is a man.

There is substantial proof in the Gītā that those who thoroughly grasp the truth about God will, upon leaving the material body, enter the spiritual realm and be with God. Only those who realize God as the eternal Supreme Personality can become immortal. This realization is the human being's prerogative alone, and one who attains it reaches the highest perfection. Once achieving perfection, the jīva never returns to this temporary world of birth, death, old age, and disease. Only those who discipline their lives so as to attain this objective fulfill the purpose of their human birth; others plunge into oblivion.

Māyā induces one to make plans so that this temporary life of birth, death, old age, and disease can be permanent. The greatest delusion is to plan a life of nonstop bliss in this material world. Which is the better plan: the one that leads to birth in lower animal species like hogs and dogs, or the one that transports the jīva back to Godhead? The jīva's spiritual existence in the abode of the Lord consists of service to Him in different mellows, such as servitude, friendship, parenthood, and conjugal love. Both Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu mercifully enacted pastimes to attract the jīvas and to teach them the meaning of the following words in the Gītā:

sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
(BG 18.66)

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.

Who could be more deprived than those conditioned souls who do not try to understand this truth? In the words of Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, "One who has not tried to realize his relationship with the Lord has wasted his life; such a person is a miscreant and is worse than an animal."

Wthout proper understanding, Dr. Radhakrishnan has given his opinion about the descent of the Lord's incarnation. He writes, "An avatāra is a descent of God into man and not an ascent of a man into God." What he means by "descent of God into man" is that the avatāras, or incarnations, possess physical bodies made up of the five gross elements. Of course, it remains to be clarified what he means by "not an ascent of man into God." Nowadays it is very much in vogue to designate a man as God. And it is not just a few who are said to be avataras: many philosophers go as far as to say that every human being is God. For the present we do not wish to delve into this subject.

We would like to inform Dr. Radhakrishnan, however, that when the Supreme Lord empowers a jīva with His divine potency so that the jīva can carry out some specific work, then that jīva is known as a śaktyāveśa avatāra. But this is not the only type of incarnation. The scriptures describe innumerable incarnations of the Supreme Lord, such as svayaṁ-rūpa, svayaṁ-prakāśa, āveśa, vilāsa, prābhava, vaibhava, yuga-avatāra, puruṣa-avatāra, guṇa-avatāra, and manvantara-avatāra. If we calculate the duration of one manvantara-avātara's life, it comes to an incredible number of years - more than three hundred million. And there are other incarnations who live longer. The scriptures give details of the Lord's authorized incarnations - the purposes for their appearance, their forms, the places of appearance, their pastimes, etc. There is no room for the vox populi whimsically choosing an ordinary mortal as an incarnation. And if despite the scriptural injunctions some people still accept a human being as an incarnation, it is easy to surmise the extent of their scriptural knowledge.

The goddess of learning, Sarasvatī, inspired Dr. Radhakrishnan to say "Man cannot become God." We would like to clarify this statement by saying "Even after becoming liberated, a man cannot become God." A liberated person can become a pure devotee of God, but he cannot become God or merge into God and lose his identity. There are innumerable instances in which a liberated soul, failing to become God, also refused to become God's devotee. The only option then open to him is aptly described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.2.32):

ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho 'nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ

O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from their position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet.

Attracted by material nature's external glare, such "liberated" souls have to come down to this earth and become wrapped up in some sociopolitical or altruistic work.

Besides the eternally conditioned jīvas, there are others, who are eternally liberated (nitya-mukta). They never come to this material world. Among the eternally conditioned jīvas (nitya-baddha) are those who make a big show of gaining liberation from this world. An analogy the Māyāvādīs often repeat is "All rivers flow into the ocean." This means that all jīvas merge into Brahman. But the truth that escapes them is that many large aquatics are permanent residents of the ocean and are never attracted to go and live in the river. The eternally liberated souls need not strive for liberation.

Dr. Radhakrishnan has used the expression "self-conscious man." We do not object to this term if it indicates a state of consciousness of the self in which a person realizes he is an eternal servant of God, Kṛṣṇa. Lord Caitanya came to teach this truth. Once the jīva realizes he is an eternal servant of Lord Kṛṣṇa, he ends his life of misery. He becomes liberated by that realization. And later he understands that liberation personified is standing nearby, waiting to serve him and all other eternal servitors of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa.

The authorized scriptures have declared that Kṛṣṇa is the original Supreme Lord and the source of all incarnations. In the Bhagavad-gītā (7.7), He says in His own words, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat: "O conqueror of wealth, there is no Truth superior to Me." Lord Kṛṣṇa came personally to teach that the highest Absolute Truth is not an impotent material concept. He is the full manifestation of absolute spiritual potencies. Those who cannot grasp this profound truth are fools spinning out endless speculations. That person who, although one, desires to expand and thus becomes many - can such a person be a human being or a formless impersonal entity? When this person decides to expand Himself manyfold, is He doing so in order to destroy Himself? If the Lord were to lose His own identity by expanding Himself into many, that would mean destruction of Himself. Has the Supreme Lord committed such a foolish blunder? Or has the blunder been committed by those who misinterpret the Vedic statements and say that God expanded Himself into many entities and lost His identity? The Supreme Lord can do as He pleases: He can expand Himself as countless incarnations or as multifarious separated energies. And even after expanding Himself in this way, He remains complete and fully Himself, as He is. If this were not so, then how could He be the complete Absolute Whole?