Krishna and Brahma

Conclusion of Brahma-vimohana Lila

Question: My understanding is that the commentaries to the Brahma-vimohana-līlā are used by the Gosvāmīs to show how Kṛṣṇa expands into Nārāyaṇa and other Viṣṇu forms. Apart from SB 1.3.28—kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam, is this conclusion, that Kṛṣṇa is the source of all other Viṣṇu forms, based purely on Śrīmad Bhāgavata?

My observations from the commentaries to Canto 10, Chapters 13-14:

  1. When Brahma saw all the cowherd boys, including Kṛṣṇa, in four-handed forms, he was astounded. My understanding is that Brahma only realized Kṛṣṇa’s position when he saw His four-handed form. Later, when Brahma offered prayers to Kṛṣṇa’s two-handed form, the word “Nārāyaṇa” was used to refer to His forms in the Kāraṇa ocean. These prayers were a recollection of the four-handed forms.

  2. Brahma’s prayers were offered after his vision of Kṛṣṇa’s four-handed form. Therefore, the prayers of Brahma calling him “Nārāyaṇa” are appropriate and do not necessarily indicate that Kṛṣṇa expanded into Nārāyaṇa. Calling Kṛṣṇa “Nārāyaṇa” is neither wrong nor inconsistent. It is Nārāyaṇa who is Kṛṣṇa.

As requested, does the Brahma-vimohana-līlā have any independent scriptural strength to show that Kṛṣṇa is source of all forms, apart from SB 1.3.28—kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam?

Answer: First of all, let us consider the brahma-vimolana-līlā. You say, “When Brahma saw all the cowherd boys, including Kṛṣṇa, in four-handed forms…”

I think this is where the difference in our understanding lies. You are including Kṛṣṇa in the vision of the four-handed forms and we do not. Our understanding is that only the cowherd boys turned into four-handed forms while Kṛṣṇaremained standing in His two-handed form. Sarve vatsa-pālāḥ (10.13.46) can include or exclude Kṛṣṇa. But the natural sense of the verse is not to include Kṛṣṇa. The word vatsa-pālāḥ refers to cowherd boys who were stolen by Brahmā. It is improper to include Krṣṇa among them just because He is also a cowherd boy. Similarly, we take verse 10.14.18 to mean that it was Kṛṣṇa who expanded Himself into Viṣṇu forms. It would be wrong to think that it is Nārāyaṇa who expanded into Kṛṣṇa. There is no hint of that in this verse.

In any case, these cowherd boys were expansions of Kṛṣṇa who expanded into four-handed forms. Is there any mention in śāstra of the four-handed Viṣṇu or Nārāyaṇa form turning into the two-handed Kṛṣṇa form? I am personally not aware of any such reference. And I do not consider the reference for the four-handed form that appeared in the prison of Kaṁsa in front of Vasudeva and Devakī, because that is Kṛṣṇa Himself who can appear as two- or four-handed, as He wishes. In 10.3.44, He Himself says that He has manifested this form to remind them of their past lives. For Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, this is independent proof of Kṛṣṇa being the source of Viṣṇu, independent of kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. The other verses that are worth considering in support of kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam are SB 10.2.40, 10.14.20, 10.87.46, 11.29.49, 10.1.23, 10.47.60, 9.24.55, and 11.16.29.

Then you can also consider the following verses from other śāstra that show that Kṛṣṇa is svayam bhagavān. These are from sources other than the Bhāgavata Purāṇam.

sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo mattaḥ smṛtir jñānamapohanaṁ ca

vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham

“I am situated in the hearts of all beings. From Me come memory, knowledge, and their loss [i.e., forgetfulness]. I alone am to be known through all the Vedas. Indeed, I am the author of the Vedānta, and I alone am the knower of the Vedas.” (Bhagavad Gītā 15.15)

It is clearly stated here that from all the Vedas only Kṛṣṇa is to be known.

 devī sarve’vatārāstu brahmaṇaḥ kṛṣṇa-rūpiṇaḥ

 avatārī svayaṁ kṛṣṇa saguṇo nirguṇo svayam

O Devī! All avatāras emanate from the Supreme Brahman in theform of Kṛṣṇa. But Kṛṣṇa, who is both inclusive of attributes (saguṇa) and beyond all attribution (nirguṇa), is the avatārī Himself.” (Nārada Purāṇa 2.8.45)

sarve cāṁśa-kalā puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam

“All these [avatāras] are either portions or minute portions of the Puruṣa, but Kṛṣṇa is Svayaṁ Bhagavān.” (Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa 4.117.12)

avatārā hy asaṅkhyātāḥ kathitā me tavāgrataḥ

paraṁ samyak pravakṣyāmi kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam

“I have described to you the unlimited avatāras. I shall now explain categorically that Kṛṣṇa, however, being Svayaṁ Bhagavān, is supreme among them.” (Śrī Kṛṣṇa-saṁhitā Chapter 92)

sahasra-nāmnāṁ puṇyānāṁ trir-āvṛttyā tu yat phalam

ekāvṛttyā tu kṛṣṇasya nāmaikaṁ tat prayacchati

“By repeating Kṛṣṇa’s name just once, one attains the same benefit that accrues from thrice repeating the thousand holy names of Viṣṇu.” (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa 236.19):

But please note: I am not interested in arguing with you or in changing your understanding. You are free to continue with your understanding and to think that we are biased in our understanding. I have no problem with that. I am replying to you only because you wanted our view of this pastime.