Tag Archives: anadi

Is Krishna the Creator of all the Worlds?

Question: How can we understand that Kṛṣṇa does not create the jīvas? He is God; He is the creator of everything. We always hear that not even a blade of grass moves without His permission. Also in Bhagavad Gītā, He says many times that He is the creator of everything. The most famous śloka is probably BG 10.8:

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo

mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate

iti matvā bhajante māṁ

budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ 

I am the source of everything. Due to Me everything operates. Convinced by this knowledge, the intelligent persons, endowed with love, worship Me.

Answer: From your statement, “He is God; He is the creator of everything,” it seems that your definition of God is one who is the creator of everything. And in support of this, you cite Bhagavad Gītā. This statement as well as some other statements that describe Kṛṣṇa as the creator of everything relate only to the material world. In such statements, the subject described is the material creation and not the individual living beings or Vaikuṇṭha. In the Gītā’s second chapter, Kṛṣṇa very clearly and repeatedly says that there is no birth or creation for the ātmā. He clearly says that there was never a time when the living beings did not exist (Gītā 2.12).The ātmā is never born and never dies (Gītā 2.20). You can read Gītā 2.12-30 and 15.7 for the birthless nature of ātmā. He also says that both prakṛti and puruṣa or jīva is beginningless, anādi. That means they were never created. If the ātmā were created by Kṛṣṇa, then He would have said so. But He never says that anywhere. Rather, He says just the opposite. The statement, “God is the creator of everything,” applies only to the material world and not to the ātmā (jīva) or to Vaikuntha and His eternal associates. Everything in Vaikuṇṭha is eternal, just like Kṛṣṇa Himself.

Question: Thank you so much, Babaji. I have a follow up question. In Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura’s commentary, translated by Bhanu Swami, the words aham sarvasya prabhavah (Gītā 10.8) are translated as “I am the source of everything.” Viśvanātha Cakravarti comments as follows: “Here He speaks of His vibhūti characterized by great power. I am the cause of the existence and manifestation of everything—both material and spiritual (prabhavaḥ).” And in Bhaktivedanta Swami’s Bhagavad Gītā, the word-for-word translation includes:

sarvasya—of all, and; prabhavaḥ—the source of generation. For the verse translation, he writes: “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds.” 

So I’m confused as to whether Kṛṣṇa speaks only in regard to the material world. What exactly is the meaning of the world prabhavaḥ? According to Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura, one could conclude that Kṛṣṇa also says that He is the creator of the spiritual world, which would include the ātmā

Answer: Viśvanātha Cakravarti Ṭhākura uses two different words for material and spiritual objects while glossing the word prabhavaḥ. For material objects, he used the word utpatti or “creation,” while for spiritual objects, he uses the word prādurbhāva or “appearance.” Spiritual objects are not created but they can appear and disappear, or manifest and unmanifest. For example, Kṛṣṇa takes birth. But His birth is not like our birth. Our bodies are created and His body becomes manifest. I am sure you understand the difference (see Gītā 4.9).

If we accept that the spiritual world is created like the material world, then that means that pāriṣads like Rādhā or Balarāma were created at some point in time. That would further imply that before that point, Kṛṣṇa was alone. That means His līlā is not eternal. But this is against śāstra.

When we study śāstra, we should not just quote one verse and argue. We can raise questions to understand a verse. We have to ensure that the meaning we take from a verse does not contradict another part of śāstra. The meaning must reconcile śāstric statements. This is called samanvaya. Otherwise, śāstra would have no value. If we accept that the ātmā is created, then all the verses of Bhagavad Gītā that I referred to in my previous reply, and hundreds of such verses found in Śrīmad Bhāgavata, Upaniṣads, Vedānta-sūtra, etc. would be contradicted.


The Meaning of the word Anādi

Question: I have a query regarding the use of the word anādi and the conditioning of the jīva as described in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa. Someone recently raised the following argument to me: “All Sanskrit words in śāstra that indicate an unlimited time span—anādi, śāśvata, nitya, etc.—are used nonliterally when referring to events in the material world, and literally when referring to eternal objects such as God, the soul, or the spiritual world.” Dr. Gopal Gupta makes similar arguments in his book, Māyā in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa: Human Suffering and Divine Play. [Editor’s note: There is no such quote in Dr. Gupta’s book. It may be that the questioner was merely paraphrasing the argument.]

For example, the word śāśvata, which means ‘eternal, constant, perpetual.’ 

1.     When applied to spiritual objects, śāśvata means ‘eternal’ in the literal sense. Examples: 

Gītā 2.20: ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yam—“This soul is unborn, perpetual, eternal.” 

Gītā 10.12: puruṣaṃ śāśvataṃ divyam—“The eternal, divine person.” 

Gītā 18.56: śāśvatam padam avyayam—“The eternal, unperishing abode.” 

2. The same word, śāśvata, when applied to material objects, does not literally mean ‘eternal.’ An example is found in Gītā 1.42: kula-dharmāś ca śāśvatāḥ—“And eternal family duties.” Clearly, upon liberation, the soul gives up worldly family duties. 

3. This is an even more striking example. In Gītā 6.41: prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṃ lokān uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ śucīnāṃ śrīmatāṃ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo ’bhijāyate—Lord Kṛṣṇa here says that “On reaching the worlds of the pious-doers, and having dwelled there for ‘eternal’ years, one fallen from yoga takes birth in the home of decent and prosperous people.” Remarkably, Lord Kṛṣṇa explicitly describes here a beginning—prāpya—and an end—abhijāyate—of one’s residence in higher worlds, yet He states that one dwells there for śāśvatīḥ samāḥ, eternal or endless years. Note that śāśvatī is simply the feminine form of śāśvata, since it here modifies the feminine samāḥ, ‘years.’ We find many similar examples for the word anādi. 

Answer: To give a specific reply to the meaning of the word anādi, I would like to first explain the various meanings of words in general. The relation between a word and its meaning is very deeply discussed subject in Vyākaraṇam, Sāhitya, Nyāya, and Pūrva-mīmāmsa. In brief, there are three types of meanings, called vācya or mukhya (primary), lakṣya (indicatory), and vyaṅgya (suggested).

Naiyāyikas do not accept the third type of meaning. Generally, we accept the primary meaning of a word, and that has further three divisions: yaugika (derivational), ruḍhi (popular), and yoga-rūḍhi (derivational but popular in a specific sense). 

However, it is not always possible to use the primary sense of a word because either the primary meaning does not make sense semantically, or it does not convey the true intent of the speaker. The first is called anvaya-anupaptti and the second is called tātparya-anupapatti. The common example of the first one is gaṅgāyām ghoṣa, which literally means “a hamlet in the river Gaṅgā.” This obviously does not make sense. How can a hamlet be in the river? Therefore, the primary meaning of the word Gaṅgā is dropped, and a secondary meaning is given, i.e., the bank of Gaṅgā. Thus, gaṅgāyām ghoṣa means “a hamlet on the bank of river Gaṅgā.” There is a reason why the speaker makes such a statement. He wants to convey that the village atmosphere is clean, that the people are pious, and so on. Such a meaning is called vyaṅgya or suggested. This meaning is not derived from the words directly. 

The example of tātparya-anupapatti is given in the sentence kākebhyo dadhi rakṣyatām, “Protect the yogurt from crows.” This is an instruction given by a mother to her young son. Now the question arises, “If a cat, dog, or a parrot comes and wants to eat the curd, should the boy protect it or not?” The answer is that he should certainly protect it. But was he instructed to do that? Yes and no. He was not told so in the literal sense of the word, but such indeed was the intention, tātparya, of the mother. So, in this sentence kākebhyo dadhi rakṣyatām, there is no anvaya-anupapatti, i.e., semantically, the sentence makes sense. If, however, only the primary meaning is taken, then there is tātparya-anupapatti, i.e., the sentence does not convey the true intent of the speaker. Therefore, in such instances the primary meaning is given up and a secondary meaning is taken.

While defining the need for the secondary meaning, Ācārya Mammaṭa, author of the famous work Kāvyaprakāśa, writes:

mukhyārtha-bādhe tadyoge ruḍhito’tha prayojanāt

anyo’rtho lakṣyate yat sā lakṣanāropitā kriyā (2.9)

When the primary meaning is obstructed [either by anvaya-anupapatti or by tātparya-anupapatti], then a secondary meaning that is related to the primary meaning is indicated because of its popularity or because of the intention [of the speaker]. Such an action is called lakṣaṇā. 

A similar statement is found in Sahitya-darpaṇa (1.5).

This is a vast topic but in brief this explains the need for secondary meaning. I have not come across the rule cited by you, “All Sanskrit words in śāstra that indicate an unlimited time span—anādi, śāśvata, nitya, etc.—are used nonliterally when referring to events in the material world, and literally when referring to eternal objects such as God, the soul, or the spiritual world.” I am curious to know the source of this rule. Perhaps such an understanding may be derived from the above explanation of the different meaning of words.

As far as the word anādi is concerned, it means that which has no beginning, na ādir yasya iti. This is its primary meaning. It will take a secondary meaning only if the primary meaning is unsuitable. When it is used to define the conditioning of a jīva in the material world, I see no reason why its primary meaning should be dropped. There is neither anvaya-anupapatti nor tātparya-anupapatti to obstruct its primary meaning.

In Bhagavad Gītā 13.19, Kṛṣṇa says: 

prakṛtiṁ puruṣaṁ caiva   viddhy anādī ubhāv api

vikārāṁś ca guṇāṁś caiva   viddhi prakṛti-sambhavān

Know that both material nature and living beings are anādi, beginningless. And know that all modifications as well as the objects consisting of the material guṇas are born of material nature.

Using the principle mentioned in Dr. Gopal Gupta’s book, as quoted by you, shall we give two different meanings to the word anādi in relation to prakṛti and puruṣa? I have not seen any traditional commentator of the Gītā doing so. There is no reason to give a secondary meaning to the word anādi in relation to prakṛti. Moreover, it would not make any sense. Śri Viṣvanatha Cakravarti as well as Śrī Baladeva Vidyābhuṣaṇa while commenting on this verse write that the union of prakrti and puruṣa is also anādi. Their comment makes it clear that anādi must be taken in its primary sense.