Category Archives: Incarnations

Krishna as Narayana

Q. I completely agree with Krishna’s being the source of all identities of God, including Lord Vishnu (Bg. 10.8). However, I have a different explanation for the identity of Lord Narayana. Etymologically, Narayana consists of two parts: nara, “living beings,” and ayana, “ultimate goal.” Thus, Narayana means the ultimate goal for all living beings, namely Krishna. (Everything else we do is Prayana, “a sojourn.”) Therefore, the name Narayana is congruent with Krishna Himself.

Ans : Thank you for the analysis. We might add that all names that indicate the Supreme, including the name Narayana, naturally refer to Krishna.
But Lord Krishna is generally not referred to as Narayana, except when He manifests a four-armed form. And that form is considered to be  in a sense, lower than the two-handed form of Krishna. For example, Krishna once hid from the gopis by taking on His four-handed Narayana form.

The gopis respectfully offered obeisances to “Narayana” but kept looking for Krishna, who alone can please them.

Deity Worship,not idol Worship.

Q. Why do you worship idols?

A. We don’t worship idols. Idolatry is the worship of an imagined form of God.

Deity worship is not idol worship but is worship of the Lord according to His instructions.It is an incarnation of the Lord just like many other incarnations like Lord Nrisimhadev,Lord Vamana & Lord Ramchandra.

God is spirit but as Krishna reveals in the Bhagavad-gita, matter is His energy. Because we cannot perceive spirit in our present condition, Krishna allows us to see Him in His Deity form made of material elements. He tells us that the Deity installed according to the directions of the scriptures is identical to Him.Whatever service we offer to the deity,Krishna directly accepts it.There are several instances in the past where Krishna in His deity form has reciprocrated with His loving devotees.

But to realize that there is no difference between Krishna and His deity form,we need to purify our senses.We need to have a pure heart.And the most powerful way to do this ,according to the scriptures, is to chant and attentively hear the holy name of the Lord:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Lords incarnation

Q.  Is it true  that amongst Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Gaura means Lord Gauranga who is considered  Lord Krishna himself and Nitai means Lord Nityananda, incarnation of Lord Balarama?

A.  Yes.  Lord Gauranga is Lord Krishna Himself and Lord Nityananda is Lord Balarama.  Both of them appeared in Kaliyuga to spread the chanting of the holy names:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

which is the most powerful way of reviving our God consciousness.

Finding real guru

Q. I have heard many people saying ‘sai ram sai shyam’, whereas sai baba himself use to say ‘sabka maalik ek’ while pointing his finger in the sky. On the other hand people also call him sadguru, so if sai baba is sadguru how can people call him by the name of ram and shyam? It is a humble request to please kindly explain the actual fact.

A. In Kali-yuga, it is not surprising to find someone claiming to be God, or a mass of ignorant people declaring someone else to be God. To know whether someone is an incarnation of God or if he is bona fide representative of God (sadguru), one needs to consult the sastras, or authentic scriptures. If there are specific details mentioned in the sastras (e.g. the birth, the place of birth, the parents, etc.), then only we accept such a person as an incarnation or a sadguru. Otherwise we do not.

Regarding Sai Baba, there is no such mention about him in the sastras. He may be a social reformer who may have performed some miracles and helped people, but that does not make him an incarnation.

Lord’s different incarnation in India

Q. Why all the spiritual pastimes of Lord Krishna, Lord Rama, Lord Balaji, Mahadev Sankar happened in different places of India and not of other country? Please explain.

A. Many people feel that the Lord appears only in India and not in other places. But to understand the activities of the the Supreme Lord, first we must understand His personality. Without knowing who He is, it will be difficult to understand why He acts in particular ways.

The Supreme Lord is described as a sentient personality with completely transcendental and pure emotions, unlike ours, which are contaminated by material and selfish desires. So, He makes decisions evaluating what could be best for us and what could not be best for us.

It is not true that the Lord appears only in India. The Supreme Lord is supremely independent and by His own free will may decide to appear anywhere He chooses. He may come Himself or He may decide to appear through His pure representatives.

He will make this decision depending on the specific time, the society in question and the particular circumstances.

Observing certain lands, one can very easily ascertain that these have always been lands of dharma–lands of religion and culture. People in these parts have throughout the ages based their lives on the foundation of spirituality. The art, the culture, the architecture, the society, and their very own lives have been interwoven with honest cultivation of God consciousness. In fact these lands have also dispalyed unswerving open-mindedness towards other beliefs too. Certain other lands have proved to be places of conflict and religious intolerance. A brief look at the history of the planet in the past 400-500 years puts it very grotesquely. I am sure you will learn from it.

When the Lord wants to personally appear and carry out His mission, He will choose to do so amongst people that are receptive to His message. He will not choose the people that doubt His very existence and His very word. For helping such people, the Lord may decide to send someone else who will first work on the basics and instil faith in the hearts of the people. Only then will the faithless be ready to hear and understand, much less preach the word of God. If such faithless people are given detailed information by God by dint of His personal presence, it may even lead to a revolt, given their inherent inability to comprehend His word. Indeed, the prominent prophets of this world have had to deal with situations similar to those mentioned above.

So, it is only in His infinite compassion, that the Lord chooses to appear someplace personally and some other place through His representatives. We may decide to benefit ourselves by His message in whichever form it comes to us. That will do us good.

In the present age, it is revealed in the scriptures that the Lord has mercifully incarnated in the form of His holy names which can be chanted irrespective of one’s nationality. In all the major religions of the world, there is great stress laid on the chanting of holy names of God.

Disciplic Succession

Q. Where can I find a list of disciplic succession starting from Krishna moving down?

A. The disciplic succession from the Brahma-Gaudiya sampradaya is listed in the beginning of Bhagavad-gita As It Is by Srila Prabhupada.  There are four bona fide disciplic successions which all originate from the Supreme Lord Krishna, then coming respectively through Lord Brahma, Lakshmi-devi, Lord Shiva and the Kumaras.  The principal acaryas who strongly re-established these four lines in recent times were Madhvacarya, Ramanujacarya, Vishnu Swami and Nimbarkacarya.  Lord Caitanya took initiation in the Brahma-Madhva-sampradaya, and thus the disciplic succession following Lord Caitanya and His associates are called Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya sampradaya.

Krishna and Vishnu – The difference

Q. Can you let me know what is the difference between Vishnu and Krishna? I do agree that Krishna is the supreme but can you answer me that how Krishna is supreme than Vishnu. Please provide me with some references from Srimad Bhagavatam.

A. Krishna in Vrindavan is like God at home, while Krishna  as Vishnu in various Vaikuntha planets, is like God at office. A person at home is most comfortable and relaxed and has intimate loving dealings with his family members, while at office he has very formal dealings with his associates. Similarly in Vrindavan, all the Vrajavasis have very intimate dealings with Krishna in sakhya (friendship), vatsalya (parental) or madhurya (conjugal) rasas. No one there is aware of Krishna’s supreme position as God that usually results in very formal and reverential dealings. In the Vaikuntha planets, however, all the residents are always aware of Vishnu’s supreme position as the controller and maintainer of the whole creation. Therefore, all their dealings with Him—including those of sakhya, vatsalya and madhurya are tinged with the feelings of awe and reverence.

So, from an impartial study we can see that Krishna’s pastimes are more sweet and enchanting than those of Vishnu. In that sense, Krishna is superior to Vishnu.

Krishna also has four additional unique qualities not found in Vishnu. Srila Prabhupada explains them in The Nectar of Devotion:

1.Lila-madhuri—He is the performer of wonderful varieties of pastimes (especially His childhood pastimes).
2.Bhakta-madhuri—He is surrounded by devotees endowed with wonderful love of Godhead.
3.Venu-madhuri—He can attract all living entities all over the universes by playing on His flute.
4.Rupa-madhuri—He has a wonderful excellence of beauty which cannot be rivaled anywhere in the creation.”

Brahma-samhita compares Krishna to a candle from which several other candles are lit. These candles are compared to Lord Vishnu and the various incarnations. Diparcir eva hi dasantaram abhyupetya . . . . (Bs. 5.46) Although all candles have the same potency, the original candle still retains its uniqueness. Krishna is like that original candle, the source of all the incarnations.

After describing the various incarnations of the Lord, Suta Gosvami quotes the following verse (Bhag. 1.3.28):

ete camas kala pumsah
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
indrari vyakulam lokam
mrdayanti yuge yuge

“All the incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord but Lord Sri Krishna 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.”

Srimad-Bhagavatam also describes the pastime of Maha-vishnu stealing the sons of a brahmana in Dvaraka so that He could somehow get the darshan of Lord Krishna. This incident proves how Lord Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead and Vishnu an expansion. You may read this pastime in the Krishna book, chapter eighty-nine, The Superexcellent Power of Krishna.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His mercy

Q. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (He is Krishna Himself) came to this world, He preached in India only. Why did He not preach all over world (i.e. out of India)?  Even though He is the all merciful incarnation of Krishna, why did He not show mercy to all the people in the world?

A. Lord Chaitanya issued the order five hundred years ago that His holy name will be heard in every town and village of the world.  And we see that since then many great spiritual leaders have tried to execute this order in various capacities.  In fact, this effort will continue for the next ten thousand years till the mission is completed.

One way to estimate the greatness of a person is by observing how many people work under him carrying out his orders.  Usually, the legacy established by a great leader does not last beyond a few generations.  But the order issued by Lord Chaitanya carries so much potency that even without His physical presence,  His legacy continues to expand.  If it were not His direct empowerment, how do you think today’s preachers are able to preach all over the world?  The all-merciful Lords, Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, continue to remain the real preachers under whom all others are acting as instruments.

As Paramatma, Lord Caitanya doesn’t even need to preach.  He can make everyone a pure devotee simply by His will.  However, it is our great fortune that the Lord did not finish the preaching work during His manifested lila.  He has left the mission in our hands so that we can complete the mission on His behalf.  The Lord in turn gives us all credit for helping His mission, just as Krishna gave all credit to Arjuna for winning the Battle of Kurukshetra.

Source of all incarnations

Q. Why do we assume that Krishna is the only Lord while infact Krishna is also one of the incarnations of Vishnu?
Krishna has also birth. If we think that in Bhagavadgita, Krishna is recommended as the Lord, then in the same way in Shiv Puran, Shiv is the Lord and in Vishnu Puran, Vishnu is the God. Then, how to know that Krishna is the only Lord?

A. Our accepting Krishna as God is not an assumption or a fanatical declaration. It is based on authoritative scriptures and the statements of great acaryas coming in disciplic succession.

The entire Vedic literature consisting of several Upanishads and Puranas are meant to address specific groups of people according to their consciousness levels. All of them do not belong to the same group. Primarily, they are classified into three: some of them are meant for people in the mode of goodness, some for people in the mode of passion, and others for those in the mode of ignorance. So, when there are differences of opinion among Puranas regarding the identity of God, it is not a contradiction; they are speaking with reference to a particular context and a group of people.

For Example: In preliminary arithmetic, we are taught that two minus five does not exist, whereas in advanced mathematics, this is a perfectly valid expression. This is not to say that mathematicians are contradicting each other, but actually the concepts are revealed according to the capacity of the student. Similarly, the Vedas speak of many subjects some of which may appear contradictory, but they are meant for different levels of readers according to the material modes they are situated in.

Having said this, the risk of someone misinterpreting and twisting the meaning of the Vedas still remains nevertheless. Therefore, we need the guidance of the acaryas, spiritual teachers, who are connected to God in an unbroken disciplic succession. When we receive knowledge from them, we can be rest assured that there is no error.

The Bhagavad-gita is considered the essence of all Upanishads and the Srimad-Bhagavatam is the essence of all Puranas. Both these scriptures emphatically declare that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And these statements are confirmed by all the great spiritual teachers.

Regarding Vishnu and Krishna: Essentially there is no difference between the two; they are just two different forms. Vishnu is like God in office (Vaikuntha), whereas Krishna is God at home (Vrindavan). Krishna’s pastimes are more intimate and sweet, whereas Vishnu’s dealings are mainly based on awe and reverence.

Scriptures like Brahma-samhita give the example of a candle from which many other identical candles are lit. Although each candle has the same power as the original, the first candle still remains original, being the source of light for all candles. Krishna is like the original candle while all the other incarnations are like the other candles. Although both Vishnu and Krishna have the same potential, Krishna still remains the original person.

Generally all incarnations come through Vishnu who is in charge of maintaining law and order within the universe. However, Krishna is not just another incarnation; He is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, the source of all incarnations including Vishnu. When He appears (only once in a kalpa or a day of Lord Brahma), He continues to maintain the same protocol of coming through Vishnu. That’s the reason why people incorrectly call Him an incarnation of Vishnu.