Last month’s article focused on the nine expressions of prema and their interrelationships with the five primary rasas, culminating in the topmost stage of prema—mahābhāva in mādhurya-rasa—the mood of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
This month’s article is part one of two parts. It discusses the “technical” aspects of the Lord’s various incarnations, leading to next month’s article on the twofold reasons (internal and external) for His sublime appearance as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, Gaura Hari, the incarnation for the current age—Kali-yuga.
The Supreme Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, incarnates at various times and places throughout the universe. He does so as the puruṣa-avatāras,[i] guṇa-avatāras,[ii] līla-avatāras,[iii] śakty-āveśa-avatāras,[iv] manvantara-avatāras,[v] and yuga-avatāras.[vi]
As the yuga-avatāras, the Lord appears in the four yugas, i.e., Satya, Tretā, Dvāpara, and Kali, in various forms and colors. In Satya-yuga He appears as śukla (white); in Tretā-yuga as rakta (red); in Dvāpara-yuga as śyāma (dark blue) and just prior to Kali-yuga, as kṛṣṇa (blackish[vii]); and then, intermittently, in Kali-yuga as pīta (yellowish).
In describing the incarnations of the Lord in the various yugas, the word “tri-yuga” (three millennia or ages) is used—referring to the Satya, Tretā, and Dvāpara yugas. In these three yugas, the Lord appears with “three couples of opulences[viii]” as Bhagavān (bhaga means opulences, and vān means possesses).
His six opulences are knowledge and renunciation, strength and beauty, and fame and wealth. Due to karma, we may possess some of these opulences, to some degree, for a flickering amount of time; however, He possesses all of them, in full, eternally, and without diminution. The first couple pertains to the subtle body, the second to the physical body, and the third to outward processions.
When the Lord appears in Kali-yuga (not in tri-yuga), He does not display His greatness as Bhagavān, nor His enchanting form of tri-bhaṅga (bending in three places); but rather, He is disguised simply, as a devotee in sannyāsī-veśa (dressed as a renunciate) ecstatically chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa.
Jagannātha Miśra to Śrīmatī Śacīmātā:
adbhuta sannyāsi-veśa kahane nā yāya
hāse nāce kānde ‘kṛṣṇa’ bali’ sarvadāya
“I’m unable to describe how wonderfully He looked dressed as a sannyāsī. He laughed, danced, and cried while constantly chanting the name of Kṛṣṇa. [Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura, Ādi-khaṇḍa 8.97]
In terms of the duration of the yugas, Satya-yuga is 1,728,000 years, Tretā-yuga is 1,296,000 years, Dvāpara-yuga is 864,000 years, and Kali-yuga is 432,000 years. One complete cycle of these four yugas (one divya-yuga) consists of 4,320,000 solar years. One thousand divya-yugas equals 4,320,000,000 years, which is equal to one day (12 hours) of Lord Brahmā’s time. The combined duration of his day and night (24 hours) is equivalent to 8,640,000,000 years of our time.
“From the beginning of Brahmā’s day of 4,320,000,000 years, six Manus appear and disappear before Lord Kṛṣṇa appears. Thus 1,975,320,000 years of the day of Brahmā elapse before the appearance of Lord Kṛṣṇa. This is an astronomical calculation according to solar years.” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā 3.10, Purport–Śrīla Prabhupāda]
Lord Kṛṣṇa appears in a blackish form just prior to Kali-yuga, and in Kali-yuga in a yellowish form as Lord Caitanya. The appearance of the Lord in these two incarnations takes place in the 28th divya-yuga of Brahmā’s day. Their appearances occur in each day of Brahmā.
The truths (tattvas) regarding the measurements of time (i.e., atomic time, solar time, and eternal time), as well as the transcendental activities of the Supreme Lord, are mostly unknown to the general public, but such knowledge of these and other mysteries of Bhagavān (Śrī Kṛṣṇa) can be understood through the association of the Vaiṣṇavas (devotees of Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa), the mercy of the Vaiṣṇava-guru, and the earnest study of Vaiṣṇava literature.
However, new devotees and others, who may not yet be familiar with Gauḍīya-vaiṣṇava-siddhānta (Vaiṣṇava literature), may mistakenly accept Kṛṣṇa as an incarnation of Nārāyaṇa, Viṣṇu, Śiva, or Brahmā, etc., or perhaps think of Him as a mythological character conjured up by the colorful imagination of an artist, or the inventive mind of a fictionist. Staunch adherence to these misled sentiments will undoubtedly hinder advancement on the path of devotion (bhakti-mārga) or potentially deviate us from the goal of love of God altogether.
The following section will help clarify the differences between the two main categories of Godhead, namely, svayaṁ-rūpa (the original form) and svayaṁ-prakāśa (expansions from the original form). It will also establish that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is none other than the original Supreme Personality, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself.
The benefit of understanding (or at least trying to understand) this knowledge helps us better appreciate the various flavors of the pastimes of the Lord and assists us in fixing our thoughts on Him even in the most challenging times.
Addressing this point, Śrī Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, Text 4.9:
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so 'rjuna
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”
Additionally, Śrīla Prabhupāda states: “If we simply try to understand Kṛṣṇa, then what will be the result? The result will be tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so 'rjuna: [Bg. 4.9] we will get immortality.” [Journey of Self-Discovery 2.4: Who Is Kṛṣṇa?, by Śrīla Prabhupāda]
For the most part, the remaining balance of this month’s article will present various quotes from purports, lectures, Vaiṣṇava literature, etc., stating the true position of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 1.2.22 - Purport by Śrīla Prabhupāda:
“The speciality of devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is specifically mentioned herein. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the svayaṁ-rūpa Personality of Godhead, and all other forms of Godhead, beginning from Śrī Baladeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Vāsudeva, Aniruddha, Pradyumna and Nārāyaṇa and extending to the puruṣa-avatāras, guṇa-avatāras, līlā-avatāras, yuga-avatāras and many other thousands of manifestations of the Personality of Godhead, are Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa's plenary portions and integrated parts.”
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.165 - Purport by Śrīla Prabhupāda:
“Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described the svayaṁ-rūpa in his Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta, Pūrva-khaṇḍa, verse 12: ananyāpekṣi yad rūpaṁ svayaṁ-rūpaḥ sa ucyate. The form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead that does not depend on other forms is called the svayaṁ-rūpa, the original form.”
Teachings of Lord Caitanya Chapter 6 - by Śrīla Prabhupāda:
“The personal form of Kṛṣṇa can be divided into two: svayaṁ-rūpa and svayaṁ-prakāśa. As far as His svayaṁ-rūpa (or pastime form) is concerned, it is in that form that He remains always in Vṛndāvana with the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana.”
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.164-173, December 13, 1966, New York - Lecture by Śrīla Prabhupāda:
“So in His svayaṁ-rūpa, in His personal feature, He always remains at Vṛndāvana, and He is just like a cowherd boy. That is His real feature, Kṛṣṇa. The Kṛṣṇa in the battlefield of Kurukṣetra, that is not the real feature of Kṛṣṇa. Just like a person, high-court judge, where you will find his real feature? His real feature you will find at his home, not on the bench. In the bench, even his father comes, the high-court judge's father, he will have to address the judge, "My lord." That is the court.”
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 5.121 - by Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura:
“Svayaṁ-rūpa Vrajendra-nandana is the eternal object of worship, and svayam-prakāśa Baladeva is the eternal abode of worship. In the language of those who write alaṅkāra-śāstra, Kṛṣṇa is called the viṣaya-vigraha, or object of worship, and His energies headed by Baladeva are called āśraya-vigrahas or sevaka-vigrahas, abodes of worship. One who respects the sevya-vigraha while disrespecting the sevaka-vigraha can never please the sevya-vigraha; rather he becomes an object[ix] of neglect and falls in the mire of offense.”
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.3.8 - Purport by Śrīla Prabhupāda:
“By His internal potency the Lord can expand Himself into various personalities of svayaṁ-prakāśa and again into prābhava and vaibhava forms, and all of them are nondifferent from one another. The forms into which the Lord expanded to marry the princesses in different apartments were all slightly different just to match each and every one of them.”
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.2.47 - Purport by Śrīla Prabhupāda:
“This svayaṁ-prakāśa consists of expansions of the ultimate svayaṁ-rūpa-tattva, the original form of Kṛṣṇa within Goloka Vṛndāvana in the spiritual sky. This hierarchy of the expansions of the Supreme Lord in the spiritual world is realized even within the material world in terms of one's eagerness to render service to the Lord.”
Back to Godhead Magazine #34-05, 2000, Liberation By Knowing Kṛṣṇa Expansions from Kṛṣṇa - by Śrīla Prabhupāda:
“From Kṛṣṇa, the next expansion is Baladeva, in the category of svayaṁ-prakāśa. From Baladeva comes the catur-vyūha: Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha. From Saṅkarṣaṇa comes Nārāyaṇa. From Nārāyaṇa comes another catur-vyūha. And from the Saṅkarṣaṇa of that catur-vyūha comes the first puruṣ-āvatāra: Mahā-Viṣṇu. From Mahā-Viṣṇu comes Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. From Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu comes Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is situated in everyone’s heart: īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe’rjuna tiṣṭhati.”
Śrī Caitanya is Svayaṁ-rūpa—The Original Kṛṣṇa
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.084 - by Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura:
“The variegated pastimes of svayaṁ-rūpa Śrī Kṛṣṇa and svayam-prakāśa Śrī Baladeva are found in Goloka Vṛndāvana. In order to broadcast these pastimes, svayaṁ-rūpa Kṛṣṇa incarnated and advented His Śrī Gaura pastimes”.
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Ādi-līlā 1.2, March 26, 1975, Māyāpur - Lecture by
“So Nityānanda means prakāśa, svayaṁ-prakāśa, Balarāma. Balarāma is, I mean to say, presenting Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Balarāma is guru-tattva. Guru is representative of Balarāma, of Nityānanda, Guru Nityānanda, because He is exhibiting Kṛṣṇa. He is presenting Kṛṣṇa, prakāśa. Just like when there is sunshine you can see everything very correctly. That is called prakāśa.”
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Ādi-khaṇḍa 5.170-172 - by Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura:
“That Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is certainly Śrī Gaurasundara, and He who is nondifferent as the svayam-prakāśa, Śrī Baladeva, is certainly Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu.”
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.002 - by Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura:
“The phrase sarva-sevya-kalevara is described as follows: Śrīman Nityānanda Prabhu is svayam-prakāśa, or the personal manifestation of the Supreme Lord. Therefore He is the worshipable Lord of everyone, both individually and collectively.”
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.062 - by Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura:
“No one is capable of describing the glories of Śrī Nityānanda. The direct manifestation of Lord Śrī Gaurasundara, Śrī Nityānanda, is svayam-prakāśa, His immediate expansion. He has incarnated simply to deliver the fallen souls.”
Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya-khaṇḍa 5.357 - by Śrīla Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura:
“Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu is directly svayaṁ-prakāśa-tattva. The holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself combine together and manifest as svayaṁ-prakāśa Nityānanda, the reservoir of transcendental happiness. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu and the name Śrī Nityānanda are most relishable transcendental objects. This was revealed to the living entities by the mercy of Śrī Nityānanda.”
In addition to understanding Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya’s eternal identity as svayaṁ-rūpa and His being the source of the svayaṁ-prakāśa expansions, we should also understand His tad-ekātmā, prābhava, vaibhava, vilāsa, āveśa, and jīva features. Having a better understanding of these fundamental truths of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya will deepen our appreciation for His twofold reasons for appearing as Śrī Gaura-Hari.
To obtain the real goal of life, kṛṣṇa-premā, it is necessary to hear the literature of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava-sampradāya, headed by Rūpa Gosvāmī.
These topics will be covered in further issues.
[i] Puruṣa-avatāras—Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu (Mahā-viṣṇu), Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu (Paramātmā).
[ii] Guṇa-avatāras—“The guṇa-avatāras are three—Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and Lord Viṣṇu (SB 10.88.3).” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.246, Purport—Śrīla Prabhupāda].
[iii] Līla-avatāras—“In his book Laghu-bhāgavatāmṛta, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has enumerated the following twenty-five līlā-avatāras: Catuḥ-sana, Nārada, Varāha, Matsya, Yajña, Nara-Nārāyaṇa, Kapila, Dattātreya, Hayaśīrṣa (Hayagrīva), Haṁsa, Pṛśnigarbha, Ṛṣabha, Pṛthu, Nṛsiṁha, Kūrma, Dhanvantari, Mohinī, Vāmana, Paraśurāma, Rāghavendra, Vyāsa, Balarāma, Kṛṣṇa, Buddha and Kalki.” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 6.99, Purport—Śrīla Prabhupāda].
[iv] Śakty-āveśa-avatāras—“The śaktyāveśa-avatāras are categorized into (1) forms of divine absorption (bhagavad-āveśa), such as Kapiladeva or Ṛṣabhadeva, and (2) divinely empowered forms (śaktyāveśa), of whom seven are foremost: (1) Śeṣa Nāga in the Vaikuṇṭha world, empowered for the personal service of the Supreme Lord (sva-sevana-śakti), (2) Anantadeva, empowered to bear all the planets within the universe (bhū-dhāraṇa-śakti), (3) Lord Brahmā, empowered with the energy to create the cosmic manifestation (sṛṣṭi-śakti), (4) Catuḥsana, or the Kumāras, specifically empowered to distribute transcendental knowledge (jñāna-śakti), (5) Nārada Muni, empowered to distribute devotional service (bhakti-śakti), (6) Mahārāja Pṛthu, specifically empowered to rule and maintain the living entities (pālana-śakti) and (7) Paraśurāma, specifically empowered to cut down rogues and demons (duṣṭa-damana-śakti).” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.246, Purport—Śrīla Prabhupāda].
[v] Manvantara-avatāras—“The avatāras associated with the reign of each Manu, known as manvantara-avatāras, are listed as follows in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Eighth Canto, chapters 1, 5 and 13): (1) Yajña, (2) Vibhu, (3) Satyasena, (4) Hari, (5) Vaikuṇṭha, (6) Ajita, (7) Vāmana, (8) Sārvabhauma, (9) Ṛṣabha, (10) Viṣvaksena, (11) Dharmasetu, (12) Sudhāmā, (13) Yogeśvara and (14) Bṛhadbhānu. All together these are fourteen in number, and of these, Yajña and Vāmana are also counted among the līlā-avatāras. All these manvantara incarnations are sometimes called vaibhava-avatāras.” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.246, Purport—Śrīla Prabhupāda].
[vi] Yuga-avatāras— “The four yuga-avatāras are (1) śukla (white) in Satya-yuga (SB 11.5.21), (2) rakta (red) in Tretā-yuga (SB 11.5.24), (3) śyāma (dark blue) in Dvāpara-yuga (SB 11.5.27) and (4) generally kṛṣṇa (black)...” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 20.246, Purport—Śrīla Prabhupāda].
[* Regarding the avatāras mentioned above, there are two categories: prābhava (fully potent like Śrī Kṛṣṇa) and vaibhava (partially potent). These will discussed in an upcoming article].
[vii] “...It is not that Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself appears in a blackish color in all the Dvāpara-yugas. In other Dvāpara-yugas, previous to Lord Kṛṣṇa’s appearance, the Supreme Lord appeared in a greenish body by His own personal expansion. This is mentioned in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Hari-vaṁśa and Mahābhārata.” [Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 20.337, Purport—Śrīla Prabhupāda]
[viii] Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 3.16.22, Purport—Śrīla Prabhupāda
[ix] The word “object” was written as “obect”. In the context that it was written, it was obviously meant to be “object“. I edited it - Bhāva dāsa (ACBSP)