Srimad Bhagavatam 01.03.28 - Janmashtami Festival (download mp3)
by Radhanath Swami at ISKCON Chowpatty
ete camsa-kalah pumsah
krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
mrdayanti yuge yuge
All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna 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.
In this particular stanza Lord Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, is distinguished from other incarnations. He is counted amongst the avataras (incarnations) because out of His causeless mercy the Lord descends from His transcendental abode. Avatara means “one who descends.” All the incarnations of the Lord, including the Lord Himself, descend to the different planets of the material world as also in different species of life to fulfill particular missions. Sometimes He comes Himself, and sometimes His different plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, or His differentiated portions directly or indirectly empowered by Him, descend to this material world to execute certain specific functions. Originally the Lord is full of all opulences, all prowess, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation. When they are partly manifested through the plenary portions or parts of the plenary portions, it should be noted that certain manifestations of His different powers are required for those particular functions. When in the room small electric bulbs are displayed, it does not mean that the electric powerhouse is limited by the small bulbs. The same powerhouse can supply power to operate large-scale industrial dynamos with greater volts. Similarly, the incarnations of the Lord display limited powers because so much power is needed at that particular time.
For example, Lord Parasurama and Lord Nrsimha displayed unusual opulence by killing the disobedient ksatriyas twenty-one times and killing the greatly powerful atheist Hiranyakasipu. Hiranyakasipu was so powerful that even the demigods in other planets would tremble simply by the unfavorable raising of his eyebrow. The demigods in the higher level of material existence many, many times excel the most well-to-do human beings in duration of life, beauty, wealth, paraphernalia and all other respects. Still they were afraid of Hiranyakasipu. Thus we can simply imagine how powerful Hiranyakasipu was in this material world. But even Hiranyakasipu was cut into small pieces by the nails of Lord Nrsimha. This means that anyone materially powerful cannot stand the strength of the Lord’s nails. Similarly, Jamadagnya displayed the Lord’s power to kill all the disobedient kings powerfully situated in their respective states. The Lord’s empowered incarnation Narada and plenary incarnation Varaha, as well as indirectly empowered Lord Buddha, created faith in the mass of people. The incarnations of Rama and Dhanvantari displayed His fame, and Balarama, Mohini and Vamana exhibited His beauty. Dattatreya, Matsya, Kumara and Kapila exhibited His transcendental knowledge. Nara and Narayana Rsis exhibited His renunciation. So all the different indirectly or directly empowered incarnations of the Lord manifested different features, but Lord Krsna, the primeval Lord, exhibited the complete features of Godhead, and thus it is confirmed that He is the source of all other incarnations. And the most extraordinary feature exhibited by Lord Sri Krsna was His internal energetic manifestation of His pastimes with the cowherd girls. His pastimes with the gopis are all displays of transcendental existence, bliss and knowledge, although these are manifested apparently as sex love. The specific attraction of His pastimes with the gopis should never be misunderstood. The Bhagavatam relates these transcendental pastimes in the Tenth Canto. And in order to reach the position to understand the transcendental nature of Lord Krsna’s pastimes with the gopis, the Bhagavatam promotes the student gradually in nine other cantos.
According to Srila Jiva Gosvami’s statement, in accordance with authoritative sources, Lord Krsna is the source of all other incarnations. It is not that Lord Krsna has any source of incarnation. All the symptoms of the Supreme Truth in full are present in the person of Lord Sri Krsna, and in the Bhagavad-gita the Lord emphatically declares that there is no truth greater than or equal to Himself. In this stanza the word svayam is particularly mentioned to confirm that Lord Krsna has no other source than Himself. Although in other places the incarnations are described as bhagavan because of their specific functions, nowhere are they declared to be the Supreme Personality. In this stanza the word svayam signifies the supremacy as the summum bonum.
The summum bonum Krsna is one without a second. He Himself has expanded Himself in various parts, portions and particles as svayam-rupa, svayam-prakasa, tad-ekatma, prabhava, vaibhava, vilasa, avatara, avesa, and jivas, all provided with innumerable energies just suitable to the respective persons and personalities. Learned scholars in transcendental subjects have carefully analyzed the summum bonum Krsna to have sixty-four principal attributes. All the expansions or categories of the Lord possess only some percentages of these attributes. But Sri Krsna is the possessor of the attributes cent percent. And His personal expansions such as svayam-prakasa and tad-ekatma, up to the categories of the avataras who are all visnu-tattva, possess up to ninety-three percent of these transcendental attributes. Lord Siva, who is neither avatara nor avesa nor in between them, possesses almost eighty-four percent of the attributes. But the jivas, or the individual living beings in different statuses of life, possess up to the limit of seventy-eight percent of the attributes. In the conditioned state of material existence, the living being possesses these attributes in very minute quantity, varying in terms of the pious life of the living being. The most perfect of living beings is Brahma, the supreme administrator of one universe. He possesses seventy-eight percent of the attributes in full. All other demigods have the same attributes in less quantity, whereas human beings possess the attributes in very minute quantity. The standard of perfection for a human being is to develop the attributes up to seventy-eight percent in full. The living being can never possess attributes like Siva, Visnu or Lord Krsna. A living being can become godly by developing the seventy-eight-percent transcendental attributes in fullness, but he can never become a God like Siva, Visnu or Krsna. He can become a Brahma in due course. The godly living beings who are all residents of the planets in the spiritual sky are eternal associates of God in different spiritual planets called Hari-dhama and Mahesa-dhama. The abode of Lord Krsna above all spiritual planets is called Krsnaloka or Goloka Vrndavana, and the perfected living being, by developing seventy-eight percent of the above attributes in fullness, can enter the planet of Krsnaloka after leaving the present material body.