(The following essay was written by Saraswati Thakura in 1928 for The Gaudiya (Volume 7, issue 28)
Sri Krishna Chaitanya-Deva has given the true path for understanding krishna-tattva. Krishna-tattva manifests all revealed and unrevealed natures, as well as gross and subtle designations.
Krishna is the Supreme Lord (Parameshvara), one whose form is of eternity, bliss and knowledge (sacchidananda-vigraha), primeval (anadi), the oldest among all (sarvadi), one who gives pleasure to the cows and the senses (Govinda) and the cause of all causes (sarva-karana-karana).
Krishna is not an object confined to anyone, nor is He under anyone’s control. Material nature (prakriti), time (kala), fruitive activity (karma) and space (vyoma) are all under His control. He is eternally untouched by ignorance (ajnana) and incessantly full of spiritual bliss (ananda). He is neither temporary nor subject to destruction. No nescience can ever touch Him. He is complete in knowledge and untouched by any type of distress. Miseries, sorrows etc, can never come near Him.
Krishna is the Supreme Personality (Purushottama). He is not merely some impersonal, neutral material conception. He is not undifferentiated, rather He has a very exceptional form (vigraha). He is not an element of the gross or subtle realm ruled over by the three modes of goodness, passion and ignorance which are under the purview of the jiva’s knowledge-acquiring senses. He creates the continuous time factor and manifests both the eternal and temporary elements. He is the eternally existing father who existed before the creation and appearance of both the material world and the spiritual world (Para-vyoma). The endeavour to find a root cause within the realm of sense-perception will lead to a series of causal findings as we move deeper and deeper. In this way, after one goes on searching repeatedly, one reaches a position where the process of causality comes to an end – that is Sri Krishna. Historians have not been able to categorise Him within the framework of time, place and circumstances. This is because He is unconquerable (ajita). If He had been some particular element of this world and not completely transcendental (para-tattva), then He would have been considered an inferior object rather than considered to be purely spiritual subject matter (turiya-vastu). He is not the Krishna limited by the description of Bankim Chandra. He is that element addressed by Sri Chaitanya’s concept of the Name and the Named being non-different. Krishna is that Reality whose nature is distinct by His completeness, purity, eternality and liberated state. Krishna is a transcendental touchstone (chintamani) – His name fulfills all desires. His name, form, quality, uniqueness of His associates, the various bhavas that form the basis of His pastimes and His bhava itself – all these various elements are non-different from Him. For this reason He is the non-dual Absolute (advaya-jnana). He is undefeatable (aja) and eternal (shashvata). His appearance at the end of Dvapara Yuga is merely His visible manifestation in this material world. Even though during that time He displayed suitable feelings for the Transcendental Reality to descend into this world, still, eternally, He does not have to accept birth under the jurisdiction of material nature. His birth and displays of power are all eternally situated in the spiritual realm. That spiritual realm, or Para-vyoma, is inside as well as outside the gross and subtle confines of the material world – both externally and internally it is inseparably connected and fully developed. In its fully developed state it has unlimited variegatedness; when it is in it’s unmanifested state it is extremely subtle. He is very far as well as very near and always situated in an all-pervading sense. When He manifests, He does not remain in a trance, slumber or in a state of anonymity. Whenever He wills it, He manifests Himself to one whom He feels compassion for.
Krishna’s will-potency (iccha-shakti), creative-potency (kriya-shakti) and knowledge-potency (jnana-shakti) are always present. All these potencies only reach completeness within Him. Even if something else has some completeness, the one who measures that is limited in his conception of completeness, and his knowledge of that particular object is not equal to His all-knowing characteristic, hence He is unparalleled (asamordha). Since He is situated as Purushottama, both eternal spiritual substance and perishable mundane substance are situated at His two sides. He is nowhere situated within the human system of panchanga-nyaya, born out of fallible knowledge and nourished by moralistic religion. Only when one properly establishes Him, one start to realise that His slightest presence gives rise to real logic and reason. Within the entire gamut of divine knowledge possible within the boundary of man’s imagination, He occupies the position of the highest worship. Among the different manifestations of the object of worship, no one considers krishna-tattva to be simply a manifestation. This is because He is the origin of all manifestations. Srimad Bhagavata says:
ete chamsa-kalah pumsah krishnas tu bhagavan svayam indrari-vyakulam lokam mridayanti yuge yuge
The various avataras are either plenary manifestations or parts of plenary manifestations. But Krishna is the original source of all these avataras. He appears age after age in order to save the world from the demoniac enemies of Indra. (Bhag.1.3.28)
Krishna is Himself the beloved Lover (kanta) and to His most intimate associates He is their beloved. Krishna, in His various stages of boyhood, is known as Bala-Gopala, and amongst all the various groups of mothers and fathers, He is their only worshippable boy. Krishna is the friend of all (jagad-bandhu). If the jiva does not develop friendship with Him, then he falls into an arena full of danger where he accepts an adversary in this land of enemies to be his friend. If an attempt is made to worship objects other than Krishna as God, then after sometime, instead of the practitioner’s fragile serving propensity becoming purified, such a person will become a prisoner to animal, insect and stone-worshipping religions due to the influence of gross materialism born out of his unfortunate pride in rendering so-called service. If one tries to obstruct Krishna’s pastimes, instructions or deliberations, one’s endeavor for perfection will always be ten fingers too short (i.e. incomplete)
Krishna is always full of bliss. From the viewpoint of those affected by the illusory potency of Maya and the conviction born from it, He is accepted as innumerable when he is conceptualized as an ordinary jiva.
Again from the Vaikuntha perspective, His all-pervasive nature is not separate from Him. Unfortunate people become ensnared when they try to measure Him by their narrow human codes of conduct. When they try to measure His pervasiveness through various limitations, they only manage to relocate Him far beyond those boundaries. Since they imagine Krishna as some special object of enjoyment from their experiences of gross worldly pleasure, they establish Him as an object born out of Maya and as a result, their serving propensity becomes sense enjoyment. Considering the all-powerful characteristic of Krishna, depending upon the kind of aversion one harbors, they try to create an ‘idol’ based on their own mental conceptions. Also sometimes, from the factory of human comprehension, they create an ‘idol’ based upon their impersonal notions. Such kinds of imaginative averseness towards service turn into pride, and as a punishment for this, the jiva imagines that the concepts of Brahman and Paramatma are separate from knowledge of Krishna. No one can attain eligibility for cultivating service to Krishna (krishnanushilana), until and unless service to karshna or service to the Bhagavata is rendered. Therefore, until one is granted that eligibility, there is no chance of gaining substantial knowledge of Krishna, there is no chance of getting Krishna’s personal association, and there is no chance of gaining the eligibility of actually hearing about the great power and influence of Krishna’s potency. Thus, those who are unqualified, being forced by the reactions of their fruitive activities, embrace the temporary time factor through different material coverings under the designation of various gross and subtle impressions.
There is no chance for the entangled conditioned jiva to realise the eternal truth, eternal-constitutional position etc. He is always mentally agitated and wanders the fourteen planetary systems in various species of life. The enjoying propensity appears and makes him an enjoyer, or the enjoying propensity leaves and makes him a renunciate. By considering what is good and what is bad, he is propelled to move from one position to another. Such changes of position due to inner motivation leads him to auspiciousness. This realisation of truth leads him to the domain of bhajana. That is why Gita says:
chatur vidha bhajante mam janah sukritino’rjuna arto jijnasur artharthi jnani cha bharatarsabha
O descendent of Bharata, there are four kinds of persons who are fortunate enough to worship Me – those who are in distress, the inquisitive, those that seek wealth and those that desire self-realisation. (Gita 7.16)
Bankim Chandra – Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay (1838 –1894) was a Bengali author and poet who wrote the book Krishna Charitra wherein he portrays Krishna as a mundane historical character, devoid of any transcendental attributes.
Panchanga-nyaya – The fivefold stages of the Nyaya system of logic. They are pratijna (proposition), hetu (reason) udaharana (example), upanaya (application) and nigamana (conclusion)
Karshna – A devotee of Krishna