Kṛṣṇa Is the Source of All Incarnations

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: Canto 1: “Creation”
By: His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter 3

Kṛṣṇa Is the Source of All Incarnations

Therefore, the conclusion is that the puruṣa-avatāra is manifested in three features — first the Kāraṇodakaśāyī who creates aggregate material ingredients in the mahat-tattva, second the Garbhodakaśāyī who enters in each and every universe, and third the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu who is the Paramātmā of every material object, organic or inorganic. One who knows these plenary features of the Personality of Godhead knows Godhead properly, and thus the knower becomes freed from the material conditions of birth, death, old age and disease, as it is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā.

Chapter 3

TEXT 2

yasyāmbhasi śayānasya
yoga-nidrāṁ vitanvataḥ
nābhi-hradāmbujād āsīd
brahmā viśva-sṛjāṁ patiḥ

SYNONYMS

yasya—whose; ambhasi—in the water; śayānasya—lying down; yoga-nidrām—sleeping in meditation; vitanvataḥ—ministering; nābhi—navel; hrada—out of the lake; ambujāt—from the lotus; āsīt—was manifested; brahmā—the grandfather of the living beings; viśva—the universe; sṛjām—the engineers; patiḥ—master.

TRANSLATION

A part of the puruṣa lies down within the water of the universe, from the navel lake of His body sprouts a lotus stem, and from the lotus flower atop this stem, Brahmā, the master of all engineers in the universe, becomes manifest.

PURPORT

The first puruṣa is the Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. From His skin holes innumerable universes have sprung up. In each and every universe, the puruṣa enters as the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. He is lying within the half of the universe which is full with the water of His body. And from the navel of Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu has sprung the stem of the lotus flower, the birthplace of Brahmā, who is the father of all living beings and the master of all the demigod engineers engaged in the perfect design and working of the universal order. Within the stem of the lotus there are fourteen divisions of planetary systems, and the earthly planets are situated in the middle. Upwards there are other, better planetary systems, and the topmost system is called Brahmaloka or Satyaloka. Downwards from the earthly planetary system there are seven lower planetary systems inhabited by the asuras and similar other materialistic living beings.

From Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu there is expansion of the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is the collective Paramātmā of all living beings. He is called Hari, and from Him all incarnations within the universe are expanded.

Therefore, the conclusion is that the puruṣa-avatāra is manifested in three features — first the Kāraṇodakaśāyī who creates aggregate material ingredients in the mahat-tattva, second the Garbhodakaśāyī who enters in each and every universe, and third the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu who is the Paramātmā of every material object, organic or inorganic. One who knows these plenary features of the Personality of Godhead knows Godhead properly, and thus the knower becomes freed from the material conditions of birth, death, old age and disease, as it is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, In this śloka the subject matter of Mahā-Viṣṇu is summarized. The Mahā-Viṣṇu lies down in some part of the spiritual sky by His own free will. Thus He lies on the ocean of kāraṇa, from where He glances over His material nature, and the mahat-tattva is at once created. Thus electrified by the power of the Lord, the material nature at once creates innumerable universes, just as in due course a tree decorates itself with innumerable grown fruits. The seed of the tree is sown by the cultivator, and the tree or creeper in due course becomes manifested with so many fruits. Nothing can take place without a cause. The Kāraṇa Ocean is therefore called the Causal Ocean. Kāraṇa means “causal.” We should not foolishly accept the atheistic theory of creation. The description of the atheists is given in the Bhagavad-gītā. The atheist does not believe in the creator, but he cannot give a good theory to explain the creation. Material nature has no power to create without the power of the puruṣa, just as a prakṛti, or woman, cannot produce a child without the connection of a puruṣa, or man. The puruṣa impregnates, and the prakṛti delivers. We should not expect milk from the fleshy bags on the neck of a goat, although they look like breastly nipples. Similarly, we should not expect any creative power from the material ingredients; we must believe in the power of the puruṣa, who impregnates prakṛti, or nature. Because the Lord wished to lie down in meditation, the material energy created innumerable universes at once, in each of them the Lord lay down, and thus all the planets and the different paraphernalia were created at once by the will of the Lord. The Lord has unlimited potencies, and thus He can act as He likes by perfect planning, although personally He has nothing to do. No one is greater than or equal to Him. That is the verdict of the Vedas.

TEXT 3

yasyāvayava-saṁsthānaiḥ
kalpito loka-vistaraḥ
tad vai bhagavato rūpaṁ
viśuddhaṁ sattvam ūrjitam

SYNONYMS

yasya—whose; avayava—bodily expansion; saṁsthānaiḥ—situated in; kalpitaḥ—is imagined; loka—planets of inhabitants; vistaraḥ—various; tat vai—but that is; bhagavataḥ—of the Personality of Godhead; rūpam—form; viśuddham—purely; sattvam—existence; ūrjitam—excellence.

TRANSLATION

It is believed that all the universal planetary systems are situated on the extensive body of the puruṣa, but He has nothing to do with the created material ingredients. His body is eternally in spiritual existence par excellence.

PURPORT

The conception of the virāṭ-rūpa or viśva-rūpa of the Supreme Absolute Truth is especially meant for the neophyte who can hardly think of the transcendental form of the Personality of Godhead. To him a form means something of this material world, and therefore an opposite conception of the Absolute is necessary in the beginning to concentrate the mind on the power extension of the Lord. As stated above, the Lord extends His potency in the form of the mahat-tattva, which includes all material ingredients. The extension of power by the Lord and the Lord Himself personally are one in one sense, but at the same time the mahat-tattva is different from the Lord. Therefore the potency of the Lord and the Lord are simultaneously different and nondifferent. The conception of the virāṭ-rūpa, especially for the impersonalist, is thus nondifferent from the eternal form of the Lord. This eternal form of the Lord exists prior to the creation of the mahat-tattva, and it is stressed here that the eternal form of the Lord is par excellence spiritual or transcendental to the modes of material nature. The very same transcendental form of the Lord is manifested by His internal potency, and the formation of His multifarious manifestations of incarnations is always of the same transcendental quality, without any touch of the mahat-tattva.

TEXT 4

paśyanty ado rūpam adabhra-cakṣuṣā
sahasra-pādoru-bhujānanādbhutam
sahasra-mūrdha-śravaṇākṣi-nāsikaṁ
sahasra-mauly-ambara-kuṇḍalollasat

SYNONYMS

paśyanti—see; adaḥ—the form of the puruṣa; rūpam—form; adabhra—perfect; cakṣuṣā—by the eyes; sahasra-pāda—thousands of legs; ūru—thighs; bhuja-ānana—hands and faces; adbhutam—wonderful; sahasra—thousands of; mūrdha—heads; śravaṇa—ears; akṣi—eyes; nāsikam—noses; sahasra—thousands; mauli—garlands; ambara—dresses; kuṇḍala—earrings; ullasat—all glowing.

TRANSLATION

The devotees, with their perfect eyes, see the transcendental form of the puruṣa who has thousands of legs, thighs, arms and faces—all extraordinary. In that body there are thousands of heads, ears, eyes and noses. They are decorated with thousands of helmets and glowing earrings and are adorned with garlands.

PURPORT

With our present materialized senses we cannot perceive anything of the transcendental Lord. Our present senses are to be rectified by the process of devotional service, and then the Lord Himself becomes revealed to us. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is confirmed that the transcendental Lord can be perceived only by pure devotional service. So it is confirmed in the Vedas that only devotional service can lead one to the side of the Lord and that only devotional service can reveal Him. In the Brahma-saṁhitā also it is said that the Lord is always visible to the devotees whose eyes have been anointed with the tinge of devotional service. So we have to take information of the transcendental form of the Lord from persons who have actually seen Him with perfect eyes smeared with devotional service. In the material world also we do not always see things with our own eyes; we sometimes see through the experience of those who have actually seen or done things. If that is the process for experiencing a mundane object, it is more perfectly applicable in matters transcendental. So only with patience and perseverance can we realize the transcendental subject matter regarding the Absolute Truth and His different forms. He is formless to the neophytes, but He is in transcendental form to the expert servitor.

TEXT 5

etan nānāvatārāṇāṁ
nidhānaṁ bījam avyayam
yasyāṁśāṁśena sṛjyante
deva-tiryaṅ-narādayaḥ

SYNONYMS

etat—this (form); nānā—multifarious; avatārāṇām—of the incarnations; nidhānam—source; bījam—seed; avyayam—indestructible; yasya—whose; aṁśa—plenary portion; aṁśena—part of the plenary portion; sṛjyante—create; deva—demigods; tiryak—animals; nara-ādayaḥ—human beings and others.

TRANSLATION

This form [the second manifestation of the puruṣa] is the source and indestructible seed of multifarious incarnations within the universe. From the particles and portions of this form, different living entities, like demigods, men and others, are created.

PURPORT

The puruṣa, after creating innumerable universes in the mahat-tattva, entered in each of them as the second puruṣa, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. When He saw that within the universe there was only darkness and space, without a resting place, He filled half of the universe with water from His own perspiration and laid Himself down on the same water. This water is called Garbhodaka. Then from His navel the stem of the lotus flower sprouted, and on the flower petals the birth of Brahmā, or the master engineer of the universal plan, took place. Brahmā became the engineer of the universe, and the Lord Himself took charge of the maintenance of the universe as Viṣṇu. Brahmā was generated from rajo-guṇa of prakṛti, or the mode of passion in nature, and Viṣṇu became the Lord of the mode of goodness. Viṣṇu, being transcendental to all the modes, is always aloof from materialistic affection. This has already been explained. From Brahmā there is Rudra (Śiva), who is in charge of the mode of ignorance or darkness. He destroys the whole creation by the will of the Lord. Therefore all three, namely Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, are incarnations of the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. From Brahmā the other demigods like Dakṣa, Marīci, Manu and many others become incarnated to generate living entities within the universe. This Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is glorified in the Vedas in the hymns of Garbha-stuti, which begin with the description of the Lord as having thousands of heads, etc. The Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the Lord of the universe, and although He appears to be lying within the universe, He is always transcendental. This also has already been explained. The Viṣṇu who is the plenary portion of the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the Supersoul of the universal life, and He is known as the maintainer of the universe or Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. So the three features of the original puruṣa are thus understood. And all the incarnations within the universe are emanations from this Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.

In different millennia there are different incarnations, and they are innumerable, although some of them are very prominent, such as Matsya, Kūrma, Varāha, Rāma, Nṛsiṁha, Vāmana and many others. These incarnations are called līlā incarnations. Then there are qualitative incarnations such as Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva (or Rudra) who take charge of the different modes of material nature.

Lord Viṣṇu is nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead. Lord Śiva is in the marginal position between the Personality of Godhead and the living entities, or jīvas. Brahmā is always a jīva-tattva. The highest pious living being, or the greatest devotee of the Lord, is empowered with the potency of the Lord for creation, and he is called Brahmā. His power is like the power of the sun reflected in valuable stones and jewels. When there is no such living being to take charge of the post of Brahmā, the Lord Himself becomes a Brahmā and takes charge of the post.

Lord Śiva is not an ordinary living being. He is the plenary portion of the Lord, but because Lord Śiva is in direct touch with material nature, he is not exactly in the same transcendental position as Lord Viṣṇu. The difference is like that between milk and curd. Curd is nothing but milk, and yet it cannot be used in place of milk.

The next incarnations are the Manus. Within one day’s duration of the life of Brahmā (which is calculated by our solar year as 4,300,000 x 1,000 years) there are fourteen Manus. Therefore there are 420 Manus in one month of Brahmā and 5,040 Manus in one year of Brahmā. Brahmā lives for one hundred years of his age, and therefore there are 5,040 x 100 or 504,000 Manus in the duration of Brahmā’s life. There are innumerable universes, with one Brahmā in each of them, and all of them are created and annihilated during the breathing time of the puruṣa. Therefore one can simply imagine how many millions of Manus there are during one breath of the puruṣa.

The Manus who are prominent within this universe are as follows: Yajña as Svāyambhuva Manu, Vibhu as Svārociṣa Manu, Satyasena as Uttama Manu, Hari as Tāmasa Manu, Vaikuṇṭha as Raivata Manu, Ajita as Cākṣuṣa Manu, Vāmana as Vaivasvata Manu (the present age is under the Vaivasvata Manu), Sārvabhauma as Sāvarṇi Manu, Ṛṣabha as Dakṣasāvarṇi Manu, Viṣvaksena as Brahma-sāvarṇi Manu, Dharmasetu as Dharma-sāvarṇi Manu, Sudhāmā as Rudra-sāvarṇi Manu, Yogeśvara as Deva-sāvarṇi Manu, and Bṛhadbhānu as Indra-sāvarṇi Manu. These are the names of one set of fourteen Manus covering 4,300,000,000 solar years as described above.

Then there are the yugāvatāras, or the incarnations of the millennia. The yugas are known as Satya-yuga, Tretā-yuga, Dvāpara-yuga and Kali-yuga. The incarnations of each yuga are of different color. The colors are white, red, black and yellow. In the Dvāpara-yuga, Lord Kṛṣṇa in black color appeared, and in the Kali-yuga Lord Caitanya in yellow color appeared.

So all the incarnations of the Lord are mentioned in the revealed scriptures. There is no scope for an imposter to become an incarnation, for an incarnation must be mentioned in the śāstras. An incarnation does not declare Himself to be an incarnation of the Lord, but great sages agree by the symptoms mentioned in the revealed scriptures. The features of the incarnation and the particular type of mission which He has to execute are mentioned in the revealed scriptures.

Apart from the direct incarnations, there are innumerable empowered incarnations. They are also mentioned in the revealed scriptures. Such incarnations are directly as well as indirectly empowered. When they are directly empowered they are called incarnations, but when they are indirectly empowered they are called vibhūtis. Directly empowered incarnations are the Kumāras, Nārada, Pṛthu, Śeṣa, Ananta, etc. As far as vibhūtis are concerned, they are very explicitly described in the Bhagavad-gītā in the Vibhūti-yoga chapter. And for all these different types of incarnations, the fountainhead is the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.

Pasted from: Causless Mercy

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