The 64 Qualities of Śhrī Kṛiṣhṇa
Personal features can be divided into two: one feature is covered, and the other feature is manifested. When Krishna is covered by different kinds of dress, His personal feature is covered. There is an example of His covered personal feature in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with His Dvārakā līlā (His residence in Dvārakā as its king). Sometimes Lord Krishna began to play by dressing Himself like a woman. Seeing this form, Uddhava said, “How wonderful it is that this woman is attracting my ecstatic love exactly as Lord Krishna does. I think she must be Krishna covered by the dress of a woman!”
One devotee praised the bodily features of Krishna when he saw the Lord in His manifested personal feature. He exclaimed, “How wonderful is the personal feature of Lord Krishna! How His neck is just like a conchshell! His eyes are so beautiful, as though they themselves are encountering the beauty of a lotus flower. His body is just like the tāmala tree, very blackish. His head is protected with a canopy of hair. There are the marks of śrīvatsa on His chest, and He is holding His conchshell. By such beautiful bodily features, the enemy of the demon Madhu has appeared so pleasing that He can bestow upon me transcendental bliss simply by my seeing His transcendental qualities.”
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, after consulting various scriptures, has enumerated the transcendental qualities of the Lord as follows: 1) beautiful features of the entire body; 2) marked with all auspicious characteristics; 3) extremely pleasing; 4) effulgent; 5) strong; 6) ever-youthful; 7) wonderful linguist; 8) truthful; 9) talks pleasingly; 10) can speak fluently in all languages; 11) highly learned; 12) highly intelligent; 13) a genius; 14) artistic; 15) extremely clever; 16) expert; 17) grateful; 18) firmly determined; 19) an expert judge of time and circumstances; 20) sees and speaks on the authority of Vedas, or scriptures; 21) pure; 22) self-controlled; 23) steadfast; 24) forbearing; 25) forgiving; 26) grave; 27) self-satisfied; 28) possessing equilibrium; 29) magnanimous; 30) religious; 31) heroic; 32) compassionate; 33) respectful; 34) gentle; 35) liberal; 36) shy; 37) the protector of surrendered souls; 38) happy; 39) the well-wisher of devotees; 40) controlled by love; 41) all-auspicious; 42) most powerful; 43) all-famous; 44) popular; 45) partial to devotees; 46) very attractive to all women; 47) all-worshipable; 48) all-opulent; 49) all-honorable; 50) the supreme controller. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has all these fifty transcendental qualities in fullness as deep as the ocean. In other words, the extent of His qualities is inconceivable.
As parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the individual living entities can also possess all of these qualities in minute quantities, provided they become pure devotees of the Lord. In other words, all of the above transcendental qualities can be present in the devotees in minute quantity, whereas the qualities in fullness are always present in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Besides these, there are other transcendental qualities which are described by Lord Śiva to Pārvatī in the Padma Purāṇa, and in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in connection with a conversation between the demigod of the earth and the King of religion, Yamarāj. It is said therein, “Persons who are desirous of becoming great personalities must be decorated with the following qualities: truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, perseverance, renunciation, peacefulness, simplicity, control of the senses, equilibrium of the mind, austerity, equality, forbearance, placidity, learning, knowledge, opulence, chivalry, influence, strength, memory, independence, tactfulness, luster, patience, ability to talk, gravity, steadiness, faithfulness, fame, respectfulness and lack of false egotism.” Persons who are desiring to become great souls cannot be without any of the above qualities, so we can know for certain that these qualities are found in Lord Krishna, the supreme soul.
Besides all of the above-mentioned fifty qualities, Lord Krishna possesses five more, which are sometimes partially manifested in the persons of Lord Brahmā or Lord Śiva. These transcendental qualities are as follows: 51) changeless; 52) all-cognizant; 53) ever fresh; 54) sac-cid-ānanda (possessing an eternal blissful body); 55) possessing all mystic perfection.
Krishna also possesses five other qualities, which are manifest in the body of Nārāyaṇa, and they are listed as follows: 56) He has inconceivable potency. 57) Uncountable universes generate from His body. 58) He is the original source of all incarnations. 59) He is the giver of salvation to the enemies whom He kills. 60) He is the attractor of liberated souls. All these transcendental qualities are manifest wonderfully in the personal feature of Lord Krishna.
Besides these sixty transcendental qualities, Krishna has four more, which are not manifest even in the Nārāyaṇa form of Godhead, not to speak of the demigods or living entities. They are as follows: 61) He is the performer of wonderful varieties of pastimes (especially His childhood pastimes). 62) He can attract all living entities all over the universes by playing on His flute. 63) He is surrounded by devotees endowed with wonderful love of Godhead. 64) He has a wonderful excellence of beauty which cannot be rivalled anywhere in the creation.
Adding to the list these four exceptional qualities of Krishna, it is to be understood that the aggregate number of qualities of Krishna is sixty-four. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has attempted to give evidences from various scriptures about all sixty-four qualities present in the person of the Supreme Lord.
1. Beautiful Bodily Features
Any comparison of the different parts of the Lord’s body to different material objects cannot factually be a complete comparison. Ordinary persons, who cannot understand how exalted are the bodily features of the Lord, are simply given a chance to understand by a material comparison. It is said that Krishna’s face is as beautiful as the moon, His thighs are powerful, just like the trunks of elephants, His arms are just like two pillars, His palms are expanded like lotus flowers, His chest is just like a doorway, His hips are dens, and the middle of His body is a terrace.
2. Auspicious Characteristics
There are certain characteristics of different limbs which are considered to be very auspicious and are fully present in the body of the Lord. In this connection, one friend of Nanda Mahārāj, speaking about Lord Krishna’s auspicious bodily symptoms, said, “My dear King of the cowherds, I can find 32 auspicious symptoms on the body of your son! I am wondering how this boy could have taken His birth in a family of cowherd men.” Generally, when Lord Krishna appears He does so in a family of kṣatriyas (kings), as did Lord Rāmacandra, and sometimes in a family of brāhmaṇas. But Krishna accepted the role of son to Mahārāj Nanda, despite the fact that Nanda belonged to the vaiśya community. The business of the vaiśya community is trade, commerce and the protection of cows. Therefore his friend, who may have been born into a brāhmaṇa family, expressed his wonder at how such an exalted child could take birth in a family of vaiśyas. Anyway, he pointed out the auspicious signs on the body of Krishna to the boy’s foster father.
He continued: “This boy has a reddish luster in seven places—His eyes, the ends of His hands, the ends of His legs, His palate, His lips, His tongue and His nails. A reddish luster in these seven places is considered to be auspicious. Three parts of His body are very broad: His waist, forehead and chest. Three parts of His body are short: His neck, thighs and genitals. Three parts of His body are very deep: His voice, intelligence and navel. There is highness in five parts of His body: His nose, arms, ears, forehead and thighs. In five parts of His body there is fineness: His skin, the hairs on His head and on the other parts of His body, His teeth and His fingertips. The aggregate of all these bodily features is manifest only in the bodies of great personalities.”
The fate lines on the palm are also considered to be auspicious bodily symptoms. In this connection, one old gopī informed King Nanda, “Your son possesses various wonderful fate lines on His palms. There are the signs of lotus flowers and wheels on His palms, and on His soles there are the signs of a flag, thunderbolt, fish, rod for controlling elephants, and a lotus flower. Please observe how auspicious these signs are!”
Beautiful bodily features which automatically attract the eyes are called rucira (pleasing). Krishna possesses this attractive feature of rucira in His personal features. In the Third Canto, 2nd Chapter, 13th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is a statement about this. “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His pleasing dress, appeared at the scene of the sacrificial arena when King Yudhiṣṭhira was performing the rāja-sūya sacrifice. All important personalities from different parts of the universe had been invited to the sacrificial arena, and all of them, upon beholding Krishna there, considered that the Creator had ended all of His craftsmanship in the creation of this particular body of Krishna.”
It is said that the transcendental body of Krishna resembles the lotus flower in eight parts—namely, His face, His two eyes, His two hands, His navel and His two feet. The gopīs and inhabitants of Vṛndāvana used to see the luster of lotus flowers everywhere, and they could hardly withdraw their eyes from such a vision.
The effulgence pervading the universe is considered to be the rays of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The supreme abode of Krishna is always throwing off the effulgence known as brahma-jyoti, and that effulgence is emanating from His body.
The luster of the hosts of jewels fixed on the chest of the Lord can defeat even the luster of the sun, and still, when compared with the bodily luster of the Lord, that crest of jewels appears to be only as bright as one of the stars in the sky. Therefore the transcendental influence of Krishna is so great that it can defeat anyone. When Krishna was present in the sacrificial arena of His enemy King Kaṁsa, the wrestlers present, although appreciating the softness of the body of Śrī Krishna, were nevertheless afraid and perturbed when they thought of engaging with Him in battle.
A person who has extraordinary bodily strength is called balīyān. When Krishna killed Ariṣṭāsura, some of the gopīs said, “My dear friends, just see how Krishna has killed Ariṣṭāsura! Although be was stronger than a mountain, Krishna plucked him up just like a piece of cotton and threw him away without any difficulty!” There is another passage wherein it is said: “O my dear devotees of Lord Krishna, may the left hand of Lord Krishna, which has lifted Govardhana Hill like a ball, save you from all dangers.”
Krishna is beautiful at His different ages—namely, His childhood, His boyhood and His youth. Out of these three, His youth is the reservoir of all pleasures and is the time when the highest varieties of devotional service are acceptable. At that age, Krishna is full with all transcendental qualities and is engaged in His transcendental pastimes. Therefore, devotees have accepted the beginning of His youth as the most attractive feature in ecstatic love.
At this age Krishna is described as follows: “The force of Krishna’s youth was combined with His beautiful smile, which defeated even the beauty of the full moon. He was always nicely dressed, in beauty surpassing even Cupid, and He was always attracting the minds of the gopīs, who were thereby always feeling pleasure.”
7. Wonderful Linguist
Rūpa Gosvāmī says that a person who knows the languages of different countries, especially the Sanskrit language, which is spoken in the cities of the demigods—as well as other worldly languages, including those of the animals—is called a wonderful linguist. It appears from this statement that Krishna can also speak and understand the languages of the animals. An old woman in Vṛndāvana, present at the time of Krishna’s pastimes, once stated in surprise: “How wonderful it is that Krishna, who owns the hearts of all the young girls of Brajabhūmi, can nicely speak the language of Brajabhūmi with the gopīs, while in Sanskrit He speaks with the demigods, and in the language of the animals He can even speak with the cows and buffalo! Similarly, in the language of the Kashmere Province, and with the parrots and other birds, as well as in most common languages, Krishna is so expressive!” She inquired from the gopīs as to how Krishna had become so expert in speaking so many different types of languages.
A person whose word of honor is never broken is called truthful. Krishna once promised Kuntī, the mother of the Pāṇḍavas, that He would bring her five sons back from the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. After the battle was finished, when all the Pāṇḍavas had come home, Kuntī praised Krishna because His promise was so nicely fulfilled. She said, “Even the sunshine may one day become cool and the moonshine one day become hot, but still Your promise will not fail.” Similarly, when Krishna, along with Bhīma and Arjuna, went to challenge Jarāsandha, He plainly told Jarāsandha that He was the eternal Krishna, present along with two of the Pāṇḍavas. The story is that both Krishna and the Pāṇḍavas—in this case Bhīma and Arjuna—were kṣatriyas (warrior-kings). Jarāsandha was also a kṣatriya and was very charitable toward the brāhmaṇas. Thus Krishna, who had planned to fight with Jarāsandha, went to him with Bhīma and Arjuna in the dress of brāhmaṇas. Jarāsandha, being very charitable toward the brāhmaṇas, asked them what they wanted, and they expressed their desire to fight with him. Then Krishna, dressed as a brāhmaṇa, declared Himself to be the same Krishna who was the King’s eternal enemy.
9. Pleasing Talker
A person who can speak sweetly even with his enemy just to pacify him is called a pleasing talker. Krishna was such a pleasing talker that after defeating His enemy, Kāliya, in the water of Yamunā, He said: “My dear King of the snakes, although I have given you so much pain, please do not be dissatisfied with Me. It is My duty to protect these cows, which are worshiped even by the demigods. Only in order to save them from the danger of your presence have I been obliged to banish you from this place.”
Kāliya was residing within the water of the Yamunā, and as a result the back portion of that river had become poisoned. Thus so many cows who had drunk the water had died. Therefore Krishna, even though He was only four or five years old, dipped Himself into the water, punished Kāliya very severely and then asked him to leave the place and go elsewhere.
Krishna said at that time that the cows are worshiped even by the demigods, and He practically demonstrated how to protect the cows. At least people who are in Krishna consciousness should follow in His footsteps and give all protection to the cows. Cows are worshiped not only by the demigods. Krishna Himself worshiped the cows on several occasions, especially on the days of Gopāṣṭamī and Govardhana Pūjā.
10. Fluent in All Languages
A person who can speak meaningful words and with all politeness and good qualities is called vāvadūka, or fluent. There is a nice statement in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regarding Krishna’s speaking politely. When Krishna politely bade His father, Nanda Mahārāj, to stop the ritualistic offering of sacrifice to the raingod, Indra, a wife of one village cowherd man became captivated. She later thus described the speaking of Krishna to her friends: “Krishna was speaking to His father so politely and gently that it was as if He were pouring nectar into the ears of all present there. After hearing such sweet words from Krishna, who will not be attracted to Him?”
Krishna’s speech, which contains all good qualities in the universe, is described in the following statement by Uddhava: “The words of Krishna are so attractive that they can immediately change the heart of even His opponent. His words can immediately solve all of the questions and problems of the world. Although He does not speak very long, each and every word from His mouth contains volumes of meaning. These speeches of Krishna are very pleasing to my heart.”
11. Highly Learned
When a person is highly educated and acts strictly on moral principles, he is called highly learned. A person conversant in different departments of knowledge is called educated, and because he acts on moral principles, he is called morally stout. Together, these two factors constitute learning.
Krishna’s receiving education from Sāndīpani Muni is described by Śrī Nārada Muni as follows: “In the beginning, Lord Brahmā and others are as clouds of evaporated water from the great ocean of Krishna. In other words, Brahmā first received the Vedic education from Krishna, as the clouds receive water from the ocean. That Vedic education or instruction which was spoken by Brahmā to the world was then reposed upon the mountain of Sāndīpani Muni. Sāndīpani Muni’s instructions to Krishna are like a reservoir of water on the mountain, which flows as a river and goes again to mix with the source, the ocean of Krishna.” To be more clear, the idea is that Krishna actually cannot be instructed by anyone, just as the ocean does not receive water from any source but itself. It only appears that the rivers are pouring water into the ocean. So it is clear that Brahmā received his education from Krishna, and from Brahmā, via the disciplic succession, this Vedic instruction was distributed. Sāndīpani Muni is likened to the river which is flowing down again to that same original ocean of Krishna.
The Siddhas, the inhabitants of Siddha-loka (where all are born with fully developed mystic powers), and the Cāraṇas, the inhabitants of a similar planet, pray to Krishna as follows: “My Lord Govinda, the goddess of learning, who is decorated with fourteen kinds of educational ornaments, whose intelligence is all-pervading within the four departments of the Vedas, whose attention is always on the lawbooks given by great sages like Manu, and who is appareled in six kinds of expert knowledge—namely Vedic evidence, grammar, astrology, rhetoric, vocabulary, and logic, and whose constant friends are the supplements of the Vedas and Purāṇas, decorated with the final conclusion of all education—has now acquired an opportunity to sit with You as a class friend in school, and she is now engaged in Your service.”
Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does not require any education, but He gives a chance to the goddess of learning to serve Him. Being self-sufficient, Krishna does not require the service of any living entity, although He has many devotees. It is because Krishna is so kind and merciful that He gives the opportunity to everyone to serve Him, as though He required the service of His devotees.
Regarding His moral principles, it is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that Krishna is ruling over Vṛndāvana as death personified to the thieves, as pleasing bliss to the pious, as the most beautiful Cupid to the young girls and as the most munificent personality to the poor men. He is as refreshing as the full moon to His friends, and to His opponents He is the annihilating fire generated from Lord Śiva. Krishna is therefore the most perfect moralist in His reciprocal dealings with different kinds of persons. When He is death personified to the thieves, it is not that He is without moral principles or that He is cruel; He is still kind, because to punish thieves with death is to exhibit the highest quality of moral principles. In the Bhagavad-gītā, also, Krishna says that He deals with different kinds of persons according to their dealings with Him. Krishna’s dealings with devotees and with nondevotees, although different, are both equally good. Because Krishna is all good, His dealings with everyone are always good.
12. Highly Intelligent
A man is called intelligent if he has a sharp memory and fine discretion. As far as Krishna’s memory is concerned, it is said that when He was studying in the school of Sāndīpani Muni in Avantīpura, He showed such a sharp memory that by once taking instructions from the teacher He immediately became perfect in any subject. Actually, His going to the school of Sāndīpani Muni was to show the people of the world that however great or ingenious one may be, he must go to higher authorities for general education. However great one may be, he must accept a teacher or spiritual master.
Krishna’s fine discretion was exhibited when He was fighting with the untouchable king who attacked the city of Mathurā. According to Vedic rites, those who are untouchable are not to be touched by the kṣatriya kings, not even for killing. Therefore, when the untouchable king seized the city of Mathurā, Krishna did not think it wise to kill him directly with His own hand. Still the king had to be killed, and therefore Krishna decided with fine discretion that He should flee from the battlefield so that the untouchable king would chase Him. He could then lead the king to the mountain where Mucukunda was lying asleep. Mucukunda had received a benediction from Lord Śiva to the effect that when he awoke from his sleep, whomever he might see would at once be burnt to ashes. Therefore Krishna thought it wise to lead the untouchable king to that cave so that the king’s presence would awaken Mucukunda, and he would at once be burnt to ashes.
A person is called a genius when he can refute any kind of opposing element with newer and newer arguments. In this connection there is a statement in Padyāvalī which contains the following conversation between Krishna and Rādhā: One morning, when Krishna came to Rādhā, Rādhā asked Him, “My dear Keśava, where is Your vāsa at present?” The Sanskrit word vāsa has three meanings: one meaning is residence, one meaning is fragrance, and another meaning is dress.
Actually Rādhārāṇī inquired from Krishna, “Where is Your dress?” But Krishna took the meaning as residence, and He replied to Rādhārāṇī, “My dear captivated one, at the present moment My residence is in Your beautiful eyes.”
To this Rādhārāṇī replied, “My dear cunning boy, I did not ask You about Your residence. I inquired about Your dress.”
Krishna then took the meaning of vāsa as fragrance and said, “My dear fortunate one, I have just assumed this fragrance in order to be associated with Your body.”
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī again inquired from Krishna, “Where did You pass Your night?” The exact Sanskrit word used in this connection was yāminyāmuṣitaḥ. Yāminyām means at night, and uṣitaḥ means pass. Krishna, however, divided the word yāminyāmuṣitaḥ into two separate words, namely yāminyā and muṣitaḥ. By dividing this word into two, it came out to mean that He was kidnapped by Yāminī, or night. Krishna therefore replied to Rādhārāṇī, “My dear Rādhārāṇī, is it possible that night can kidnap Me?” In this way He was answering all of the questions of Rādhārāṇī so cunningly that He gladdened this dearest of the gopīs.
One who can talk and dress himself very artistically is called vidagdha. This exemplary characteristic was visible in the personality of Śrī Krishna. It is spoken of by Rādhārāṇī as follows: “My dear friend, just see how Krishna has nicely composed songs and how He dances and speaks funny words and plays on His flute, wearing such nice garlands. He has dressed Himself in such an enchanting way, as though He has defeated all kinds of players at the chessboard. He lives wonderfully at the topmost height of artistic craftsmanship.”
A person who can perform various types of work at once is called clever. In this connection one of the gopīs said: “My dear friends, just see the clever activities of Śrī Krishna! He has composed nice songs about the cowherd boys and is pleasing the cows. By the movement of His eyes He is pleasing the gopīs, and at the same time, He is fighting with demons like Ariṣṭāsura and others. In this way, He is sitting with different living entities in different ways, and He is thoroughly enjoying the situation.”
Any person who can quickly execute a very difficult task is called expert. About the expertise of Krishna there is a statement in the Tenth Canto, 59th Chapter, 13th verse, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, wherein Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells Mahārāj Parīkṣit: “O best of the Kurus, Śrī Krishna cut into pieces all the different weapons used by different fighters.” Formerly, fighting was done by releasing different kinds of arrows. One party would release a certain arrow, and the other party had to defeat it by counteracting it with another arrow. For example, one party might release an arrow which would cause water to pour from the sky, and to counteract this, the opposing party would have to release an arrow which could immediately turn the water into clouds. So from this statement it appears that Krishna was very expert in counteracting the enemy’s arrows. Similarly, at the rāsa dance, each and every gopī requested that Krishna individually become her partner, and Krishna immediately expanded Himself into so many Krishnas in order to be coupled with each and every gopī. The result was that each gopī found Krishna by her side.
Any person who is conscious of his friend’s beneficent activities and never forgets his service is called grateful. In the Mahābhārata, Krishna says: “When I was away from Draupadī, she cried with the words, ‘Hey, Govinda!’ This call for Me has put Me in her debt, and that indebtedness is gradually increasing in My heart!” This statement by Krishna gives evidence of how one can please the Supreme Lord simply by addressing Him: “Hey, Krishna! Hey, Govinda!”
The mahā-mantra (Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare) is also simply an address to the Lord and His energy. So to anyone who is constantly engaged in addressing the Lord and His energy, we can imagine how much the Supreme Lord is obliged. It is impossible for the Lord to ever forget such a devotee. It is clearly stated in this verse that anyone who addresses the Lord immediately attracts the attention of the Lord, who always remains obliged to him.
Another instance of Krishna’s feeling of obligation is stated in connection with His dealings with Jāmbavān. When the Lord was present as Lord Rāmacandra, Jāmbavān, the great king of the monkeys, rendered very faithful service to Him. When the Lord again appeared as Lord Krishna, He married Jāmbavān’s daughter and paid him all the respect that is usually given to superiors. Any honest person is obliged to his friend if some service has been rendered unto Him. Since Krishna is the supreme honest personality, how can He forget an obligation to His servitor?
Any person who observes regulative principles and fulfills his promises by practical activity is called determined. As far as the Lord’s determination is concerned, there is an example in His dealings in the Harivaṁśa. This is in connection with Lord Krishna’s fighting the King of heaven, Indra, who was forcibly deprived of the pārijāta flower. Pārijāta is a kind of lotus flower grown on the heavenly planets. Once, Satyabhāmā, one of Krishna’s queens, wanted that lotus flower, and Krishna promised to deliver it; but Indra refused to part with his pārijāta flower. Therefore there was a great fight, with Krishna and the Pāṇḍavas on one side and all of the demigods on the other. Ultimately, Krishna defeated all of them and took the pārijāta flower, which He presented to His queen. So, in regard to that occurrence, Krishna told Nārada Muni, “My dear great sage of the demigods, now you can declare to the devotees in general, and to the nondevotees in particular, that in this matter of taking the pārijāta flower, all the demigods—the Gandharvas, the Nāgas, the demon Rākṣasas, the Yakṣas, the Pannagas—tried to defeat Me, but none could make Me break My promise to My queen.”
There is another promise by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gītā to the effect that His devotee will never be vanquished. So a sincere devotee who is always engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord should know for certain that Krishna will never break His promise. He will always protect His devotees in every circumstance.
Krishna showed how He fulfills His promise by delivering the pārijāta flower to Satyabhāmā, by saving Draupadī from being insulted and by freeing Arjuna from the attacks of all enemies.
The promise of Krishna that His devotees are never vanquished had also previously been admitted by Indra when he was defeated in the Govardhana-līlā. When Krishna stopped the villagers of Braja (Vṛndāvana) from worshiping Indra, Indra became angry and therefore inundated Vṛndāvana with continuous rain. Krishna, however, protected all of the citizens and animals of Vṛndāvana by lifting Govardhan Hill, which served as an umbrella. After the incident was over, Indra surrendered to Krishna with many prayers, in which he admitted, “By Your lifting Govardhan Hill and protecting the citizens of Vṛndāvana, You have kept Your promise that Your devotees are never to be vanquished.”
19. Expert Judge of Time and Circumstances
Krishna was very expert in dealing with people according to circumstances, country, time and paraphernalia. How He could take advantage of a particular time, circumstance and person is expressed by Him while talking to Uddhava about His rāsa dance with the gopīs. He says: “The most opportune time is the full moon night in autumn, like tonight. The best place within the universe is Vṛndāvana, and the most beautiful girls are the gopīs. So, My dear friend Uddhava, I think I should now take advantage of all these circumstances and engage Myself in the rāsa dance.”
20. Seer by the Authority of the Scriptures
A person who acts exactly according to the tenets of scripture is called śāstra-cakṣus. Śāstra-cakṣus means one who sees through the eyes of the authorized scriptures. Actually, any man of knowledge and experience should see everything through these books. For example, with our naked eye we perceive the sun globe simply as some glaring substance, but when we see through authorized books of science and other literature, we can understand how much greater the sun globe is than this earth and how powerful it is. So seeing things through the naked eye is not actually seeing. Seeing things through the authorized books or authorized teachers is the correct way to see. So, although Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and can see all that is past, present and future, to teach the people in general He used to always refer to the scriptures. For example, in the Bhagavad-gītā, although Krishna was speaking as the supreme authority, He still mentioned and quoted Vedānta-sūtra as authority. There is a statement in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam wherein a person jokingly says that Krishna, the enemy of Kaṁsa, is known as the seer through the śāstras. In order to establish His authority, however, He is now engaged in seeing the gopīs, whereby the gopīs are becoming maddened.
There are two kinds of supreme purity. When one type is possessed, one is able to deliver a sinful person. When the other type is possessed, one does not do anything which is impure. A person who possesses either of these qualities is called supremely pure. Krishna is both; He can deliver all sinful conditioned souls, and at the same time, He never does anything by which He can be contaminated.
In this connection, Vidura, while trying to detach his elder brother, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, from his familial attachments, said, “My dear brother, you just fix your mind on the lotus feet of Krishna, who is worshiped with beautiful erudite verses by great sages and saintly persons. Krishna is the supreme deliverer amongst all other deliverers. Undoubtedly there are great demigods like Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, but their positions as deliverers depend always upon the mercy of Krishna.” Therefore Vidura advised his elder brother Dhṛtarāṣṭra to concentrate his mind and worship only Krishna. If one simply chants the holy name of Krishna, this holy name will rise within one’s heart like the powerful sun and will immediately dissipate all the darkness of ignorance. Vidura advised Dhṛtarāṣṭra to therefore think always of Krishna so that the volumes of contaminations due to sinful activities would be washed off immediately. In the Bhagavad-gītā also Krishna is addressed by Arjuna as paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitram [Bg. 10.12]—the supreme pure. There are many other instances exhibiting Krishna’s supreme purity.
A person who can control his senses fully is called vaśī, or self-controlled. In this connection it is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: “All the 16,000 wives of Krishna were so exquisitely beautiful that their smiling and shyness were able to captivate the minds of great demigods like Lord Śiva. But still they could not even agitate the mind of Krishna, in spite of their attractive feminine behavior.” Every one of the thousands of wives of Krishna was thinking that Krishna was captivated by her feminine beauty, but this was not the case. Krishna is therefore the supreme controller of the senses, and this is admitted in the Bhagavad-gītā, where He is addressed as Hṛṣīkeśa—the master of the senses.
A person who continues to work until his desired goal is achieved is called steadfast.
There was a fight between Krishna and King Syamantaka, and Krishna was to take a valuable jewel from the King. The King tried to hide himself in the forest, but Krishna would not become discouraged. Krishna finally got the jewel by seeking out the King with great steadfastness.
A person who tolerates all kinds of troubles, even though such troubles appear to be unbearable, is called forbearing.
When Krishna was residing at the place of His spiritual master, He did not mind taking all troubles in rendering service to His guru, although His body was very soft and delicate. It is the duty of the disciple to execute all services unto the spiritual master, despite all kinds of difficulties. The disciple living at the residence of the spiritual master has to go begging from door to door and bring everything back to the spiritual master. When prasādam is being served, the spiritual master is supposed to call each and every disciple to come eat. If by chance the spiritual master forgets to call a disciple to partake of the prasādam, it is enjoined in the scriptures that the student should fast on that day rather than accept food on his own initiative. There are many such strictures. Sometimes, also, Krishna went to the forest to collect dry wood for fuel.
A person who can tolerate all kinds of offenses from the opposite party is known to be forgiving.
Lord Krishna’s forgiving quality is described in the Mahābhārata in connection with His forbidding the killing of Śiśupāla. King Śiśupāla was the monarch of the Cedi Kingdom, and although he happened to be a cousin of Krishna’s, he was always envious of Him. Whenever they would meet, Śiśupāla would try to insult Krishna and call Him ill names as much as possible. In the arena of the rāja-sūya sacrifice of Mahārāj Yudhiṣṭhira, when Śiśupāla began to call Lord Krishna ill names, Krishna did not care and remained silent. Some of the people at the arena were prepared to kill Śiśupāla, but Krishna restricted them. He was so forgiving. It is said that when there is a thundering sound in the clouds, the mighty lion immediately replies with his thundering roar. But the lion doesn’t care when all the foolish jackals begin to make their less important sounds.
Śrī Yāmunācārya praises Krishna’s power of forgiveness with the following statement: “My dear Lord Rāmacandra, You are so merciful to have excused the crow’s clawing on the nipples of Jānakī simply because of his bowing down before You.” Once Indra, the King of heaven, assumed the form of a crow and attacked Sītā (Jānakī), Lord Rāmacandra’s wife, by striking her on the breast. This was certainly an insult to the universal mother, Sītā, and Lord Rāmacandra was immediately prepared to kill the crow. But because later on the crow bowed down before the Lord, He excused his offense. Śrī Yāmunācārya further says in his prayer that the forgiving power of Lord Krishna is even greater than that of Lord Rāmacandra, because Śiśupāla was always in the habit of insulting Krishna—not only in one lifetime, but continually throughout three lives. Still, Krishna was so kind that He gave Śiśupāla the salvation of merging into His existence. From this we can understand that the goal of the monist to merge into the effulgence of the supreme is not a very difficult problem. Persons like Śiśupāla who are consistently inimical to Krishna can also get this liberation.
A person who does not express his mind to everyone, or whose mental activity and plan of action are very difficult to understand, is called grave. After Lord Śrī Krishna had been offended by Brahmā, Brahmā prayed to Him to be excused. But in spite of his offering nice prayers to Krishna, Brahmā could not understand whether Krishna was satisfied or still dissatisfied. In other words, Krishna was so grave that He did not take the prayers of Brahmā very seriously. Another instance of Krishna’s gravity is found in connection with His love affairs with Rādhārāṇī. Krishna was always very silent about His love affairs with Rādhārāṇī, so much so that Baladeva, Krishna’s elder brother and constant companion, could not understand the transformations of Krishna on account of His gravity.
A person who is fully satisfied in himself, without any hankering, and who is not agitated even in the presence of serious cause for distress, is called self-satisfied.
An example of Krishna’s self-satisfaction was exhibited when He, Arjuna and Bhīma went to challenge Jarāsandha, the formidable king of Magadha, and Krishna gave all credit to Bhīma for the killing of Jarāsandha. From this we can understand that Krishna never cares at all for fame, although no one can be more famous.
An example of His not being disturbed was shown when Śiśupāla began to call Him ill names. All the kings and brāhmaṇas assembled at the sacrificial arena of Mahārāj Yudhiṣṭhira became perturbed and immediately wanted to satisfy Krishna by offering nice prayers. But all these kings and brāhmaṇas could not discover any disturbance in Krishna’s person.
28. Possessing Equilibrium
A person who is unaffected by attachment and envy is said to possess equilibrium.
An example of Krishna’s equilibrium is given in the Tenth Canto, 16th Chapter, 29th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with His chastising Kāliya, the hundred-headed serpent. While Kāliya was being severely punished, all of his wives appeared before the Lord and prayed as follows: “My dear Lord, You have descended to punish all kinds of demoniac living creatures. Our husband, this Kāliya, is a greatly sinful creature, and so Your punishment for him is quite appropriate. We know that Your punishment for Your enemies and Your dealings with Your sons are both the same. We know that it is in thinking of the future welfare of this condemned creature that You have chastised him.”
In another prayer it is said, “My dear Lord Krishna, best of all the Kuru dynasty, You are so impartial that if even Your enemy is qualified, You will reward him; and if one of Your sons is a culprit, You will chastise him. This is Your business, because You are the supreme author of universes. You have no partiality. If anyone finds any partiality in Your characteristics, he is surely mistaken.”
Any person who is very charitably disposed is called magnanimous.
When Krishna was reigning over Dvārakā, He was so magnanimous and charitably disposed that there was no limit to His charity. In fact, so great was His charity in Dvārakā that even the spiritual kingdom, with all of its opulence of cintāmaṇi (touchstone), desire trees and surabhi cows, was surpassed. In the spiritual kingdom of Lord Krishna, named Goloka Vṛndāvana, there are surabhi cows which give unlimited quantities of milk. There are desire trees from which anyone can take all kinds of fruits, as much as he may desire. The land is made of touchstone, which when touched to iron will transform it into gold. In other words, although in the spiritual kingdom, the abode of Krishna, everything is wonderfully opulent, still when Krishna was in Dvārakā His charity exceeded the opulences of Goloka Vṛndāvana. Wherever Krishna is present, the limitless opulence of Goloka Vṛndāvana is automatically present.
It is also stated that while Lord Krishna was living in Dvārakā, He expanded Himself into 16,108 forms, and each and every expansion resided in a palace with a queen. Not only was Krishna happily living with His queens in those palaces, but He was giving in charity from each palace an aggregate number of 13,054 cows completely decorated with nice clothing and ornaments. From each of Krishna’s 16,108 palaces, these cows were being given in charity by Krishna every day. No one can estimate the value of such a large number of cows given in charity, but that was the system of Krishna’s daily affairs while He was reigning in Dvārakā.
A person who personally practices the tenets of religion as they are enjoined in the śāstras and who also teaches others the same principles is called religious. Simply professing a kind of faith is not a sign of religiousness. One must act according to religious principles, and by his personal example he should teach others. Such a person is to be understood as religious.
When Krishna was present on this planet, there was no irreligion. In this connection, Nārada Muni once addressed Krishna jokingly: “My dear Lord of the cowherd boys, Your bulls [bulls are the representation of religion], while eating grass from the pasturing ground and moving on their four legs, have certainly eaten up all the grass of irreligion!” In other words, by the grace of Krishna, religious principles were so well cared for that hardly any irreligious activities could be found.
It is said that because Krishna was constantly performing various types of sacrifices and was inviting the demigods from the higher planetary systems, the demigods were almost always absent from their consorts. Therefore the wives of the demigods, regretting the absence of their husbands, began to pray for the appearance of Lord Buddha, the ninth incarnation of Krishna in the age of Kali. In other words, instead of being pleased that Lord Krishna had come, they began to pray for Lord Buddha, who is the ninth incarnation, because Lord Buddha stopped the ritualistic ceremonies and sacrifices recommended in the Vedas in order to discourage animal killing. The demigods’ wives thought that if Lord Buddha appeared, all kinds of sacrifices would be stopped, and thus their husbands would not be invited to such ceremonies and thus would not be separated from them.
Sometimes it is inquired, “Why don’t the demigods from higher planetary systems come to this earth planet nowadays?” The plain answer is that since Lord Buddha appeared and began to deprecate the performance of sacrifice in order to stop animal killing on this planet, the process of offering sacrifices has been stopped, and the demigods do not care to come here anymore.
A person who is very enthusiastic in military activities and expert in releasing different kinds of weapons is called heroic.
Regarding Krishna’s heroism in fighting, there is the following statement: “My dear killer of the enemy, just as the elephant while taking bath in the lake destroys all the lotus stems within the water by swinging its trunk, so simply by moving Your arms, which are compared to the trunks of elephants, You have killed so many lotus-like enemies.”
Regarding Krishna’s expertise in releasing weapons, when Jarāsandha and thirteen divisions of soldiers, attacked Krishna’s army, they were unable to hurt even one soldier on the side of Krishna. This was due to Krishna’s expert military training. This is unique in the history of military art.
A person who is unable to bear another’s distress is called compassionate.
Krishna’s compassion for distressed persons was exhibited when He released all of the kings imprisoned by Magadhendra. While dying, Grandfather Bhīṣma prayed to Krishna and described Him as the sun which eradicated darkness. The kings who were imprisoned by Magadhendra were put into dark cells, and when Krishna appeared there, the darkness immediately disappeared, just as if the sun had risen. In other words, although Magadhendra was able to imprison so many kings, upon the appearance of Krishna they were all released. Krishna did this out of His sincere compassion for them.
Krishna’s compassion was also exhibited when Grandfather Bhīṣma was lying on the bed of arrows which had been shot through his body. While lying in this position, Bhīṣma was very anxious to see Krishna, and thus Krishna appeared there. Upon seeing the pitiable condition of Bhīṣma, Krishna began speaking with tears in His eyes. Not only was He shedding tears, but He also forgot Himself in His compassion. Therefore, instead of offering obeisances to Krishna directly, devotees offer obeisances to His compassionate nature. Actually, because Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is very difficult to approach Him. But the devotees, taking advantage of His compassionate nature, which is represented by Rādhārāṇī, always pray to Rādhārāṇī for Krishna’s compassion.
A person who shows adequate respect to a spiritual master, a brāhmaṇa and an old person is to be understood as being respectful.
When superior persons assembled before Krishna, Krishna first of all offered respect to His spiritual master, then to His father and then to His elder brother, Balarāma. In this way Lord Krishna, the lotus-eyed, was completely happy and pure at heart in all of His dealings.
Any person who neither becomes impudent nor exhibits a puffed-up nature is called gentle.
The example of Krishna’s gentle behavior was manifested when He was coming to the arena of the rāja-sūya sacrifice arranged by Mahārāj Yudhiṣṭhira, Krishna’s older cousin. Mahārāj Yudhiṣṭhira knew that Krishna was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he was attempting to get down from his chariot to receive Krishna. But before Yudhiṣṭhira could get down, Lord Krishna got down from His own chariot and immediately fell at the feet of the King. Even though Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He never forgets to show social etiquette in His dealings.
Any person who is by his natural behavior very mild is called liberal.
A statement by Uddhava after the Syamantaka jewel plundering confirms that Krishna is so kind and favorable that if a servitor is accused even of great offenses, Krishna does not take this into consideration. He simply considers the service that is rendered by His devotee.
A person who sometimes exhibits humility and bashfulness is called shy.
As described in the Lalita-mādhava, Krishna’s shyness was manifested when He lifted Govardhan Hill by the little finger of His left hand. All of the gopīs were observing Krishna’s wonderful achievement, and Krishna was also smiling at seeing the gopīs. When Krishna’s glance went over the breasts of the gopīs, His hand began to shake, and upon seeing His hand shake, all of the cowherd men underneath the hill became a little disturbed. Then there was a tumultuous roaring sound, and they all began to pray to Krishna for safety. At this time Lord Balarāma was smiling, thinking that these cowherd men had been frightened by the shaking of Govardhan Hill. But, seeing Balarāma smile, Krishna thought that Balarāma had understood His mind in observing the breasts of the gopīs, and He immediately became bashful.
37. Protector of Surrendered Souls
Krishna is the protector of all surrendered souls.
Some enemy of Krishna’s was enlivened with the thought that he needn’t fear Krishna because if he simply surrendered unto Him, Krishna would give him all protection. Krishna is sometimes compared with the moon, which does not hesitate to distribute its soothing rays, even on the houses of the caṇḍālas and untouchables.
Any person who is always joyful and untouched by any distress is called happy.
As far as Krishna’s enjoyment is concerned, it is stated that the ornaments which decorated the bodies of Krishna and His queens were beyond the dreams of Kubera, the treasurer of the heavenly kingdom. The constant dancing before the doors of Krishna’s palaces was not to be imagined even by the demigods in the heavenly kingdom. In the heavenly kingdom, Indra always sees the dancing of the society girls. But even Indra could not imagine how beautiful were the dances being performed at the gates of Krishna’s palaces. Gaurī means white woman, and Lord Śiva’s wife is called Gaurī. The beautiful women residing within the palaces of Krishna were so much whiter than Gaurī that they were compared to the moonshine, and they were constantly visible to Krishna. Therefore, no one can be enjoying more than Krishna. The conception of enjoyment is beautiful women, ornaments and riches. And all of these things were fabulously present in the palaces of Krishna, defeating even the imagination of Kubera, Lord Indra or Lord Śiva.
Not even a slight distress can touch Krishna. Once some of the gopīs went to the place where the brāhmaṇas were performing sacrifices and said, “Dear wives of the brāhmaṇas, you must know that not even a slight smell of distress can touch Krishna. He knows no loss, He knows no defamation, He has no fear, He has no anxiety, and He does not know calamity. He is simply encircled by the dancers of Braja and is enjoying their company in the rāsa dance.”
39. Well-wisher of His Devotees
It is said of Krishna’s devotees that if they offer even a little water or a tulasī leaf in devotion to Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Viṣṇu is so kind that He will sell Himself to them.
Krishna’s favoritism towards His devotees was exhibited in His fight with Bhīṣma. When Grandfather Bhīṣma was lying at the point of death on the bed of arrows, Krishna was present before him, and Bhīṣma was remembering how Krishna had been kind to him on the battlefield. Krishna had promised that in the Battle of Kurukṣetra He would not even touch a weapon to help either side; He would remain neutral. Although Krishna was Arjuna’s charioteer, He had promised that He would not help Arjuna by using any weapons. But one day Bhīṣma, in order to nullify Krishna’s promise, exhibited his fighting spirit so magnificently against Arjuna that Krishna was obliged to get down from His chariot. Taking up a broken chariot wheel, He ran toward Grandfather Bhīṣma as a lion runs toward an elephant to kill it. Grandfather Bhīṣma remembered this scene, and He later praised Krishna for His glorious favoritism towards His devotee, Arjuna, even at the risk of breaking His own promise.
40. Controlled by Love
Krishna becomes obliged to the loving spirit of the devotee and not exactly to the service rendered. No one can serve Krishna completely. He is so complete and self-sufficient that He has no need of any service from the devotee. It is the devotee’s attitude of love and affection for Krishna that makes Him obliged. A very nice example of this obligatory behavior was manifested when Sudāmā Vipra went to Krishna’s palace. Sudāmā Vipra had been a class friend of Krishna’s, and due to his poverty he was induced by his wife to see Krishna to request some aid. When Sudāmā Vipra reached Krishna’s palace, Krishna received him very well, and both He and His wife washed the feet of Sudāmā Vipra, showing respect to the brāhmaṇa. Remembering His loving affairs with Sudāmā in their childhood, Krishna began to shed tears while receiving him.
Another instance of Krishna’s obligation to His devotee is described in the Tenth Canto, 9th Chapter, 14th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells King Parīkṣit: “My dear King, when Mother Yaśodā was perspiring, tired of trying to bind Krishna up with rope, Krishna agreed to allow her to bind Him.” Krishna, as a child, was disturbing His mother by His naughty activities, and she wanted to bind Him up. Mother Yaśodā brought some rope from the house and tried to tie up the child, but she could not tie a knot due to the shortness of the rope. She tied together many ropes, but when she finished still the rope was too short. After a while she felt very tired and began to perspire. At that time Krishna agreed to be bound up by His mother. In other words, no one can bind Krishna by any means other than love. He is bound only by obligation to His devotees, because of their ecstatic love for Him.
A person who is always engaged in auspicious welfare activities for everyone is known as all-auspicious.
After the disappearance of Lord Krishna from this planet, Uddhava began to remember the activities of the Lord and said, “Krishna satisfied all great sages by His wonderful pastimes. He demolished all of the demoniac activities of the cruel royal order, protected all pious men, and killed all cruel fighters on the battlefield. Therefore He is all-auspicious for all men.”
42. Most Powerful
A person who can always put his enemy into calamities is called powerful.
When Krishna was present on this planet, just as the powerful sun drives all darkness to take shelter in caves, He drove away all of His enemies, who fled like owls to take shelter beyond His sight.
A person who becomes well-known due to his spotless character is called famous.
It is stated that the diffusion of Krishna’s fame is like the moonshine which turns darkness into light. In other words, if Krishna consciousness is preached all over the world, the darkness of ignorance and the anxiety of material existence will turn into the whiteness of purity, peacefulness and prosperity.
When the great sage Nārada was chanting the glories of the Lord, the bluish line on the neck of Lord Śiva disappeared. Upon seeing this, Gaurī, the wife of Lord Śiva, suspected Lord Śiva of being someone else disguised as her husband, and out of fear she immediately left his company. Upon hearing the chanting of Krishna’s name, Lord Balarāma saw that His dress had become white, although He was generally accustomed to a bluish dress. And the cowherd girls saw all of the water of the Yamunā River turn into milk, so they began to churn it into butter. In other words, by the spreading of Krishna consciousness, or the glories of Krishna, everything became white and pure.
Any person who is very dear to people in general is called a popular man.
As for Krishna’s popularity, there is a statement in the First Canto, 11th Chapter, 8th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that deals with His returning home from the capital of Hastināpur. While He had been absent from Dvārakā at the Battle of Kurukṣetra, all the citizens of Dvārakā had become morose. Then, when He returned, the citizens joyfully received Him and said, “Dear Lord, while You were absent from the city, we passed our days in the darkness of night. As in the darkness of night every moment appears to be a long duration of time, so while You were gone every moment appeared to us like millions of years. Your separation is completely unbearable to us.” This statement shows how popular Krishna was all over the country.
A similar incident occurred when Krishna entered the arena of sacrifice, arranged by King Kaṁsa for His death. As soon as He entered the place, all the sages began to cry, “Jai! Jai! Jai!” (which means “Victory!”). Krishna was a boy at that time, and all the sages offered their respectful blessings to Him. The demigods who were present also began to offer beautiful prayers to Krishna. And the ladies and girls present expressed their joy from all corners of the arena. In other words, there was no one in that particular place with whom Krishna was not very popular.
45. Partiality to Devotees
Although Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is therefore not partial to anyone, it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that He has special attraction for a devotee who worships His name in love and affection. When Krishna was on this planet, one devotee expressed his feeling in this way: “My dear Lord, if You had not appeared on this planet, then the asuras [demons] and atheists would have surely created havoc against the activities of the devotees. I cannot imagine the magnitude of such devastation prevented by Your presence.” From the very beginning of His appearance, Krishna was the greatest enemy of all demoniac persons, although Krishna’s enmity toward the demons is actually comparable to His friendship with the devotees. This is because any demon who is killed by Krishna receives immediate salvation.
46. Very Attractive to All Women
Any person who has special qualifications becomes immediately very attractive to women.
A devotee made the following statement about the queens of Dvārakā: “How shall I describe the glories of the queens of Dvārakā who were personally engaged in the service of the Lord? The Lord is so great that simply by chanting His name all the great sages like Nārada can enjoy transcendental bliss. So what can be said about those queens who were at every moment seeing the Lord and serving Him personally?” Krishna had 16,108 wives in Dvārakā, and each and every one of them was attracted to Krishna just as iron is attracted by a magnet. There is a statement by a devotee: “My dear Lord, You are just like a magnet, and all the damsels of Braja are just like iron: in whichever direction You are moving they are following You as iron is attracted by magnetic force.”
A person who is respected and worshiped by all kinds of human beings and demigods is called sarvārādhya, or all-worshipable.
Krishna is worshiped not only by all living entities, including the great demigods like Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, but also by Viṣṇu expansions (forms of Godhead) such as Baladeva and Śeṣa. Baladeva is a direct expansion of Krishna, but He still accepts Krishna as worshipable. When Krishna appeared in the arena of the rāja-sūya sacrifice organized by Mahārāj Yudhiṣṭhira, to all present, including great sages and demigods, Krishna became the cynosure, the center of attraction, and everyone offered Him their respects.
Krishna is full in all opulences-namely, strength, wealth, fame, beauty, knowledge, and renunciation. When Krishna was present in Dvārakā, His family, which is known as the Yadu dynasty, consisted of 560 million members. And all of these family members were very obedient and faithful to Krishna. There were more than 900,000 big palatial buildings there to house all the people, and everyone in them respected Krishna as the most worshipable. Devotees were astonished to see the opulence of Krishna.
This was verified by Bilvamaṅgala Thākur when in Krishna-karṇāmṛta he addressed Krishna thus: “My dear Lord, what can I say about the opulence of Your Vṛndāvana? Simply the ornaments on the legs of the damsels of Vṛndāvana are more than cintāmaṇi, and their dresses are as good as the heavenly pārijāta flowers. And the cows exactly resemble the surabhi cows in the transcendental abode. Therefore Your opulence is just like an ocean that no one can measure.”
A person who is chief among all important persons is called all honorable.
When Krishna was living at Dvārakā, demigods like Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā, Indra the King of heaven and many others used to come to visit Him. The doorkeeper, who had to manage the entrance of all these demigods, one very busy day said, “My dear Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, please sit down on this bench and wait. My dear Indra, please desist from reading your prayers. This is creating a disturbance. Please wait silently. My dear Varuṇa, please go away. And my dear demigods, do not waste your time uselessly. Krishna is very busy; He cannot see you!”
50. Supreme Controller
There are two kinds of controllers, or lords: one who is independent is called controller, and one whose orders cannot be neglected by anyone is called controller.
Regarding Krishna’s complete independence and lordship, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says that although Kāliya was a great offender, Krishna still favored him by marking his head with His lotus feet, whereas Lord Brahmā, although having prayed to Krishna with so many wonderful verses, still could not attract Him.
This contradictory treatment by Krishna is just befitting His position, because in all the Vedic literature He is described as the complete independent. In the beginning of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the Lord is described as svarāṭ, which means completely independent. That is the position of the supreme absolute truth. The absolute truth is not only sentient, but He is also completely independent.
As for Krishna’s orders not being neglected by anyone, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Third Canto, 2nd Chapter, 21st verse, Uddhava tells Vidura: “Lord Krishna is the master of the three modes of material nature. He is the enjoyer of all opulences, and therefore there is no one equal to or greater than Him.” All the great kings and emperors used to come before Him, offer their gifts and pay obeisances with their helmets at the feet of the Lord. One devotee said, “My dear Krishna, when You order Brahmā-‘Now you may create the universe,’-and when You order Lord Śiva-‘Now you dissolve this material manifestation,’- You are in this way creating and dissolving the material creation Yourself. Simply by Your orders and by Your partial representation of Viṣṇu, You are maintaining the universes. In this way, O Krishna, O enemy of Kaṁsa, there are so many Brahmās and Śivas who are simply carrying out Your orders.”
Krishna does not change His constitutional position, not even when He appears in this material world. Ordinary living entities have their constitutional spiritual positions covered. They appear in different bodies, and under the different bodily concepts of life they act. But Krishna does not change His body. He appears in His own body and is therefore not affected by the modes of material nature. In the First Canto, 11th Chapter, 24th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that the special prerogative of the supreme controller is that He is not at all affected by the modes of nature. The practical example of this is that devotees who are under the protection of the Lord are also not affected by material nature. To overcome the influence of material nature is very difficult, but the devotees or the saintly persons who are under the protection of the Lord are not affected. So what need is there to speak of the Lord Himself? To be more clear, although the Lord sometimes appears in this material world, He has nothing to do with the modes of material nature, and He acts with full independence in His transcendental position. This is the special quality of the Lord.
Any person who can understand the feelings of all persons and incidents in all places at all times is called all-cognizant.
A nice example of the all-cognizant quality of the Lord is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, 15th Chapter, 11th verse, in connection with Durvāsā Muni’s visit to the house of the Pāṇḍavas in the forest. Following a calculated plan, Duryodhana sent Durvāsā Muni and his ten thousand disciples to be guests of the Pāṇḍavas in the forest. Duryodhana arranged for Durvāsā and his men to reach the place of the Pāṇḍavas just when the Pāṇḍavas’ lunchtime was ended, so that the Pāṇḍavas would be caught without sufficient means to feed such a large number of guests. Knowing Duryodhana’s plan, Krishna came to the Pāṇḍavas and asked their wife Draupadī if there were any remnants of food which she could offer to Him. Draupadī offered Him a container in which there was only a little fragment of some vegetable preparation, and Krishna at once ate it. At that moment all of the sages accompanying Durvāsā were taking bath in the river, and when Krishna felt satisfaction from eating Draupadī’s offering, they also felt satisfaction, and their hunger was gone. Because Durvāsā and his men were unable to eat anything more, they went away without coming into the house of the Pāṇḍavas. In this way the Pāṇḍavas were saved from the wrath of Durvāsā. Duryodhana had sent them because he knew that the Pāṇḍavas would not be able to receive such a large number, and thus Durvāsā would become angry, and the Pāṇḍavas would be cursed. But Krishna saved them from this calamity by His trick and by His all-cognizant quality.
Krishna is always remembered, and His name is always chanted by millions of devotees, but the devotees never become saturated. Instead of becoming disinterested in thinking of Krishna and in chanting His holy name, the devotees get newer and newer impetus to continue the process. Therefore Krishna is ever-fresh. Not only Krishna Himself, but also Krishna’s knowledge is ever-fresh. The Bhagavad-gītā, which was imparted 5,000 years ago, is still being read repeatedly by many, many men, and still new light is always being found in it. Therefore, Krishna and His name, fame, qualities-and everything in relationship with Him-is ever-fresh.
All the queens at Dvārakā were goddesses of fortune. It is said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, 11th Chapter, 29th verse, that the goddesses of fortune are very fickle and restless, so no one can consistently captivate them. Thus one’s luck will always change sometime. Yet the goddesses of fortune could not leave Krishna for even a moment when they were residing with Him at Dvārakā. This means that Krishna’s attraction is ever-fresh. Even the goddesses of fortune cannot leave His company.
Regarding Krishna’s attractive features being ever-fresh, there is a statement by Rādhārāṇī in the Lalita-mādhava, in which Krishna is compared to the greatest sculptor because He is expert in chiseling at the chastity of women. In other words, although chaste women may follow the rules and regulations of Vedic principles to become ever-faithful to their husbands, Krishna is able to break their stone-like chastity with the chisel of His beauty. Most of the girl friends of Krishna were married, but because Krishna was their friend before their marriages, they could not forget His attractive features, which were always fascinating to them, even after their marriages.
This means that Krishna’s transcendental body is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. Sat means ever-existing for all time and in all places; in other words, all-pervading in time and space. Cit means full of knowledge. Krishna has nothing to learn from anyone. He is independently full of all knowledge. Ānanda means the reservoir of all pleasure. The impersonalists are seeking to merge into the Brahman effulgence of eternity and knowledge, but the major portion of the absolute pleasure which is in Krishna is avoided by them. One can enjoy the transcendental blissfulness of merging into the Brahman effulgence after being freed from the contamination of material illusion, false identification, attachment, detachment and material absorption. These are the preliminary qualifications of a person who can realize Brahman. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that one has to become full of joyfulness; this is not exactly joyfulness, but a sense of freedom from all anxieties. Freedom from all anxieties may be the first principle of joyfulness, but it is not actual joyfulness. Those who realize the self, or become brahma-bhūta, are only preparing themselves for the platform of joyfulness. That joyfulness can be actually achieved only when one comes into contact with Krishna. Krishna consciousness is so complete that it includes the transcendental pleasure derived from impersonal or Brahman realization. Even the impersonalist will become attracted to the personal form of Krishna, known as Śyāmasundara.
It is confirmed by the statement of Brahma-saṁhitā that the Brahman effulgence is the bodily ray of Krishna; the Brahman effulgence is simply an exhibition of the energy of Krishna. Krishna is the source of the Brahman effulgence, as He Himself confirms in the Bhagavad-gītā. From this we can conclude that the impersonal feature of the absolute truth is not the ultimate end; Krishna is the ultimate end of the absolute truth.
The Vaiṣṇava schools therefore never try to merge into the Brahman effulgence in their pursuit of spiritual perfection. They accept Krishna as the ultimate goal of self-realization. Therefore Krishna is called parambrahman (the Supreme Brahman) or parameśvara (the supreme controller). Śrī Yāmunācārya has prayed as follows: “My dear Lord, I know that the gigantic universe and gigantic space and time within the universe are covered by the ten layers of the material elements, each layer ten times larger than the previous one. The three material modes of nature, the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, and the Mahā-Viṣṇu, and beyond them the spiritual sky and its spiritual planets, known as Vaikuṇṭhas, and the Brahman effulgence in that spiritual sky-all of these taken together are nothing but a small exhibition of Your potency.”
55. Possessing All Mystic Perfections
There are many standards of perfection. The highest material perfections, obtained by perfect yogīs, are listed as eight: to become the smallest of the small, to become the greatest of the great, etc. All of these material perfections, as well as all spiritual perfections, can be found fully in Krishna’s personality.
56. Krishna’s Inconceivable Potencies
Krishna is present everywhere, not only within the universe, not only within the hearts of all living entities, but also within every atom. In the prayers of Queen Kuntī we find mention of this inconceivable potency of Krishna. While Krishna was talking with Kuntī, He simultaneously entered the womb of Uttarā, who was in danger due to the atomic weapon of Aśvatthāmā. Krishna can illusion even Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, and He can protect all surrendered devotees from the reaction of sinful activities. These are some of the examples of His inconceivable potencies.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī therefore offers his obeisances unto Krishna by saying, “Krishna, who is present as a human being, has as His mere shadow the whole material nature. He has expanded Himself into so many cows, calves and cowherd boys, and He has again manifested Himself in all of them as the four-handed Nārāyaṇa. He has taught millions of Brahmās self-realization, and thus He is worshipable not only by the heads of all universes, but by everyone else also. Therefore let me always accept Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
When Indra was defeated by Krishna in the matter of taking the pārijāta plant from heaven, Nārada met Indra and criticized him: “O Indra, great King of heaven, Krishna has already defeated Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. So what can be said of an insignificant demigod like you?” Nārada Muni, of course, was criticizing Indra jokingly, and Indra enjoyed it. In Nārada’s statement it is confirmed that Krishna was able to illusion even Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, as well as Indra. So there is no question of Krishna’s power to do the same to lesser living entities.
A description of Krishna’s power in minimizing the sufferings of sinful reactions is given in Brahma-saṁhitā as follows: “Beginning from the great King of heaven down to the ant, everyone is undergoing the reactions of past deeds. But a devotee of Krishna is relieved from such reactions by the grace of Krishna.” This was clearly proved when Krishna went to the place of Yamarāja, the Lord of death, to reclaim the dead sons of His teacher. Krishna’s teacher had requested Krishna to bring back his dead sons, and to do so Krishna went to the place of Yamarāja to claim those souls, who had been brought there by Yamarāja and were being kept under his control. Krishna immediately ordered Yamarāja, “Be benefited by My order and return those souls unto Me!” The purport of this incident is that even a person who is under the regulative principles of the laws of nature, and is therefore punishable by Yamarāja under these laws, can be granted complete immunity by the grace of Krishna.
Krishna’s inconceivable potencies have been described by Śukadeva Gosvāmī as follows: “Krishna is bewildering my intelligence because, although He is unborn, He has appeared as the son of Nanda Mahārāj. He is all-pervading, but still He is held on the lap of Yaśodā. In spite of His being all-pervasive, He has become limited by the love of Yaśodā. Although He has innumerable forms, still He is moving as one Krishna before His father and mother, Nanda and Yaśodā.” In the Brahma-saṁhitā also it is said that although Krishna is eternally living in Goloka Vṛndāvana, His transcendental abode, He is still present everywhere, even within the atoms.
57. Krishna’s Body Generates Innumerable Universes
In the Tenth Canto, 14th Chapter, 11th verse, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Lord Brahmā says, “My dear Lord, false ego, intelligence, mind, sky, air, fire, water and earth are the material ingredients of this universe, which can be compared to a gigantic pot. In that gigantic pot my body is of insignificant measurement, and even though one of the many universes is created by me, innumerable universes are coming and going from the pores of Your body, just as atomic particles are seen flickering in the sunlight. I think I am very, very insignificant before You, and I am therefore begging Your pardon. Please be merciful toward me.”
If one takes account of only one universe, he will find so many combinations of wonderful things within, because there are innumerable planets, innumerable residences and places of demigods. The length and breadth of the universe is 400 million miles by 400 million miles, and it is infested with many unfathomable regions known as pātālas, or downward planetary systems. Although Krishna is the origin of all this, He can always be seen in Vṛndāvana, exhibiting His inconceivable potencies. So who can adequately worship such an all-powerful Lord, possessed of such inconceivable energy?
58. The Original Source of All Incarnations
Jayadeva Gosvāmī, in his Gīta-govinda, has sung as follows: “The Lord has saved the Vedas in His form as a fish, and He has borne the whole universe on His back in the form of a tortoise. He has picked up this earthly planet from the water in the form of a boar. He has killed Hiraṇyakaśipu in the form of Nṛsiṁha. He has cheated Mahārāj Bali in the form of Vāmana. He has annihilated all the dynasties of the kṣatriyas in the form of Paraśurāma. He has killed all the demons in the form of Lord Rāma. He has accepted the great plow in the form of Balarāma. He has annihilated all the atheistic persons in the form of Kalki. And He has saved all the poor animals in the form of Lord Buddha.”1) These are some of the descriptions of the incarnations emanating from Krishna, and from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is understood that innumerable incarnations are always coming out from the body of Krishna, just like waves in the ocean. No one can even count how many waves there are, and similarly no one can count how many incarnations are coming from the Lord’s body.
59. Krishna Gives Salvation to the Enemies That He Kills
Another name for salvation is apavarga. Apavarga is the opposite of pavarga, or the various miserable conditions of material existence. The word Pavarga consists of the combinations of five letters: pa, pha, ba, bha and ma. These letters are the first letters of the words for five different conditions as described below. The first letter, pa, comes from the word parābhava, which means “defeat.” In this material struggle for existence, we are simply meeting defeat. Actually, we have to conquer birth, death, disease and old age, and because there is no possibility of overcoming all these miserable conditions, due to the illusion of māyā we are simply meeting with parābhava, or defeat. The next letter, pha, is taken from the word phenila. Phenila is the foam which is found on the mouth when one is very tired (as is commonly observed with horses). The letter ba comes from the word bandha, or bondage. Bha is taken from the word bhīti, or fearfulness. Ma is taken from the word mṛti, or death. So the word pavarga signifies our struggle for existence and our meeting with defeat, exhaustion, bondage, fearfulness and, at last, death. Apavarga means that which can nullify all of these material conditions. Krishna is said to be the giver of apavarga, the path of liberation.
For the impersonalists and the enemies of Krishna, liberation means merging into the supreme. The demons and the impersonalists do not care for Krishna, but Krishna is so kind that He gives this liberation even to His enemies and to the impersonalists. There is the following statement in this connection: “O Murāri [Krishna]! How wonderful it is that although the demons, who were always envious of the demigods, have failed to penetrate Your military phalanx, they have penetrated the region of mitra, the sun globe.” The word mitra is used metaphorically. Mitra means the sun globe, and mitra also means friend. The demons who opposed Krishna as enemies wanted to penetrate His military phalanx; but instead of doing this, they died in battle, and the result was that they penetrated the planet of Mitra, or the sun planet. In other words, they entered into the Brahman effulgence. The example of the sun planet is given here because the sun is ever-illuminating, like the spiritual sky, where there are innumerable illuminating Vaikuṇṭha planets. The enemies of Krishna were killed, and instead of penetrating Krishna’s phalanx, they entered into the friendly atmosphere of the spiritual effulgence. That is the mercy of Krishna, and therefore He is known as the deliverer of His enemies also.
60. The Attractor of Liberated Souls
There are many examples of how Krishna attracted even great liberated souls like Śukadeva Gosvāmī and the Kumāras. In this connection the following statement was given by the Kumāras: “How wonderful it is that although we are completely liberated, free from desire and situated at the stage of paramahaṁsa, we are still aspiring to taste the pastimes of Rādhā and Krishna.”
61. Performer of Wonderful Activities
In the Bṛhad-Vāmana Purāṇa, the Lord says, “Although I have many fascinating pastimes, whenever I think of the rāsa-līlā, which I perform with the gopīs, I become eager to have it again.”
One devotee has said, “I know about Nārāyaṇa, the husband of the goddess of fortune, and I also know about many other incarnations of the Lord. Certainly all the pastimes of such incarnations are exciting to my mind, but still, the pastimes of the rāsa-līlā performed by Lord Krishna Himself are wonderfully increasing my transcendental pleasure.”
In the Tenth Canto, 31st Chapter, 15th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the gopīs lament: “My dear Krishna, during the daytime when You go out into the forest of Vṛndāvana with Your cows, we consider one moment to be twelve years, and it is very difficult for us to pass the time. And again when You come back at the end of the day, by seeing Your beautiful face we are so much attracted that we are unable to stop looking upon You constantly. At these times, when there is occasional blinking of our eyelids, we condemn the creator, Lord Brahmā, as a dunce, because he does not know how to make perfect eyes!” In other words, the gopīs were disturbed by the blinking of their eyes because for the moment that their eyes were closed they could not see Krishna. This means that the gopīs’ love for Krishna was so great and ecstatic that they were disturbed by even His momentary absence. And when they saw Krishna, they were also disturbed. This is a paradox.
One gopī, expressing herself to Krishna, says: “When we meet You at night, we consider the duration of night to be very small. And why speak of only this night? Even if we had a night of Brahmā2) we would consider it a very short time!” We get an idea of Brahmā’s day from the following statement of the Bhagavad-gītā (8.17): “By human calculation, a thousand yuga cycles taken together is Brahmā’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” The gopīs said that even if they could have that duration of night, it would still not be sufficient for their meeting with Krishna.
62. Krishna’s Attractive Flute
In the Tenth Canto, 35th Chapter, 8th verse, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the gopīs tell Mother Yaśodā, “When your son plays on His flute, Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā and Indra-although they are supposed to be the greatest learned scholars and personalities-all become bewildered. Although they are all very great personalities, by hearing the sound of Krishna’s flute they humbly bow down and become grave from studying the sound vibrated.”
In his book Vidagdha-mādhava, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī thus describes the vibration of Krishna’s flute: “The sound vibration created by the flute of Krishna wonderfully stopped Lord Śiva from playing his ḍiṇḍima drum, and the same flute has caused great sages like the four Kumāras to become disturbed in their meditation. It has caused Lord Brahmā, who was sitting on the lotus flower for the creative function, to become astonished. And Anantadeva, who was calmly holding all the planets on His hood, was moving in this way and that due to the transcendental vibration from Krishna’s flute, which penetrated through the covering of this universe and reached to the spiritual sky.”
63. Krishna Is Surrounded by Loving Devotees
When we speak of Krishna, Krishna is not alone. Krishna means His name, His qualities, His fame, His friends, His paraphernalia, His entourage-all of these are included. When we speak of a king, it is to be understood that he is surrounded by ministers, secretaries, military commanders and many other people. Similarly, Krishna is not impersonal. In His Vṛndāvana līlā especially, He is surrounded by the gopīs, the cowherd boys, His father, His mother and all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana.
64. Krishna’s Exquisite Beauty
In the Third Canto 2nd Chapter, 12th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Uddhava tells Vidura, “My dear sir, Krishna’s form was most wonderful when He appeared on this planet and exhibited the potency of His internal energy. His wonderfully attractive form was present during His pastimes on this planet, and by His internal potency He exhibited His opulences, which are striking to everyone. His personal beauty was so great that there was no necessity for His wearing ornaments on His body. In fact, instead of the ornaments’ beautifying Krishna, Krishna’s beauty enhanced the ornaments.”
Regarding the attractiveness of Krishna’s bodily beauty and the sound vibration of His flute, in the Tenth Canto, 29th Chapter, 37th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the gopīs address Krishna as follows: “Although our attitude towards You resembles loving affairs with a paramour, we cannot but wonder at how no woman can maintain her chastity upon hearing the vibration from Your flute. And not only women, but even stronghearted men are subject to falling down from their position at the sound of Your flute. In fact, we have seen that in Vṛndāvana even the cows, the deer, the birds, the trees-everyone-has been enchanted by the sweet vibration of Your flute and the fascinating beauty of Your person.”
In Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Lalita-mādhava, it is said: “One day Krishna happened to see the shadow of His beautiful form reflected on the jeweled foreground. Upon seeing this bodily reflection, He expressed His feelings: ‘How wonderful it is that I have never seen such a beautiful form! Although it is My own form, still, like Rādhārāṇī, I am trying to embrace this form and enjoy celestial bliss.’” This statement shows how Krishna and His shadow reflection are one and the same. There is no difference between Krishna and His shadow reflection, nor between Krishna and His picture. That is the transcendental position of Krishna.
The above statements describe some of the wonderful reservoirs of pleasure within Krishna, as well as the transcendental qualities of His personality. The transcendental qualities of Krishna are compared to the ocean: no one can estimate the length and breadth of the ocean. But as one can understand the ocean’s contents simply by testing one drop of it, so these statements will give us some understanding of Krishna’s transcendental position and qualities.
In the Tenth Canto, 14th Chapter, 7th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Lord Brahmā says, “My dear Lord, the inconceivable qualities, beauties and activities which You have revealed by Your presence on this planet cannot be calculated by any material measurement. If one even tries to imagine that, ‘Krishna may be like this,’ that is also impossible. The day may come when the material scientist, after many, many births or after many, many years, will be able to estimate the atomic constitution of the whole world, or he may be able to count the atomic fragments that permeate the sky, or he may even give an estimate of all the atoms within the universe, but still he will never be able to count the transcendental qualities in Your reservoir of transcendental bliss.”