Turns out that Lord Chaitanya Himself explained Krishna’s appearance through material universes in His teaching to Sanatama Goswami, starting with CC.Madhya.20.381 onwards.
Lord Chaitanya also resorted to the example of Sun’s movement through the universe to explain the model. Sun travels along its path, around Mount Meru, I suppose, but also over seven islands and across the separating oceans. Mount Meru is wider at the top than at the bottom, all planets rotate around it, and it all happens inside a stem of a lotus flower growing from Lord Vishnu’s navel.
Very easy to visualize… NOT!
As soon as Lord Chaitanya mentioned the example of a zodiac I knew it would be a waste on a person like me. Actually, I don’t know anyone who can visualize Vedic model of a universe that is also totally in line with our sense perceptions. Mount Meru in the center of the universe? Seven islands? I hope when they display this model in the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium it will become clearer but I don’t hold my breath.
We see the universe with our eyes, not with our ears. Nasa sent people to the Moon but they didn’t find any life there and that has left us doubting the words of shastra and Srila Prabhupada.
On that subject – what if we are completely off mark in identifying Vedic Moon planet with the the Moon we see in the sky? What if Vedic definition is all about Chandra and his associates drinking soma rasa all day long? If you didn’t see them then you weren’t on the Moon regardless of you location in space? What if being on the Moon is a state of karma rather than the position of your body? This opens up a whole new discussion I’m not prepared to go into.
Anyway, just like I imagined yesterday – Lord Chaitanya also used the example of a wheel of fire (what is that, btw?) and said that Krishna’s pastimes constantly manifest through a succession of the universes. Each universe can see only one moment from these pastimes at a time but it also gets to see all the pastimes in succession, one after another.
In reality, however, Krishna is always sucking the life out of Putana somewhere and He simultaneously dances on the heads of Kaliya, it’s just in the material world there’s no single place from where you can see these pastimes at the same time. To see Krishna doing that non-stop you’d have to travel through the universes along with Him.
This begs a question – if Krishna can manifest Himself in all the innumerable universes at the same time, what about His entourage? Do we also have innumerable quantity of Nanda Maharajas and Mother Yashodas?
Or am I getting caught in egocentric view once again? Maybe Krishna doesn’t travel through universes, maybe He stays in one place and it’s the universes that go past Him and His associates?
When Lord Chaitanya used and example of the Sun He talked about Sun going places, not being stationary. I knew that zodiac thing would be confusing.
Or maybe the word “manifested” is misunderstood here. It implies action on behalf of Krishna, but if we use the word “visible” than Krishna doesn’t have to do anything or go anywhere. He is visible to us and this visibility depends on our situation, not His.
So, the correct answer is that He never leaves Goloka Vrindavana, which we knew all along, but I also hope I’ve got better understanding of His appearance in our world. He doesn’t come, per se, He just becomes visible for the span of 125 years.
Time appears to be the main culprit in this confusion – it doesn’t exist in the spiritual world and so Krishna’s pastimes do not have to be sequenced and wait for their turn. In the material world, however, this is not possible, we always have to move to the future and we always have to see things becoming past. That’s why we observe Krishna for some time and then move on to observe something else.
This is actually a very mature way to look at our overall lives, too. Normally we assume that the world stays in place and we age through it but the reality is that we stay and time rotate things around us, showing us one event after another, sometimes it shows pleasant things and sometimes unpleasant, and sometimes it gives us a glimpse of Krishna.
From this point of view, disassociating ourselves from time would be a great sign of progress towards liberation. Then we can open our spiritual eyes and see Krishna as He is, not as shown to us by time as a picture on the cover of our books, and that vision will never ever go away like everything else in this world.