Vanity thought #1698. More of the same

There are two more verses in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam offering so called proof that Kṛṣṇa isn’t the original Personality of Godhead but by now it’s easy to guess how it will go – yes, words svayam and bhagavān are mentioned together but it would take quoting them out of context and serious twisting of meaning to build an argument against Kṛṣṇa.

First up is SB 7.1.1. It’s a question by Mahārāja Parīkṣit about Lord’s impartiality. If the Lord is equal to everyone, why does He side with demigods in their disputes with demons? Fair question, and in response Śukadeva Gosvāmī explains this point philosophically first and then tells a story of Śiśupāla who was killed by Kṛṣṇa but still attained salvation. The question is the prelude to Jaya and Vijaya falldown story.

    śrī-rājovāca
    samaḥ priyaḥ suhṛd brahman
     bhūtānāṁ bhagavān svayam
    indrasyārthe kathaṁ daityān
     avadhīd viṣamo yathā

    Word for word:

    śrī-rājā uvāca — Mahārāja Parīkṣit said; samaḥ — equal; priyaḥ — beloved; suhṛt — friend; brahman — O brāhmaṇa (Śukadeva); bhūtānām — toward all living entities; bhagavān — the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu; svayam — Himself; indrasya — of Indra; arthe — for the benefit; katham — how; daityān — the demons; avadhīt — killed; viṣamaḥ — partial; yathā — as if.

    Translation:

    King Parīkṣit inquired: My dear brāhmaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, being everyone’s well-wisher, is equal and extremely dear to everyone. How, then, did He become partial like a common man for the sake of Indra and thus kill Indra’s enemies? How can a person equal to everyone be partial to some and inimical toward others?

As expected, the words bhagavān svayam are there but so what? Grammatically every commentator links svayam not to bhagavān but to the verb avadhīt – killed. Why did the Lord kill daityāns Himself? It has absolutely nothing to do with relationships between Kṛṣṇa and Viṣṇu. The name Viṣṇu doesn’t appear in the verse but Śrīla Prabhupāda translated bhagavān here as “the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu” anyway because it has absolutely nothing to do with the question of “superiority”.

This whole debate is senseless anyway because there’s no difference between Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu forms. It matters only to those obsessed with choosing the best God for themselves. If Kṛṣṇa is the origin of Viṣṇu then their worship of Viṣṇu becomes inferior, they think, which is nonsense.

For many hapless followers of Madhvācārya it’s unthinkable how a simple cowherd boy from a village in India can be superior to Viṣṇu, the Lord of the whole universe, and how Kṛṣṇa’s simple village girlfriend is a source of Lakṣṃī, the goddess of fortune. It’s a lot easier for them to imagine that Kṛṣṇa is simply Viṣṇu having fun by playing a kid. Let them think this way, what does it matter to us? We know that neither Kṛṣṇa nor Vṛndāvana are parts of this world and that Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are eternal and it’s rather going out and being God either in the material or spiritual world that is taxing for Him. Not that He has any difficulty but it spoils His fun.

We do not think of Kṛṣṇa as someone similar to us – work first, play later. He doesn’t live for karma, it’s us who have to earn the right to imitate Him first. By imitate I mean indulge in sense enjoyment. We don’t think of Viṣṇu working as God to earn the right to relax with His intimate friends in pastoral settings.

Finally, there’s this verse from the Eighth Canto (SB 8.5.4):

    patnī vikuṇṭhā śubhrasya
     vaikuṇṭhaiḥ sura-sattamaiḥ
    tayoḥ sva-kalayā jajñe
    vaikuṇṭho bhagavān svayam

    Word for word:

    patnī — the wife; vikuṇṭhā — named Vikuṇṭhā; śubhrasya — of Śubhra; vaikuṇṭhaiḥ — with the Vaikuṇṭhas; sura-sat-tamaiḥ — demigods; tayoḥ — by Vikuṇṭhā and Śubhra; sva-kalayā — with plenary expansions; jajñe — appeared; vaikuṇṭhaḥ — the Lord; bhagavān — the Supreme Personality of Godhead; svayam — personally.

    Translation:

    From the combination of Śubhra and his wife, Vikuṇṭhā, there appeared the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vaikuṇṭha, along with demigods who were His personal plenary expansions.

Vaikuṇṭho Bhagavān Svayam – nailed it! Almost exactly like Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Q.E.D.

Except that this chapter describes descendants of the fifth Manu and how various ṛṣis, kings, demigods etc appeared in his dynasty. Among them, from the marriage of Śubhra and Vikuṇṭhā, appeared the Supreme Lord Himself and His name was, appropriately, Vaikuṇṭha.

Once again, it has nothing to do with Vaikuṇṭha being the original Personality of Godhead. It simply says that God Himself appeared as Vikuṇṭha’s son.

Alternatively, the word svayam could refer to the verb jajñe – He appeared Himself. This is apparently the interpretation in other, non-Gauḍiyā commentaries.

Alternatively, the word svayam could refer to sva-kalayā – Himself through His plenary expansions. In this reading it’s through sva-kalayā or as sva-kalayā rather than with sva-kalayā. If big ācāryas whose explanations are included with Śrīmad Bhāgavatam apparently disagree on the exact meaning it doesn’t make Prabhupāda wrong and it still doesn’t make our Gauḍiyā siddhānta wrong either. They most likely never given it a second thought because this verse isn’t controversial in any sense, there aren’t issues there to argue.

Another thing about this verse is that it’s not clear which Vaikuṇṭha appeared here. It can’t possibly mean Vaikuṇṭha as planets in the spiritual sky and sura-sat-tamaiḥ, which Prabhupāda translated as demigods, weren’t liberated residents of the spiritual world. The name was a mere coincidence and was derived from mother’s name rather than from spiritual Vaikuṇṭhas.

Arguing that this Vaikuṇṭha is bhagavān svayam implies that this form eternally exists in the spiritual world, too, from where it descends into our realm. This could be said about various forms of Nārāyaṇa but in this case the spiritual identity of this avatāra remains hidden, He never gets mentioned again, and we are expected to believe that He was the origin of all Viṣṇu forms?

That’s screwing out the meaning that is simply not there, again, and it all comes from obsession with superiority. It doesn’t matter which form of Nārāyaṇa is the original one, which is svayam. If it so happens that our original spiritual body is a servant of Lord Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha then it won’t matter if Kṛṣṇa came first – we will always be at the lotus feet of the form of the Lord we are meant to be with. It’s as silly as arguing which father to choose because he is “better”. “Better” can be measured objectively but the choice is simply not there.

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