Srimad Bhagavatam

SB 1.8 - The abode of conflicting qualities

Kṛṣṇa is eternal time, the supreme controller, without beginning and end, the all pervasive one. He distributes His mercy equally to everyone, and thus the dissensions between living beings are due to social intercourse. He is not unjust because of showing attachment to the devotee, indifference to matter, assistance to some and destruction to others. The Lord is also the abode of conflicting qualities because He gives suffering and bliss, He is equal and prejudiced and is merciful and unmerciful. The Lord is the Paramātmā in everyone’s heart, and another name of Paramātmā is kāla. Eternal time is the witness of all our actions and thus resultant reactions are destined by the Lord. Since the Paramātmā feature of the Lord destines all actions and reactions, He is the supreme controller also. The living beings are given as much freedom as they deserve, and misuse of that freedom causes suffering by kāla. Since everyone suffers and enjoys the results of their own destiny, no one is either an enemy or friend of the Lord. The destiny is made by the living beings in course of their social interactions. Since the Lord has no beginning or end, He is known as the eternal time, kāla.

The Lord’s pastimes appear to be human and misleading. But He has no favorites nor has He any objects of envy. People only imagine that He is partial. His mercy is equally distributed upon all souls. His pastimes appear to be exactly like a human being’s but actually they are transcendental. No one knows His intentions as He desires to hide Himself in human form. He likes the make the knowledge of those who speculate about scripture useless. No one knows His plan who desires to play the role of human beings as Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. No one knows His plan who desires to delude the fools by not letting them see His sweet qualities. All men have differing ideas about Him.

SB 1.8 - The great mercy of the Lord is open to all

It appears He is partial to the devotees but in reality He reciprocates the desires of all beings equally, just as the sun shines its rays everywhere. It appears that the sun shows attachment to the sun stone by imparting its own qualities, by showing indifference to blind people and by being helpful to the Cakravāka birds that become joyful when the sun rises and destroys darkness. But the cause of difference is the good or bad qualities of the specific object, and not because of the partiality of the sun. Fools think that devotional service is flattering the Lord to get special mercy. But the pure devotee does not render service expecting anything, and thus the full mercy of the Lord is open for him. A mixed devotee may approach the Lord for getting some benefit, and once he attains that, he does not keep his connection with the Lord, even though the Lord’s mercy is open for him. Those who are against the service of the Lord are considered to be in abject darkness, those who ask for the Lord’s favor only at the time of necessity are partial recipients of His mercy, and those who are cent percent engaged in His service are full recipients of the mercy of the Lord. Thus the partiality in receiving mercy is relative to the recipient and not due to any partiality on the part of the Lord. Those who died in the battlefield of Kurukṣetra in the presence of the Lord got salvation even without any necessary qualifications, and this shows the mercy of the Lord.

SB 1.8 - The inconceivable nature of the Lord

The Lord is bewildering because though He is inactive, He still works, and He takes birth, though He is the vital force and the unborn. He descends amongst animals, men, sages and aquatics. Although all pervading, the Lord descends in the form of a boar among animals, in the form of a human being as Rāma, in the form of a sage like (Nara)-Nārāyaṇa, and as a fish among aquatics. The Lord has manifold energies, and everything is performed by automatic knowledge, strength and activity. Thus the Lord’s activities, forms and deeds are all inconceivable to our limited thinking power. He descends as a hog and as a fish. He is banished to the forest as Rāma. He is born in a prison as Kṛṣṇa. His intimate devotees, the Pāṇḍavas, undergo continuous tribulations. He steals butter and distributes it to the monkeys. One acts motivated by the desire to achieve something, but Kṛṣṇa lacks nothing. He possesses supreme self satisfaction. Kṛṣṇa is not impelled by anything outside Himself, as no such thing exists. Jīva Gosvāmī concludes that the Lord’s pastimes are inconceivable. The Lord can be understood by pure devotees, who know that although the Lord appears among animals, humans, sages or fish, He is not any of these but the Supreme Lord in all circumstances.

Since the Lord is without birth and material action, His pastimes with birth and action must not actually be true. But this is incompatible with the fact that the pastimes were attractive to ātmārāmas like Śuka. And from BG 4.9 we know that the Lord’s birth and activities are factual. But this is incompatible with the statement that the Lord has no birth and activities. Thus who can know the truth about the Lord possessing unlimited, inconceivable powers?

SB 1.8 - Kṛṣṇa is really afraid of Yaśodā

Kuntī cites another example of bewilderment caused by Kṛṣṇa. Yaśodā took a rope to bind Kṛṣṇa when He stole butter. His perturbed eyes over flooded with tears, which washed the mascara from His eyes. And He was afraid, though fear personified is afraid of Him. This sight was bewildering to Kuntī. While rendering service unto the Lord, the pure devotees forgets the position of the Lord. The Lord also accepts the loving service more relishably when it is rendered spontaneously without reverential admiration. The Lord’s pastimes in Goloka are exchanged in that spirit. The Lord accepts the chastisements of the parents and the reproaches of His girl friends more cheerfully than the prayers of the Vedic hymns. The Lord displayed the same activities in this material realm as He does in Goloka Vṛndāvana. When Yaśodā wanted to tie Kṛṣṇa up with a rope for stealing butter, He began to weep and the tears wiped away the mascara in His eyes. Kuntī was conscious of the exalted position of Kṛṣṇa because she was bewildered by the sight of His getting afraid, whereas Yaśodā was not. Thus Yaśodā was praised for her unique position of love, for she could control even the all-powerful Lord as her beloved child. Yaśodā was more fortunate than Nanda since He was brought under her control completely. And the fact that Kuntī was bewildered seeing Kṛṣṇa’s fear shows Kṛṣṇa was internally feeling fear and was not just imitating being fearful.

SB 1.8 - Why is the unborn born?

Because the Lord’s appearance in this world is bewildering, there are different opinions about the birth of the Unborn. Some say that the unborn is born for the glorification of pious kings like Yudhiṣṭhira. The Lord wanted to establish the rule of the Pāṇḍavas for the good of the world. Others say that He appeared to please King Yadu, one of His dearest devotees. Kṛṣṇa appeared in Yadu’s family as sandalwood appeared in the Malaya hills. Trees can grow anywhere and everywhere, yet because the sandalwood trees grow mostly in Malaya hills, the name sandalwood and the Malaya hills are interrelated. The conclusion is that the lord is ever unborn like the sun, and yet He appears as the sun rises on the eastern horizon. As the sun is never the sun of the eastern horizon, so the Lord is no one’s son.

Others say that since Vasudeva and Devakī, in their previous births as Sutapā and Pṛśni, prayed for Him, Kṛṣṇa took birth as their son. Although unborn, He takes birth for their welfare and to kill the enemies of the demigods. Some say that when Brahmā prayed for the Lord to diminish the burden of the world, He appeared. Nārāyaṇa as Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu entered the material universe, and from Him Brahmā was born from the lotus that grows out of Nārāyaṇa’s navel. Brahmā is called ātma-bhū because he was directly born from his father without being put into the womb of a mother. Within the halo of the universe there is a planet called Śvetadvīpa, which is the abode of Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. When there is trouble in the universe that cannot be solved by the administrative demigods, they approach Brahmā, and even if Brahmā cannot solve it, then he prays at the shore of the Kṣīrodaka ocean asking the Lord to incarnate. When the earth became overburdened by the misdeeds of Kaṁsa and other demons, Brahmā prayed and was advised of the descent of Kṛṣṇa as the son of Vasudeva and Devakī.

Yet others say that the Lord appeared to rejuvenate the devotional service of hearing, remembering, worshiping and so on in order that the conditioned souls suffering from material pangs might take advantage and gain liberation. The Lord appears to reestablish the way of religion. No one but the Lord can establish the path of religion. The constitutional position of a living being is to render service to the Lord. But under illusion one becomes the servant of the senses due to material desires. Thus he becomes entangled in the cycle birth and death. First there is ignorance and then desire and then action. People suffer due to actions arising from material desires which are due to ignorance. The Lord out of His causeless mercy appears and renovates the principles of devotional service comprised of hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping, praying, cooperating, becoming friends and surrendering everything unto Him.

SB 1.8 - The real reason for the Lord's appearance

Those who continuously hear, chant and repeat Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental activities, or take pleasure in others’ doing so, certainly see His lotus feet without delay, which alone can stop the repetition of birth and death. This is the real reason for the Lord’s appearance. The Supreme Lord cannot be seen by our conditioned vision. When He was present on the earth, materialists like Rāvaṇa, Kaṁsa, Jarāsandha and others could not see Him as the Supreme Lord, although they were highly qualified personalities by acquisition of material assets. The necessary qualification to see the Lord is developed by bhakti yoga beginning with hearing about the Lord from the right sources. Usually people hear Bhagavad gītā from unauthorized persons and thus they are unable to see the Lord. One should select a bona fide speaker and then hear from him. In the Bhāgavatam there are many activities of the Lord described beginning from His dealings with the Pāṇḍavas. In the tenth canto the sublime dealings with the gopīs and His wives at Dvārakā are mentioned. His dealings with the Pāṇḍavas and the gopīs are all equally important, and to hear about Him and His devotees are both conducive to spiritual development.

SB 1.8 - Living completely dependent on the Lord's mercy

Kuntī said that they were completely dependent on the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, with no one to protect them. She asked why the Lord was leaving when all the kings were at enmity with them. If Kṛṣṇa were to say that He had to go because of having necessary work to do at Dvārakā, Kuntī says all His deeds are automatically accomplished. In the material world it is a sign of misfortune to be dependent on someone else’s mercy. But in transcendental relation with the Lord, it is most fortunate when we can live completely dependent on Him. The cruel material nature does not allow us to be independent, and this false attempt to become independent of the stringent laws of nature is known as material advancement of experimental knowledge. But the highest goal of human civilization is to work under the guidance of the Lord depending on His mercy. The Pāṇḍavas were dependent on the goodwill of the Lord but they were not idle parasites. We must try to be sanātha, having the Lord to protect us. After many births, a fortunate person becomes aware that Vāsudeva is all in all and surrenders unto Him. That is the sign of a mahātmā. After the battle of Kurukṣetra, although the inimical kings were killed, their sons and grandsons were still there to deal with the Pāṇḍavas. All of us are always in a condition of enmity and the best way to live is to be completely dependent on the will of the Lord.

As the name and fame of a particular body is finished with the spirit leaving the body, similarly if the Lord did not protect the Pāṇḍavas, their fame would also end at once. The Pāṇḍavas were guided by the great Yudhiṣṭhira, who was morality personified, and the Yadus were great allies. But without the guidance of Kṛṣṇa, all of them are non entities as much as the senses are useless without the consciousness. The ultimate dependable object is the Lord Himself.

SB 1.8 - Kṛṣṇa's glance ensures prosperity

Kṛṣṇa beautified the kingdom of the Pāṇḍavas with the impressions of His feet like the flag, thunderbolt, elephant goad, lotus etc. Thus the kingdom flourished by such auspicious signs. Kuntī was afraid of ill luck in the absence of the Lord. All cities and villages flourished because the herbs and grains were in abundance, the trees were full of fruits, rivers were flowing, the hills were full of minerals and the oceans full of wealth. All this was due to the Lord’s glancing over them. Human prosperity flourishes by natural gifts and not by gigantic industrial enterprises, which are products of a godless civilization. Human beings may take advantage of the natural gifts provided and be satisfied without being captivated by the exploitative motive of lording it over material nature. We need to be obedient to the laws of the Lord and achieve the perfection of life by devotional service.

SB 1.8 - Severing the ties of affection

Kuntī asked Kṛṣṇa, who is the Lord, soul and the form of the universe, to sever her tie of affection for her kinsmen, the Pāṇḍavas and the Vṛṣṇis. A pure devotee is ashamed to ask anything in self interest from the Lord. But being bound by family affection, the householders are sometimes obliged to ask favors from the Lord. Being conscious of this fact, Kuntī prayed to be free from the affectionate tie of her kinsmen. Kuntī wished the Lord to remain with the Pāṇḍavas, but then her paternal family, the Vṛṣṇis would be bereft of the benefit. Both – Kṛṣṇa’s departure from Hastināpura and coming there – were unfortunate: departure for the Pāṇḍavas and coming there for the Yādavas. All these partialities troubled Kuntī’s mind and thus she desired to cut off the affectionate tie. The truth is that when she sees how the two sides of her family dearly love Kṛṣṇa, her own love increases. Therefore on the pretext of praying to destroy her affection for her kinsmen, she was really praying that Kṛṣṇa not leave the association of either of the two sides of her family.

A pure devotee cuts off the limited ties of affection for his family and widens his activities of devotional service for all forgotten souls. The six Gosvamīs are an example of this. Although belonging to cultured and rich families of the higher castes, they left their homes to benefit the mass of population. The Lord is described as the Lord of the universe indicating His ability to cut off the hard knot of family affection. Sometimes out of special affinity towards a weak devotee, the Lord breaks the family affection by force of circumstances arranged by His all powerful energy. By doing so, He causes the devotee to become completely dependent on Him.

SB 1.8 - Undeviating affection for Kṛṣṇa and His devotees

Kuntī prayed just as the Ganges forever flows to the sea without hindrance, her attraction be constantly drawn unto Kṛṣṇa without being diverted anywhere else. Cutting off her ties with the Yādavas would mean cutting off her affection for Kṛṣṇa also. But she wanted undeviating affection for Kṛṣṇa. To cut off the tie of affection does not mean complete negation of the finer elements like affection for the Lord and devotees. The symptoms of life such as desire, anger, hankerings, feelings of attraction etc cannot be annihilated. Only the objective has to be changed. When the desire is directed toward satisfaction of the Lord, it is called devotional service. Arjuna did not desire to fight at the beginning but after hearing Bhagavad-gītā, he changed his decision and served the lord. Thus he attained spiritual perfection by devotional service to the Lord in friendship. And that is what Kuntī also prays for here.

Kuntī’s affection for the Pāṇḍavas and the Vṛṣṇis is not out of range of devotional service because service of the Lord and the service of the devotees are identical. Sometimes service to the devotees is more valuable than service to the lord. But here the affection is due to family connection. This tie of affection in terms of material relation is the relation of māyā, but relations of the soul established in relation with the Supreme Soul are factual relations. Since it was a prayer in front of Kṛṣṇa, Kuntī meant to cut off the relation of the body, which is a cause for bondage. The relation of the soul to the soul can be established by the via medium of the relation with the Supersoul. Just as the Gaṅgā does not consider any obstacles on its course, Kuntī wished her mind also should not consider any obstacles that might arise while thinking of the Lord.

In conclusion, Kuntī offers her respects to Kṛṣṇa, who is the destroyer of the disturbing elements on this earth, whose prowess never deteriorates, who descends to relieve the distress of the cows, the brāhmaṇas and the devotees, who is the master of all mystic power, and the preceptor of the entire universe. Kṛṣṇa is the Lord of His transcendental abode, where He keeps surabhi cows, and served by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune. He creates, maintains and annihilates by His unlimited energies, and still He is always full with prowess.