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Srimad Bhagavatam

SB 1.2 - All activities are meant for Kṛṣṇa

In the revealed scriptures, the ultimate object of knowledge is Kṛṣṇa. The purpose of performing sacrifice is to please Him. Yoga is for realizing Him. All fruitive activities are rewarded by Him only. He is supreme knowledge. All austerities are performed to know Him. Yoga, varṇāśrama, knowledge and austerities are all dependent on Vāsudeva. Religion is rendering loving service unto Him. He is the supreme goal of life. Bhakti (paro-dharma), prema and liberation are dependent on Vāsudeva (A2 ends here 1.2.28). Even though the Pitṛs and devatās are said to be worshipable by the Vedas, the sum and substance of the Vedas is to reestablish one’s lost relationship unto Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead. All revealed scriptures are prepared by the Lord thru His incarnation of Vyāsadeva to remind the fallen souls of Kṛṣṇa. The impersonalists who minimize the importance of the Lord achieve liberation with great difficulty after many, many births. The Vedas indicate bhakti as the action, and indicate Kṛṣṇa as the meaning. The Vedas, taking shelter of the Lord, proposing karma and jñāna and then rejecting them as māyā, become happy by giving the devotees bliss.

Vedic activities are based on sacrificial ceremonies but all such sacrifices are meant to realize Vāsudeva. In the Gītā it is said that all sacrifices are to be conducted for the satisfaction of Yajña, or Viṣṇu. Or all sacrifices are dedicated to Vāsudeva can mean that the sacrifices worship Indra and others as the limbs of Vāsudeva. Mahārāja Bharata considered the oblations offered to different demigods were actually offered unto the different limbs of Lord Vāsudeva. Yoga means to get into touch with the Lord. All processes of yoga are meant for concentrating upon the localized aspect of Vāsudeva represented as Paramātmā. But ill fated yogīs are enamored by the powers of yoga, and fall down. They are then given a chance in their next lives to realize Vāsudeva, and by association with saintly persons they can easily achieve this.

SB 1.2 - Knowledge and tapasya for the sake of Vāsudeva

There are 18 items in culturing knowledge. By such culture one becomes pride less, devoid of vanity, non violent, devoted to guru, and self controlled. And all culture of knowledge culminates in devotional service to Lord Vāsudeva. Culture of knowledge leading one to the transcendental plane of meeting Vāsudeva is real knowledge. Physical knowledge in its various branches is condemned as ajñāna, or ignorance. The aim of physical knowledge is sense gratification, which means prolonging material existence and suffering the threefold miseries. This is nescience. But the same physical knowledge leading to spiritual understanding helps one to end the miserable life of physical existence.

Tapasya means voluntary acceptance of bodily pains to achieve some higher end in life. Rāvaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu and modern day politicians undergo severe austerities to achieve sense gratification. But one should undergo austerities for the sake of knowing Vāsudeva. All other austerities are in the modes of passion and ignorance, which cannot end the miseries of life. Vasudeva and Devakī underwent penances to get Kṛṣṇa as their son. This is the real way of austerity.

SB 1.2 - The aim of life

Kṛṣṇa expands Himself into innumerable forms. Such expansion of forms is possible by His various energies. His expansions of various forms which take place via the superior internal energies are superior forms, whereas the expansions which take place via the external energies are inferior forms. The living entities who are expanded by His internal potency are eternally liberated persons, whereas those expanded in terms of the material energies are eternally conditioned souls. Therefore all culture of knowledge, austerities, sacrifice and activities should be aimed at changing the quality of influence acting upon us. In the Bhagavad gītā it is said that the mahatmas are under the influence of the internal potency, and they engage in the service of the Lord without deviation. That should be the aim of life. Everyone should engage in the service of the Lord without bothering about karma or jñāna. Nor should one worship the different demigods, who are all simply the assisting hands of the Supreme Lord. Lord Viṣṇu, though in charge of the mode of goodness in the material world is still transcendentally situated. Just as a king may sometimes visit a prison but is never bound by the laws of prison, similarly the Lord is always transcendental to the laws of the material world.

Śrīdhara Svāmī states that understanding Vāsudeva is the purpose of the Vedas. If someone asks, ‘Don’t the Vedas describe various yajñas?’ he assures us because all Vedic methods actually aim at Vāsudeva, all sacrifices are performed to please Him. Anticipating the question ‘Don’t the yoga-śāstras describe only yogic activities?” he says that yogic activities are employed to attain Vāsudeva. If someone asks ‘Don’t the jñāna-śāstras describe transcendental knowledge?’, the text here asserts that Vāsudeva is the highest transcendental knowledge. What was said of knowledge may also be said of austerity. In answer to the question ‘Don’t the dharma-śāstras describe pious acts by which one attains Svarga?’ this text says these results ultimately depend on Lord Vāsudeva, because the heavenly planets are manifest from a tiny portion of His transcendental bliss.

SB 1.2 - Always aloof from His material energy

If one asks why we say that the Vedas only describe Kṛṣṇa, when they seem to describe the creation, maintenance and control of the universes, the answer is given in next in four texts (1.2.30-33). In the beginning of creation, Lord Vāsudeva created the energies of cause and effect by His internal energy. He is the creator of all those who are recommended for worship such as Pitṛs, Śiva and Brahmā. The Lord is always transcendental because His form, activities etc all existed before the material creation. And the energies required for creation were also created by Him. The qualities of the material world are qualitatively distinct from the spiritual qualities of the Lord.

After creating the material substance, the Lord expands Himself and enters into it. Although within the modes of nature and appears to be one of the created beings, the Lord is always fully enlightened in His transcendental position. The Lord entered into the jīvas covered with the guṇas, which are manifested by māyā. Even though appearing to be associating with the guṇas, He does not do so being strengthened by His spiritual potency. This expansion of the Lord is the Paramātmā feature, who accompanies the living entities to guide them in their material sojourn. While the living beings enjoy the material conditions, the Lord maintains His transcendental position. In the śruti it is said that there are two birds in one tree. One of them (the living being) is eating the fruit of the tree, while the other (the Lord) is witnessing the actions.

Always aloof from His material energy, Kṛṣṇa, as Viṣṇu, creates the universes thru His energies and expansions. Hearing that universes come from Viṣṇu’s pores makes it clear that Kṛṣṇa, who is the source of unlimited Viṣṇus, is extraordinary. But one who reads about the Vṛndāvana’s pastimes of Kṛṣṇa where He wrestles with His friends and dances with the girls, are sure to become bewildered if they lack knowledge and realization.

SB 1.2 - Feeling the presence of the Lord

The Lord, as Supersoul, pervades all things, just as fire permeates wood, and so He appears to be of many varieties, though He is one without a second. The presence of the Lord can be perceived everywhere in the material world. Just as one fire situated in pieces of wood as its natural place of manifestation, blazes forth as many fires, the one Lord, situated in all living beings, manifests as many. As from wood, fire can be manifested, or as butter can be churned out of milk, so also the presence of the Lord can be felt by the process of hearing and chanting of the transcendental subjects in the Vedas. As fire is kindled from wood by another fire, the divine consciousness of man can be kindled by another divine grace. The spiritual master can kindle the spiritual fire from the wood like living being by imparting spiritual messages. And as fire burns up the pieces of wood from which it manifests, by practices of hearing and chanting, Paramātmā is made to appear, who removes the covering of māyā on the jīva.

The Supersoul enters into the bodies of the created beings, who are under the modes of material nature, and causes them to enjoy the effects of these modes by the mind. The gross material body of the living beings is based on the conditions of the subtle mind, and the senses are created according to the desire of the living being. The Lord as Paramātmā helps the living being to get material happiness because the living being is helpless in all respects in obtaining what he desires. The living beings are parts and parcels of the Lord, but still the sufferings and enjoyments of the parts does not affect the whole. Thus the Lord maintains all planets. Without the Paramātmā the jīvas cannot act as enjoyers. The Lord lets the jīvas enjoy the sense objects.

SB 1.2 - The purpose of the Lord's incarnations

Assuming the roles of incarnations, He performs pastimes to reclaim those in the mode of goodness. The Lord incarnates in each and every planet and in each and every type of living society. Without changing His transcendental position, He appears to be differently manifested according to the particular time, circumstances and society. The purpose of the incarnation is to create the desire in the living being to go back to Godhead. The eternal happiness the living being hankers for is found only in the kingdom of God. And the Lord personally comes or sends His representatives to give information about the kingdom of God and reclaim the fallen souls. The purpose of Kṛṣṇa’s incarnation is to rejuvenate the devotional service of hearing, remembering, worshiping, and so on so that the conditioned souls might get liberation.

The Lord appears as many forms when He enters all the living beings. However, He is without limitation or material contamination in all His forms. He appears in many forms with His svarūpa in His eternal pastimes.

In text 31 it was said that after creating the material substance, Lord Vāsudeva expands Himself and enters into it. Then in the form of Lord Viṣṇu, the Lord expands into all things (text 32) and into the hearts of all living beings (text 33), and enters each universe to perform pastimes (text 34).

SB 1.3 - The form of Mahā-Viṣṇu

At the end of previous chapter it was said that the Lord was absorbed in various līlāvatāras. In this chapter, Sūta Gosvāmī will first describe the Lord’s forms as puruṣa avatāras for creating the universe. Then he will describe the Lord’s many entries into the universe as the līlā avatāras. These descriptions will inspire Sūta to proclaim Kṛṣṇa the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

In the beginning of creation, the Lord expanded Himself in the universal form of the puruṣa incarnation and manifested all the ingredients for the material creation. It is said that the Lord accepted this form (jagṛhe pauruṣam rūpam) but this does not mean it is a temporary one. Therefore it is described as sambhūtam, samyag bhūtam: existing continuously. It is always situated in its svarūpa which is the highest truth. The Lord accepted this form of the puruṣa who eternally exists for creating the universes. He accepts a form which already exists. It is just like saying ‘He accepted a pot’, and this implies the pot already exists.

For the purpose of creating the material universe, thus there was the creation of the 16 principles of material action. The original Personality of Godhead Vāsudeva is full with all opulences. Part of His opulence is manifested as impersonal Brahman, and part of His opulence is manifested as Paramātmā. The Lord of Vaikuṇṭha accepted the form of the puruṣa who is like the full moon with 16 digits, being full of forms like Matsya and Kūrma. The puruṣa feature described here is the original Paramātmā manifestation of the Lord. There are three puruṣa features in the material creation, and this form is known as the Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu or Mahā-Viṣṇu, who glances over prakṛti, and the other two are known as the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. The innumerable universes are generated from the skin holes of this Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu and in each of the universes the Lord enters as Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu.

SB 1.3 - The need for creation

The creation and destruction of the material world is done by the supreme will because of the nitya-baddha living beings. These souls have the sense of individuality or ahaṅkāra, which dictates them sense enjoyment. The eternally conditioned souls, forgetful of its constitutional position as the enjoyed, have strong aspirations to enjoy. The chance to enjoy matter is given to the conditioned souls in the material world, and side by side they are given the chance to understand their real constitutional position. Those souls who do not surrender to Lord Vāsudeva are merged into the mahat-tattva at the time of annihilation of the material creation. When creation begins again, this mahat-tattva is let loose. This mahat-tattva contains all the ingredients of the material manifestations, including the conditioned souls. Primarily this mahat-tattva is divided into 16 parts, namely the five gross elements, and the eleven working instruments or senses. The mahat-tattva is assembled in some corner of the vast spiritual sky, and the part of the spiritual sky thus covered by the mahat-tattva is called the material sky. Within this mahat-tattva there are innumerable universes, which are produced by the Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who simply throws His glance to impregnate the material sky.

In each and every universe the puruṣa enters as the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu. He lies down within the half of the universe which is full with the water of His body. And from His navel, springs a stem of the lotus flower atop which Brahmā becomes manifest. Within the stem of the lotus there are 14 divisions of planetary systems, and the earthly planets are situated in the middle. Upwards there are better planetary systems, and the topmost is called Brahmaloka or Satyaloka. Downwards from the earthly system there are seven lower planetary systems inhabited by the asuras and similar other beings.

SB 1.3 - The three forms of Viṣṇu

The puruṣa avatāra is manifested in three features – first the Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is a portion of Sankarṣaṇa, who creates aggregate material ingredients in the mahat-tattva, second the Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is a portion of Pradyumna, who enters in each and every universe, and third the Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, who is an expansion of Aniruddha, who is the Paramātmā of every material object.

Mahā-Viṣṇu or Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu lies down on the ocean of kāraṇa, from where He glances over His material nature, and the mahat-tattva is at once created. Thus electrified by the power of the Lord, the material nature at once creates innumerable universes. Mahā-Viṣṇu is the inner soul of prakṛti. Material nature has no power to create without the power of the puruṣa. Because the Lord wished to lie down in meditation, the material energy created innumerable universes at once in the pores of His body, and in each of them the Lord lay down, and thus all the planets and different paraphernalia were created at once by the will of the Lord. This form, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the inner soul of the collective jīvas in each universe. Kṣīrodakaśāyī Viṣṇu is the inner soul of each jīva.

When Mahā-Viṣṇu developed a desire to lie down in a particular place, He lay down in the Kāraṇa ocean. He then glanced at prakṛti as soon as it came out with His breathing. By that glance He produced the mahat-tattva and other elements, and after creating the universes out of the elements, Garbhodakaśāyī Viṣṇu was informed to enter it and go to sleep. Entering into the universe, this Viṣṇu went to sleep for a second. He rejected the universe as a useless sleeping place, since it is material. So He leaves the universe after a second, which is the lifetime of Brahmā. Then again, He is made to sleep in a new universe for the lifetime of Brahmā, which is again a nimesa (less than a second) for Him.

SB 1.3 - The universal form of the Lord

Although all the universal planetary systems are imagined to be situated on the body of the puruṣa, still He has nothing to do with the created material ingredients. His body is eternally in spiritual existence par excellence. The conception of the virāṭ-rūpa or viśva-rūpa of the Lord is meant for the neophyte who can hardly think of the transcendental form of the Personality of Godhead. To him a form means something of this material world, and therefore an opposite conception of the Absolute is necessary in the beginning to concentrate the mind on the power extension of the Lord. The extension of the power of the Lord in the form of virāṭ-rūpa and the Lord Himself are one in one sense, but at the same time the Lord is different from the mahat-tattva. The potency of the Lord and the Lord are simultaneously different and non different. The conception of the virāṭ-rūpa, especially for the impersonalist, is thus non different from the eternal form of the Lord. This eternal form of the Lord exists prior to the creation of the mahat-tattva, and it is stressed here that the eternal form of the Lord is spiritual or transcendental to the modes of material nature.

The devotees see the transcendental form of the puruṣa who has thousands of legs, thighs, arms and faces, thousands of heads, ears, eyes and noses, and decorated with thousands of helmets and earrings. One can understand the transcendent Lord only by devotional service. The Lord is formless to the neophytes, but He is in transcendental form to the expert servitor. This second manifestation of the puruṣa is the source of multifarious incarnations within the universe. From the particles and portions of this form, different living entities, like demigods, men and others are created.