|Chapter 17: Lightening the Burden of the World|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Teachings of Queen Kunti
Kuntidevi is describing the different statements of different persons about why Krsna appears. Some say that He appeared at the request of Vasudeva and Devaki, and some say He appeared at the request of Brahma. Bharavataranayanye bhuvo nava ivodadhau: "Some say that He appeared just to reduce the burden of the world, which was overburdened like a boat at sea." When the world is overburdened, there must be war, pestilence, famine, epidemics, and so on. This is nature's law.
The earth floats in space among many millions of other planets, all of them bearing huge mountains and oceans. It floats because Krsna enters into it, as stated in Bhagavad-gita (gam avisya), just as He enters the atom. The earth is certainly not weightless; rather, it is very heavy. But it floats because the Supreme Spirit is within it.
Everything is lightened by the presence of spirit. One's body will float in water as long as one is alive, but as soon as the spirit soul leaves, the body immediately sinks. As long as a child is alive we can take it along by one hand, but when the child is dead it is heavy. So now we are heavy, but when we are spiritually advanced we will be free from impediments. Now we cannot fly in the air, but the spirit soul is so light that when freed from the body it can go within a second to Vaikunthaloka, the spiritual world (tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti [Bg. 4.9]).
Why then does the world become overloaded? It becomes overloaded due to the presence of demons, those who are against devotional service. When mother earth feels this load to be too heavy, Krsna comes just to unburden the earth. If a ship is overloaded, its position is very dangerous, for it may sink at any moment. Therefore when mother earth felt too uncomfortable because of being overloaded with demons (sidantya bhuri-bharena), she approached Brahma, the chief living being within this universe. When there is a need, the chief personalities in the universe approach Brahma, who approaches Visnu to ask that He reduce whatever the burden is. Then Visnu or Krsna appears as an incarnation, as stated in Bhagavad-gita (4.7):
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srjamy aham
"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion -- at that time I descend Myself."
When there is too much lawlessness and there are too many criminals, the state becomes overburdened and disturbed, and the state administrators are puzzled about what to do. Similarly, when the world is overrun by demons and atheists, they create a burden, and the demigods, the pious administrators of the universe, become perplexed. When the people of a state abide by the laws, administration is easy, but if people are criminals they overburden the state administrators. A similar situation sometimes upsets the balance of the cosmic affairs of this material world. Both the demons and the demigods always exist, but when the demoniac power increases, the world is overburdened. It is then that the demigods approach Lord Brahma for assistance.
Lord Brahma is one of the twelve authorities known as dvadasa-mahajana (svayambhur naradah sambhuh kaumarah kapilo manuh/ prahlado janako bhismo balir vaiyasakir vayam, Bhag. 6.3.20). We have to follow the mahajanas, the great authorities, if we want to receive transcendental knowledge. The Vedic injunction is, tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: [MU 1.2.12] if one wants to be in knowledge of everything, one must approach a guru, a bona fide authority, a spiritual master. The original guru is Krsna. As Krsna taught Arjuna, He also taught Brahma, as stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye).
The Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the original source of the creation, and this should be the actual subject matter of our research work. What is the original source of creation? Janmady asya yatah: [SB 1.1.1] the original source of everything is the source of janma, sthiti, and pralaya -- creation, maintenance, and dissolution. Our body has taken birth at a certain date, it lasts for some years -- ten years, twenty years, fifty years, or whatever, according to the body -- and then it will be finished. Where did this body come from, and when it is destroyed where will it go? There are scientific laws concerning the conservation of energy. What is the source of that energy? There is a source (yato va imani bhutani jayante), and that source is identified in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
That source is not blind. Rascals think that everything has come from nothing. But how can something come out of nothing? There is no proof that such a thing happens, but fools claim that it does, and therefore they are blind. What is the nature of the original source from whom everything has come, in whom everything exists, and within whom everything will enter? The Bhagavatam (1.1.1) says, janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah. The word abhijnah indicates that the source of everything is completely conscious.
The word jna means "knowledge," and abhi means "specific." We have inadequate knowledge of where we have come from and where we shall go after death, and therefore we are not abhijna, supremely conscious. But the supreme source is abhijna. He is not a stone or a void. How could He be? The creation itself is evidence of the consciousness of the Supreme. Everyone can appreciate the cosmic manifestation and how nicely it is working. The sun and moon rise exactly on time, without deviating even one ten-thousandth of a second, and the seasons change in the same way, bringing with them fruits and flowers. In this way the entire cosmic manifestation is going on in a very orderly, systematic way. So unless there is some abhijna -- some very clever intelligence who knows everything -- how could all this have been created? Some people say that all this has come from nothing. What is this nonsense? Can such a creation come from nothing? Does this idea show very good reasoning? The Bhagavatam says no.
The Bhagavatam tells us that everything comes from the person who is abhijna, very intelligent and experienced, and that original intelligent person transmitted knowledge to adi-kavi, the original created being, Lord Brahma (tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye). Brahma, the original created being, has an original source, and he is in contact with that source. We understand that we get knowledge from another person with whom we are face to face. But when Brahma was created he was alone. Therefore, how did he receive knowledge? That is explained in the Bhagavatam: tene brahma hrda. The word hrda means "through the heart." The Supreme Person, Paramatma, is within the heart of every living being, including Brahma. Therefore although Brahma was alone, he received knowledge dictated by the Supreme. The word brahma means "Vedic knowledge." Thus the Vedic knowledge was given first to Lord Brahma.
The Vedic knowledge is given to everyone because Krsna is within everyone's heart (sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah), but one must be qualified to receive that knowledge. Krsna helps us by giving us knowledge both from within as the Supersoul (caitya-guru) and from without as the spiritual master.
Brahma receives knowledge from Krsna and distributes that Vedic knowledge, and therefore he is an authority. There are four sampradayas, or chains of disciplic succession, through which Vedic knowledge is distributed -- one from Brahma, one from Laksmi, one from Lord Siva, and one from the four Kumaras. We have to approach an authoritative representative of Krsna appearing in one of these sampradayas, and then we can receive real knowledge. Thus the earth personified approached Brahma, who prayed to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, "The world is now overburdened with demons, and therefore I request You to appear." Some say, therefore, that the Lord appeared at the request of Brahma that He lighten the burden of the world.
When Krsna appears, He protects the devotees and kills the demons. Therefore Krsna in His Narayana form has four hands. In two hands He holds a disc and club with which to kill the demons, and in the other two hands He holds the conchshell and lotus with which to bless and protect the devotees. The Lord says, kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati. Thus Krsna bugles with His conchshell, "My devotees will never be vanquished." And with the lotus flower He extends His blessings. The lotus flower, which sometimes also appears in the hand of Laksmi, is a symbol of blessings.
Now some may say that Krsna appeared for this purpose or that purpose, but the real conclusion is that Krsna appears for His own pleasure, not because He is bound by any other cause. We take our birth because we are bound by our karma, but Krsna, being fully independent, does not come because of someone else's request or because of karma. Rather, He comes by His own free will (atma-mayaya). We are compelled to take birth because of Krsna's external, material energy, but Krsna is not controlled by the maya, or energy, of anyone else, and therefore He does not take birth in such a condition. Maya, the illusory energy, is under the control of Krsna, so how could maya control Him? One who thinks that Krsna, like us, is controlled by maya is described in Bhagavad-gita as mudha, a fool (avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam [Bg. 9.11]).
Krsna is the original Narayana, the original source of the entire cosmic manifestation. Brahma, or the first living being born just after the creation, is the direct son of Narayana, who as Garbhodakasayi Visnu first entered the material universe. Without spiritual contact, matter cannot create. Those who are seeking the original cause of the material creation should know that the creation takes place when the spirit soul is present. Matter is activated by the spirit soul; it is not that the soul is created by matter.
According to the Buddhist theory, the living force -- the living energy we all have -- is created by material conditions. At the present moment, the entire world is influenced by this Buddhist theory. The actual fact, however, is that matter develops because of the presence of the living force. We can understand this very easily. After a child is born, he grows, and his body develops, but if the child is born dead -- if the spirit soul is not present -- the body will not develop. Therefore the spirit is the basis for the development of matter, and not vice versa. Why does a dead child not grow? Because the spirit is not present. A tree grows as long as there is life in it. If we sow the small seed of a banyan tree in good soil and favor it with water, it will grow because the spirit soul is present. But if we were to fry such a seed in fire and then sow it, it would fail to grow because the spirit soul would not be there.
Matter grows and develops because of the presence of the spirit soul, and this principle has been followed from the very beginning of the creation. At the beginning of creation the Supreme Spirit entered the universe, and the first living being, Brahma, was born on a lotus flower grown from the transcendental abdomen of Visnu. Accepting that the lotus on which Brahma was born is matter, we should understand that it is also grown from spirit. Therefore spirit is the basis of creation.
Because the lotus flower on which Lord Brahma is born is grown from the navel of Visnu, Lord Visnu is known as Padmanabha. Brahma is known as atma-bhu because he was begotten directly from the father, Narayana, or Visnu, without the contact of mother Laksmiji. Laksmiji was present near Narayana, engaged in the service of the Lord, but still, without contact with Laksmiji, Narayana begot Brahma. That is the omnipotency of the Lord. When we want to beget a child, we need the help of a wife because we cannot beget a child alone. But Krsna, Lord Visnu, produced Lord Brahma without the help of His wife, Laksmi, although she was present, because He is not dependent on anything. One who foolishly considers Narayana to be like other living beings should take a lesson from this.
The Vedic literature forbids one to think that other living beings are on an equal level with Narayana.
yas tu narayanam devam
sa pasandi bhaved dhruvam
Someone has invented the word daridra-narayana, trying to show that Narayana has become poor and that the beggar who comes to my door to beg is also Narayana. This is not authorized in the Vedic literature. Narayana is the master of Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, and only fools think that He somehow becomes poverty-stricken. Rascals say that Narayana, Brahma, Siva, all the demigods, you, I, and everyone else are all on the same level. This is foolishness. Narayana is asamaurdhva. This means that no one can be equal to or greater than Him. Therefore Krsna Himself, the original Narayana, says in Bhagavad-gita, mattah parataram nanyat: [Bg. 7.7] "There is no one superior to Me." Nor is anyone equal to Him. The word asama means that no one is equal to Him, and anurdhva means that no one is greater than Him. This is the position of the Lord.
Narayana is not an ordinary living being. He is the Personality of Godhead Himself, and He has all the potencies of all the senses in all parts of His transcendental body. An ordinary living being begets a child by sexual intercourse and has no other means to beget a child than the one designed for him. But Narayana is all-powerful, and therefore He can beget a child from His navel. Every part of His body has full potency, as explained in the Brahma-samhita (5.32), angani yasya sakalendriya-vrttimanti. For example, I can see with my eyes, but Krsna can also eat with His eyes. Foolish rascals will say, "You are offering food to Krsna, but what has He eaten? It is still here. He has not eaten anything." Such people do not know that Krsna can eat just by seeing, for He can do anything with any part of His transcendental body. When a washerman refused to supply cloth to Krsna in Mathura, Lord Krsna displayed His transcendental potency by cutting off the man's head with His hand. How was this possible? It was possible by the Lord's omnipotence.
The Lord is complete and independent to do anything and everything by His various potencies. This is explained in the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam by the words abhijnah svarat. The word sva-rat indicates that He is self-sufficient, not dependent on anyone. That is the qualification of God. Nowadays there are so many self-proclaimed incarnations of God, but as soon as they have some toothache they immediately say, "Ooooooh, doctor, help me. Save me." If you are God, save yourself. Why go to a doctor? Such people are rascals, and they make it very difficult to spread Krsna consciousness. The whole world is now overburdened by such rascals and demons, and therefore the atom bomb is waiting for them by the will of the Supreme.
Copyright (c) The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness