By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lecture given in New York City, December 5, 1966
Rejecting speculative conceptions of God, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu cites authoritative scriptural descriptions of God’s personal characteristics.
krishnera svarupa-vichara shuna, sanatana
advaya-jnana-tattva, vraje vrajendra-nandana
sarva-adi, sarva-amshi, kishora-shekhara
chid-ananda-deha, sarvashraya, sarveshvara
“O Sanatana, please hear about the eternal form of Lord Krishna. He is the Absolute Truth, devoid of duality but present in Vrindavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja. Krishna is the original source of everything and the sum total of everything. He appears as the supreme youth, and His whole body is composed of spiritual bliss. He is the shelter of everything and master of everyone. ‘Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, for He is the prime cause of all causes.'”—Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 20.152–154
Lord Chaitanya is describing the personal feature of Lord Krishna. The impersonal feature of Lord Krishna, as described in the Bhagavad-gita, is the manifestation of His material energy. The personal feature, now being described by Lord Chaitanya in the Chaitanya-charitamrita, is His spiritual feature.
We have already studied in the Bhagavad-gita that the Lord has two distinct features: material and spiritual, or inferior and superior. Of course, for Him there is no superior or inferior. But for us there is superior or inferior. We cannot say that because everything is an emanation from the Supreme there is no superior or inferior. No. There is superior energy and inferior energy.
For example, Lord Krishna says, ishvarah sarva-bhutanam hrid-deshe ’rjuna tishthati: “Ishvara, the Supreme Lord, is situated in everyone’s heart.” (Gita 18.61) He is in the heart of a hog, of a dog, and of the learned brahmana as well. For Him there is no discrimination—what is a hog, what is a dog, what is a brahmana, what is good, what is bad—because He is absolute. But we have to distinguish between the hog and the dog, at least as far as the material body is concerned.
Lord Chaitanya is addressing Sanatana Goswami. You’ll remember that this chapter, “Instructions to Sanatana Goswami,” was begun when Sanatana Goswami, after his retirement, approached the Lord at Benares, surrendered himself, and asked Him, “What am I?” In reply to that question, Lord Chaitanya is describing the living entity’s relationship with Krishna.
The jivatma, the living entity, is eternally the servitor of Krishna. One should understand the nature of one’s master so that one’s service attitude and affection may be more intimate. Suppose I am serving at a place. I am engaged in a service to a master but do not know how great my master is. But when I understand the influence and opulence and greatness of my master, I become more devoted: “Oh, my master is so great.”
Simply knowing “God is great and I have some relationship with God” is not sufficient. You must know how great He is. Of course, you cannot calculate fully, but as far as possible you should know how great He is.
Lord Krishna’s greatness is being described here by Lord Chaitanya to His disciple Sanatana Goswami. Advaya-jnana-tattva, vraje vrajendra-nandana. Advaya-jnana-tattva means that Krishna is absolute. He is not relative. Here everything is relative, but God means the Absolute. He has nothing to be dependent upon. Here we are all dependent. To understand light we have to understand darkness. To understand good we have to understand bad.
Here everything is duality. But Krishna is absolute. That is the first understanding—that there is no duality in Krishna. Krishna, His name, His fame, His pastimes, His qualities, His associates—everything is one. Always remember, in Krishna one plus one equals one. There is no difference between Krishna and Krishna’s name. That is the nature of the Absolute. We have experience here that the thing and the name of the thing are different, dual. Here is a glass of water. Suppose I am thirsty. I want a glass of water. But if I say “water, water, water, water,” that will not quench my thirst. I must have the thing, water, and then it will act. But Krishna is advaya-jnana. So when we hear Krishna’s name, then we should understand that “Krishna is before me in His sound vibration. He is present before me in sound because He is everything.”
Why would sound not be Krishna? If He is everything, sound is also Krishna. That characteristic is called advaya-jnana.
Similarly, Bhagavad-gita is also Krishna. We should respect everything, seeing its relationship to Krishna. When we enter the temple of Krishna, we should understand that we are in touch with Krishna. Everything in relationship to Krishna is Krishna. Devotees in the higher conception of Krishna consciousness see nothing except Krishna. That is not to be imitated.
Matter is the energy of Krishna. Since energy and the energetic are not different, the higher devotee sees Krishna even in the material world. For such a devotee, there is no matter; everything is spiritual. For Krishna there is no distinction between matter and spirit, but in our conditioned stage we have the conception of superior and inferior. But when we are in the higher stage of the Absolute Truth, when we are actually in pure devotional service to Krishna, then we will see that everything is Krishna. For example, we respect krishna-prasada, food prepared for and offered to Krishna. We offer obeisances before taking prasada. Why? Because the prasada is Krishna. By taking prasada I am contacting Krishna. By hearing Krishna I am contacting Krishna. By working for Krishna I am contacting Krishna. He is the Absolute.
An Eternal, Blissful Body
Lord Chaitanya says, krishna advaya-jnana-tattva: “Krishna is the Absolute Truth.” Vraje vrajendra-nandana. In the abode called Vraja or Krishnaloka or Vrindavana, He has His devotees as His father and mother. He is just like a sixteen-year-old boy, Vrajendra-nandana.
That is the real feature of Krishna. You will never find Krishna as a very old man. No. Krishna’s body is sach-chid-ananda—eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. He holds a flute in His hand and always looks just like a fresh sixteen-year-old boy—kaishora. Kaishora means from ten to sixteen years of age. And after the sixteenth year, youth, or yauvana, begins. Krishna is always in His kaishora avastha, which means that He appears just like a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old boy, Vrajendra-nandana. But at the same time, as Lord Chaitanya says in the next verse, He is sarva-adi: the origin of everything, whatever you see either in the material world or in spiritual world. He is the oldest, but you will see Him as young.
In the Brahma-samhita (5.33) you will find Krishna described as advaita and acyuta. Adwaita means absolute, and acyuta means infallible, or Brahman. He is Parambrahman. We are also Brahman, spirit, but we have fallen down into this material condition. But Krishna never falls down into the material condition. When He appears before us, don’t think, “He is also a fallen soul like me.” The fools consider like that. Avajananti mam mudha (Gita 9.11). Mudha means fools. The fools consider Krishna an ordinary man. Param bhavam ajanantah. The fools do not know of the immense potency of Krishna. Therefore they think of Krishna as one of us.
Krishna is sarva-adi, the primal. And sarva-amshi means He is the original of whom everything else is part. We are also part and parcel of Krishna, just as the hand is part of the body. We can understand the concept of part and whole. He is the whole, and everything else is His part.
Krishna is kishora-shekhara, “the supreme boy.” He is just like a fresh boy, but He is the Supreme. Chid-ananda-deha: He has a spiritual body. Just mark this description of Krishna: chid-ananda-deha. Chid-ananda-deha means a transcendental, spiritual body, not this material body. Less intelligent persons cannot think of a personal God. They think that personality can refer only to a material body. They cannot find out the shape of the spirit soul. It is so small that with material eyes and material instruments you cannot find out the shape of the soul. Therefore they conclude that it has no shape.
For example, in geometry the point is defined as having no length and no breadth, because a point cannot be measured by any human instrument. But nothing can be without shape. Even the atom has its measurement. But because we have no power to measure something, we set its measurement aside, dismiss it: “Oh, there is nothing.” And we foolishly conclude, “Because we do not know what is spirit and we think spirit is something that is just the opposite of matter, which has form, therefore spirit should be formless.”
But actually it is not so. We therefore require to learn from the authority. Lord Chaitanya says, chid-ananda-deha: Krishna has a transcendental, eternal body. And sarvashraya: He is the resting place of everything.
You see before you that so many big planets and the sun are floating in the air. The sun is such a big body, some millions of times greater than the earth, and it is floating in the sky. How? Here it is explained. Sarvashraya: It is floating on Krishna’s energy.
Sarveshvara, the next word in this verse, means the Supreme Lord. Lord Chaitanya is explaining everything very nicely. Sarva-adi: Krishna is the origin of everything. Sarva-amshi: He is the whole of all the parts. Kishora-shekhara cid-ananda-deha: He is just like a fresh boy, and His body is transcendental, spiritual, full of bliss. Sarvashraya: He is the resting place of everything. He is the Supreme Lord. This is the description of Krishna.
The Authority of Scripture
As we have seen, when Lord Chaitanya instructs He at once gives evidence from authoritative scripture. That is the way of presenting information about God. You should always remember that we cannot imagine things about God: “I think God is like this.” This is nonsense. You have no thinking power. You are under the grip of material nature, which is pulling you by the ear. You are being influenced. It is like you’ve been thrown into the Atlantic Ocean. You have no power. The waves are tossing you this way and that way. You are simply struggling. That’s all. How can we think we are acting independently when we are tossing in the Atlantic Ocean? Such thinking is all nonsense.
We cannot imagine, we cannot concoct, ideas about God. We have to hear from authoritative scripture. Then we will understand. Here is authoritative information from the Brahma-samhita (5.1):
“Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes.” There are many lords. We have got experience. In England you will find many lords. In our youth we had some dealings with Lord Zetland, the Marquis of Zetland. In your country also there are many lords. Any rich man is a lord. In our country also there are many lords. But Krishna is not a lord like them. These lords are under the grip of material nature. They are lord by name. But as soon as the material nature gives a slap on the lord, at once he has passed, and everything “lordship” is finished.
Krishna is not a lord like that. Ishvarah paramah. He is a lord, but the Supreme Lord. He is not under anyone’s control. Here the rubber-stamped lords are under full control. They may say, “I am the lord of all I survey,” but that is foolishness. Nobody is a lord. The real Lord is Krishna. Therefore it is said, ishvarah paramah. Paramah means Supreme. And who is that Supreme Lord? Krishna. Ishvarah paramah krishnah.
Why is Krishna the Supreme? Because His body is spiritual, full of bliss, and eternal—sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah. And He is anadi, without beginning. We have experience that everything has its cause. Suppose I am a lord. Then I had some cause to become a lord. Either my father was a lord, or I have accumulated some wealth, or the government has recognized me as a lord. I have become a lord under certain conditions. But Krishna is adi. Adi means He is the origin. There is nothing beyond Him.
Anadir adih. Everything has a cause, but He has no cause. He is the Lord, but there is no cause by which He has become the Lord. When I am a lord, there is a cause. Perhaps you know that in England, if somebody becomes very rich he has to deposit some amount of money to the government, and then the government will award him the title “lord.” With that huge amount of money his family will be maintained after he dies, and then the first son of the lord’s family will be declared a lord. This is what I have heard. I do not know exactly. But this lord is made, recognized, by the government on deposition of some certain amount of money. The government agrees, “Yes, this family may be recognized as a lord family.” In England they create aristocracy. Similarly, when the British were in India, they created many aristocrats. Krishna is not a created, aristocratic lord. That we should know.
The Pleasure of the Senses, the Cow, and the Land
Anadir adir govindah. Govinda is a name for Krishna. Go means three things: the senses, the cow, and the land. Krishna gives pleasure to these three things. Wherever He is present, that place becomes blissful, ananda. Anandamayo ’bhyasat. The Vedanta-sutra (1.1.12) says that the Absolute Truth is anandamaya, always full of pleasure. Krishna is the reservoir of pleasure. So whenever He is present—in whichever land, in whichever country, in whichever planet He is present—that place becomes full of bliss, ananda. He is Govinda. He is playing just like a cowherd boy, just like a sixteen-year-old boy playing with cows. His father has many cows, and He takes the cows and goes on a pleasure trip with friends. That is Krishna’s business. He is not going to any office or any factory. You see? He goes out, and His mother gives Him sufficient to eat. After eating breakfast, He goes outside for a pleasure trip with His friends and His flute and cows. That is Krishna’s business. Therefore He is Govinda.
The cows—oh!—as soon as they see Krishna they lick His face and body. Each cow has a different name. As soon as He calls, the cow will come and drop her milk. Those cows are spiritual. That is described in the Brahma-samhita (5.29): surabhir abhipalayantam. Krishna tends surabhi cows. Surabhi cows are inexhaustible. You can milk them as much as you want. In the material world the cow is limited. There is a time when you can milk, morning and evening, and you get a certain quantity, not more than that. But you can milk surabhi cows anytime you like, and you can draw as much milk as you like.
Krishna is Govinda. He is giving pleasure to everyone. Go means senses. We are seeking sense pleasure. Sense pleasure means reciprocation between two people. I want to see a beautiful girl. That means two. Or I want to see a beautiful boy. So that means two. Without two there cannot be sense pleasure. I want to eat something palatable. There must be two. At least the dish must be full of varieties.
There is no actual pleasure in the impersonal. Our relationship with Krishna, our service to Krishna—that is pleasure. Govinda. That is real sense pleasure. Seeing Krishna, tasting Krishna, smelling Krishna, touching Krishna—that is sense pleasure. That is our real sense pleasure.
Krishna is Govinda and the cause of all causes: sarva-karana-karanam. Beyond Him there is no other cause. This is the description Lord Chaitanya gives, and we shall gradually discuss other points.
Thank you very much.