Qualities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa
Personal features can be divided into two: one feature is covered and the other feature is manifested. When Kṛṣṇa is covered by different kinds of dress, His personal feature is covered. There is an example of His covered personal feature in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with His dvārakā-līlā (His residence in Dvārakā as its king). Sometimes Lord Kṛṣṇa began to play by dressing Himself like a woman. Seeing this form, Uddhava said, “How wonderful it is that this woman is attracting my ecstatic love exactly as Lord Kṛṣṇa does. I think she must be Kṛṣṇa covered by the dress of a woman!”
One devotee praised the bodily features of Kṛṣṇa when he saw the Lord in His manifested personal feature. He exclaimed, “How wonderful is the personal feature of Lord Kṛṣṇa! How His neck is just like a conch shell! His eyes are so beautiful, as though they themselves were encountering the beauty of a lotus flower. His body is just like the tamāla tree, very blackish. His head is protected with a canopy of hair. There are the marks of Śrīvatsa on His chest, and He is holding His conch shell. By such beautiful bodily features, the enemy of the demon Madhu has appeared so pleasing that He can bestow upon me transcendental bliss simply by my seeing His transcendental qualities.”
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, after consulting various scriptures, has enumerated the transcendental qualities of the Lord as follows: (1) beautiful features of the entire body; (2) marked with all auspicious characteristics; (3) extremely pleasing; (4) effulgent; (5) strong; (6) ever youthful; (7) wonderful linguist; (8) truthful; (9) talks pleasingly; (10) fluent; (11) highly learned; (12) highly intelligent; (13) a genius; (14) artistic; (15) extremely clever; (16) expert; (17) grateful; (18) firmly determined; (19) an expert judge of time and circumstances; (20) sees and speaks on the authority of the Vedas, or scriptures; (21) pure; (22) self-controlled; (23) steadfast; (24) forbearing; (25) forgiving; (26) grave; (27) self-satisfied; (28) possessing equilibrium; (29) magnanimous; (30) religious; (31) heroic; (32) compassionate; (33) respectful; (34) gentle; (35) liberal; (36) shy; (37) the protector of surrendered souls; (38) happy; (39) the well-wisher of devotees; (40) controlled by love; (41) all-auspicious; (42) most powerful; (43) all-famous; (44) popular; (45) partial to devotees; (46) very attractive to all women; (47) all-worshipable; (48) all-opulent; (49) all-honorable; (50) the supreme controller. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has all these fifty transcendental qualities in fullness as deep as the ocean. In other words, the extent of His qualities is inconceivable.
As parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the individual living entities can also possess all of these qualities in minute quantities, provided they become pure devotees of the Lord. In other words, all of the above transcendental qualities can be present in the devotees in minute quantity, whereas the qualities in fullness are always present in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Besides these, there are other transcendental qualities, which are described by Lord Śiva to Pārvatī in the Padma Purāṇa, and in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with a conversation between the deity of the earth and the king of religion, Yamarāja. It is said therein, “Persons who are desirous of becoming great personalities must be decorated with the following qualities: truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, perseverance, renunciation, peacefulness, simplicity, control of the senses, equilibrium of the mind, austerity, equality, forbearance, placidity, learning, knowledge, detachment, opulence, chivalry, influence, strength, memory, independence, tactfulness, luster, patience, kind-heartedness, ingenuity, gentility, mannerliness, determination, perfection in all knowledge, proper execution, possession of all objects of enjoyment, gravity, steadiness, faithfulness, fame, respectfulness and lack of false egotism.” Persons who are desiring to become great souls cannot be without any of the above qualities, so we can know for certain that these qualities are found in Lord Kṛṣṇa, the supreme soul.
Besides all of the above-mentioned fifty qualities, Lord Kṛṣṇa possesses five more, which are sometimes partially manifested in the persons of Lord Brahmā or Lord Śiva. These transcendental qualities are as follows: (51) changeless; (52) all-cognizant; (53) ever fresh; (54) sac-cid-ānanda (possessing an eternal blissful body); (55) possessing all mystic perfections.
Kṛṣṇa also possesses five other qualities, which are manifest in the body of Nārāyaṇa, and they are listed as follows: (56) He has inconceivable potency. (57) Uncountable universes generate from His body. (58) He is the original source of all incarnations. (59) He is the giver of salvation to the enemies whom He kills. (60) He is the attractor of liberated souls. All these transcendental qualities are manifest wonderfully in the personal feature of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Besides these sixty transcendental qualities, Kṛṣṇa has four more, which are not manifest even in the Nārāyaṇa form of Godhead, what to speak of the demigods or living entities. They are as follows. (61) He is the performer of wonderful varieties of pastimes (especially His childhood pastimes). (62) He is surrounded by devotees endowed with wonderful love of Godhead. (63) He can attract all living entities all over the universes by playing on His flute. (64) He has a wonderful excellence of beauty that cannot be rivaled anywhere in the creation.
Adding to the list these four exceptional qualities of Kṛṣṇa, it is to be understood that the aggregate number of qualities of Kṛṣṇa is sixty-four. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has attempted to give evidences from various scriptures about all sixty-four qualities present in the person of the Supreme Lord.
1. BEAUTIFUL BODILY FEATURES
Any comparison of the different parts of the Lord’s body to different material objects cannot factually be a complete comparison. Ordinary persons, who cannot understand how exalted are the bodily features of the Lord, are simply given a chance to understand by a material comparison. It is said that Kṛṣṇa’s face is as beautiful as the moon, His thighs are powerful just like the trunks of elephants, His arms are just like two pillars, His palms are expanded like lotus flowers, His chest is just like a doorway, His hips are dens, and the middle of His body is a terrace.
2. AUSPICIOUS CHARACTERISTICS
There are certain characteristics of different limbs that are considered to be very auspicious and are fully present in the body of the Lord. In this connection, one friend of Nanda Mahārāja, speaking about Lord Kṛṣṇa’s auspicious bodily symptoms, said, “My dear King of the cowherds, I can find thirty-two auspicious symptoms on the body of your son! I am wondering how this boy could have taken His birth in a family of cowherd men.” Generally, when Lord Kṛṣṇa appears He does so in a family of kṣatriyas (kings), as did Lord Rāmacandra, and sometimes in a family of brāhmaṇas. But Kṛṣṇa accepted the role of son to Mahārāja Nanda, despite the fact that Nanda belonged to the vaiśya community. The business of the vaiśya community is trade, commerce and the protection of cows. Therefore his friend, who may have been born into a brāhmaṇa family, expressed his wonder at how such an exalted child could take birth in a family of vaiśyas. Anyway, he pointed out the auspicious signs on the body of Kṛṣṇa to the boy’s foster father.
He continued, “This boy has a reddish luster in seven places – His eyes, the ends of His hands, the ends of His legs, His palate, His lips, His tongue and His nails. A reddish luster in these seven places is considered to be auspicious. Three parts of His body are very broad: His waist, forehead and chest. Three parts of His body are short: His neck, thighs and genitals. Three parts of His body are very deep: His voice, intelligence and navel. There is highness in five parts of His body: His nose, arms, ears, forehead and thighs. In five parts of His body there is fineness: His skin, the hairs on His head and on the other parts of His body, His teeth and His fingertips. The aggregate of all these bodily features is manifest only in the bodies of great personalities.”
The fate lines on the palm are also considered to be auspicious bodily symptoms. In this connection, one old gopī informed King Nanda, “Your son possesses various wonderful fate lines on His palms. There are the signs of lotus flowers and wheels on His palms, and on His soles there are the signs of a flag, a thunderbolt, a fish, a rod for controlling elephants, and a lotus flower. Please observe how auspicious these signs are!”
Beautiful bodily features which automatically attract the eyes are called rucira (pleasing). Kṛṣṇa possesses this attractive feature of rucira in His personal features. In the Third Canto, second chapter, verse 13 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is a statement about this. “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His pleasing dress, appeared at the scene of the sacrificial arena when King Yudhiṣṭhira was performing the Rājasūya sacrifice. All important personalities from different parts of the universe had been invited to the sacrificial arena, and all of them, upon beholding Kṛṣṇa there, considered that the Creator had ended all of His craftsmanship in the creation of this particular body of Kṛṣṇa.”
It is said that the transcendental body of Kṛṣṇa resembles the lotus flower in eight parts – namely, His face, His two eyes, His two hands, His navel and His two feet. The gopīs and inhabitants of Vṛndāvana used to see the luster of lotus flowers everywhere, and they could hardly withdraw their eyes from such a vision.
The effulgence pervading the universe is considered to be the rays of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa is always throwing off the effulgence known as brahma-jyotir, and that effulgence is emanating from His body.
The luster of the hosts of jewels fixed on the chest of the Lord can defeat even the luster of the sun, and still, when compared with the bodily luster of the Lord, that crest of jewels appears to be only as bright as one of the stars in the sky. Therefore the transcendental influence of Kṛṣṇa is so great that it can defeat anyone. When Kṛṣṇa was present in the sacrificial arena of His enemy King Kaṁsa, the wrestlers present, although appreciating the softness of the body of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, were afraid and perturbed when they thought of engaging with Him in battle.
A person who has extraordinary bodily strength is called balīyān. When Kṛṣṇa killed Ariṣṭāsura, some of the gopīs said, “My dear friends, just see how Kṛṣṇa has killed Ariṣṭāsura! Although he was stronger than a mountain, Kṛṣṇa plucked him up just like a piece of cotton and threw him away without any difficulty!” There is another passage wherein it is said, “O my dear devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa, may the left hand of Lord Kṛṣṇa, which has lifted Govardhana Hill like a ball, save you from all dangers.”
6. EVER YOUTHFUL
Kṛṣṇa is beautiful at His different ages – namely, His childhood, His boyhood and His youth. Out of these three, His youth is the reservoir of all pleasures and is the time when the highest varieties of devotional service are acceptable. At that age, Kṛṣṇa is full with all transcendental qualities and is engaged in His transcendental pastimes. Therefore, devotees have accepted the beginning of His youth as the most attractive feature in ecstatic love.
At this age Kṛṣṇa is described as follows: “The force of Kṛṣṇa’s youth was combined with His beautiful smile, which defeated even the beauty of the full moon. He was always nicely dressed, in beauty surpassing even Cupid, and He was always attracting the minds of the gopīs, who were thereby always feeling pleasure.”
7. WONDERFUL LINGUIST
Rūpa Gosvāmī says that a person who knows the languages of different countries, especially the Sanskrit language, which is spoken in the cities of the demigods – as well as other worldly languages, including those of the animals – is called a wonderful linguist. It appears from this statement that Kṛṣṇa can also speak and understand the languages of the animals. An old woman in Vṛndāvana, present at the time of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, once stated in surprise, “How wonderful it is that Kṛṣṇa, who owns the hearts of all the young girls of Vraja-bhūmi, can nicely speak the language of Vraja-bhūmi with the gopīs, while in Sanskrit He speaks with the demigods, and in the language of the animals He can even speak with the cows and buffalo! Similarly, in the language of the Kashmir province, and with the parrots and other birds, as well as in most common languages, Kṛṣṇa is so expressive!” She inquired from the gopīs as to how Kṛṣṇa had become so expert in speaking so many different types of languages.
A person whose word of honor is never broken is called truthful. Kṛṣṇa once promised Kuntī, the mother of the Pāṇḍavas, that He would bring her five sons back from the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. After the battle was finished, when all the Pāṇḍavas had come home, Kuntī praised Kṛṣṇa because His promise was so nicely fulfilled. She said, “Even the sunshine may one day become cool and the moonshine one day become hot, but still Your promise will not fail.” Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa, along with Bhīma and Arjuna, went to challenge Jarāsandha, He plainly told Jarāsandha that He was the eternal Kṛṣṇa, present along with two of the Pāṇḍavas. The story is that both Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas – in this case Bhīma and Arjuna – were kṣatriyas (warrior-kings). Jarāsandha was also a kṣatriya and was very charitable toward the brāhmaṇas. Thus Kṛṣṇa, who had planned to fight with Jarāsandha, went to him with Bhīma and Arjuna in the dress of brāhmaṇas. Jarāsandha, being very charitable toward the brāhmaṇas, asked them what they wanted and they expressed their desire to fight with him. Then Kṛṣṇa, dressed as a brāhmaṇa, declared Himself to be the same Kṛṣṇa who was the king’s eternal enemy.
9. PLEASING TALKER
A person who can speak sweetly even with his enemy just to pacify him is called a pleasing talker. Kṛṣṇa was such a pleasing talker that after defeating His enemy Kāliya in the water of the Yamunā, He said, “My dear king of the snakes, although I have given you so much pain, please do not be dissatisfied with Me. It is My duty to protect these cows, which are worshiped even by the demigods. Only in order to save them from the danger of your presence have I been obliged to banish you from this place.”
Kāliya was residing within the water of the Yamunā, and as a result the back portion of that river had become poisoned. Thus so many cows who had drunk the water had died. Therefore Kṛṣṇa, even though He was only four or five years old, dipped Himself into the water, punished Kāliya very severely and then asked him to leave the place and go elsewhere.
Kṛṣṇa said at that time that the cows are worshiped even by the demigods, and He practically demonstrated how to protect the cows. At least people who are in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should follow in His footsteps and give all protection to the cows. Cows are worshiped not only by the demigods. Kṛṣṇa Himself worshiped the cows on several occasions, especially on the days of Gopāṣṭamī and Govardhana-pūjā.
A person who can speak meaningful words and with all politeness and good qualities is called vāvadūka, or fluent. There is a nice statement in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regarding Kṛṣṇa’s speaking politely. When Kṛṣṇa politely bade His father, Nanda Mahārāja, to stop the ritualistic offering of sacrifice to the rain-god, Indra, a wife of one village cowherd man became captivated. She later thus described the speaking of Kṛṣṇa to her friends: “Kṛṣṇa was speaking to His father so politely and gently that it was as if He were pouring nectar into the ears of all present there. After hearing such sweet words from Kṛṣṇa, who will not be attracted to Him?”
Kṛṣṇa’s speech, which contains all good qualities in the universe, is described in the following statement by Uddhava: “The words of Kṛṣṇa are so attractive that they can immediately change the heart of even His opponent. His words can immediately solve all of the questions and problems of the world. Although He does not speak very long, each and every word from His mouth contains volumes of meaning. These speeches of Kṛṣṇa are very pleasing to my heart.”
11. HIGHLY LEARNED
When a person is highly educated and acts strictly on moral principles, he is called highly learned. A person conversant in different departments of knowledge is called educated, and because he acts on moral principles, he is called morally stout. Together, these two factors constitute learning.
Kṛṣṇa’s receiving education from Sāndīpani Muni is described by Śrī Nārada Muni as follows: “In the beginning, Lord Brahmā and others are like clouds of evaporated water from the great ocean of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, Brahmā first received the Vedic education from Kṛṣṇa, as the clouds receive water from the ocean. That Vedic education or instruction which was spoken by Brahmā to the world was then reposed upon the mountain of Sāndīpani Muni. Sāndīpani Muni’s instructions to Kṛṣṇa are like a reservoir of water on the mountain, which flows as a river and goes again to mix with the source, the ocean of Kṛṣṇa.” To be more clear, the idea is that Kṛṣṇa actually cannot be instructed by anyone, just as the ocean does not receive water from any source but itself. It only appears that the rivers are pouring water into the ocean. So it is clear that Brahmā received his education from Kṛṣṇa, and from Brahmā, via the disciplic succession, this Vedic instruction was distributed. Sāndīpani Muni is likened to the river which is flowing down again to that same original ocean of Kṛṣṇa.
The Siddhas, the inhabitants of Siddhaloka, where all are born with fully developed mystic powers, and the Cāraṇas, the inhabitants of a similar planet, pray to Kṛṣṇa as follows: “My Lord Govinda, the goddess of learning is decorated with fourteen kinds of educational ornaments, her intelligence is all-pervading within the four departments of the Vedas, her attention is always on the lawbooks given by great sages like Manu, and she is appareled in six kinds of expert knowledge – namely, Vedic evidence, grammar, astrology, rhetoric, vocabulary and logic. Her constant friends are the supplements of the Vedas, the Purāṇas, and she is decorated with the final conclusion of all education. And now she has acquired an opportunity to sit with You as a class friend in school, and she is now engaged in Your service.”
Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does not require any education, but He gives a chance to the goddess of learning to serve Him. Being self-sufficient, Kṛṣṇa does not require the service of any living entity, although He has many devotees. It is because Kṛṣṇa is so kind and merciful that He gives everyone the opportunity to serve Him, as though He required the service of His devotees.
Regarding His moral principles, it is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that Kṛṣṇa is ruling over Vṛndāvana as death personified to the thieves, as pleasing bliss to the pious, as the most beautiful Cupid to the young girls and as the most munificent personality to the poor men. He is as refreshing as the full moon to His friends, and to His opponents He is the annihilating fire generated from Lord Śiva. Kṛṣṇa is therefore the most perfect moralist in His reciprocal dealings with different kinds of persons. When He is death personified to the thieves, it is not that He is without moral principles or that He is cruel; He is still kind, because to punish thieves with death is to exhibit the highest quality of moral principles. In Bhagavad-gītā, also, Kṛṣṇa says that He deals with different kinds of persons according to their dealings with Him. Kṛṣṇa’s dealings with devotees and with nondevotees, although different, are equally good. Because Kṛṣṇa is all-good, His dealings with everyone are always good.
12. HIGHLY INTELLIGENT
A man is called intelligent if he has a sharp memory and fine discretion. As far as Kṛṣṇa’s memory is concerned, it is said that when He was studying in the school of Sāndīpani Muni in Avantīpura, He showed such a sharp memory that by once taking instructions from the teacher He immediately became perfect in any subject. Actually, His going to the school of Sāndīpani Muni was to show the people of the world that however great or ingenious one may be, he must go to higher authorities for general education. However great one may be, he must accept a teacher or spiritual master.
Kṛṣṇa’s fine discretion was exhibited when He was fighting with the untouchable king who attacked the city of Mathurā. According to Vedic rites, those who are untouchable are not to be touched by the kṣatriya kings, not even for killing. Therefore, when the untouchable king seized the city of Mathurā, Kṛṣṇa did not think it wise to kill him directly with His own hand. Still the king had to be killed, and therefore Kṛṣṇa decided with fine discretion that He should flee from the battlefield so that the untouchable king would chase Him. He could then lead the king to the mountain where Mucukunda was lying asleep. Mucukunda had received a benediction from Kārttikeya to the effect that when he awoke from his sleep, whomever he might see would at once be burnt to ashes. Therefore Kṛṣṇa thought it wise to lead the untouchable king to that cave so that the king’s presence would awaken Mucukunda and he would at once be burnt to ashes.
A person is called a genius when he can refute any kind of opposing element with newer and newer arguments. In this connection there is a statement in Padyāvalī which contains the following conversation between Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā. One morning, when Kṛṣṇa came to Rādhā, Rādhā asked Him, “My dear Keśava, where is Your vāsa at present?” The Sanskrit word vāsa has three meanings: one meaning is residence, one meaning is fragrance, and another meaning is dress.
Actually Rādhārāṇī inquired from Kṛṣṇa, “Where is Your dress?” But Kṛṣṇa took the meaning as residence, and He replied to Rādhārāṇī, “My dear captivated one, at the present moment My residence is in Your beautiful eyes.”
To this Rādhārāṇī replied, “My dear cunning boy, I did not ask You about Your residence. I inquired about Your dress.”
Kṛṣṇa then took the meaning of vāsa as fragrance and said, “My dear fortunate one, I have just assumed this fragrance in order to be associated with Your body.”
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī again inquired from Kṛṣṇa, “Where did You pass Your night?” The exact Sanskrit word used in this connection was yāminyāmuṣitaḥ. Yāminyām means “at night,” and uṣitaḥ means “pass.” Kṛṣṇa, however, divided the word yāminyāmuṣitaḥ into two separate words, namely, yāminyā and muṣitaḥ. By dividing this word into two, it came out to mean that He was kidnapped by Yāminī, or night. Kṛṣṇa therefore replied to Rādhārāṇī, “My dear Rādhārāṇī, is it possible that night can kidnap Me?” In this way He was answering all of the questions of Rādhārāṇī so cunningly that He gladdened this dearest of the gopīs.
One who can talk and dress himself very artistically is called vidagdha. This exemplary characteristic was visible in the personality of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. It is spoken of by Rādhārāṇī as follows: “My dear friend, just see how Kṛṣṇa has nicely composed songs and how He dances and speaks funny words and plays on His flute, wearing such nice garlands. He has dressed Himself in such an enchanting way, as though He had defeated all kinds of players at the chessboard. He lives wonderfully at the topmost height of artistic craftsmanship.”
A person who can perform various types of work at once is called clever. In this connection one of the gopīs said, “My dear friends, just see the clever activities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa! He has composed nice songs about the cowherd boys and is pleasing the cows. By the movement of His eyes He is pleasing the gopīs, and at the same time, He is fighting with demons like Ariṣṭāsura. In this way, He is sitting with different living entities in different ways, and He is thoroughly enjoying the situation.”
Any person who can quickly execute a very difficult task is called expert. About the expertise of Kṛṣṇa there is a statement in the Tenth Canto, fifty-ninth chapter, verse 17 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, wherein Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells Mahārāja Parīkṣit, “O best of the Kurus, Śrī Kṛṣṇa cut to pieces all the different weapons used by different fighters.” Formerly, fighting was done by releasing different kinds of arrows. One party would release a certain arrow, and the other party had to defeat it by counteracting it with another arrow. For example, one party might release an arrow that would cause water to pour from the sky, and to counteract this the opposing party would have to release an arrow that could immediately turn the water into clouds. So from this statement it appears that Kṛṣṇa was very expert in counteracting the enemy’s arrows. Similarly, at the rāsa dance, each and every gopī requested that Kṛṣṇa individually become her partner, and Kṛṣṇa immediately expanded Himself into so many Kṛṣṇas in order to be coupled with each and every gopī. The result was that each gopī found Kṛṣṇa by her side.
Any person who is conscious of his friend’s beneficent activities and never forgets his service is called grateful. In the Mahābhārata, Kṛṣṇa says, “When I was away from Draupadī, she cried with the words, ‘He govinda!’ This call for Me has put Me in her debt, and that indebtedness is gradually increasing in My heart!” This statement by Kṛṣṇa gives evidence of how one can please the Supreme Lord simply by addressing Him, “He kṛṣṇa! He govinda!”
The mahā-mantra (Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare) is also simply an address to the Lord and His energy. So to anyone who is constantly engaged in addressing the Lord and His energy, we can imagine how much the Supreme Lord is obliged. It is impossible for the Lord to ever forget such a devotee. It is clearly stated in this verse that anyone who addresses the Lord immediately attracts the attention of the Lord, who always remains obliged to him.
Another instance of Kṛṣṇa’s feeling of obligation is stated in connection with His dealings with Jāmbavān. When the Lord was present as Lord Rāmacandra, Jāmbavān, the great king of the monkeys, rendered very faithful service to Him. When the Lord again appeared as Lord Kṛṣṇa, He married Jāmbavān’s daughter and paid him all the respect that is usually given to superiors. Any honest person is obliged to his friend if some service has been rendered unto him. Since Kṛṣṇa is the supreme honest personality, how can He forget an obligation to His servitor?
Any person who observes regulative principles and fulfills his promises by practical activity is called determined. As far as the Lord’s determination is concerned, there is an example in His dealings in the Hari-vaṁśa. This is in connection with Lord Kṛṣṇa’s fighting the king of heaven, Indra, who was forcibly deprived of the pārijāta flower. Pārijāta is a kind of lotus flower grown on the heavenly planets. Once, Satyabhāmā, one of Kṛṣṇa’s queens, wanted that lotus flower, and Kṛṣṇa promised to deliver it; but Indra refused to part with his pārijāta flower. Therefore there was a great fight, with Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas on one side and all of the demigods on the other. Ultimately, Kṛṣṇa defeated all of them and took the pārijāta flower, which He presented to His queen. So, in regard to that occurrence, Kṛṣṇa told Nārada Muni, “My dear great sage of the demigods, now you can declare to the devotees in general, and to the nondevotees in particular, that in this matter of taking the pārijāta flower, all the demigods – the Gandharvas, the Nāgas, the demon Rākṣasas, the Yakṣas, the Pannagas – tried to defeat Me, but none could make Me break My promise to My queen.”
There is another promise by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā to the effect that His devotee will never be vanquished. So a sincere devotee who is always engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord should know for certain that Kṛṣṇa will never break His promise. He will always protect His devotees in every circumstance.
Kṛṣṇa showed how He fulfills His promise by delivering the pārijāta flower to Satyabhāmā, by saving Draupadī from being insulted and by freeing Arjuna from the attacks of all enemies.
The promise of Kṛṣṇa that His devotees are never vanquished had also previously been admitted by Indra when he was defeated in the govardhana-līlā. When Kṛṣṇa stopped the villagers of Vraja (Vṛndāvana) from worshiping Indra, Indra became angry and therefore inundated Vṛndāvana with continuous rain. Kṛṣṇa, however, protected all of the citizens and animals of Vṛndāvana by lifting Govardhana Hill, which served as an umbrella. After the incident was over, Indra surrendered to Kṛṣṇa with many prayers, in which he admitted, “By Your lifting Govardhana Hill and protecting the citizens of Vṛndāvana, You have kept Your promise that Your devotees are never to be vanquished.”
19. EXPERT JUDGE OF TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCES
Kṛṣṇa was very expert in dealing with people according to circumstances, country, time and paraphernalia. How He could take advantage of a particular time, circumstance and person is expressed by Him while talking to Uddhava about His rāsa dance with the gopīs. He says, “The most opportune time is the full-moon night in autumn, like tonight. The best place within the universe is Vṛndāvana, and the most beautiful girls are the gopīs. So, My dear friend Uddhava, I think I should now take advantage of all these circumstances and engage Myself in the rāsa dance.”
20. SEER BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES
A person who acts exactly according to the tenets of scripture is called śāstra-cakṣus. Śāstra-cakṣus means one who sees through the eyes of the authorized scriptures. Actually, any man of knowledge and experience should see everything through these books. For example, with our naked eye we perceive the sun globe simply as some glaring substance, but when we see through authorized books of science and other literature, we can understand how much greater the sun globe is than this earth and how powerful it is. So seeing things through the naked eye is not actually seeing. Seeing things through the authorized books or authorized teachers is the correct way to see. So, although Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and can see all that is past, present and future, to teach the people in general He used to always refer to the scriptures. For example, in Bhagavad-gītā, although Kṛṣṇa was speaking as the supreme authority, He still mentioned and quoted Vedānta-sūtra as authority. There is a statement in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam wherein a person jokingly says that Kṛṣṇa, the enemy of Kaṁsa, is known as the seer through the śāstras. In order to establish His authority, however, He is now engaged in seeing the gopīs, whereby the gopīs are becoming maddened.
There are two kinds of supreme purity. When one type is possessed, one is able to deliver a sinful person. When the other type is possessed, one does not do anything that is impure. A person who possesses either of these qualities is called supremely pure. Kṛṣṇa is both; He can deliver all sinful conditioned souls, and at the same time, He never does anything by which He can be contaminated.
In this connection, Vidura, while trying to detach his elder brother, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, from his familial attachments, said, “My dear brother, you just fix your mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, who is worshiped with beautiful, erudite verses by great sages and saintly persons. Kṛṣṇa is the supreme deliverer among all deliverers. Undoubtedly there are great demigods like Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, but their positions as deliverers depend always upon the mercy of Kṛṣṇa.” Therefore Vidura advised his elder brother, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, to concentrate his mind and worship only Kṛṣṇa. If one simply chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, this holy name will rise within one’s heart like the powerful sun and will immediately dissipate all the darkness of ignorance. Vidura advised Dhṛtarāṣṭra to therefore think always of Kṛṣṇa so that the volumes of contaminations due to sinful activities would be washed off immediately. In Bhagavad-gītā also Kṛṣṇa is addressed by Arjuna as paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitram – the supreme pure. There are many other instances exhibiting Kṛṣṇa’s supreme purity.
A person who can control his senses fully is called vaśī, or self-controlled. In this connection it is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, “All the sixteen thousand wives of Kṛṣṇa were so exquisitely beautiful that their smiling and shyness were able to captivate the minds of great demigods like Lord Śiva. But still they could not even agitate the mind of Kṛṣṇa, in spite of their attractive feminine behavior.” Every one of the thousands of wives of Kṛṣṇa was thinking that Kṛṣṇa was captivated by her feminine beauty, but this was not the case. Kṛṣṇa is therefore the supreme controller of the senses, and this is admitted in Bhagavad-gītā, where He is addressed as Hṛṣīkeśa – the master of the senses.
A person who continues to work until his desired goal is achieved is called steadfast.
There was a fight between Kṛṣṇa and King Jāmbavān, and Kṛṣṇa was to take the valuable Syamantaka jewel from the king. The king tried to hide himself in the forest, but Kṛṣṇa would not become discouraged. Kṛṣṇa finally got the jewel by seeking out the king with great steadfastness.
A person who tolerates all kinds of troubles, even though such troubles appear to be unbearable, is called forbearing.
When Kṛṣṇa was residing at the place of His spiritual master, He did not mind taking all troubles in rendering service to His guru, although His body was very soft and delicate. It is the duty of the disciple to execute all services unto the spiritual master despite all kinds of difficulties. The disciple living at the residence of the spiritual master has to go begging from door to door and bring everything back to the spiritual master. When prasāda is being served, the spiritual master is supposed to call each and every disciple to come eat. If by chance the spiritual master forgets to call a disciple to partake of the prasāda, it is enjoined in the scriptures that the student should fast on that day rather than accept food on his own initiative. There are many such strictures. Sometimes, also, Kṛṣṇa went to the forest to collect dry wood for fuel.
A person who can tolerate all kinds of offenses from the opposite party is known to be forgiving.
Lord Kṛṣṇa’s forgiving quality is described in the Śiśupāla-vadha in connection with His forbidding the killing of Śiśupāla. King Śiśupāla was the monarch of the Cedi kingdom, and although he happened to be a cousin of Kṛṣṇa’s, he was always envious of Him. Whenever they would meet, Śiśupāla would try to insult Kṛṣṇa and call Him ill names as much as possible. In the arena of the Rājasūya sacrifice of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, when Śiśupāla began to call Lord Kṛṣṇa ill names, Kṛṣṇa did not care and remained silent. Some of the people at the arena were prepared to kill Śiśupāla, but Kṛṣṇa restricted them. He was so forgiving. It is said that when there is a thundering sound in the clouds, the mighty lion immediately replies with his thundering roar. But the lion doesn’t care when all the foolish jackals begin to make their less important sounds.
Śrī Yāmunācārya praises Kṛṣṇa’s power of forgiveness with the following statement: “My dear Lord Rāmacandra, You are so merciful to have excused the crow’s clawing on the nipples of Jānakī simply because of his bowing down before You.” Once Indra, the king of heaven, assumed the form of a crow and attacked Sītā (Jānakī), Lord Rāmacandra’s wife, by striking her on the breast. This was certainly an insult to the universal mother, Sītā, and Lord Rāmacandra was immediately prepared to kill the crow. But because later on the crow bowed down before the Lord, the Lord excused his offense. Śrī Yāmunācārya further says in his prayer that the forgiving power of Lord Kṛṣṇa is even greater than that of Lord Rāmacandra, because Śiśupāla was always in the habit of insulting Kṛṣṇa – not only in one lifetime but continually throughout three lives. Still, Kṛṣṇa was so kind that He gave Śiśupāla the salvation of merging into His existence. From this we can understand that the goal of the monist to merge into the effulgence of the Supreme is not a very difficult problem. Persons like Śiśupāla who are consistently inimical to Kṛṣṇa can also get this liberation.
A person who does not express his mind to everyone, or whose mental activity and plan of action are very difficult to understand, is called grave. After Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa had been offended by Brahmā, Brahmā prayed to Him to be excused. But in spite of his offering nice prayers to Kṛṣṇa, Brahmā could not understand whether Kṛṣṇa was satisfied or still dissatisfied. In other words, Kṛṣṇa was so grave that He did not take the prayers of Brahmā very seriously. Another instance of Kṛṣṇa’s gravity is found in connection with His love affairs with Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa was always very silent about His love affairs with Rādhārāṇī, so much so that Baladeva, Kṛṣṇa’s elder brother and constant companion, could not understand the transformations of Kṛṣṇa on account of His gravity.
A person who is fully satisfied in himself, without any hankering, and who is not agitated even in the presence of serious cause for distress, is called self-satisfied.
An example of Kṛṣṇa’s self-satisfaction was exhibited when He, Arjuna and Bhīma went to challenge Jarāsandha, the formidable king of Magadha, and Kṛṣṇa gave all credit to Bhīma for the killing of Jarāsandha. From this we can understand that Kṛṣṇa never cares at all for fame, although no one can be more famous.
An example of His not being disturbed was shown when Śiśupāla began to call Him ill names. All the kings and brāhmaṇas assembled at the sacrificial arena of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira became perturbed and immediately wanted to satisfy Kṛṣṇa by offering nice prayers. But all these kings and brāhmaṇas could not discover any disturbance in Kṛṣṇa’s person.
28. POSSESSING EQUILIBRIUM
A person who is unaffected by attachment and envy is said to possess equilibrium.
An example of Kṛṣṇa’s equilibrium is given in the Tenth Canto, sixteenth chapter, verse 33 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with His chastising Kāliya, the hundred-headed serpent. While Kāliya was being severely punished, all of his wives appeared before the Lord and prayed as follows: “Dear Lord, You have descended to punish all kinds of demoniac living creatures. Our husband, this Kāliya, is a greatly sinful creature, and so Your punishment of him is quite appropriate. We know that Your punishment of Your enemies and Your dealings with Your sons are both the same. We know that it is in thinking of the future welfare of this condemned creature that You have chastised him.”
In another prayer it is said, “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, best of all the Kuru dynasty, You are so impartial that if even Your enemy is qualified, You will reward him; and if one of Your sons is a culprit, You will chastise him. This is Your business, because You are the supreme author of the universes. You have no partiality. If anyone finds any partiality in Your characteristics, he is surely mistaken.”
Any person who is very charitably disposed is called magnanimous.
When Kṛṣṇa was reigning over Dvārakā, He was so magnanimous and charitably disposed that there was no limit to His charity. In fact, so great was His charity in Dvārakā that even the spiritual kingdom, with all of its opulence of cintāmaṇi (touchstone), desire trees and surabhi cows, was surpassed. In the spiritual kingdom of Lord Kṛṣṇa, named Goloka Vṛndāvana, there are surabhi cows that give unlimited quantities of milk. There are desire trees from which anyone can take all kinds of fruits, as much as he may desire. The land is made of touchstone, which when touched to iron will transform it into gold. In other words, although in the spiritual kingdom, the abode of Kṛṣṇa, everything is wonderfully opulent, still when Kṛṣṇa was in Dvārakā His charity exceeded the opulences of Goloka Vṛndāvana. Wherever Kṛṣṇa is present, the limitless opulence of Goloka Vṛndāvana is automatically present.
It is also stated that while Lord Kṛṣṇa was living in Dvārakā He expanded Himself into 16,108 forms, and each and every expansion resided in a palace with a queen. Not only was Kṛṣṇa happily living with His queens in those palaces, but He was giving in charity from each palace an aggregate number of 13,054 cows completely decorated with nice clothing and ornaments. From each of Kṛṣṇa’s 16,108 palaces, these cows were given daily. This means that 13,054 multiplied by 16,108 cows were being given in charity by Kṛṣṇa every day. No one can estimate the value of such a large number of cows given in charity, but that was the system of Kṛṣṇa’s daily affairs while He was reigning in Dvārakā.
A person who personally practices the tenets of religion as they are enjoined in the śāstras and who also teaches others the same principles is called religious. Simply professing a kind of faith is not a sign of religiousness. One must act according to religious principles, and by his personal example he should teach others. Such a person is to be understood as religious.
When Kṛṣṇa was present on this planet, there was no irreligion. In this connection, Nārada Muni once addressed Kṛṣṇa jokingly, “My dear Lord of the cowherd boys, Your bulls [bulls are the representation of religion], while eating grass from the pasturing ground and moving on their four legs, have certainly eaten up all the grass of irreligion!” In other words, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa, religious principles were so well cared for that hardly any irreligious activities could be found.
It is said that because Kṛṣṇa was constantly performing various types of sacrifices and was inviting the demigods from the higher planetary systems, the demigods were almost always absent from their consorts. Therefore the wives of the demigods, regretting the absence of their husbands, began to pray for the appearance of Lord Buddha, Kṛṣṇa’s ninth incarnation, who appears in the age of Kali. In other words, instead of being pleased that Lord Kṛṣṇa had come, they began to pray for Lord Buddha, who is the ninth incarnation, because Lord Buddha stopped the ritualistic ceremonies and sacrifices recommended in the Vedas in order to discourage animal-killing. The demigods’ wives thought that if Lord Buddha appeared, all kinds of sacrifices would be stopped and thus their husbands would not be invited to such ceremonies and would not be separated from them.
Sometimes it is inquired, “Why don’t the demigods from higher planetary systems come to this earth planet nowadays?” The plain answer is that since Lord Buddha appeared and began to deprecate the performance of sacrifice in order to stop animal-killing on this planet, the process of offering sacrifices has been stopped, and the demigods do not care to come here anymore.