Because God’s energies are inconceivable, some philosophers conclude that He has none.
A lecture in Los Angeles in December 1973,
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
To be wilder the faithless, who think that Krsna has a material body, He pretended to die as the result of being shot in the foot by a hunter. But Krsna’s form is spiritual, and from it expand unlimited potencies. Shown here surrounding Krsna, in their personal forms, are His chief weapons-the lotus, club, disc, and conchshell.
“When the Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna, left this earthly planet in His selfsame form, from that very day Kali, who had already partially appeared, became fully manifest to create inauspicious conditions for those who are endowed with a poor fund of knowledge.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.36)
When Lord Krsna leaves this earth planet or appears here. He does so by His own potency. In the Bhagavad-gita [4.6] Krsna says, sambhavamy atma-mayaya: “I incarnate by My own potency.” God has unlimited potencies (parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate), and learned scholars and saintly persons have accepted the idea of God’s potencies. There are certain philosophers, however, who are of the opinion that God has no potency. But that is not a fact. From the Vedic literatures we learn that God has unlimited potencies.
Now, how can we understand the Lord’s potencies? One way is by the example of fire, which has two potencies, heat and light. A fire is in one place, but it expands its potencies of heat and light. That is within our experience; it is not very difficult to understand. Similarly, the sun also expands the potencies of heat and light. It is lying in one corner of the sky, but it expands its potencies throughout the universe. The sunshine is distributed all over the sky, all over the planetary system, and so are the sun’s light and heat. The sun is 93 million miles away from us, but still we are feeling scorching heat—120 degrees, 135 degrees.
So, if even a material thing like the sun has so much potency, how much more potency must the Supreme Personality of Godhead have? His potency is acintya, inconceivable, beyond our conception. That is the statement of the Vedas:
na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate
na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca
“The Supreme Lord has no duty to perform, and no one is seen to be greater than or equal to Him. He has unlimited varieties of energy, which act automatically” [Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.8].
This is a description of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person. What kind of person? A person like you, working the whole day for money? No. Na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate: Krsna doesn’t have to do anything. He is simply playing on His flute and enjoying with Radharani, that’s all. He hasn’t got to go to the office, to the factory. He is simply enjoying: anandamayo ‘bhyasat.
And we try to imitate Krsna’s enjoyment. Young boys and girls like to mix with each other and dance together. The same activities are there in Krsna’s pastimes. Krsna is dancing with the gopis [cowherd girls] in the forest, and you are dancing with your girlfriend in the nightclub. But your dancing will not give you satisfaction, because it is imitation. If you want real dancing, come to Krsna. That is Krsna consciousness.
We are trying to take the misled people from illusion to reality. The Mayavadi [impersonalistic] philosophers say that there is no pleasure in dancing: “Make it zero; forget it.” But we don’t say that. We say that there is dancing in the original conception of the Absolute Truth. That is what the Vedanta-sutra says: janmady asya yatah. “The Absolute Truth is that from which everything has come.” Whatever you are experiencing—wherefrom has it come? It has come from the Absolute. That is the meaning of “Absolute.” But because here in the relative world dancing is pervertedly reflected and is not reality, you are confused, baffled.
So, our proposition is that you come to the reality. That is Krsna consciousness. The same dancing will be there. For example, here is a picture of Krsna dancing with the gopls. And because we are part and parcel of Krsna, we also like to dance with young girls. Even in old age men are dancing with young girls. In Paris there is a club for old men, all about to die. They come to the club and pay a fifty-dollar entrance fee so they can enjoy young girls and wine. They cannot actually enjoy, yet still they come. As it is said jaragate kim yuvati nari: “When one is an old man, what is the use of mixing with young girls?” Still, the old men like to mix with young girls, although they do not really enjoy. Therefore they are unsatisfied, frustrated. This is the position of those who are trying to imitate Krsna.
Krsna is so great that He is simultaneously and inconceivably present in all places. He explains this in the Bhagavad-gita [9.4]:
maya tatam idam sarvam
na caham tesv avasthitah
“By My impersonal feature I am spread everywhere. Everything is resting on Me, but I am not in everything.” It is a fact that everything is resting on Krsna, just as all the planets are resting on the sunshine. It is a scientific fact that the planets are revolving on account of the heat and light of the sun.
Now, what do we mean that “everything is resting on Krsna”? Take this earth planet, for example. Everything on this planet—the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the cities, the cars—all of that is one unit, the earth planet. And there are millions and trillions of planets. How are they existing? They are existing on the sunshine. And wherefrom does the sunshine come? The sunshine comes from the sun, which comes from God. Therefore, indirectly everything depends on Krsna’s potency. As he says, mat-sthani sarva-bhutani: “Everything is resting on My potency.” Na caham tesv avasthitah: “But personally I am not within everything.” This is acintya-bhedabheda-tattva: The Lord is simultaneously one with and different from everything. This is our philosophy.
So, our point is that Krsna, although situated in the spiritual world, works through His potencies, just as a rich man sits in his parlor and runs his business through his subordinates. He hasn’t got to go personally to the office. We have seen Mr. Biria [a wealthy Indian gentleman] sitting in his home and running his business through his “potencies”—his secretaries, clerks, and so on. They are doing all the work; he hasn’t got to work.
Similarly, because Krsna is the Supreme Person, He hasn’t got to work personally. He is always engaged in playing His flute and dancing with the gopis. That’s all. Anandamayo ‘bhyasat: He is simply enjoying.
So, Krsna’s potencies are working in both the spiritual and material worlds. How? I have already given the example of the sun. The sun is in the sky, and the sunshine is working. By the energy of the sunshine the leaves are coming out on the trees, and when there is no sunshine they are dropping. Everything depends on the energy of the sun. Similarly, everything depends on the energies emanating from Krsna. As explained in the Vedic literature:
“Just as a fire situated in one corner of a room fills the whole room with heat and light, so the Absolute Truth, Krsna, pervades this entire universe with His potencies.” Whatever you see in this cosmic manifestation is simply a demonstration of the potencies of the Lord.
So, we take our birth and accept our death, but not independently. We are under the control of the Lord’s material potency. The Lord has many potencies, which have been divided into three categories. One is called the internal potency, one is called the external potency, and one is called the marginal potency. The external potency is this material world—so many universes, so many planets, stars, and so on. These are all manifestations of Krsna’s external potency. And then there is the internal potency, the spiritual world. That we cannot see; it is not within our experience. But we get information about the spiritual world from the Bhagavad-gita [8.20]: paras tasmat tu bhavo ‘nyo ‘vyakto ‘vyaktat sanatanah. “Beyond this material nature is another nature, which is eternal.” This material nature is not eternal. Take your body, for example. It is not eternal. Similarly, this gigantic “body” of the universe is also not eternal. It has a date of creation and a date of dissolution. But the spiritual nature is eternal—it is never created or annihilated.
Now, we are the Lord’s marginal potency. For example, when we walk on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, some days we find that the water is covering part of the beach, and some days we see it is open. There is no water on that part. So, that part which is sometimes covered and sometimes open is called “marginal.” Similarly, we being Krsna’s marginal potency, sometimes we are influenced by the material nature and sometimes by the spiritual nature.
Actually, we belong to the spiritual nature, but because we are minute spirit souls we have come in contact with this material nature somehow or other. This is an incompatible position for us, and so we cannot make a permanent adjustment here. Therefore we are getting one type of body and enjoying or suffering, and then another type of body, then another, and so on.
But if we like, since we are of the spiritual nature we can transfer ourselves to the spiritual world and remain there eternally. The eternal nature of the soul is described in the Bhagavad-gita [2.20]: na jayate mriyate va kadacin . . . na hanyate hanyamane sarire. “The soul never takes birth or dies at any time.” In other words, the soul is everlasting, eternal. Then what is death? Death is the annihilation of the material body, not of the soul. Therefore it is said here, na hanyate hanyamane sarire: “The soul is not dead after the annihilation of the body.”
So, the conclusion is that because we are marginal—situated between the spiritual nature and the material nature—we have a tendency to come under the control of Krsna’s external, material energy and identify ourselves with this temporary, material body. Actually we are spiritual; our real nature is eternal. We never take birth and never die. But on account of our contact with the material nature, we are getting material bodies, which are always changing. Thus we have accepted birth and death as natural. But that is not our real nature.
At the present moment we are under the material nature, but if we try we can get out of this covering of material nature and come to the spiritual nature. That is Krsna consciousness—to leave that marginal position and come onto the “land” so that there will be no disturbance by the “water.” If you remain in the marginal position, sometimes you will be covered by water and sometimes you will be dry. But if you come a little forward to the land side, the ocean has no power to touch you.
Now, Krsna is not like us. The present verse of the Bhagavatam says that Krsna left this world, but that does not mean He left this world as we leave it. Our leaving this world means that we leave this material body and accept another material body. Now we may have an American body, and in our next life we may be in a Russian body. An American who is lighting against the Russians in this life may get a Russian body in his next life. (This is the law of nature: sada tad-bhava-bhavitah. “Whatever one thinks of at the time of death determines his next life.”) And then in his Russian body he will fight with the Americans and in his next life again become an American. This is going on: bhutva bhutva praliyate. Sometimes Russian, sometimes American, go on fighting, that’s all. This is called maya, illusion.
Everyone in this material world is under this illusion. The living entities are loitering in this material nature, sometimes in this body, sometimes in that body, sometimes this way, sometimes that way. Simply loitering. No one knows where to find shelter, where to find permanent life, permanent peace, permanent happiness. They are simply changing forms of government: electing one rascal, rejecting him, electing another rascal, and rejecting him. Because the candidates are all rascals, the people have no alternative but to elect a rascal. They are thinking, “By electing this rascal, we shall be happy.” Andha yathandhair upaniyamanah: The people are blind, and they are accepting leaders who are also blind. What will be the profit? If you are blind and you are led by another blind man, what will be the profit? Both of you will fall down into a ditch.
Therefore, if you want real happiness, you must accept the leadership of a man who has eyes to see. And whose eyes are open? That is explained in the Vedic literature:
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah
Everyone is blind, in the darkness of ignorance. So it is the guru’s business to open their eyes, to help them see things as they are. That is the guru’s business.
How can darkness be removed?By light. At night we cannot see. Everything is dark because the sun is not in the sky. But in the morning, as soon as the sun rises, we can see everything. Because we are in the darkness of ignorance, we cannot see things properly. The spirit soul exists and God exists, but now we cannot see them. We have to get the light of transcendental knowledge to see things as they are. That is wanted.
The Vedic literature therefore advises, tamasi ma jyotir gamah: “Don’t keep yourself in darkness; go to the light.” This is possible in human life. In animal life you kept yourself in darkness because there was no possibility of coming to the light. If I invite all the dogs and cats in Los Angeles to come here and hear about the Bhagavad-gita, they will not come, because they are animals. But if I appeal to the human beings, some may be interested. They should all be interested, but the times are so bad that almost nobody is interested. Still, a few people may be interested, but not the cats and dogs.
In the human form of life there is a necessity of coining to the light and making a solution to the problems of life. Therefore Krsna appears in this world. He states in the Bhagavad-glta [4.6], prakrtim svam adhisthaya sambhavamy atma-mayaya: “I appear in My transcendental form by My own energy.” We are under the control of the material nature, but Krsna is not under this control. That is to be understood. Therefore, the present verse of the Bhagavatam says, jahau sva-tanva. Sva means “own,” and tanu means “body.” In other words, Krsna left this world in His owntranscendental body.
So, when Krsna appears in this world or leaves it, He does so in His own transcendental body. For us there is a distinction between the soul and the body. I am a spiritual soul, but my body is material. This distinction is there because we are conditioned by the material body. But. Krsna is not conditioned by a material body. Therefore here it says jahau sva-tanva: “He left in His own, original, spiritual body.”
One so-called scholar who does not know Krsna has written a commentary on the Bhagavad-glta in which he tries to make a distinction between Krsna’s soul and His body. Krsna says [Bg. 9.34], man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru: “Just think of Me, become My devotee, offer your obeisances unto Me, and worship Me.” But this rascal commentator says it is not to the person Krsna that we should offer obeisances but to the soul within Krsna. Just see how ignorant he is! He does not know that for Krsna there is no such division between His self, or soul, and His body. This fool is rascal number one, and yet he has written a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita and is accepted as a scholar. And this nonsense is going on all over the world.
Therefore Krsna says, avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritah: “The rascals [mudhas] think that because I appear in a human form I am an ordinary human being.” And then, param bhavam ajananto: “They do not know My great potency.” Still, these rascals go on explaining the Bhagavad-glta.
So, while for us there is a distinction between body and soul, for Krsna there is no such distinction. Also, there is no distinction between Krsna Himself and His Deity form made of stone. Why? Because the stone is Krsna’s energy. Earth, water, fire, air—everything is Krsna’s energy. That we have already explained. So, He can appear in any form, from anywhere, from anything. That is Krsna’s potency. So, you have to understand what Krsna is. And as soon as you understand Krsna in truth, you become liberated: janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah/ tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna.
Here the Bhagavatam says jahau sva-tanva: “Krsna left this world in His own, original body.” Krsna does not leave His body as we leave ours. No. We are leaving one body and accepting another by the force of material nature. Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah: Everything is happening by the force of the laws of nature. But Krsna is not under the laws of nature. Nor is there any distinction between His self and His body. This is to be understood. If somebody thinks that Krsna left His body and died like us, they are mudhas, rascals. Krsna seemed to leave His body just to befool the rascals. The rascals think Krsna is like us, and therefore, to bewilder them, Krsna leaves an illusory body so that they may go on thinking like that. But actually, here is the secret: jahau sva-tanva. “Krsna left this world in His original body.”
Now, here it also says, sravaniya-sat-kathah: “Talks about Krsna are transcendental.” If His body were like ours—if He had a material body—then what would be the use of hearing about His activities? We are interested in the words of Krsna in Bhagavad-gita, but if Krsna were like us, why should we be interested? Actually, by hearing about Krsna you become liberated. So He cannot possibly be an ordinary human being like us. Only the less intelligent class of men (apratibuddha-cetasam) think in this way.
The Bhagavatam verse ends with the words kalir anvavartata: “Because Krsna passed away. Kali [the present Age of Quarrel personified] got the opportunity to enter.” That is to some extent a fact. But if Krsna is everything, how can He go away? Krsna can remain with you eternally. And if by becoming Krsna conscious you keep yourself with Krsna, where is the chance of Kali entering? Where is the chance? So, keep yourself always in Krsna consciousness. Kali will not be able to touch you.