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Who is Krishna ?

by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(from the Preface of "Krsna")

In these Western countries, when someone sees the cover of a book like Krsna, he immediately asks, "Who is Krsna? Who is the girl with Krsna?" etc.

Radha KrishnaThe immediate answer is that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. How is that? Because He conforms in exact detail to descriptions of the Supreme Being, the Godhead. In other words, Krsna is the Godhead because He is all-attractive. Outside the principle of all-attraction, there is no meaning to the word Godhead. How is it one can be all-attractive? First of all, if one is very wealthy, if he has great riches, he becomes attractive to the people in general. Similarly, if someone is very powerful, he also becomes attractive, and if someone is very famous, he also becomes attractive, and if someone is very beautiful or wise or unattached to all kinds of possessions, he also becomes attractive. So from practical experience we can observe that one is attractive due to 1) wealth, 2) power, 3) fame, 4) beauty, 5) wisdom, and 6) renunciation. One who is in possession of all six of these opulences at the same time, who possesses them to an unlimited degree, is understood to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These opulences of the Godhead are delineated by Parasara Muni, a great Vedic authority.

We have seen many rich persons, many powerful persons, many famous persons, many beautiful persons, many learned and scholarly persons, and persons in the renounced order of life unattached to material possessions. But we have never seen any one person who is unlimitedly and simultaneously wealthy, powerful, famous, beautiful, wise and unattached, like Krsna, in the history of humanity. Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is an historical person who appeared on this earth 5,000 years ago. He stayed on this earth for 125 years and played exactly like a human being, but His activities were unparalleled. From the very moment of His appearance to the moment of His disappearance, every one of His activities is unparalleled in the history of the world, and therefore anyone who knows what we mean by Godhead will accept Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No one is equal to the Godhead, and no one is greater than Him. That is the import of the familiar saying, "God is great."

There are various classes of men in the world who speak of God in different ways, but according to Vedic literatures and according to the great acaryas, the authorized persons versed in the knowledge of God, in all ages, like acaryas Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Visnusvami, Lord Caitanya and all their followers by disciplic succession, all unanimously agree that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As far as we, the followers of Vedic civilization, are concerned, we accept the Vedic history of the whole universe, which consists of different planetary systems called Svargalokas, or the higher planetary system, Martyalokas, or the intermediary planetary system, and Patalalokas, or the lower planetary system. The modern historians of this earth cannot supply historical evidences of events that occurred before 5,000 years ago, and the anthropologists say that 40,000 years ago Homo sapiens had not appeared on this planet because evolution had not reached that point. But the Vedic histories, the Puranas and Mahabharata, relate human histories which extend millions and billions of years into the past.

For example, from these literatures we are given the histories of Krsna's appearances and disappearances millions and billions of years ago. In the Fourth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita Krsna tells Arjuna that both He and Arjuna had had many births before and that He (Krsna) could remember all of them and that Arjuna could not. This illustrates the difference between the knowledge of Krsna and that of Arjuna. Arjuna might have been a very great warrior, a well-cultured member of the Kuru dynasty, but after all, he was an ordinary human being, whereas Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the possessor of unlimited knowledge. Because He possesses unlimited knowledge, Krsna has a memory that is boundless.

Krsna's knowledge is so perfect that He remembers all the incidents of His appearances some millions and billions of years in the past, but Arjuna's memory and knowledge are limited by time and space, for he is an ordinary human being. In the Fourth Chapter Krsna states that He can remember instructing the lessons of the Bhagavad-gita some millions of years ago to the sun-god, Vivasvan.

Nowadays it is the fashion of the atheistic class of men to try to become God by following some mystic process. Generally the atheists claim to be God by dint of their imagination or their meditational prowess. Krsna is not that kind of God. He does not become God by manufacturing some mystic process of meditation, nor does He become God by undergoing the severe austerities of the mystic yogic exercises. Properly speaking, He never becomes God because He is the Godhead in all circumstances.

Within the prison of His maternal uncle Kamsa, where His father and mother were confined, Krsna appeared outside His mother's body as the four-handed Visnu-Narayana. Then He turned Himself into a baby and told His father to carry Him to the house of Nanda Maharaja and his wife Yasoda. When Krsna was just a small baby the gigantic demoness Putana attempted to kill Him, but when He sucked her breast He pulled out her life. That is the difference between the real Godhead and a God manufactured in the mystic factory. Krsna had no chance to practice the mystic yoga process, yet He manifested Himself as the Supreme Personality of Godhead at every step, from infancy to childhood, from childhood to boyhood, and from boyhood to young manhood. In this book Krsna, all of His activities as a human being are described. Although Krsna plays like a human being, He always maintains His identity as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Since Krsna is all-attractive, one should know that all his desires should be focused on Krsna. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that the individual person is the proprietor or master of the body but Krsna, who is the Supersoul present in everyone's heart, is the supreme proprietor and supreme master of each and every individual body. As such, if we concentrate our loving propensities upon Krsna only, then immediately universal love, unity and tranquillity will be automatically realized. When one waters the root of a tree, he automatically waters the branches, twigs, leaves and flowers; when one supplies food to the stomach through the mouth, he satisfies all the various parts of the body.

The art of focusing one's attention on the Supreme and giving one's love to Him is called Krsna consciousness. We have inaugurated the Krsna consciousness movement so that everyone can satisfy his propensity for loving others simply by directing his love towards Krsna. The whole world is very much anxious to satisfy the dormant propensity of love for others, but the inventions of various methods like socialism, communism, altruism, humanitarianism, nationalism, and whatever else may be manufactured for the peace and prosperity of the world, are all useless and frustrating because of our gross ignorance of the art of loving Krsna. Generally people think that by advancing the cause of moral principles and religious rites, they will be happy. Others may think that happiness can be achieved by economic development, and yet others think that simply by sense gratification they will be happy. But the real fact is that people can only be happy by loving Krsna.

Krsna can perfectly reciprocate one's loving propensities in different relationships called mellows or rasas. Basically there are twelve loving relationships. One can love Krsna as the supreme unknown, as the supreme master, the supreme friend, the supreme child, the supreme lover. These are the five basic love rasas. One can also love Krsna indirectly in seven different relationships, which are apparently different from the five primary relationships. All in all, however, if one simply reposes his dormant loving propensity in Krsna, then his life becomes successful. This is not a fiction but is a fact that can be realized by practical application. One can directly perceive the effects that love for Krsna has on his life.

In the Ninth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita this science of Krsna consciousness is called the king of all knowledge, the king of all confidential things, and the supreme science of transcendental realization. Yet we can directly experience the results of this science of Krsna consciousness because it is very easy to practice and is very pleasurable. Whatever percentage of Krsna consciousness we can perform will become an eternal asset to our life, for it is imperishable in all circumstances. It has now been actually proved that today's confused and frustrated younger generation in the Western countries can directly perceive the results of channeling the loving propensity toward Krsna alone.

It is said that although one executes severe austerities, penances and sacrifices in his life, if he fails to awaken his dormant love for Krsna, then all his penances are to be considered useless. On the other hand, if one has awakened his dormant love for Krsna, then what is the use in executing austerities and penances unnecessarily?

The Krsna consciousness movement is the unique gift of Lord Caitanya to the fallen souls of this age. It is a very simple method which has actually been carried out during the last four years in the Western countries, and there is no doubt that this movement can satisfy the dormant loving propensities of humanity. This book Krsna is another presentation to help the Krsna consciousness movement in the Western world. This transcendental literature is published in two parts with profuse illustrations. People love to read various kinds of fiction to spend their time and energy. Now this tendency can be directed to Krsna. The result will be the imperishable satisfaction of the soul, both individually and collectively.

It is said in the Bhagavad-gita that even a little effort expended on the path of Krsna consciousness can save one from the greatest danger. Hundreds of thousands of examples can be cited of people who have escaped the greatest dangers of life due to a slight advancement in Krsna consciousness. We therefore request everyone to take advantage of this great transcendental literature. One will find that by reading one page after another, an immense treasure of knowledge in art, science, literature, philosophy and religion will be revealed, and ultimately, by reading this one book, Krsna, love of Godhead will fructify.

What Krishna says about Himself

If we are expected to understand God, then who better to explain His qualities and characteristics than Himself? So in the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna provides the Self-revelatory truth about His position in His explanations to Arjuna. There are numerous verses in this regard, of which the following are but a few:

“And when you have thus learned the truth, you will know that all living beings are but part of Me--and that they are in Me, and are Mine. (4.35)

The sages, knowing Me to be the ultimate purpose of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attain peace from the pangs of material miseries. (5.29)

Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution. (7.6)

It is I who am the ritual, I the sacrifice, the offering to the ancestors, the healing herb, the transcendental chant... I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support, and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable om. I am also the Rig, the Sama, and the Yajur Vedas. I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed. (9.16-18)

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts. (Bg.10:8)

“I am all devouring death, and I am the generator of all things yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, speech, memory, intelligence, faithfulness and patience. (Bg. 10.34) Because I am transcendental, beyond both the fallible and the infallible, and because I am the greatest, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as the Supreme Person.” (Bg.15.18)

Going on to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Krishna specifically explains that before, during, and after the universal creation, there is always Himself that exists.

“Brahma it is I, the Personality of Godhead, who was existing before the creation, when there was nothing but Myself. Nor was there the material nature, the cause of this creation. That which you see now is also I, the Personality of Godhead, and after annihilation what remains will also be I, the Supreme Lord.” (Bhag.2.9.33)

“Gold alone is present before its manufacture into gold products, the gold alone remains after the products’ destruction, and the gold alone is the essential reality while it is being utilized under various designations. Similarly, I alone exist before the creation of this universe, after its destruction and during its maintenance.” (Bhag.11.28.19)

“Before the creation of this cosmic manifestation, I alone existed with My specific spiritual potencies. Consciousness was then unmanifested, just as one’s consciousness is unmanifested during the time of sleep. I am the reservoir of unlimited potency, and therefore I am known as unlimited or all-pervading. From My material energy the cosmic manifestation appeared within Me, and in this universal manifestation appeared the chief being, Lord Brahma, who is your source and is not born of a material mother.” (Bhag.6.4.47-48)

“Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” (Bg.9.11)

“Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme. I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My eternal creative potency [yoga-maya]; and so the deluded world knows Me not, who am unborn and infallible. A Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.” (Bg.7.24-26)

Lord Krishna also explains that he is the Supersoul of each and every living being, who exist only because of Him. He also establishes that He is the spiritual sound vibrations that can be chanted, as well as the forms of the Deities that we can see. “All living beings, moving and nonmoving, are My expansions and are separate from Me. I am the Supersoul of all living beings, who exist because I manifest them. I am the form of the transcendental vibrations like omkara and Hare Krishna Hare Rama, and I am the Supreme Absolute Truth. These two forms of Mine--namely the transcendental sound and the eternally blissful spiritual form of the Deity, are My eternal forms; they are not material.” (Bhag.6.16.51)

“My dear Uddhava, I am the cause, protector and the Lord of all mystic perfections, of the yoga system, of analytical knowledge, of pure activity and of the community of learned Vedic teachers. Just as the same material elements exist within and outside of all material bodies, similarly, I cannot be covered by anything else. I exist within everything as the Supersoul and outside of everything in My all-pervading feature.” (Bhag.11.15.35-36)

Lord Krishna goes on to explain how He is perceived by different people in different ways. “When there is agitation and interaction of the material modes of nature, the living entities then describe Me in various ways such as all-powerful time, the Self, Vedic knowledge, the universe, one’s own nature, religious ceremonies and so on.” (Bhag.11.10.34)

However, when a person reaches the vision of the Supreme by the process of Self-realization, which takes him or her above the influence of the material modes, the experience is one and the same. Then there is no more confusion about what is or what is not the highest level of spiritual realization.

In conclusion Krishna explains, “Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendour. But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.” (Bg.10:41-42)


Who is Krishna?
from the 10th Canto Srimad Bhagavatam

All the references are to chapter and verse of the tenth skandha of Srimad Bhagavatam

Krishna is possessed of an unlimited intellect (84/22).
Krishna is inaccessible to sensuous knowledge ( l6/46) .
Krishna is Lord of the infinity of worlds (69/l7).
Krishna wields the power of creating the unlimited (87/28).
Krishna carries the impress of limitless power (87/l4).
Krishna is possessed of inconceivable potency (l0/29).
Krishna is unborn (59/28, 74/21).
Krishna solves all heterogeneous views (74/24).
Krishna is vanquished by exclusive devotion (l4/3).
Krishna is Inner Guide (l/7).
Krishna is the Withholder of the energy of the wicked (60/19) -
Krishna is the Giver of salvation to jivas that are free from vanity (86/48).
Krishna ordains the worldly course of conceited jivas (86/48).
Krishna is Primal God (Deva) (40/l).
Krishna is Primal Person (Purusha) (63/38).
Krishna is overwhelming flood of bliss (83/4).
Krishna possesses fulfilled desire (47/46).
Krishna is self-delighted (60/20).
Krishna is the opponent of the sensuous (60/35).
Krishna is sung by the best of hymns (86/23).
Krishna is the dispeller of the night of pseudo-religion (14/40).
Krishna is devoid of increase and decrease (48/26).
Krishna is efficient and material cause (l0/29).
Krishna is the only Truth ( l4/23 ).
Krishna is Awarder of the fruit of work (49/29).
Krishna is not subject to the consequences of work (84/17).
Krishna is the Seer of cause and effect (38/l2).
Krishna is the Person who is time (1/7).
Krishna is Time s Own Self (70/26).
Krishna is even the Time of time (56/27).
Krishna is Present in the heart of every animate entity, like fire inside wood (46/36).
Krishna is Grateful (48/26).
Krishna is the Augmentor (like the Full Moon) of the ocean of earth, gods, twice-born and animals (l4/40).
Krishna is the Tormentor of cannibalistic persons (14/40).
Krishna is the Destroyer of the pride of the arrogant (60/19).
Krishna is the Root-Cause of the origin, etc., of the world (14/23).
Krishna is the Cause of the world (40/l).
Krishna is the Creator of the world (70/38).
Krishna appears as if possessed of a body like that of mundane entities, for the good of the world (l4/55).
Krishna is the Guru (centre of gravity) of the world (80/44).
Krishna is the Refuge (Ashraya) of jivas (individual souls) who are ,afraid of birth and death (49/l2).
Krishna is devoid of birth (46/38).
Krishna is equally the Internal Guide, Cause and Director of jivas (87/30).
Krishna is the Destroyer of the miseries of persons who employ themselves in meditating upon Him (58/l0).
Krishna is of the fourth dimension and self-manifest (66/38).
Krishna is Worthy of being gifted (74/24).
Krishna is the Punisher of the wicked (69/l7).
Krishna is the God of gods (80/44).
Krishna is rarely cognisable by the gods (48/27).
Krishna is unconcerned about body, house, etc. (60/20)
Krishna is the Supreme Ruler of the greatest gods (73/8).
Krishna is the Exponent of Religion (69/40).
Krishna is the Eternal Son of Nanda (l4/l).
Krishna is Visible to man with great difficulty (71/23).
Krishna's Presence mocks the world of man (70/40).
Krishna is the Object of palatable drink of the human eye (71/33).
Krishna is the Internal Guide of all (3l/4).
Krishna is Worthy of the worship of all the worlds (69/15) .
Krishna accommodates all the worlds (59/30).
Krishna is the Manifestor of all light (63/34).
Krishna is unstinted in giving Himself away to one who recollects Him (80/ll).
Krishna is the efficient Cause (87/50).
Krishna' although devoid of all mundane quality, assumes mundane qualities by His Inconceivable Power for the purposes of creation, etc. (46/40).
Krishna is not subject to change (64/29).
Krishna is not capable of discrimination by reason of being void of any extraneous covering (87/29).
Krishna is the Giver of Himself to those who covet nothing (86/33).
Krishna loves those who covet nothing (60/14).
Krishna does no work (60/20).
Krishna is Human, Hidden, Primal Person (Purusha) (44/13).
Krishna is Present in the hearts of jivas like the five elements (82/45).
Krishna is the Supreme Sorcerer (70/37).
Krishna is Supreme Godhead and the Internal Guide of all (56/27).
Krishna is the Crest-jewel of those whose praises are sung by the sacred lore (71/30).
Krishna is Primal Person and Ever-existing (14/23).
Krishna is the Highest among the Objects of worship (74/19).
Krishna is the Healer of the miseries of the submissive (73/16).
Krishna is the Destroyer of the sins of the submissive (31/7).
Krishna is the Destroyer of the distress of the submissive (73/8).
Krishna is the Residue after the Cataclysm (87/15).
Krishna is devoid of touch with mundane senses (87/28).
Krishna is the Soul and Friend of all animate entities (29/32).
Krishna is devoid of distinction appertaining to an alien (63/38,44).
Krishna is Inconceivable by His Nature (70/38).
Krishna is the Master of the Universe (70/37).
Krishna is the Nourisher of the Universe (85/5).
Krishna is the Sun that cheers the lotus of the kindred of the Vrishnis (14/40).
Krishna is the God worshipped by the Brahmanas (69/15).
Krishna is the Foremost of the Brahmanas (84/20).
Krishna is the Originator of Brahma (40/1).
Krishna is the Worshipped of Brahma (31/13).
Krishna loves His devotees (48/26).
Krishna wears Forms in accordance with the wishes of His devotee (59/25).
Krishna is eternally Present in Mathura (1/28).
Krishna is devoid of the sense of kinship and regards all in the same way (46/37).
Krishna is beyond all Measuring Potency (Maya) (63/26).
Krishna is subdued by the love of Judhisthira (72/10).
Krishna is concealed by the screen of Maya from the sight of the-people (84/23).
Krishna does not follow the ways of the world (60/36).
Krishna is the Destroyer of the fear of the mundane sojourn of the submissive (85/19).
Krishna is the Womb of the Scriptures (16-44, 80/45, 84/20).
Krishna is Sree Guru’s Own Self (80/33).
Krishna is devoid of hankering for wife, offspring, etc. (60/20).
Krishna is the Ordainer of the worldly sojourn and of the summum bonum (1/7).
Krishna is the Cause of all entities (8514).
Krishna is the Friend of the good (69/17).
Krishna is devoid of discrimination as of kinship (63/38, 44).
Krishna is Existence (56/27).
Krishna possesses true desirc (80/44).
Krishna is the True Entity (87/17).
Krishna is True of speech (48/26).
Krishna is True of resolve (37/12).
Krishna sees with an equal Eye (16/33).
Krishna is the Cause of all causes (14/56-57,63/38,87/16).
Krishna is the Originator of all (59/28).
Krishna is the Soul’s own self of all jivas (individual souls) (14/55).
Krishna is Omniscient (16/48).
Krishna is All Seeing (38/18).
Krishna is the Embodiment of all gods (74/19, 86/54).
Krishna is the Seer of all (16/48).
Krishna is the Lord of all (37/23).
Krishna is the Stay (Ashraya) of all entities (82|46).
Krishna is All-pervasive and Eternal (9/13).
Krishna is the Soul of all elements (86/31).
Krishna is the Knower of the minds of all elements (81/1).
Krishna is the soul’s self of all elements (74/24).
Krishna is the Inner Soul of all elements (37/11).
Krishna is the Internal Guide of all elements (47/29).
Krishna is the Cause of the origin of all elements (64|29).
Krishna is the Limit of all good (84/21).
Krishna is Omnipotent (37/12).
Krishna is the Lord of Lakshmi, the Presiding Deity of all riches (47/46).
Krishna is the Internal Guide of all (63/38, 72/6).
Krishna is the Stay (Ashraya) of all (40/15).
Krishna is Witness and Seer of Self (86/31).
Krishna is the Refuge of the good (80/9).
Krishna is most difficult to serve (88/11).
Krishna is the Friend of one’s heart (48/26).
Krishna is the Withholder of Creation (82/45).
Krishna is Withholder, Creator and Preserver (63/44).
Krishna is the Master of the functions of creation, etc. (16/49,37/12).
Krishna is devoid of distinction as of kinship (74/21).
Krishna is devoid of distinction as between kin and alien(72/6).
Krishna indwells the Universe created by Himself (48/19).
Krishna is satisfied by the taste of His Self-Delight (72/6).
Krishna is the Destroyer of the worldly sojourn of His devotees (60/43).
Krishna is the Wearer of body according to His Wish (1/7).