Found in Sanga, Sanga 2002.

Q. I recently married. I am devoted to Krishna but find it difficult to convince my wife that Krishna is the Supreme Personality. She says that Krishna used unfair means to defeat the Kauravas and if he is supreme why did he have to cheat to win the Mahabharata war? And if Krishna is such a cheat why should she accept what he said in Bhagavad-gita?

A. How can God cheat another, when all are but aspects of himself? Try to understand the meaning of lila, divine play. Saints tell us that Rama and Krishna are the same person. Rama was most moral, and Krishna appeared to be a cheater in some respects. So we must consider Krishna’s immorality in light of Rama’s morality. God can be moral or immoral in appearance, yet whatever he does is absolute good. The moral realm is not absolute. That which is immoral today may be moral tomorrow. Morality is the means to check the evil of exploitation arising from material attachment, but if one has no such attachment, then what is one’s position? Does moral law bind such a soul? Certainly not. Such is the position of Krishna.

While Rama lila emphasizes morality for good reason, Krishna lila appropriately emphasizes the possibility of life beyond the reach of morality. While it is important to be moral, it is also important to know that moral life in and of itself is not the zenith of spiritual pursuit.

The apparent immorality of Krishna is actually something altogether different. Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a perfect sannyasi, yet he meditated constantly on Krishna’s apparent immoral affairs with the Vraja gopis. In doing so he himself was never attracted to ordinary women. From this we can conclude that the gopi lila of Krishna, while appearing immoral, is not so. Careful study of the precepts of Sri Caitanya casts Krishna lila in the proper light and leaves one with the clear conclusion as to the supremacy of Krishna, krishnas tu bhagavan svayam.

Regarding the Gita, your wife can trust what Krishna says there because in the Gita he is speaking to his devotees. While he may cheat the nondevotees, he will never cheat his devotees. This means that she should become his devotee and not only will he never cheat her, but he will do whatever necessary to protect her from evil even if he has to resort to cheating others to do so. He loves his devotees so much that he will do anything for them. Who in their right mind would take shelter of anyone else?

Q. You said “love of God (Rama/Krishna) far exceeds adherence to principles of morality.” This is true but adherence to morality gives pleasure to Lord Rama. Therefore, love of God includes adherence to morality. So isn’t it true that if one does not adhere to moral values then that person is not a good devotee?

A. The point is that one can be morally good yet not be a devotee. If this is never stressed, morality, which in and of itself is merely a corrective measure, will be considered the goal of religious life. Adherence to morality outside of devotion does not necessarily give pleasure to Rama. It may enable one to take birth in heavenly realms and please God in the sense that his general law for this world is that one must be moral, but it will not please him directly as bhakti does.

It should be clear that we are advocating a life of devotion that includes within it a moral basis, but that morality itself does not constitute bhakti. There is no need to distort this idea as if it were a case for being immoral in the name of devotion. Those who erroneously read this into my words should measure their faith in devotion against their faith in morality.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that Sri Krishna has said that if one is his devotee but nonetheless somehow or other has a moral lapse, that does not change his stasis as a devotee. Such is the nature of love.

Q. Lord Krishna appeared at the very end of the Dvapara yuga. Some say the Dvapara yuga ended when Lord Krishna returned to his abode. Was Lord Krishna the yuga avatara for the Dvapara-yuga, as I have heard? If so, how did those who lived before Lord Krishna’s descent know how to practice the yuga dharma for that age?

A. Krishna is not the yuga avatara of Dvapara-yuga. He is svayam bhagavan, the source of all avataras. However, when he appears once in the day of Brahma, he does so in the Dvapara-yuga, and in the fourfold form of Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha he represents the yuga avatara of that particular Dvapara-yuga in a special way, one worth waiting for. The mantra by which this special fourfold yuga avatara is worshipped is:

namas te vasudevaya namah sankarsanaya ca
pradyumnayaniruddhaya tubhyam bhagavate namah

Jiva Goswami explains that although Krishna appeared at the end of Dvapara-yuga, great sages chanted this verse from the beginning of that age in expectation of his appearance. Again, this is not the ordinary course of events for Dvapara-yuga. Srila Prabhupada has commented thus: “It is not that Lord Krishna himself appears in a blackish color in all the Dvapara-yugas. In other Dvapara-yugas, previous to Lord Krishna’s appearance, the Supreme Lord appeared in a greenish body by his own personal expansion. This is mentioned in the Visnu Purana, Hari-vamsa, and Mahabharata.”

Q. Do lila avataras like Lord Narasingha have a realm in Vaikuntha and where does one who worships Lord Jagannatha enter upon perfection?

A. Lila avataras appear in the world through Maha Visnu. They do not have their own Vaikuntha planets per se, but Narayana may show the form of Narasingha, etc. to his devotees there from time to time.

We should worship Jagannatha as Caitanya Mahaprabhu did. He saw Jagannatha holding a flute, dekhena jagannatha haya murali-vadana. Otherwise, in general Jagannatha Puri represents Mathura/Dvaraka. It is also mentioned that Jagannatha is represented in the Vaikuntha world on the outer petal of the lotus of Goloka.

Q. In the Brahma Purana it is said, “The transcendental significance of Purusottama-ksetra, which is the eighty-square-mile field of Lord Jagannatha, cannot be properly described. Even the demigods from higher planetary systems see the inhabitants of this Jagannatha Puri as having exactly the same bodily features possessed by one in Vaikuntha. That is, the demigods see the inhabitants of Jagannatha Puri as being four-handed.” (NOD 7, Residing in a Sacred Place) Sri Jagannatha is Krishna and if I’m not mistaken, his Jagannatha-lila is taking place during his Dvaraka-lila. How is he fitting into Vaikuntha then?

A. Vaikuntha in the broader sense of the term includes Goloka, which is sometimes referred to as Maha Vaikuntha. Jagannatha Puri does represent Dvaraka, and there Krishna usually appears four handed, as does Uddhava and others.

Q. Yamaraja, due to a curse, had to take birth as Vidura and during that time the post of Yamaraja was taken by Aryama. It is mentioned that Maharaja Yudhistira was the son of Yamaraja. So, if Yamaraja was already present as Vidura, how was it that Yudhisthira was born of Yamaraja?

A. Vidura was only a partial incarnation of Yamaraja.

Q. Scripture tells us that Lord Brahma fell down even though he was a devotee. How are we to understand this?

A. Regarding the fall down of Lord Brahma, sastra does not teach that Brahma is a pure devotee. His position represents karma misra bhakti, devotion mixed with fruitive activities, not suddha (pure) bhakti. However, the “fall” of Brahma is an instance of a great person doing something out of character. It does not change his status as a great person. Thus those who criticized him had to actually fall down themselves, taking birth as the sons of Hiranyakasipu—tenasurim agan yonim adhunavadya-karmana hiranyakasipor jata nitas te yoga-mayaya.

Q. You said the principal empowerments are sevenfold: (1) empowerment for the personal service of God (sva-sevana-sakti), (2) empowerment to support the world (bhu-dharana-sakti), (3) empowerment to create (srsti-sakti), (4) empowerment to distribute transcendental knowledge (jnana-sakti), (5) empowerment to distribute bhakti (bhakti-sakti), (6) empowerment to rule and maintain (palana-sakti), and (7) empowerment to deal with the demoniac (dusta-damana-sakti).

Could you please give us examples of personalities that have received each one of these seven empowerments?

A. (1) Sesa Naga in the Vaikuntha world, empowered for the personal service of the Supreme Lord (sva-sevana-sakti), (2) Anantadeva, empowered to bear all the planets within the universe (bhu-dharana-sakti), (3) Lord Brahma, empowered with the energy to create the cosmic manifestation (srsti-sakti), (4) Catuhsana, or the Kumaras, specifically empowered to distribute transcendental knowledge (jnana-sakti), (5) Narada Muni, empowered to distribute devotional service (bhakti-sakti), (6) Maharaja Prthu, specifically empowered to rule and maintain the living entities (palana-sakti) and (7) Parasurama, specifically empowered to cut down rogues and demons (dusta-damana-sakti).

Q. Lord Rama is considered an expansion of Balarama and Laksmana is called the same. Can you explain how Ramacandra and Laksmana are both expansions of Baladeva?

A. Even Mathuresa and Dvarakesa Krishna are expansions of Balarama, who is Krishna’s first expansion, as is Sankarsana (Balarama) of Mathura and Dvaraka. Still Mathuresa and Dvarakesa are forms of Krishna rather than Rama. Similarly, although Ramacandra manifests from Balarama in a general sense, he is not Balarama but Krishna appearing as Ramacandra, whereas Laksmana is Balarama appearing as his younger brother.

For more insight into the subtle differences between these forms of Godhead, read Srila Rupa Goswami’s Laghu-bhagavatamrta.

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