Isvara
- The Supreme Lord

"God is everywhere yet localized, all-pervading yet aloof. He walks yet doesn't walk. He is far away yet very near as well." Such contradictory statements are not whimsical. Rather, they indicate God's inconceivable power.
OM MANDALA


The Absolute Truth, Krishna, can be realized in three phases: Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. These aspects of the Absolute Truth are comparable to the sunshine (Brahman), the sun's surface (Paramatma) and the sun planet (Bhagavan); three different features of the same reality.

The Brahman aspect of God is the beginning less, impersonal form of the Lord, the effulgence of Krishna's transcendental body. Just as the root of a tree maintains the whole tree, Krishna, the root of all things, maintains everything by His energies: He is the heat in fire, the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon; the active principle of everything. Although Krishna spread Himself throughout His creation, He retained His own personality. "Unintelligent men, who do not know Me perfectly, think that I was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality," Krishna explains in Bhagavad-Gita. "Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme" (Bg. 7.24). Although Impersonalists may eventually achieve the Lord, their path is fraught with difficulties, for it is unnatural for the embodied soul to conceive of the unembodied, which is only a partial aspect of the Absolute Truth.

Realization of God as "Paramatma," the Supersoul in the heart of every embodied soul, is compared to knowing the sun disc in the sky. The Paramatma is the supreme proprietor, witness and permitter, and He accompanies the wandering soul through its 8,400,000 embodiments. Acting as the soul's friend, He remains the soul's constant companion during his sojourn in the material world, no matter what type of body the soul inhabits; pig, mosquito, philosopher, demigod. The Supersoul helps him fulfill his desires by supplying knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness.

Although the Supersoul appears to be divided among all beings, He is never divided. Rather, He is situated as one; like the sun reflected in millions of buckets of water. Paramatma can be perceived through meditation, cultivation of knowledge, or by working without fruitive desires. A person in full knowledge of Paramatma understands that the Supersoul is the localized aspect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within this material world and that the next step is to worship Him as Bhagavan.

The word "Bhagavan" refers to one who possesses in full all opulence's that we possess in minute degree: riches, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. Although everyone can claim some degree of these opulence's, only the Supreme Personality of Godhead can claim them all absolutely.

"Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates," Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita (4.6), "I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form." Krishna appears in this world "to deliver the pious, annihilate the miscreants, and to reestablish the principles of religion" (Bg. 4.8). He does not change His body when He appears, like a common living entity, who appears in body after another. Rather, He appears in His original eternal form, with two hands, holding a flute. Still, it appears that He takes birth like an ordinary child and grows to boyhood and youth. But He never ages beyond youth. At the time of the Battle of Kuruksetra, He was more than one hundred years old by material calculations, but He looked like a young man. He is the oldest person, but neither His body nor His intelligence ever deteriorates or changes.

To know Krishna as Bhagavan is a privilege reserved for bhakti-yogis. "I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent," Krishna explains (Bg. 7.25). "For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible."

"One can understand me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when, by such devotion, one is fully conscious of Me, one can enter the kingdom of God" (Bg. 18.55).

The Vedic scriptures declare that Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the source of both the Supersoul and Brahman and the origin of all avataras. Avataras are scheduled incarnations who descend from the spiritual world to execute the Lord's mission of protecting the devotees and annihilating the miscreants. Their descent is foretold in the scriptures so that unscrupulous persons can be checked from claiming to be avataras. In this age, just over five hundred years ago, the Lord descended as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to spread the congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra for the peaceful deliverance of both devotees and miscreants.

A common misconception of uninformed students of the Bhagavad-Gita is that Krishna's universal form (described in the Eleventh Chapter) is the last word in God realization. The universal form is most impressive and spectacular: "If hundreds of thousands of suns were to rise at once into the sky, their radiance might resemble the effulgence of the Supreme Person in that universal form. Arjuna could see in the universal form of the Lord the unlimited expansions of the universe situated in one place although divided into many, many thousands" (Bg. 11.13).

The universal form frightened Arjuna and boggled his mind, especially the kala-rupa, the form of time that was devouring and chewing up all the combatants on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. Arjuna therefore requested Krishna to withdraw His terrifying universal form and show him His four-armed Vishnu form. Krishna agreed. Then, reverting back to the two-armed form that Arjuna was accustomed to see, the Lord declared, "This form of Mine you are now seeing is very difficult to behold. It cannot be understood simply by studying the Vedas, nor by undergoing serious penances, nor by charity, nor by worship. Only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus been seen directly" (Bg. 11.53-4).

The kingdom of God is called Vaikuntha, the place without anxiety, and it lies far beyond this world of matter. It is eternal, and every single one of its atoms is fully conscious and blissful. Shaped like a lotus flower whose petals are the countless spiritual planets where the Vishnu expansions of Krishna reside, Vaikuntha has a whorl called Goloka Vrindavana, a planet where every word is a song and every step is a dance, where trees fulfill all desires, palaces are made of touchstone, and transcendental cows supply unlimited milk. The original Krishna enjoys life there as a cowherd boy with His loving devotees. Those who reach that supreme abode never return to the material world.

 


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