vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
sambhavāmi yuge yuge
To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium. – Verse 4.8, the Bhagavad Gita
Some call Him a great politician. Some say He is the wisest man the planet earth ever saw. A modern-day fallen master said, only Krishna is complete and whole; full incarnation of God. “Krishna belongs to the future.” he said. Gaudiya Vaishnava acharayas succinctly base it on the scriptural authority and call Krishna “The Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
In this verse Krishna says He Himself appears–millennium after millennium–to deliver His devotees, to annihilate the miscreants, and to reestablish the principles of religion. Srila Prabhupada explains that if Krishna just wanted to wipe out devilish people, He could have sent some liberated souls to do that. Krishna makes a personal visit out of His love for His devotees. Our Krishna writes a script, He and His associates play their unique roles, and this way the supreme enjoyer gives joy of His association to those whose goal is to please Krishna.
Lord Buddha, who is a Shakyavesha avatar of Krishna according to Srimad Bhagavatam, said that this world is a suffering and that he won’t accept liberation until each and every soul has been liberated. Krishna says, dukhalyam ashashvatam, asukham, anityam. That this world is full of suffering, and it’s temporary. However, Krishna doesn’t say He won’t allow Himself liberation until each one of us is liberated. Contrarily, he says He would continue to descend to protect His devotees, to give them the pleasure of His association, and to eliminate the miscreants. He doesn’t need liberation. He is the giver of liberation. He is also the giver of the highest ecstatic experience ever possible: pure divine love. He is Supreme God.
Krishna is not an avatar. He is avatari. All avatars emanate from Him. All six types of avatar:
- Purusa-avataras: Maha-Visnu or Karanodakasayi avatara, the Garbhodakasayi avatara and the Ksirodakasayi avatara.
- Lila-avataras: In Brahma’s one day, 25 Lila-avataras appear. They’re also known as Kalpa avataras because they appear in every Kalpa. Some of the lila avataras are: Kapila, Dattatreya, Rsabha, Dhanvantari and Vyasa are five eternal forms, and they are more celebrated. The incarnations of the tortoise Kurma, the fish Matsya, Nara-narayana, Varaha, Hayasirsa, Prsnigarbha, and Balarama are considered to be vaibhava-avataras.
- Guna-avataras: They are Brahma (rajo-guna), Visnu (sattva-guna) and Siva (tamo-guna).
- Manvantara-avataras: There are fourteen manvantara-avataras who appear during the fourteen ruling periods of Manus (manvantaras) in one day of Brahma (kalpa). They are unlimited in number. Each manvantara is presided over by different Indra.
- Yuga-avataras: In the Satya-yuga, the incarnation of God is white; in the Treta-yuga He is red; in the Dvapara-yuga, He is blackish; and in the Kali-yuga He is also blackish, but sometimes, in a special Kali-yuga (28th. Like the one we’re born in), His color is yellowish as in the case of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
- Saktyavesa-avataras: There is no limit to the saktyavesa-avataras. The saktyavesa incarnations are of two kinds – direct and indirect. When the Lord Himself descends, He is called saksat, or a direct saktyavesa-avatara. When He empowers some living entity to represent Him that living entity is called an indirect or avesa incarnation. An example of Saktyavesha avatar is Lord Buddha. Srila Prabhupada is also a Saktyavesha avatar of Krishna.
I was working as a client servicing executive when I first visited the Radha Parthasarthi temple in Sant Nagar, New Delhi. This was the first time I saw “International Society for Krishna Consciousness.” The term “Krishna Consciousness” gave me an epiphanic experience; I found what I had been looking for! In those words I found the crux of my search. After journeying through life meaninglessly for 20-something years, I spotted a temple which was exclusively dedicated to Krishna. As a Krishna-fan, I was truly amazed at the sight of it. “Do you have only Radha Krishna in the temple? I have never seen a temple where only Radha Krishna reside. These alters are crowded with so many other Gods.” I asked a brahmachari and expressed my concern, too.
We’re so lucky. And we’re so unlucky, too. Why? We’re lucky because Krishna, the avatari, visited Himself for us. He sang for us the most beautiful song that never loses its meaning; its charm. Bhagavan sang the Bhagavad Gita for us. But we’re so unfortunate. Instead of understanding it the way He wants us to understand–and living by it–we speculate on the meaning of the His Gita. We don’t want to transform, so we customize the Gita according to our convenience. He is a liberal father. He doesn’t interfere with the way we steer our freewill. And, He doesn’t interfere with the consequences that we have to bear as a result of misusing the freedom He gives us.
But, we’re so lucky that Krishna revisited as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to give us the sweetest and easiest method that can not only liberate us but also give us the ecstatic divine love beyond which no pleasure exists. Those who are submerged in this divine love, for them the lust of this world is only worth spitting out. Krishna as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wants us to chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. He wants us to chant the mahamantra with sincerity and attention. He wants us to make genuine and consistent effort to chant in devotion.
Those were the days of audio cassettes when I first heard the Hare Krishna mahamantra. It must have been late 90s. I must have been 20-something. Srila Prabhupada’s deep voice was emiting from my Philips tape recorder and melting my heart with a feeling that I couldn’t identify. Or, maybe I couldn’t find a name for it. Tears began to fall from my eyes as soon as I heard Srila Prabhupada. Who is he? I wondered. His voice made me think of the pain that one experiences in separation from someone very dear. I would chant this mantra on and off; in happiness and pain. The avatari Krishna in the form of His holy name entered my life like this.