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Translations of various devotional texts.

On Krishna's omniscience and bewilderment - Raga-vartma-candrika 2.1 + tika

Madhava - Sun, 08 Aug 2004 02:30:44 +0530
On the topic of God's, and in particular Krishna's, omniscience and bewilderment, here is Srila Visvanatha's treatment of the issue with Sri Ananta Das Pandit's commentary.


na hAniM na glAniM na nija gRha-kRtyaM vyasanitAM
na ghoraM nodghUrNAM na kila kadanaM vetti kim api |
varAGgIbhiH svAGgIkRta suhRd anaGgAbhirabhito harir
vRndAraNye parama nizam uccair viharati ||

ityAdibhya eva zrI vRndavanezvaryAdi-prema-vilAsa mugdhasya zrI vrajendra-sUnor na kvApi anyatrAvadhAna sambhava ityavasIyate | tathA sati nAnA dig deza vartibhir ananta rAgAnugIya bhaktaiH kriyamANaM paricaryAdikaM kena svIkartavyaM vijJapti stava pAThAdikaM ca kena zrotavyam | tad aMzena paramAtma naivAMzAMzinor aikyAd iti cet samAdhir ayaM samyag Adhir eva tAdRza kRSNAnurAgi bhaktAnAm | tarhi kA gatiH? sAkSAt zrImad uddhavoktir eva | sA ca yathA -

mantreSu mAM vA upahUya yat tvam
akuNThitAkhaNDa sad Atma bodhaH |
pRccheH prabho mugdha ivApramattas
tan me mano mohayatIva deva || [bhA.pu. 3.4.17]

asyArthaH - mantreSu jarAsandha-vadha rAjasUyAdy artha gamana vicArAdiSu prastuteSu mAM vai nizcitam upahUya yat pRccheH uddhava tvam atra kiM kartavyaM tad brUhi iti pRccheH apRcchaH akuNThitaH kAlAdinA akhaNDaH paripUrNaH sadA sArvadika eva Atmano bodhaH samvicchaktir yasya sa mugdha iva yathA anyo mugdho janaH pRcchati tathety arthaH tat tava yugapad eva maugdhyaM sArvajJyaM ca mohayatIva mohayatyeva | atra mugdha iva tvaM na tu mugdhaH iti | mohayatIva na tu mohayati iti vyAkhyAyAM saGgaty abhAvAt | asaGgatyeSu karmANyanIhasya bhavo 'bhavasyetyAdi vAkyeSu madhye etad vAkyasyopanyAso vyarthaH syAd ityatas tathA na vyAkhyeyam | tataz ca dvArakA-lIlAyAM satyapi sArvajJye yathA maugdhyaM tathaiva vRndAvana-lIlAyAm api satyapi maugdhye sArvajJyaM tasyAcintya-zakti siddham eva mantavyam | ataeva varNitaM zrI lIlAzuka caraNaiH -- sarvajJatve ca maugdhe ca sArvabhaumam idaM maha iti ||1||


"Sri Syamasundara is always so absorbed in His pastimes with the beautiful girls of Vraja, who have accepted Cupid as their heart’s friend, that He is not aware of any loss, exhaustion, household duties, danger, fear, worry or defeat by His enemies."

From all such statements, we can understand that Sri Vrajendranandana has no chance to think of anyone else but Vrindavanesvari and the others, since He is enchanted by His loving pastimes with them. Who will then accept the service rendered to Him by the countless raganugiya bhaktas, who come to Him from different directions and from different countries? Who will listen to all of their various prayers, praises and so forth? One may offer the solution that Sri Vrajendranandana’s expansion in the form of the Supersoul, who lives in everyone’s heart, listens, and that the expansion and the origin are actually one, but that would very much hurt the devotees who are attached to Krishna. What, then, is the solution? The answer can be found in the words of Uddhava Mahasaya himself. He says:

“O Master! O Divine One! When You considered whether or not it was proper to kill Jarasandha and to go to the Rajasuya-sacrifice, You called me to You and asked for my advice, ‘O Uddhava! What should I do in this situation?’, like a bewildered person. You bewildered me at that time, acting like an ignorant, yet omniscient man who needed advice from a counsellor, although You are not conditioned by time and space and You are full of causeless eternal knowledge that can be never deluded or lost.”

In this situation, if someone says, “You seemed bewildered, but in truth You were not, and I seemed bewildered, but in truth I was not,” it is not appropriate. The idea being, “Your activities are without endeavour and Your birth is birthless” – amidst all these unbefitting words, this argument is also worthless; therefore such words should not be said. We must accept that just as Krishna is sometimes bewildered in His Dvaraka-pastimes, although He is omniscient there, similarly by His inconceivable potency, He is sometimes omniscient in His Vrindavana-pasti­mes, although He is bewildered there. We must therefore accept the words of Sripad Lilasuka: “In all His pastimes the effulgent Lord is simultaneously bewildered and omniscient.”


In the first illumination of Raga-vartma-candrika, the blessed author has described the nature of both vaidhi and raganuga-bhakti and the varieties of raganuga-bhakti, and in this second diffusion he will ascertain the nature of Sri Krishna's prowess and sweetness. The special feature of raganuga-bhakti is that the raganuga-upasaka is blessed with the sweet relish of the form, qualities and pastimes of the embodiment of sweetness, Sri Vrajendranandana. Mainly, the Lord's Godhead can be experienced in prowess (aisvarya) and sweetness (madhurya). His form as the embodiment of supreme bliss and natural, unrivalled and endless lordship constitute His aisvarya and the beauty of His all-enchanting pastimes, qualities and form constitute His madhurya. His form as brahman can be experienced through the practice of jnana, His prowess can be experienced through the practice of vaidhi-bhakti, which is endowed with an awareness of His prowess, while His sweetness can be experienced through the practice of pure Vraja-bhakti or raga-bhakti. Without practising any of these above three sadhanas, nothing can be understood of the sweetness and prowess of the Lord, who is the aggregate of transcendental truths. Before the Vraja-devotee, the high unsurpassable waves of the great sweetness of Sri Krishna, who is the embodiment of sweetness, surge up. The great loving devotee forgets about his body and his home and becomes immersed in this great ocean of sweetness. This is the supreme culmination of the practice of Vraja-rasa. This is also the limit of God-experience, since sweetness is the essence of Godhead.

The truth on madhurya is hard to enter into and hard to understand, hence the blessed author has submitted the distinction between the perfection attained in madhurya and aisvarya here, so that the raganugiya bhaktas will understand it.

The Lord is controlled by bhakti, which is the essence of His own innate energy (svarupa-sakti). This is the constitional nature of bhakti. Sri Krishna is wholly subdued by the pure sweetness of Vraja-bhakti. Sri Krishna, who is the transcendental youthful Cupid, is especially taken beyond Himself in all respects by the culmination of mahabhava reached by the Vraja-devis, and most of all by the madana-rasa of Sri Vrindavanesvari Sri Radharani. Sri Radha's complete love swallows Sri Krishna's heart and mind in such a way that He forgets everything and becomes absorbed in His complete playful mellows with Srimati, day and night. He does not find time to concentrate on anything or any other place anymore. If that is so, then who will accept the service rendered to Him by the raganugiya bhaktas who worship Him in different countries of the world, and who will hear their prayers and praises? It is natural that such a question arises.

When one says to this that Sri Krishna accepts all devotional service and hears all the devotees' prayers in the form of the Paramatma, His partial prowess (amsa-vibhava) who resides in the hearts of all the innumerable living entities, and that He can accept and hear everything because there is no difference between the expansion and its original, then the sri-krishnanuragi vraja-rasa-upasakas will feel great heartache, because each devotee exclusively yearns to attain the grace of that particular form or feature of the Lord whom he worships, and the devotion in his heart awakens a desire in the heart of the worshipped deity to attain the devotee's loving service. Particularly the Vraja-devotees practise the worship of pure sweetness and their hearts cannot be satisfied by attaining the mercy of anyone else but their worshipable Sri Vrajendranandana. In Sri Brihad Bhagavatamrita, it is described that even though Sri Narayana assumed the form of Sri Krishna in Vaikuntha, Sri Gopakumara, who worshipped in the fraternal mood of Vraja, could not become happy with it. When the Lord finally showed Gopakumara his beloved gocarana-lila (Krishna's pastime of cowherding) in a garden of Vaikuntha, Gopakumara could still not feel fulfilled, because he wanted to see the gocarana-lila in the purely sweet environment of Sri Vrindavana. Therefore, the Vraja-worshippers cannot even imagine that Vrajendranandana would hear their prayers in His monitor Paramatma-feature. Then how is this problem solved? The blessed author says: The answer lies in a verse that Srila Uddhava Mahasaya spoke to Sri Krishna. This statement runs as follows:

mantreSu mAM vA upahUya yat tvam
akuNThitAkhaNDa sadAtma bodhaH |
pRccheH prabho mugdha ivApramattas
tan no mano mohayatIva deva || BhAg. 3.4.17 ||

"O Lord! Your complete knowledge is never bewildered or decreased, and You are Yourself always aware, nevertheless You called me to Yourself to consult me and question me like an ignorant person. This bewilders my mind."

The blessed author has explained the meaning of this verse himself. The kings who were imprisoned by Jarasandha took shelter of Sri Krishna's lotus feet and sent a messenger to Him, and right at the same time Sri Yudhishthira Mahasaya sent Devarshi Narada to Him to invite Him to attend the Rajasuya sacrifice. Sri Krishna was simultaneously attracted to His attribute of protecting the surrendered souls and His attribute of affection towards His devotees. He could not ignore the kings who had taken shelter of Him, nor could He ignore the invitation of Yudhishthira, who had given his heart to Krishna. Having fallen into this dilemma, He became bewildered about what to do and thus called for Sri Uddhava Mahasaya to seek his advice. When Sri Krishna disappeared from this world, Sri Uddhava Mahasaya remembered this and said: "O Lord! Although You are endowed with full, unchecked eternal knowledge, You inquired from me like a bewildered person, 'O friend Uddhava! Tell Me what I should do now!' Just as an ordinary bewildered person, who does not know what to do anymore, seeks advice from a wise counsellor, similarly You bewilder me by simultaneously appearing bewildered and omniscient."

In the quoted verse, the words mugdha iva and mohayati iva are used. If someone thinks the words iva imply that "You were as if bewildered, but actually You were not bewildered", and "You are acting as if you are bewildering Me, but actually I am not bewildered", then that explanation cannot be accepted, because, if the Lord is just acting as if bewildered, although He is actually omniscient, and if that bewilderment is not real, then it would not have been possible for a person like Sri Uddhava, who is the very embodiment of transcendental knowledge, to become bewildered. Therefore the word iva should be explained here as "like another bewildered person". If Sri Uddhava Mahasaya was not actually bewildered and just acted as if he was, then there would have been no reason for him to bring forward this point in this verse. What actually bewildered Sri Uddhava Mahasaya was Sri Krishna's simultaneous bewilderment and omniscience, His bewilderment despite His omniscience. He also said in the previous verse:

karmANyanIhasya bhavo 'bhavasya te
durgAzrayo 'thAribhayAt palAyanam |
kAlAtmano yat pramadAyutAzramaH
svAtman rate khidyati dhIr vidAm iha || 3.4.16 ||

"O Lord! Your activities are without activity, and Your birth is birthless. Although You are time personified, You flee into a fortress out of fear of Your enemies, and although You are self-satisfied, You remain in householdlife with many wives - all these facts torment the wise and the learned with doubts."

In all these inconceivable statements it is useless to find a juxtaposition, therefore it is not proper to explain Uddhava's words to mean that Sri Krishna was "as if bewildered, but not actually bewildered". All these statements will make us accept that Krishna was sometimes bewildered in Dvaraka, though He is usually omniscient there, and in the same way it is to be accepted that Sri Krishna can also be omniscient in His Vrindavana-lila, although He is usually bewildered there. These contradictions bring Sri Krishna's inconceivable potency to perfection. The bewilderment of the omniscient person, the defeat, fear and fleeing away of the invincible, the all-worshipable Supreme Truth offering obeisances unto the feet of Sri Nanda and Yasomati, the hunger, thirst, theft and the adultery of the self-blissful and self-satisfied one with the housewives of Vraja are all the great sweetnesses and mellows of Vraja-lila.

Sripada Lilasuka Bilvamangala Thakura has also said in his Sri Krishna Karnamrita (83): sarvajJatve ca maugdhe ca sArvabhaumam idaM mahaH - There is no doubt about it that when Sri Krishna's pastimes all show Him simultaneously omniscient and bewildered, this is the perfection of His inconceivable potency. That is because Godhead is the shelter of all contradictions. This bewilderment is also the very soul of the Lord's blissful pastimes, that are the essence of the transcendental potency. It is not something that exceeds Krishna's constitutional position.

Jagat - Mon, 09 Aug 2004 18:47:17 +0530
Brief note: Vishwanath uses almost exactly the same wording in his commentary to this verse as he does in the gopy-Adade verse also recently cited, but with some addition.

na ca niSkriyatvAjaDatva-kAlAtmatvAtmArAmatvAdInAm eva satyatvaM sa-kriyatva-janmavattva-bhItatva-gRhAzramavattvAnAm anukaraNa-mAtratvam iti vAcyam | tathAtve viduSAM dhIr atra khidyatIti noktaM syAt, sa-kriyatvAdInAnukaraNAny eva na tu vAstavAnIti jJAne kutaH khedaH ? tathaivAkriyatvAdibhiH prAkRta-kriyAdaya eva niSidhyante na tv aprAkRta-kriyAdaya iti jJAne kutaH khedaH | tathaiva brahmatva-bhagavattvAbhyAm evAkriyatva-sakriyatvAdIny anukaraNa-mAtrANIti bruvANA akriyatvam aprAkRta-kriyatvaM abhavatvam aprAkRta-janmavattvam iti ca bruvANA brahmatva-bhagavattvAbhyAm evAkriyatva-sakriyatvAdi-vyavastheti bruvANA akhidyad-buddhaya evAvidvAMsa iti dhvaniH | yad uktaM svayaM bhagavatA—na me viduH sura-gaNAH prabhavaM na maharSayaH [gItA 10.2] iti sura-gaNA brahmAdyA api maharSayo vyAsAdyA api me prakRSTaM bhavaM janma na vidur iti tatrArthaH | bhISmeNApy uktam—

na hy asya karhicid rAjan pumAn veda vidhitsitam |
yad vijijJAsayA yuktA muhyanti kavayo’pi hi || [bhA.pu. 1.9.16] iti ||16 ||

Sorry, I am going to have to translate this later.